Top 8 Must-Visit San Francisco Beaches

San Francisco beaches offer a beautiful coastline with a lot of sandy spots where you can unwind, take in the sun, and feel the ocean breeze. From stowed-away bays to well-known traveler locations, each ocean side has its novel appeal and excellence. San Francisco’s beaches are sure to win your heart and leave you wanting more, whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an exciting day on the water. So, put on your sunscreen, pack your bags, and get ready to explore the amazing city’s sandy shores and the best things to do in San Francisco!

Best Beaches In San Francisco

Whether you’re searching to soak up the sun, catch some waves, or enjoy the scenic views, San Francisco’s beaches have something for everyone. Let’s explore the top 8 beaches of San Francisco. Well, if you are a beachgoer who loves to visit beaches, then we would personally recommend you also read our recent guide featuring the Soul-capturing beaches in Santa Barbara.

Baker Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Those who want to relax and unwind while enjoying stunning views.
Baker Beach
Baker Beach – Photo by Tim Costello on Unsplash

Baker Beach is the perfect destination for anyone visiting San Francisco beaches, offering a unique and unforgettable experience. Firstly, the Beach is located in the Presidio, one of the city’s most scenic and historic areas. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge while relaxing on the Beach, and there are plenty of walking tracks and picnic areas nearby to explore. The Beach’s natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere make it an ideal spot for anyone seeking a peaceful gateway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Baker Beach is a great place to soak up the California sun and enjoy the warm weather. While the water can be cold and rough, there are plenty of spots for sunbathing and picnicking. Visitors can also enjoy a volleyball game or explore the nearby Batteries to Bluffs Trail for breathtaking coastline views. With its vast expanse of soft sand and gentle waves, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Finally, the beach is steeped in history, making it an even more exciting destination. During World War II, the Beach was the site of military installations and gun emplacements; visitors can still see some of these structures today. The Beach was later turned into a public space and remained popular with locals and tourists. With its stunning views, natural beauty, and fascinating history, Baker Beach is the perfect place to experience the unique and vibrant spirit of San Francisco.

Ocean Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Beachgoers who love long walks along the shore, surfing, and kite flying.
Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach – Photo by John

Ocean Beach is the perfect spot for families looking for a fun day out. The beach is the perfect destination for beachgoers who love the ocean, outdoor activities, and stunning views. Firstly, this 3.5-mile-long Beach is located on the western edge of San Francisco and is one of the city’s most popular spots for surfing, kite-flying, and beachcombing. With its vast expanse of sand and waves, this beach is an excellent place for anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.

Secondly, the beach is an excellent spot for those looking to experience the natural beauty of San Francisco. The Beach stretches along the Pacific Ocean and offers stunning views of the coastline, the sunset, and the nearby Sutro Baths. Visitors can explore the Beach on foot or bike, and several trails provide panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding areas.

The Beach has several picnic areas, public restrooms, and lifeguards on duty during the summer months. Children can enjoy building sandcastles, playing in the waves, and exploring the nearby Golden Gate Park. With its wide range of activities and stunning scenery, it is the perfect destination for anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors and experience the natural beauty of San Francisco beaches.

Mile Rock Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Those seeking a quiet and secluded beach experience in San Francisco.
Mile Rock Beach
Mile Rock Beach – Photo by mark bonn

Mile Rock in San Francisco is a hidden gem offering stunning views, wildlife sightings, and history. It is located just south of the Golden Gate Bridge and is accessible by walking or bike ride. Fishing is also popular at Mile Rock Beach, with catches including salmon, rockfish, and whitefish. The Beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and taking in the breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.

Visitors can arrive at the Beach via Bay Street and Franklin Street. It is recommended to arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds. Visitors should avoid the cliffs near the Beach, as the waves can be dangerous. Also, it is best to prevent seaweed on the shore, which can be slippery and dangerous.

Moreover, it is recommended that you should pack plenty of sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to have the best time at Mile Rock Beach. Visitors should also bring their food and drinks since no food or water is available on-site. Visitors can explore the area by hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply relaxing by the water.

Well, if you love to visit water-related places witnessing sea life then you can read our exciting guide to 5 mesmerizing aquaria in California that looks too dreamy.

Crissy Field Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Many beachgoers, including families with children.
Crissy Field Beach
Crissy Field Beach – Photo by Michael Emono on Unsplash

Crissy Field Beach is a stunning and spacious beach in San Francisco’s Presidio district. It is known for its breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, rolling dunes, and calm waters. The Beach has a rich history, once serving as an airfield for the US Army and later restored as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Today, the Beach attracts visitors of all ages who enjoy its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities.

