Pier #8 – Ventura County Pier

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Piers of Southern California


Pier #8 – Ventura County Pier – a wooden pier with steel pilings (1996) –  it is 1620 feet long (originally 1958 feet long.)

Continuing my quest to walk on all the piers of Southern California, my hubbie and I limped out to the end of the Ventura Pier a few weeks after he had a partial knee replacement done in Atascadero.  We sat and smooched and watched the sun go down. It was beyond beautiful. And that’s really all I know about the Ventura Pier.

As we set out to accomplish my Bucket List, I’ve been trying to write helpful articles about each of the piers to accompany the pictures I post (proof that we actually made it to each pier). I read up on blogging and they say you’ve got to “provide value” and “meet a need” but I’ve gotten bogged down, frustrated and backlogged (I should’ve published this three years ago:(  Sometimes I don’t know anything about the pier I just walked on. I just enjoyed it. Period.

So I’m moving forward. Sometimes I may link to interesting sites about the pier like Fun Facts about the Ventura Pier but I’m not going to try to come up with some trite exposition. That would be fatuous (silly AND pointless). It’s been done before and done better.

Instead I’ll just share my memories of the Ventura area:

  • One time we drove down the road from the pier and took Island Packers ferry out of Ventura harbor to one of the Channel Islands: Santa Cruz. We followed a guide and took a hike inland. We laid on the beach. Saw common dolphins, bottle nose dolphins, seals, the island fox, island blue jays (just as loud as our mountain jays), pelicans and whales! All I can say is WOW!
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  • I have stayed at a giant beach house just up the road from the Ventura Pier for the past ten years. I go in the spring with a group of dedicated quilters. We sit and quilt all week long. Our view? Waves, dolphins, sand and sea. It’s crazy fun. I go back in the fall with my church’s women’s group and we eat and laugh and learn. It is a time of spiritual refreshment. Check out Saylor’s Sandcastle.  My husband and I also have a favorite place in Carpinteria (just up the road) that we like to stay but I ain’t sharing that one!
  • We used to like Joe’s Crab Shack but it shut down rather suddenly. Which leads me to one last pier memory…we ate out on Ventura Pier and the waiter dropped my husband’s shrimp on the floor!
  • I’m not much for shopping but my friends love the thrift shops on Main Street in Ventura. There’s a couple good quilt and fabric stores in Ventura, too.

How to get there

On Highway 101 (heading north) in Ventura take exit 69 to merge onto Vista Del Mar Dr. toward Sanjon Rd. Turn right onto E Harbor Blvd. There’s a parking structure right by the pier and other parking available.

Pier #7 – Stearns Wharf

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Piers of Southern California

Pier #7 – Stearns Wharf (Santa Barbara) – a wooden pier in Santa Barbara County –  it is 1950 feet long.

On Pierfishing.com Ken Jones says: “When I think of Santa Barbara, I think of Stearns Wharf (which dates to 1872.) It is one of the last of California’s original large working wharfs… Only a few of these big, old wharfs remain: Redondo Beach, Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. Each is a large multi-use facility that caters to a wide range of interests. Stearns is the home of fine restaurants, fresh fish markets, ecology groups, a museum/aquarium (the Sea Center), and an estimated 1.6 million visitors a year.”

Thanks, Ken.  When I think of Santa Barbara, I think of fun times on Stearns Wharf with my family – both my nuclear family and my extended family. My oldest daughter attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara  and we came over to see her and enjoy the area frequently in the early 2000’s. It all started when my mother-in-law Kathy (who we lost in May of 2014) came to see her granddaughter safely delivered to her first day of college and then supported me as we drove away. For four years my husband and I had romantic seafood dinners on the pier, enjoyed staying overnight at some of the hotels that line the shore by the wharf, walked the shopping district along State Street, visited local attractions like the natural history museum, the zoo and the merry-go-round and attended all sorts of crazy college events like Spring Sing. We even did the tourist thing and took a tour on a double-decker bus to see the sights of Santa Barbara.  It left from the wharf. We finished with my mom and dad coming all the way from northern California for the graduation ceremony. We walked the pier together – that was before my dad’s Parkinson’s Disease confined him to a wheelchair.

What’s the pier like? First thing you notice about Stearns Wharf is the leaping dolphins fountain greeting you as you drive in the entrance to the pier. Yes, you can drive out onto this pier and there’s parking aplenty but it will cost you. This pier is a far cry from the lonely Morro Bay/Cayucos pier. It is a busy, working pier.  If you want peace and quiet, this is not the pier for you. If you want lots of things to do and see, you won’t be disappointed. I’ve heard Santa Barbara is called the California Riviera and if you walk to the end of the pier and turn around to take in the view, you’ll see why.  Hold on to your little ones, if you have them with you, however.  There’s no railings at the end of Stearns Wharf.

How to Get There

From Highway 101 take Castillo St. or State St. west to the beach and follow signs to the pier.

Genesis 1:21 (GNV)  Then God created the great whales, and everything living and moving, which the waters brought forth in abundance according to their kind, and every feathered fowl according to his kind: and God saw that it was good.


Pier #6 – Goleta Pier

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Piers of Southern California

Pier #6 – Goleta Pier – a wooden pier in Santa Barbara County –  it is 1450 feet long.

