San Francisco Beaches

San Francisco beaches combine great views with the fresh tang of cold ocean breakers, perfect for long walks or just contemplation.

San Francisco isn't known as a beach town, but we've got some gorgeous beaches well-worth exploring:

  • Sheltered beaches near Fisherman's Wharf.
  • Beaches with close-up views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Wild beaches at the foot of sandy bluffs.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is the grand-daddy of San Francisco beaches, stretching out for three miles along the entire western edge of San Francisco. A wide, flat expanse of sand, this beach is the best one for long walks. It is also the most popular, which means lots of people on our warm, sunny days. This is a great surfing beach, and dogs can be off-leash in certain parts.

More info on Ocean Beach.

san francisco beaches, ocean beach
Ocean Beach

Baker Beach

Baker Beach has the famous postcard view of the Golden Gate Bridge. This beach sits just outside the Golden Gate, with the old guns of Battery Chamberlin guarding the approach to the bay. This San Francisco beach is a must-see; be sure to bring your camera! (It's also the local nude beach, but only one end of it.)

san francisco beaches, baker beach
Baker Beach

China Beach

China Beach is a pocket-beach: a miniature, lesser-known cove next door to Baker Beach, tucked away in an exclusive neighborhood. Too small for long walks, but with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. A few brave souls swim here.

san francisco beaches, china beach
China Beach

More info on China Beach.

Fort Funston

Another San Francisco beach located near an old fort. Fort Funston is my favorite, a rugged beach with crashing surf at the bottom of 200 foot cliffs, just south of Ocean Beach. Very popular with dogs, as well. When the winds are blowing, you'll see hang gliders soaring from the cliff tops.

More info on Fort Funston.

san francisco beaches, fort funston
Fort Funston

Chrissy Field

Just inside the Golden Gate, Chrissy Field has a wide, sandy beach with a pretty view of the bridge and Alcatraz. It's a short, 10 minute walk from Fisherman's Wharf. Of the San Francisco beaches, this one's the most popular with windsurfers.

san francisco beaches, chrissy field
Chrissy Field

Aquatic Park

This San Francisco beach is in a protected cove at the western end of Fisherman's Wharf, an easy stroll from the popular tourist areas. Great spot for a peaceful picnic on the sand and taking a break from the crowds at Pier 39. Most popular (and safest) for swimming of all our beaches.

san francisco beaches, aquatic park
Aquatic Park

Mile Rock Beach, Lands End

At the western tip of San Francisco, jutting out into ocean, is Lands End: a nature park of steep cliffs with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. It has a small, rocky beach, called Mile Rock Beach, accessible from the Coastal Trail. Wonderful beach to walk to.

More info on hiking at Lands End.

san francisco beaches, lands end, miles rock beach
Lands End, Mile Rock Beach

Insider Tips:

  • The usual San Francisco advice: bring your jacket. The weather is fickle, and it tends to be windier and colder at the beaches than in the city, especially the ones facing the Pacific Ocean.
  • The best time to go is usually between 11:00 and 2:00. The typical summer pattern is fog in the morning which burns off, and then rolls in again around 2:30 or 3:00. The afternoon fog comes with a cold wind.
  • If you want to walk on the beach at Fort Funston, check the tide schedule at Tide Tables. The high tide swallows most of the beach.
  • Bringing a dog? Fort Funston is the best bet, with more limited off-leash areas at Ocean Beach.
  • Don't plan to go swimming at the beaches in San Francisco (except Aquatic Park on a hot day). There are very dangerous rip currents, especially at Ocean Beach; people drown there almost every summer. A few people swim at China Beach, but I wouldn't recommend it. The water's way too cold, anyway! The water temperature in September (our warmest month) is around 57 degrees F or 14 degrees C. The surfers at Ocean Beach wear wetsuits all year round.

Map of San Francisco Beaches

map of san francisco beaches
Map data (c) OpenStreetMap (and) contributors, CC-BY-SA

See Safety Tips for Beaches in San Francisco. Information on rip currents at Ocean Beach.

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Map of San Francisco Beaches

thumbnail map, san francisco beaches
(Click to enlarge)

Safety Tips
for using the beaches in San Francisco