'Santa Monica Pier' was a waste of time for us. Granted it was the Fourth of July, and crowded; however the only things it offered were a couple of o.k. restaurants, souvenir shops, and rides that would only impress smaller children. If you've been to any of the other amusements parks,or have teens, you would find this place boring.
P.S. I am not including the 'UCLA Discovery Center', (which is located on the pier) as a place to stay away from.
The Santa Monica Pier - sure, it may be a cool place to go just to say 'Hey, I've been there' and for the pure novelty of it. Needless to say, the Pier is now just overrun with teen gangbanger types with baggy pants. Sure, there are some interesting street perfomers here, but you can find them on 3rd Street and in Venice as well. It's dirty and there are MUCH nicer piers in Southern California. The crowd on the pier is definitely different from the crowd you would normally encounter on the Promenade.