San Francisco July 25, 2016
by Stephanie Garr 8 Little Known Beaches Near San Francisco That’ll Make Your Summer Unforgettable
Who doesn’t love a good day on the beach? Of course, all your goals for quality relaxation time by the water can be totally squashed when huge crowds of locals and tourists come pouring in to your favorite patch of sand. Here’s your quick guide to some lesser known beaches near San Francisco that will keep your serenity intact.
1. Marshall Beach in San Francisco
This small, secluded beach runs along the steep and scenic Bluffs to Batteries Trail in San Francisco, and boasts even more spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge than it's more expansive and popular neighbor, Baker Beach. Here's the spot to let it all hang out, too, if that's what you're into.
2. China Beach in San Francisco
Tucked away behind the upscale neighborhood of Sea Cliff is this small patch of sand once used as a campsite by Chinese fishermen during Gold Rush times. Adjacent to Baker Beach on its southern end, China Beach is now a small hideaway with incredible views of the bridge.
3. Kirby Cove Beach in Sausalito
Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, where the Pacific Ocean meets the San Francisco Bay, is this small beach at the foot of the Marin Headlands. Park at the viewpoint at Battery Spencer, then head down about a mile to the beach, and catch some of the finest views of San Francisco. You can also camp here. You'll just need to reserve a spot well in advance.
4. Black Sands Beach / Bonita Cove Beach in Sausalito
A little further north of Kirby Cove is this south-facing beach hidden below the Marin Headlands. Head west on Conzelman Road to the Upper Fisherman's Trailhead, where there's a small parking lot. A dirt path and wooden steps bring you down to the black sand beach—enjoy a nice view of the Point Bonita Lighthouse as you frolic through the dark sands.
5. Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay
You can find this gem hidden among the bluffs along Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay, a little south of the Half Moon Bay Golf Links. A partially obscured sign will lead you to the parking lot. A short trail and long stairway (sometimes this is closed due to cliff erosion) takes you down to the beach, part of which is protected for the harbor seals, which can be spotted here between February and May.
6. Gray Whale Cove in Montara
Find this hidden nook just past the tunnel on Highway 1 towards Half Moon Bay. You'll have to park in the lot and walk across the road to reach the path to the sand. But you may just spot a whale or two close to shore from this scenic beach.
7. Bean Hollow State Beach Near Pescadero
You'll find this lovely stretch of sand just three miles south of Pescadero along Highway 1. Take the one-mile trail along the bluffs to Pebble Beach, home to many tidepools.
8. San Quentin Beach
Yes, there's a federal prison nearby, but don't let that deter you! This small, dog-friendly beach along the San Francisco Bay is hidden behind a residential neighborhood and offers some pretty spectacular views.
Looking for more sand to dip your toes into? Check out our other
favorite beaches in and around San Francisco.
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