I thought I knew where this pier was – by UC Santa Barbara – but the Maps app on my Iphone sent us on a wild goose chase to the north.  When we finally turned around and came back to UCSB we found the pier right where it’s always been, by the entrance to the campus in Goleta Beach Park. I’ve struggled in the past finding directions to the piers of southern California but then I discovered that Pierfishing.com gives good directions to each pier.

Normally I can trust the Map app and I love the way the app shows the piers as little white lines sticking out into the blue of the ocean.  But with the Goleta Pier there was no decent directions and no little white line protruding out from the coast on the map.  We ended up finding it the old fashioned way – stopping to ask a local.

While we had driven by the Goleta Pier on our way to a tour of the UCSB Campus in 2005, we had never stopped to explore it since neither of our girls decided to attend that particular institution of higher learning.  Our oldest did choose a smaller Santa Barbara college, attending Westmont located at the southern end of Santa Barbara. As a result, we explored the southern end of Santa Barbara more and ranged further south to Carpinteria, the Rincon, La Conchita, Faria Beach, and Ventura.

It was a beautiful sunny day when we visited. We could see the university sitting on the bluff overlooking the pier. Lucky students; so close to the beach. The Channel Islands were clearly visible.  Boats bobbed on the water as families with their bright umbrellas were sprinkled about the beach.  We made our usual stroll to the end of the pier noticing a strange staircase that led down to a lower level of the pier; kind of like the lower level on the Port San Luis pier where the seals hung out.  A pair of college-aged lovers were snuggling on the steps when we walked by the first time but the “coast was clear” and we were able to descend the steps on our return trip.

I enjoy all the informational signs they put on the piers to educate us about the tides, fish, etc.  According to Wikipedia, the pier is also called More’s Landing.  There is a cafe by the pier. We didn’t try it out but it looked busy; Goleta Beach Park receives over 1.5 million visitors a year. According Pier Fishing in California, Goleta Pier is one of the best fishing piers due to its easy access and wide variety of fish available to catch.

How to get there

From Highway 101 take the Hwy. 217/Airport exit. Follow it to Sandspit Rd. and the Goleta Beach Park turnoff. Follow this to the park and the pier.

Goleta pier copy

To quote the Show Ponies:  We’re not lost, we just don’t know where to go. (We did eventually find this pier!)

Luke 19:10  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


Pier #5 – Pismo Beach Pier

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Piers of Southern California

Pier #5 – Pismo Beach Pier – a wooden pier in San Luis Obispo County –  it is 1250 feet long.

Ah Pismo. The destination city for denizens of the Central Valley wishing to escape the heat of summer.  When valley temperatures are scorching in the 100 degree plus range, Pismo is cool with what we call the June gloom – socked in with a nice cool marine layer. I read up on some of the history of Pismo.  Apparently it has been a gathering place for vactioners since the 1900’s; and it was a rather wild place with saloons, brothels, skating rink, bowling alley and dance halls. Pismo comes from the Chumash word pismu which means tar. Aptly named, as we’ve all had to wash the tar from our feet after walking the beach at Pismo. (I found http://www.classiccalifornia.com helpful.)

We’ve been to Pismo many times. We have history here. I think this is why I’ve gotten stuck on writing this particular post. I feel inadequate to do the town justice and have had a tough time combing through all my memories to pick the most important ones to share. It all started when we were a young couple.  I have pictures of me walking the pier pregnant with my second child, our 2 year old happily perched on my shoulders. There was the family camping trips in our travel trailer to Pismo Coast Village. The girls rented tricycles to race around the park in.  We’d also meet up with family at Pismo State Park for camping and to play in the waves. These memories are bittersweet as we lost my sister-in-law late in 2013. I treasure the pictures I have of us bringing all our kids to Pismo and enjoying the beach together.

One year I ran the Central Coast Quilt Shop run with three friends and we stayed in a condo steps from the Pismo Beach pier. We’d brought our machines and spent a lot of time sewing but we’d always step outside at sunset to watch the sun sink into the ocean. I was climbing the stairs, enjoying the view and almost stepped on a pelican who was sleeping on the steps.

And I haven’t even mentioned the food yet.  Pismo Yogurt is steps from the beach.  Mo’s Smokhouse BBQ is just up the road from there and F. McClintock’s is tasty but a tad overpriced – huge portions, though. My husband and I recently loaded up our yogurt cups and plopped down on a bench to watch the sunset.  It was beautiful.

I discovered that Pismo has had several piers.  The first was a working wharf built in 1881.  It took off from a point below the original Main Street and the pilings of it can still be seen at extremely low tides.  The second pier was built in 1924 and was much longer than the one they have today. A storm washed about 500 feet off the pier and it was never replaced. The pier you can visit today was rebuilt in 1985-1986.

How To Get There

From the north, take Hwy. 101 to the Five Cities Dr. exit; follow Dolliver into the middle of town, then turn west on Pomeroy and follow it to the pier and parking lot. From the south, take the Pismo Beach Exit (Price St.), follow it to Pomeroy; turn west and follow it to the pier.

Pismo Beach Pier copy

Isaiah 42:12 – Let them give glory to the Lord And declare His praise in the coastlands.