San Francisco Beaches
Beaches are probably not the first thing you think of when considering San Francisco, and San Francisco beaches most likely don't match the image in your mind of what a California beach should look like.
Often chilly or foggy or both, you won't usually find people donning a bikini and suntan oil. Instead, most days you will be better prepared by wearing a jacket and scarf. But that doesn't mean they aren't worth checking out!
(You can check out my page on weather in san francisco to help you know what to expect!)
Except for the few very hot days we have out of the year when San Franciscans flock to the beaches, San Francisco beaches are a peaceful and beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Best San Francisco Beaches
This is the largest beach in the city, and when it's not foggy, this is one of the best spots in the city to watch the sunset, gather with friends for evening bonfires, or go for a stroll. It's also popular among surfers (and kite-surfers on windy days), although it's not appropriate for beginners.
This spot gets my vote for best all-around beach, and is the place to go to have a typical beach day with friends. It's gorgeous, with cliffs jutting up at one end, and a magnificent view of the Golden Gate Bridge at the other. It also has picnic tables, grills for barbecuing and restrooms.
Know before you go: the far east end of the beach is popular for nude sunbathing.
Tucked in the Marin Headlands (north of the city), this beach is a great off-the-beaten-path spot. It's one of my favorite places to bring friends who are visiting from out of town, after going to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
Even though it is close to San Francisco's most widely recognized landmark, this beach is not well-known, and is rarely crowded. Previously an old military fort, it is wonderful for bird-watching and hiking. It also has a small break popular among surfers at the north end.
If you only have time to check out one coastal area of San Francisco, I would highly recommend this one. Although this area is not exclusively a beach, I include it here because it is has one, and is one of the most picturesque natural areas of San Francisco to explore. Come here to go for a long stroll with fantastic views, let your children wade in the mellow shoreline, fly a kite or visit Fort Point and the Warming Hut.
Located south of Ocean Beach, this beach has several trails that weave over its sandy bluffs.
It's a gorgeous place to go walking, and is especially popular among dog walkers and hang gliders. A local's favorite spot - not many tourists know about this place!
More San Francisco Beaches...
Mile Rock Beach:
A teeny, tiny, rocky beach found along the walk by Land's End, this hidden gem has a stone labyrinth on a cliff edge with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and out over the Pacific. It is one of my favorite places to visit for a few moments of quiet reflection. It's not a place where you would hang out for the whole day, but it's a worthy stop on a beautiful walk in San Francisco.
This small beach is located on the west side of Baker Beach, tucked behind homes in one of the most affluent San Francisco Neighborhoods, the Seacliff district. It's so off-the-beaten-path that there are many locals who don't know how to get here.
East of Baker Beach, this is the closest beach to the west side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Small and not super well-known, it's a popular location for those who enjoy sunbathing in the nude. To get there, you need to hike down an unmarked but maintained pedestrian pathway from Lincoln Boulevard.
Map of Beaches of San Francisco:
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