Visitors to Crissy Field Beach can enjoy a wide range of activities. There is something for everyone, from swimming and sunbathing to windsurfing and kiteboarding. This Beach in San Francisco is also perfect for picnicking, jogging, and biking along its scenic trails. Restrooms, showers, and changing rooms are available, as well as picnic tables and barbecue pits for those who want to enjoy a meal or a snack with family and friends.

Crissy Field Beach is easily accessible by car, bike, or public transportation. Visitors can park in the nearby parking lot or take the Muni bus to the Beach. The Beach is open daily from sunrise to sunset, with no entrance fee. Whether looking for a quiet relaxing spot or an active day by the water, Crissy Field Beach is the perfect destination for a fun-filled day in San Francisco.

Marshall's Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Those who love the outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of the ocean and surrounding coastline.
Marshall's Beach
Marshall’s Beach – Photo by Noah Rosenfield on Unsplash

Marshall’s Beach in San Francisco is a hidden gem that offers a unique and breathtaking experience. The Beach has a stunning view, is secluded, and offers visitors a quiet relaxing spot or an adventure-filled day exploring the rugged coastline. The beach stretches for over three miles, has clean sands, and plenty of areas for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.

Marshall’s Beach is a great place to visit in San Francisco because of its cleanliness and many available activities. Restaurants and cafes are nearby, and recreational options include swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and fishing. The Beach is close to downtown San Francisco, making it an excellent location for visitors to explore other attractions.

The weather is always perfect at Marshall’s Beach, and there are plenty of places to enjoy the sun and the waves. Whether you’re looking to take in some peaceful sunbathing or want to explore some of the city’s best attractions, this beach is an excellent choice for your next visit. With its scenic location and plenty of activities to keep you entertained, it’s easy to see why Marshall’s Beach should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

China Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Visitors who want to experience a quieter, more secluded beach environment in San Francisco.
China Beach
China Beach – Photo by sterlinglanier Lanier on Unsplash

China Beach is a small yet beautiful beach in the Sea-Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco. The Beach is named after the Chinese fishermen who camped on its shores during the 1800s. With its calm waters, stunning views, and pristine surroundings, this beach is perfect for a peaceful getaway.

The Beach is relatively secluded and has a serene atmosphere. The waters are calm, and the sandy beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. The Beach is also famous among families with small children as it is protected by a cove, which makes it a safe and calm spot for young swimmers.

The Beach is surrounded by stunning landscapes and lush greenery, making it an excellent location for picnics and outdoor activities. Visitors can walk along the shore or hike through the nearby trails and enjoy the views of the Golden-Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Overall, China Beach is a must-visit destination for those seeking a quiet and scenic retreat in San Francisco.

Seal Rocks Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Beach lovers seeking a peaceful getaway with stunning natural scenery.
Seal Rocks Beach
Seal Rocks Beach – Photo by Jake Roxen on Unsplash

One of the most beautiful and secluded San Francisco beaches, Seal Rocks Beach is located on the western edge of San Francisco. With a small parking lot and no public transportation options, tourists and locals often overlook it, making it a perfect spot for those seeking a more private beach experience. The Beach itself is relatively small and rocky, but the stunning views of the ocean and nearby cliffside make it a must-visit destination for any beach lover. Visitors can enjoy sunbathing, picnicking, and exploring the tide pools during low tide.

While Seal Rocks Beach is the main attraction in the area, there are also several other sights and activities worth checking out. The adjacent Lands End Trail offers a stunning hike along the coastline with breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The nearby Sutro Baths ruins provide a glimpse into the area’s fascinating history as a public bathhouse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And for those seeking a more urban experience, the neighborhood of Outer Richmond is just a short drive away, offering a diverse array of restaurants, shops, and bars.

Overall, Seal Rocks Beach is a hidden gem in San Francisco that offers a reflexive and lovely gateway from the hustle and bustle of the city. With stunning natural beauty, fascinating history, and plenty of nearby activities, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a unique and unforgettable beach experience.

Phillip Burton Memorial Beach

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PERFECT FOR: Those who love walking alongside beaches.
Phillip Burton Memorial Beach
Phillip Burton Memorial Beach – Photo by Odalis Santamarilla

Phillip Burton Memorial Beach, also known as McNear’s Beach, is a beautiful beach on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in Marin County. The Beach is a popular spot for families, swimmers, and picnickers who enjoy the calm waters and stunning bay views.

The Beach is named after Phillip Burton, a former congressman who was instrumental in protecting the bay and the surrounding areas. The Beach offers a range of activities, including swimming, kayaking, fishing, and picnicking. The Beach has a picnic area with tables and barbecues, making it the perfect spot for a family outing or a relaxing day by the water.

