Essential No. 13: The pier

From weekend anglers to starry-eyed kids, dreamers are always welcome
Peter Fish

Anything can happen on a pier. Step out onto the planks that creak with each pulse of surf, and the laws of land are left behind.

You could plot a crime on a pier, or an affair; you could catch a surf perch or a broken heart. No wonder we love them, the 150-plus piers that prod the Pacific from Sitka, Alaska, to Imperial Beach, California. Waves smash their pilings, we build them back up.

Take the Malibu Pier, built in 1905 and now reopened after a $6.2 million renovation.

It has the poshest setting of any pier: David Geffen's $425-a-night Malibu Beach Inn lies just to the north. But it doesn't cost anything to walk out onto Malibu Pier, to gaze at the sea, the sunset, to dream of the future ahead.

Take a long walk Ruby's Shake Shack ($; 310/456-3443) reopened this summer on the pier (23000 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; malibupiersportfishing.com).

Do you have a new western essential –– a food, drink, place, or experience you can't live without? Email us: newessentials@sunset.com