A Guide to San Francisco’s Best Beaches

Picture a typical California beach, and you’ll most likely be thinking of the southern part of the state – the sun-drenched setting for music videos and Hollywood movies. Up in San Francisco, things look a little different, but the beaches here have a charm that’s all their own. To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve put together a list of some of the city’s best beach spots. Don’t forget to let us know your favourite! 

Ocean Beach

The city’s largest and most popular beach seems like a good place to start. Ocean Beach covers a three-mile expanse of coastline, has beautiful views of the Pacific, and is extremely accessible. The bad news is that the water here is cold and the currents are deadly, but that doesn’t stop you walking, running, kite-flying or picnicking on the beach to your heart’s content. 

Baker Beach 

If you’ve searched online for images of the Golden Gate Bridge, the chances are you’ve already seen the view from Baker Beach – but nothing can compare to seeing it in real life! As well as the photography opportunities, Baker Beach offers a variety of hiking trails and plenty of nearby eateries. Accessible by bus from the city centre, this beach features on most tourist itineraries at some point. 

If you’re travelling as a family (or you’re just easily embarrassed) do remember that the northern part of Baker Beach is known as a “clothing optional” sunbathing spot. Don’t say you weren’t warned! 

Montara State Beach

Around half an hour’s drive outside San Francisco, Montara State Beach is a secluded spot with magnificent views of the Pacific. The path down to the shore isn’t the best, but as a result, the beach is one of the cleanest in California. The waters here are also part of a marine conservation area, and in the right season, you might even be lucky enough to spot migrating whales as they pass by offshore.

Agate Beach Park 

A short drive north of San Francisco, this is one for the nature lovers. Covering almost two miles of ocean shoreline, Agate Beach Park is a biodiversity hotspot, with sealions, birds and other marine life forming a big part of the attraction. At low tide, rock pools are formed all along the water’s edge. Exploring them is fascinating – you never know what you might find! 

China Beach

Named for the Chinese fishermen who used to anchor here, China Beach can’t match up to some of San Francisco’s larger beaches, but it does combine some of their biggest attractions into one little cove. Like Baker Beach and several others nearby, it’s part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and boasts impressive views of the famous bridge. At the same time, it’s home to tidal pools like those at Agate Beach Park, and the soft sand and sheltered location make it an ideal spot for families.

If you are planning to visit California, and San Francisco, then please do get in touch with Gray Line San FranciscoWe are the local sightseeing experts. We’ve been the global leader in sightseeing tours since 1910. We can help you explore the whole Bay and Coast area to discover these stunning beaches!