The Santa Monica Pier was officially designated as the end of Route 66 in 2009 (there's a Route 66 souvenir shop on the pier), although the actual end of Route 66 was at Olympic and Lincoln, where Route 66 merged into Highway 1. There is also a marker for the end of Route 66 where Santa Monica Blvd runs into Ocean Ave two blocks north of the pier, since for most of it's length through Los Angeles, Route 66 runs along Santa Monica Blvd.
Parking at the Santa Monica Pier
There is a parking lot on the pier itself (at least until they get a garage built in the next few years). Parking rates are hourly, except during events and may change, depending on the season, the time of day and the event. The on-pier parking is accessible from Colorado and Ocean Blvd.
There is also a large beach-level lot immediately north of the pier and several smaller lots south of the pier. These lots are all accessible from Appian Way, reachable from Moomat Ahiko Way. None of these lots are accessible from Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), which has limited access through downtown Santa Monica.
If you're only planning a quick visit, many of the public garages around Santa Monica Place and 3rd Street Promenade have the first 90 minutes free parking, and the Civic Center garage, about 3 blocks from the pier, has a low daily rate. See Santa Monica Parking Map for lots, rates and reservations.
Directions to the Santa Monica Pier
GPS mapping sites and apps can give confusing directions to Santa Monica Pier because it IS confusing, depending on where you're coming from and where you want to park - on the pier, or in a beach lot.
The 10 Freeway (Interstate 10) ends just a few blocks east of the pier.
If you're heading west on the 10, exit the freeway at 4th/5th Street, follow the signs for 4th Street and turn left on Colorado Avenue, which goes right onto the pier. Be careful! If you miss the exit, you end up bypassing the pier as the 10 merges with Pacific Coast Highway/Highway 1, and you have to drive quite a ways before you can find a way to get back.
From Pacific Coast Highway southbound you can exit Palisades Beach Road and drive along the beach to park at the lower lots or exit left on Moomat Ahiko Way and stay right to park at the beach parking. To park on the pier, stay left on the off-ramp on Moomat Ahiko Way to drive under the pier, turn left on Ocean Ave, then left again onto the pier at Colorado/Santa Monica Pier.
From Highway 1/Lincoln Blvd/Pacific Coast Highway (all the same road) northbound, turn left on Pico, turn right when you hit Ocean Avenue, then left onto the pier. To get to the beach level parking, turn left on Moomat Ahiko Way.
Public Transportation to the Santa Monica Pier
The local Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Rapid Route 10 goes between the Pier and Downtown LA via the 10 Freeway, and for $1, Rapid Route 20 goes to the Culver City Expo Line Station on the LA Metro.
To get to and from Hollywood, Metro Rapid Line 704 runs most of the way on Santa Monica Blvd, with various local buses depending on where you want to start/end in Hollywood. It takes about an hour and a half from Hollywood to Santa Monica Pier by bus. Try the public transportation option on Google Maps to see options.
Another option is the Starline Tours Hop-On Hop-Off Yellow Route double-deck sightseeing bus, which stops at the Santa Monica Pier.
Distance from Santa Monica Pier to...
Malibu Pier - less than 2 miles
Hollywood - 14 miles; 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic
Downtown LA - 17 miles; 20 to 45 minutes with traffic
Downtown Long Beach - 32 miles; 35 minutes to 2 hours with traffic
Disneyland - 43 miles; 50 minutes to 2 hours with traffic