It is also home to a small marina, which provides access to the bay for boaters and kayakers. The marina has a boat ramp, a fuel dock, and a dock for public use. The Beach is also part of the Bay Trail, a 500-mile trail that runs along the shores of San Francisco Bay, making it an excellent destination for hikers and bikers. Overall, Phillip Burton Memorial Beach is a beautiful and peaceful spot that offers something for everyone, from water activities to scenic walks and picnics.

Read more: 7 Best Beaches in Destin Florida: Let the sound of the tides ooze your brain!

Factors To Consider While Choosing San Francisco Beaches

Choosing which Beach to visit can be overwhelming with so many options available. To help you make an informed guide, we’ve compiled this guide outlining some essential factors to consider when selecting your ideal San Francisco beach destination!

  • Beach Access — When looking for a San Francisco beach to enjoy, there are many factors to consider. Beach access is one of the most important considerations. The best beaches generally have easy accessibility from the city and are well-maintained. Some other factors to consider when selecting a San Francisco beach include the size of the Beach, its amenities, and its location.
  • Beach Quality — Consider the quality of the sand. Beaches in San Francisco that receive lots of rainfall tend to have better sand than those that don’t, and some spots may even have seaweed or rocks on the Beach. Finally, check the tide times before visiting; some beaches are inaccessible at high tide.
  • Beach Regulations — When planning a beach visit in San Francisco, it’s essential to know the regulations that vary depending on the Beach and time of year. The city’s “Beach Blanket Law” requires appropriate clothing and prohibits the use of certain items like beach chairs, umbrellas, and tents. During summer, some streets near the ocean are closed to vehicular traffic to protect marine life. Most beaches also do not allow food and beverages, and toilet facilities may have limited hours. It’s essential to plan accordingly to ensure an enjoyable and comfortable experience while following the city’s regulations.
  • Wave Action — When choosing a San Francisco beach, it’s essential to consider factors such as the type of waves and the tide and sun exposure. The waves can significantly impact the enjoyment of the experience, with some beaches better suited for beginners and others for experienced surfers. Additionally, the tide should be considered to avoid getting stranded during high tide.
  • Sun Exposure —Finally, sun exposure should also be considered, as the sun can be harsh in San Francisco during summer. Applying sunscreen and seeking shade when possible is crucial to avoid getting sunburned or overexposed to the rays.

Overall, by considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when choosing a San Francisco beach and enjoy a safe and memorable experience.

How Do We Pick Our Recommendation

As a tourist guide, we prioritized picking the best recommendation for San Francisco beaches based on several factors. One crucial factor was accessibility, as the beaches needed to be easily reachable by public transportation or car to ensure convenience for tourists. Another significant factor was safety, as the coasts had to have lifeguards on duty, and the water conditions had to be safe for swimming. In addition to accessibility, safety, amenities, and scenery were crucial in selecting the best beach recommendations. Clean restrooms, showers, and other amenities ensured tourists a comfortable experience at the Beach.


San Francisco is known for its separate culture, iconic landmarks, and stunning scenery; its beaches are no exception. From the secluded Mile Rock Beach to the bustling Ocean Beach, San Francisco’s beaches offer many activities and breathtaking views for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re focusing on relaxing and soaking up the California sun, exploring the coastline’s natural beauty, or participating in exciting water activities, these beaches have something for everyone. So pack your sunscreen, grab your sunglasses, and head to San Francisco to experience the city’s best beaches.

The Top 8 Must-Visit Beaches In San Francisco - FAQs

Does San Francisco have good beaches?

San Francisco has some good beaches, including Baker Beach, Ocean Beach, and Crissy Field Beach.

Can you swim on beaches in San Francisco?

While it is possible to swim on beaches in San Francisco, it is essential to note that the water is generally cold, and the currents can be strong, so it may only be suitable for some.

What is the most famous Beach in San Francisco?

The most famous Beach in San Francisco is likely to be Ocean Beach, which stretches for miles along the city’s western edge and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Is it safe to swim at Ocean Beach, San Francisco?

It is generally safe to swim at Ocean Beach, but visitors should be aware of the strong currents and riptides that can occur, especially on days with high surf advisories. It is recommended to only swim in designated areas and always to heed warning signs and lifeguard instructions.

Sara Anwar
Sara Anwar is hopdes' US director and a globetrotter. She joined the Hopdes team in July 2022. She has done more than 300,000 miles back and forth. She's been to more than 80% of the world, and her passion for understanding different cultures has only grown stronger with time. A traveler at heart, she loves to experience new cultures and learn new languages. Sara's wealth of travel experience makes her the perfect person to oversee a travel website – after all, who knows better what travelers want and need than she does?

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