Discover stunning San Francisco Beaches and other Bay Area lakes and parks.
To be honest, you won't find as many beaches in San Francisco as Southern California or Florida.
However, there are a few nice San Francisco beaches that you can certainly visit. You'll also find yourself enjoying a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge :).
If you feel like they would be a little too "tourist-y" for you the enjoy a peaceful day at the beach then...you're right, haha...(but there are a few peaceful ones).
Don't get me wrong, it's not overwhelmingly crowded. But just don't expect to hog a spacious area along the sands because you'll probably end up sharing the sand with others about 3 feet away from you.
So, just in case these San Francisco beaches are not what you were expecting, I've also included a few bay area beaches, lakes and parks that you may enjoy that are just a few miles away from San Francisco :).
Located at Gibson Rd San Francisco, CA 94129
One of the popular San Francisco beaches is Baker Beach. It's a pretty big beach where you can chill and relax while you overlook the Golden Gate Bridge.
It's important you go on a clear, sunny day because otherwise it will be foggy and nothing much can be seen.
There were plenty of people when we visited, and it was slightly difficult to find a spot to rest on.
All types of people can be seen there- from teenagers to young adult cupcakers, adults jogging along the water, elderly playing frisbee with their pets, etc...So it's quite diverse.
What's funny is that some teenagers and young adults try to sneak in alcohol, but that's a no-no! Hahaha. Other foods and beverages are allowed though!
But otherwise, it was a great experience. The water was icey-cold so I didn't spend much time in the water, but the sand was soft so it was comfortable to lay on. :)
Sutro Baths isn't really your typical beach. It's more like a historical area that was once a gigantic swimming pool complex that rested alongside the ocean.
I have yet to see people swimming here as the waves are quite strong and the rocks are certainly dangerous.
However, it provides you a beautiful view of the sunset and the crashing waves. Not to mention you're surrounded by complex ruins from buildings the once stood here.
Located at Fulton St. & Great Highway, San Francisco CA 94121
This is one of the very few San Francisco beaches that isn't really crowded with tourists.
Next door from Sutro Baths, you can also make sure to catch a beautiful view of the sunset or sunrise. It's quite serene here since not a lot of people come here often.
Surfers can be found here. However, a few swimmers and surfers have died here from the strong waves and fast winds so please do be careful.
People don't really come here to swim. Most just find themselves resting under the sun on the warm, fine sand, enjoying the pleasant view.
You can also bonfire here at night, which my friends and I enjoy doing =).
Located at 490 Sea Cliff Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121 in the outer Richmond area.
China Beach is similar to Baker Beach, only smaller and less crowded. Not a lot of tourists know about China Beach, so it's certainly one of the less crowded San Francisco beaches.
What makes this beach so different from the other San Franciso beaches is that it looks quite exotic looking with the big rocks and stairs and all...(you have to take like 109012992 steps down to the beach area). Here's a picture I found on yelp: China Beach Pictures
Don't be surprised if you see some dude running around naked because I've seen a few, haha. This isn't a nude beach of course, but some people...have guts I guess lol.
It was quite chilly and windy when we went here, so I didn't dare come close to the water. We just picnicked here and enjoyed the view of the beach and again, the Golden Gate Bridge!
Um...I think the interesting things that people do here are run around naked and get married, so...you'll be lucky if you find yourself witnessing one of these events, haha!
I've discussed a few San Francisco beaches with you...Now how about other beaches in the Bay Area?
Alameda Beach, Marina Park, Lake Elizabeth, Quarry Lakes, and Lake Chabot are the locations that I frequently visit.
Alameda Beach is quite gusty and windy. The sand is quite pebbly, so don't expect to lay down comfortably. I don't know if we go at the wrong times, but it didn't always seem so clean looking...
Marina Park is a beautiful place to have a picnic and watch the sunset. This park contains a playground, a picnic area, and also a lookout spot where you can park your car and enjoy the view. There is also a fine Mexican restaurant, El Torito, where you can dine in and enjoy the view!
Lake Elizabeth in Fremont is your typical recreational park with playgrounds and grassy fields. There is a lake (greenish one that doesn't really look appealing), pretty enough to take pictures at. You can also paddle boat here. Just don't fall out!
Lake Chabot is an area where visitors can hike along. It does take you to a rather swampy area, so wear shoes that you can bare getting dirty. You can also picnic, paddle boat or kayak here, so there's plenty to do in this park :). It was quite fun here, so I recommend you visit this one if you're in the Hayward Area.
Quarry Lakes in the Union City/Fremont area is one of my favorite lakes of the Bay Area. They offer a volleyball, barbeque, and picnic area that you and your friends can gather at and hang out. The water is also quite clean and warm enough to swim in, and the sand is very fine and comfortable to lay on!
If you're planning to tour around California and happen to discover Central California , make sure to plan your Central California Beach Vacation! This site features a very help guide to planning your vacation around the area!
Please do bookmark this page as I will be adding more places as I discover more beautiful locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. I will also continue to add more pictures for your viewing pleasures, so make sure to come back! :)
If you've visited one or more of these fantastic San Francisco beaches or Bay Area parks, feel free to share your review on them! :)
See you around,
Your friendly, local SF travel guide ;).
I believe that the San Francisco beaches that I discussed here offer free parking, but just bring coins just in case!
Parking is a challenge in the San Francisco area, so I suggest you plan your day accordingly! One of these San Franciso beaches that I found difficult to find parking in is Ocean Beach.
We went here at night one time and boy did it take us a while to find parking!
Regardless, I think you'll have yourself an enjoyable time in any of these parks and beaches!