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:
Ocean Beach is the grand-daddy of San Francisco beaches, stretching out for three miles along the entire western edge of San Francisco. This wide, flat expanse of sand is the best beach for long walks or a run. It's 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, and why only experienced surfers should go in the water!
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, and usually it's too cold for that!)
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.
More info and tips for visiting China Beach.
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 visiting Fort Funston.
Just inside the Golden Gate, Crissy 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.
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.
Bites from sea lions or harbor seals are fairly rare, but they do happen occasionally. For now, Aquatic Park is closed to swimming. See the article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
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 Mile Rock Beach and hiking at beautiful Lands End.