The beaches in California are some of the best in the country. In addition to surfing, swimming, and enjoying the views, some of these beaches have amusement parks, piers, and even ferris wheels right on the beach.
These iconic California beaches are where a day at the beach meets a day at the fair. Imagine riding a ferris wheel with views of the ocean, or spending the day exploring seaside amusement parks that are filled with food courts, games and rides.
That is exactly what you will find at these beaches. Here are five beaches in California where you can ride a ferris wheel and enjoy a day of fun for the entire family.
1. Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles
The Santa Monica Pier is the only amusement park located on a pier on the West Coast. This unique amusement park is also the home to the Pacific Wheel.
The 130-foot Pacific Wheel offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles Skyline. This is the only ferris wheel in California that is actually over the water.
The amusement park where this ferris wheel is located is called “Pacific Park” and has been named one one of California’s best amusement parks.
There are 12 other popular rides including the West Roller Coaster, they are all located on the pier. In addition to the rides, there is a classic arcade, and a trapeze school (no experience required).
Next to the pier is the Heal The Bay Aquarium, and the famous Ocean Front Walk. This wide paved walkway runs along the beach from the pier and is lined with shopping, and restaurants.
2. Balboa Fun Zone, Newport Beach
The Balboa Fun Zone is located on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. This amusement park sits right next to the ocean.
While this is not the largest ferris wheel on this list, visitors have enjoyed riding the Balboa Fun Zone Ferris Wheel since 1936. From the top you can see views of Catalina Island and Newport Bay.
If you ride the ferris wheel at night you can also see the lights of the harbor below. There are some other fun things to do near the ferris wheel and within the Balboa Fun Zone.
There is the Bayside Bungee Jump Trampoline, a chance to climb a palm tree, or you could ride the giant Happy Swing. The Balboa Fun Zone also has an arcade and game room.
You could purchase tickets for the Harbor Cruise. This narrated boat takes you around Newport Harbor, gives you a chance to get up close and insider information on the million dollar beachside homes, and you will probably spot some fun Sea Lions along the way.
There are also nearby restaurants, including the popular sit down historic Harborside Restaurant that is right next to the Fun Zone and has great views of the Bay.
3. The Pike, Long Beach
The Pike Ferris Wheel is not actually right on the beach, but it sits on a grassy area next to the Pike Outlet Mall which is near the ocean.
From the top of the Pike Ferris Wheel you can see views of the Pacific Ocean and the historic Queen Mary Ship that is permanently docked out in Long Beach.
There are no other rides, and you can only actually see the ocean from the top of this ferris wheel, but it is very cheap to ride and would make for a fun activity if you are in the Long Beach area.
4. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz
Today the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk doesn’t have a ferris wheel. They did have one for nearly 60 years, but it was retired in 2018.
Even though this amusement park doesn’t currently have a ferris wheel, this is one of the best seaside parks in California and there are some other great rides too, so I have included it on this list.
This oceanfront amusement park has been a summertime family favorite of California visitors and locals since 1907. It is located just steps from the City of Santa Cruz and sits right on the beach.
Many consider the Santa Cruz Boardwalk as one of the best seaside parks in the world. The boardwalk itself runs along a wide sandy beach and is right next to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The entire boardwalk as well as the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the Looff Carousel have been declared as California Historic Landmarks.
The beach located next to the boardwalk is a great spot to spend a relaxing beach day. You can also sometimes spot sea otters, dolphins, sea lions, and whales swimming off shore. Admission to the boardwalk is free and tickets for rides are affordable.
The boardwalk features games, a variety of fun food choices, sit down restaurants, and booths for soventires. There are over 40 different rides to choose from and other fun activities like laser tag, bowling, an indoor arcade, and mini golf.
While this California beach doesn’t have an actual ferris wheel, they do have the Sky Glider that runs along the boardwalk and offers a chance to see some incredible views of this classic seaside amusement park.
While all these ferris wheels are not right on the beach, they all have ocean views. Here is an overview of each one.
Ferris Wheels on the Beach in California
- Pacific Wheel (Pacific Park) – The biggest ferris wheel (85′) in California. Located on the Santa Monica Pier.
- Balboa Ferris Wheel (Balboa Fun Zone) – A 45′ ferris wheel that sits on the Balboa Peninsula next to the Newport Bay Harbor.
- The Pike Ferris Wheel (Pike Outlet Mall) – You can only see distant ocean views from the top. It is located next to the Pike Outlet Mall in Long Beach.
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Ferris Wheel – This ferris wheel was removed in 2018. You can ride the Sky Glider instead for some great beach views.