Overview: California's southernmost recreational pier is within walking distance of the Mexican border. At its end is the Tin Fish, a small eatery with seafood, burgers and sandwiches. At its foot are Cow-a-Bunga, a coffee store, and Sound of Beach, which sells sundries. A colorful visual touch nearby is "Surfhenge," four acrylic arches representing the area's surfing heritage.
Background: This pier was dedicated Nov. 23, 1962, the day afterPresident John F. Kennedy was killed.
Views: The Coronado Islands are visible to the southwest; to the north is the town of Imperial Beach.
Parking: A lot at the foot of the pier charges $2 for all-day parking; some free parking is available on adjacent streets.
Directions: The 5 Freeway to the Palm Avenue/Highway 75 exit. Follow Palm Avenue to Seacoast Drive, turn left and take it to the pier.
Bayside Park Pier
Overview: This 675-foot pier in Chula Vista provides nice if un-exotic views across San Diego Bay to Coronado Cays Park.
Parking: Free in a sizable lot near the pier.
Directions: The 5 Freeway to the Marina Parkway exit. Turn right on West J street, continue onto Marina Parkway, turn left onto Sandpiper Way and into the park.
Pepper Park Pier
Overview: This is a Southern California rarity, a pier extending into wetlands. The small, bare-bones wood pier is along Sweetwater Channel, an indentation in San Diego Bay near the border of Chula Vista and National City. Across from the pier are marshy wetlands and a fair amount of bird life in the spring.
Parking: Free, in a large nearby lot.
Directions: From the 5 Freeway, take Exit 10 to merge onto Bay Marina Drive. After half a mile or so, turn left onto Tidelands Avenue and take it until it you reach the parking lot of Pepper Park.
Coronado Ferry Landing
Overview: Arguably the best half-day destination of any pier in Southern California, though not so much for the pier itself, which is a small fishing and ferry-landing spur poking out 300 feet into San Diego Bay. The lures are its views (below), a small "baby beach," a scenic walking path along the shoreline and lunch opportunities.
View: Great views of San Diego Bay at its best, with sweeping displays of the city's skyline, the naval yards, ships at berth and the Coronado Bay Bridge. They come close to rivaling views of San Francisco Bay.
Parking: The Coronado Ferry Landing parking lot is free but usually crowded.
Directions: The 5 Freeway to the Highway 75 exit. Take 75 over the Coronado Bay Bridge, continue on 4th Street, which becomes Pomona Avenue. Turn right on C Avenue, then right on 1st Street. The pier is not visible from the street, but is behind the Coronado Ferry Landing shopping complex.
Embarcadero Marina Park Pier