Yes, we know you could just find your way to Highway 1 and do your own beach-hopping, but we’re happy to help you along here with our roundup of 15 of the best beaches in and around San Francisco. Remember to bring your swimsuit, actually probably a wetsuit, or maybe just a coat (
especially in the summer).
1. Baker Beach
San Francisco's premier beach for one of the world's most iconic views. Follow the Batteries to Bluffs Trail to the smaller Marshall's Beach for even closer views of the bridge.
2. Ocean Beach
A dip into the waters at this San Francisco beach is only for the truly brave, but you can appreciate the beauty just as much from the sand. And forget the sun, the fog can give this place a special sort of eeriness — best experienced at a bonfire.
3. Kirby Cove
This little cove in Marin offers a truly unique view of the Golden Gate and San Francisco and is one of the coolest (and most in-demand) camping spots in California.
4. Stinson Beach
This expansive strip of sand sits a quick drive from San Francisco, below the wondrous Mount Tamalpais.
5. Muir Beach
Get your redwoods and beach all within 3 miles of each other. And be sure to check out this outlook point for jaw-dropping photo ops.
6. Montara State Beach
Just 20 miles south of San Francisco is this beauty, great for exploring the tide pools and feeling worlds away from the city's hustle and bustle.
7. Limantour Beach
This long stretch of sand in Point Reyes offers spectacular views — usually with the serenity of fewer people than Stinson. Watch out, though, it can get pretty windy out there, folks.
8. China Beach
Named after the Chinese fishermen who would camp at this beach back in the 1800s (no Golden Gate to gawk at back then), this small cove is tucked underneath the lavish Seacliff neighborhood.
9. Ano Nuevo State Park
This Pescadero beach is home to one of the world's largest mainland breeding colonies for the northern elephant seal. You'll need to hike a bit to see them, but they're adorable!
10. Gray Whale Cove State Beach
This small beach just south of San Francisco is surrounded by dramatic cliffs. Beware that you will have to park on the other side of Highway 1, cross over the street, and take a steep stairway down — it ain't nicknamed Devil's Slide for nothing.
11. Pescadero State Beach
A mile-long shoreline, with lots of little coves, means you can have plenty of your own private space on this gorgeous beach. After some quality morning sunbathing, head into town for lunch, and check out Pescadero's Harley Farms to pet some goats and eat some cheese. Then make your way back to the beach for sunset.
12. Crissy Field
Yes, it's another ridiculous view of the Golden Gate. We can't get enough.
13. Fitzgerald Marin Reserve
See colorful starfish, sea anemones, crabs, mollusks, and more sea life gathering among the tide pools in this marine reserve in Moss Beach, located just 40 minutes south of San Francisco. And, if you're lucky, you may see some whales and dolphins in the distance.
14. Waddell Beach
Right across the highway from
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
(a must-do area to hike as well), this relaxed, beautiful, never-too-crowded beach is also a favorite spot for kite surfers.
15. Kehoe Beach
A leisurely walk will get you to this lovely patch of sand in Tomales Bay. Explore the big sand dunes or just, you know, soak in the sand and the surf.
Ahhh, life’s a beach, or at least it should be. What other beaches in and around San Francisco do you love?