Best Beaches in San Francisco, USA

Although San Francisco may not be at the top of the beach vacation list for many people that doesn't mean there aren't great beaches here. A quick look at the map will show there are sandy beaches all around the city, including a few within walking distance of downtown.

But beach life in San Francisco is a very different proposition to the sun-soaked beaches of SoCal. Firstly there's the weather! It has to be said that the Northern California climate in summer can be somewhat disappointing with even the most promising of summer days soon descending into a damp, clinging fog. Oh, and don't forget your wetsuit as the water temperature never really rises above chilly.

Climate aside the Northern California coast surrounding the city is quite stunning. Craggy cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop and offer some great terrain for hiking. Closer to town there are some good options for surfing and even a couple of clothing-optional spots within a stone's throw of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Baker Beach

    Baker Beach
    UltraView Admin

    Situated between San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge to the north, Baker Beach is a flat, wide expanse of golden sand approximately 800 metres in length.

    In the city's Presidio area, its natural vistas are improved by views of the entirety of the Golden Gate Bridge on all but the foggiest of days. Within… read more »

  • Fort Funston

    Fort Funston
    © Adam Derewecki

    The southernmost Pacific facing beach in San Francisco, Fort Funston Beach is included as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Rather windy, especially on the top of the sandy bluffs that surround it, Fort Funston Beach has become a haven for hang gliders. They launch from a special ramp most frequently between… read more »

  • Tennessee Beach

    Tennessee Beach
    Fabrice Florin

    Tennessee Beach is located on the west side of the Marin Headlands in San Francisco's Marin County. It is named after the SS Tennessee, a ship which ran aground here in 1853 while trying to enter Golden Gate Bay. Though all 500 passengers on board escaped, its iron carcass can still be seen during the… read more »

  • Muir Beach

    Muir Beach
    Jesse Wagstaff

    Twenty-five kilometres from San Francisco, Muir Beach is the first beach you'll come across heading north into Marin County. One of the cleanest beaches in California according to official data, it is a part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

    While not the longest of beaches, at around 300 metres in length, it is wide,… read more »

  • Linda Mar Beach

    Linda Mar Beach
    © jnickp

    You know a beach is going to be worthwhile when it has not one but two names! Pacifica State Beach is situated on the outskirts of San Francisco in California's San Mateo County. One of the most popular beaches to learn how to surf in the Bay area, it is known to surfers as… read more »

  • Stinson Beach

    Stinson Beach
    Mark Gunn

    Situated within California's Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Stinson Beach lies approximately 30 kilometres northwest of San Francisco along Highway 1, making it a popular day trip for residents of the city.

    This long stretch of sand offers a relatively shallow entry into the waters of the Pacific, which can be a little on the… read more »

  • Half Moon Bay State Beach

    Half Moon Bay State Beach
    © David Mark

    Half Moon Bay State Beach has a total length of around 4 miles, and is officially comprised of four separate broad sand beaches. They are named Francis (Kelly) Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and Roosevelt (Naples) Beach.

    The Francis Beach section of Half Moon Bay State Beach lies at its southern end. A popular spot for… read more »

  • San Gregorio State Beach

    San Gregorio State Beach
    Nathan Siemers

    Close to Silicon Valley in the South Bay Area, San Gregorio State Beach is a popular beach with a large car park and good amenities. Located on a wild stretch of the California coast this is a great place for picnics, birdwatching, beach activities, walking, hunting for fossils and exploring the trails.

    Accessed from La Honda… read more »

  • Pescadero State Beach

    Pescadero State Beach
    Nick Amoscato

    A great all-round beach, Pescadero State Beach incorporates sands perfect for sunbathing with rocky cliffs, tidal pools, picnic facilities, and sites for shore fishing. The latter you might expect with a beach that takes its name from the Spanish for "the place to fish".

    The beach covers a length of around a mile in total, divided… read more »

  • Marshall's Beach

    Marshall's Beach
    © Frank Schulenburg

    Located in San Francisco's Presidio park, which encloses an area of historic military installations at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marshall's Beach is the closest beach to this icon of California and the United States.

    Offering exemplary views of the bridge, as well as of sunsets over Helmet Rock and the Pacific Ocean,… read more »

  • Lands End Beach

    Lands End Beach
    Willis Lam

    Close to San Francisco, Lands End Beach is a clothing-optional beach which is particularly quiet and private during weekdays.

    To reach it, drive west along Geary Blvd and take a right at the fork onto Point Lobos Ave. You can park by continuing along to a large car park or by turning right again… read more »

  • Ocean Beach

    Ocean Beach
    K Danko

    Stretching for over three miles between Cliff House and Fort Funston is Ocean Beach. The beach runs along much of San Francisco's westerly suburb, the aptly named Sunset. Despite this Ocean Beach still feels pretty wild, particularly towards the southern end where it is backed by dunes.

    Like the rest of San Francisco's beaches the… read more »

  • Quarry Beach

    Quarry Beach
    Marcin Wichary

    Quarry Beach is one of two main beaches on Angel Island, which sits in San Francisco Bay, not far from Alcatraz Island. Found on the island's east coast its fine sands lie approximately two miles from the island's ferry terminal, beyond the historic Immigration Station and visitor centre which you'll likely be visiting in any… read more »

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