Because foggy weather is associated with Northern California, beaches tend to be forgotten, but don’t miss out on these great beaches that will pleasantly surprise you when you visit San Francisco!

girl on beach in san francisco

San Francisco’s Best Beaches

When people think of San Francisco, they plan their agenda around dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Because of the foggy weather in Northern California, beaches tend to be forgotten, which is a shame since  San Francisco is home to incredible beaches. While the Pacific Ocean may not be warm enough for swimming all year long, the sheer natural beauty of these beaches is enough to warrant a visit.

East Beach

Because this beach was once filled with immigrant fisherman, it is sometimes referred to as “China Beach.” Families can be found on the beach in warm weather, as the water is shallow and there are lifeguards on duty. When it’s too cool for swimming, there are grills and picnic tables. Be sure to bring your camera, as East Beach is the closest beach to Golden Gate Bridge on its Bay Side.

Aquatic Park

San Francisco is one of the only cities to have a beach located in the heart of its downtown area. As an urban beach, it gets its share of business people on their breaks or travelers looking to relax before tackling their next tourist attraction. There’s a wading area in the beach, so roll up your pants and introduce your ankles to the surf. This beach also has a paved walk, allowing beach lovers with wheelchairs and other wheeled devices to enjoy the surf too.

Surfers on beach

Baker Beach

This beach has excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It also has an area maintained as a nude beach, so views vary depending upon whether you plan to spend your time clothed or wearing nothing at all. This beach tends to be crowded on sunny days, with beachgoers playing volleyball, flying kites and taking part in Frisbee competitions.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is said to have the finest views in San Francisco. It’s where folks go to take in panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean before them. Five miles long with a surf said to be “peaceful” by local residents even feature areas of the beach quiet enough for meditation. Also noteworthy is that Ocean Beach is dog-friendly, with both leashed and unleashed pooches romping in the sand.

Stinson beach

Stinson Beach

This beach is a bit of a day trip, but is absolutely worth your while. Before you come upon Stinson Beach, you’ll drive through awe-inspiring Muir Woods. Visiting the beach offers access to swimming, hiking and picnic areas within this state park.

If you hadn’t considered spending time at the beach during your trip to San Francisco, we hope we’ve changed your mind. Just stepping away from the excitement of the city and taking in the ocean air can be life-changing. If we missed a favorite beach in the San Francisco area, please let us know!

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