The 10 Best Beaches in San Francisco, California

Are you looking for the best beaches in San Francisco?

When people picture San Francisco they often imagine cable cars, curvy streets, and, of course, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

These sights make San Francisco one of the most beloved cities in the world.

However, San Francisco also has many of California’s best beaches.

If you are looking to go for a relaxing day out, here are ten of the San Francisco best beaches.

1/ Aquatic Park Cove

Aquatic Park Cove is located right in the heart of the city.  

However, most visitors barely even notice this sandy little oasis.

Just north of Ghirardelli Square, Aquatic Park boasts epic views of Alcatraz Island and the Marin Headlands.

Thanks to a man-made breakwater, the Cove is perfect for swimming.

For history buffs, Aquatic Park is home to some grand historic ships like the Balclutha.

If modern yachts are more to your liking, you can gaze out on the Bay and watch sailors tack and jibe in the wind all afternoon.

Flanked by the downtown skyline and the North Beach neighborhood, Aquatic Park is the perfect place to feel like you’re right in the middle of the action while still enjoying some tranquillity.

2/ Baker Beach

For a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, Baker Beach does not disappoint.

Located in the northwest corner of the city, surrounded by the wooded hills of the Presidio, this beach is the perfect place to admire the merging of ocean, bay, and land.

In fact, the Point Bonita Lighthouse has long been guiding cargo ships and oil tankers through the narrow passage between the Pacific and the bay.

If you go to Baker Beach in the summer, you may just get a thick blanket of fog to lend an air of mystery to your visit.

But be careful visiting on a hot, sunny day; the northern portion of Baker Beach is known to be clothing-optional and many local folks love to let it all hang out here on the sunniest days of the year.

If you’re looking for a gorgeous beach with real local flavor, Baker Beach is it.

4-hour San Francisco Walking Tour from Golden Gate Bridge to Baker Beach

A refreshing, four-hour walk from Crissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge, Marshall Beach and Baker Beach. Enjoy spectacular panoramas of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Visit pristine beaches and see abundant marine bird and animal life, wildflowers and rugged coastal scenery.

3/ Angel Island State Park

Most people who visit Angel Island – the large, undeveloped island right in the middle of San Francisco Bay – have no idea that there are two beautiful, remote little beaches to be explored.

Both beaches offer exceptional views of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.

From the fine sands of Quarry Beach on the east side of the island, you can admire the Berkeley Hills south to Oakland, across the Bay Bridge to the San Francisco skyline.

For a slightly different perspective, head over to Perles Beach on the south side of the island.

Here you’ll be treated to a view that spans from the Bay Bridge all the way to the Golden Gate.

Yes, the beaches on Angel Island State Park are all about that view.

And the best part is that you might just have it all to yourself.

San Francisco Ferry: Angel Island

Hop aboard the San Francisco ferry for a trip to Angel Island. This one-way or round-trip ferry service takes you across San Francisco Bay with beautiful views of the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

4/ Ocean Beach

With a seemingly endless ocean in front of it and over three miles of sand from north to south, Ocean Beach is the quintessential California beach.

If you feel like pondering the vastness of the universe, Ocean Beach is the place to do it.

There are no high-rises or huge condos to mar this stretch of ocean; just miles and miles of openness and rugged beauty.

In fact, on a clear day you can see all the way to the Farrallon Islands, a group of wild islands lying 30 miles off the coast.

While this beach can be windy and chilly, it’s a fantastic place to view migrating whales, courageous surfers and kite boarders, and unforgettable sunsets.

Ocean Beach may very well be the pulsing heart of San Francisco.

Check Tours with Ocean Beach

5/ Rodeo Beach

If you’re looking for a little beach adventure just outside of the city, Rodeo Beach, on the Marin Headlands, is the perfect place to start.

To get there, embark on a dizzying yet breathtaking drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Next, drive through the twisty headland roads.

As soon as you arrive at Rodeo Beach, all evidence of modern city life falls away.

Instead of high-rise buildings, you can explore the remains of 19th Century military forts.

Hiking trails traverse the bluffs, offering great exercise and spectacular ocean views.

If you like bird watching, Rodeo Lagoon, situated adjacent to the beach, is your aviary.

Rodeo Beach is a diverse landscape that offers a wide range of activities for a beach day unlike any other.

6/ Stinson Beach

As you drive north on Highway 1, you eventually find yourself in the sleepy coastal town of Stinson Beach.

Stinson Beach lies in close proximity to Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods, and the Bolinas Lagoon.

As a result, it is a haven for artists, nature lovers, surfers and laid-back folks.

If you try your hand at photography here you’ll realize that there are no bad pictures of this gorgeous landscape.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can hike around Mount Tam and down to Stinson Beach all in one day.

Or you can laze about town, window shopping and people watching.

This charming little town is right on the beach, making it easy to grab a snack at one of the delicious local eateries before working on your tan.

Stinson Beach is your haven from the action of the city, the perfect place to get that California mellow.

7/ Fort Funston

Fort Funston offers a unique beach experience, just south of San Francisco.

The first thing you’ll notice when you pull into the parking lot here is that there are more dogs than people!

Fort Funston is the premier dog walking beach in the Bay Area.

Dogs of every size, shape, color, and temperament frolic here.

Besides the canine entertainment, Fort Funston is a world-class location for hang gliding.

Witnessing hang gliders soaring in the wind over 200-foot-tall bluffs will inspire you or make you nauseous.

Either way, you’ll never forget it.

Walk along the ridge trails or take the long, steep trail down to the pounding surf.

Admire the dunes and native succulents.

Fort Funston is a wonderful glimpse at the drama of the California coast.

8/ Rockaway Beach

If you drive along the coast, just about ten miles south of San Francisco, you’ll find yourself in the town of Pacifica.

Rockaway Beach is one of the first beaches you’ll encounter.

It is a stunning example of the power of the ocean.

Steeply eroded bluffs and rocky outcroppings meet the coast here.

In fact, you can clearly see how the ocean is eroding the beach little by little as time goes on.

The waves are powerful here, and watching advanced surfers ride these waves is an awe-inspiring experience.

On the surrounding headlands, California native wildflowers and succulents flourish.

With all of this wild beauty, it’s easy to see why Pacifica locals take pride in this pristine little beach.

A few shops and restaurants nearby make Rockaway Beach the perfect stop for a blissful day by the sea.

Rockaway Beach Segway Tour in Pacifica

Fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean, including two beaches and weathered bluffs, are the highlights of this 2-hour Segway tour of Pacifica. Starting from Rockaway Beach, ride through a rock quarry and wildlife area, then climb twelve switchbacks up Strawberry Hill. See wildflowers, historical sites, surfers, and more with your guide.

9/ Linda Mar Beach

Linda Mar Beach, just south of San Francisco, offers great people watching and a nice slice of the California vibe.

Located right in the middle of the town of Pacifica, Linda Mar is the perfect place for beginner surfers to hone their skills.

You can spend your day getting pounded by surf.

Or you can just watch from the safety and comfort of the sandy beach.

Locals affectionately call Linda Mar “Taco Bell Beach.”

The popular fast food chain operates from an unassuming, wood-planked structure built right on the beach.

Somehow, it blends in perfectly with the local scenery.

With a lovely view of the surrounding hillsides and skateboarders whizzing past, Linda Mar encompasses the best of California beach culture.

10/ Pescadero State Beach

Although it takes about an hour to drive from San Francisco to Pescadero State Beach, you won’t regret it.

This beach is removed from the manic energy of the city.

It’s easy to find peace and tranquillity here.

With dunes, rock outcroppings, tide pools, driftwood, and native species of flora and fauna, Pescadero represents everything magical about Northern California beaches.

At certain times of the year, you might even get to see California sea lions lazing in the sun.

For an extra delicious experience, detour into the town of Pescadero and pick up a loaf of their famous artichoke bread.

Pescadero State Beach is so mellow, you might just get to enjoy a picnic on your own private slice of heaven.

Join a San Francisco Beach Tour

The beaches of the San Francisco are some of the most stunning and unique on Earth.

If you find yourself lucky enough to visit this fabulous city, get out there and explore these unique and unfettered landscapes. 

Comments

  1. lhajro
    lhajro
    Bosnia and Herzegowina 50 Comments
     -  08 Dec 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    As a resident of California, I can say this article is definitely right! I have been to many of these beaches myself, and each of them really is as they describe. If I was a tourist looking for a beach to go to around the SF area, this article would be really be helpful. Definitely recommending to a friend!

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