San Francisco beaches might not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a trip to the Bay Area, but they are definitely an attraction in their own right. Many travelers find the history, culture, and dining scene of San Francisco fascinating, but also crave a little relaxation. Remember that San Francisco is located in Northern California, and that this section of the state is subject to seasonal fluctuations. Don’t expect to visit during the winter and be hitting the beach in a bikini—fog is not uncommon here, especially in the summer, so for bathing-suit weather, it is best to head to Southern California.
During the warm months, spending a day at the best beaches near San Francisco will be sure to complete your trip. There are two main options for beaches near the city: Baker Beach and Point Reyes National Seashore. Either spot is ideal for sunbathing or planning a family picnic. There are also other beaches in Northern California for visitors who want to explore the region even further. Glass Beach is one of these choices, known for its incredible variety of sea glass. Along the Northern California coast, there are beautiful beaches where you can work on your tan.
Perhaps the best known of the San Francisco beaches is Baker Beach. This mile-long beach offers spectacular views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. There are few beaches that provide the chance to relax in the sand and also gain a new perspective on a major American landmark. Located at the foot of a set of rugged cliffs, everything about Baker Beach is incredibly scenic. There is a picnic area here if you’re visiting before the weather is warm enough for sunbathing. A section of this beach is nude-friendly, so if you’re bringing a family, you might want to set up your beach chairs in the regular area of the beach.
Another of the best beaches near San Francisco is Point Reyes National Seashore. Here, visitors will find much more than a wide expanse of beach—though this does have its appeal too! Point Reyes juts out into the water and provides incredible scenery for hiking. Wildlife enthusiasts are drawn here for the fascinating flora and fauna, but the real show is the migrating gray whales during the winter months. Encountering these massive creatures in their natural environment, in a place as gorgeous as Point Reyes, is guaranteed to be a highlight of your trip to San Francisco.
These beaches might not have the national reputation that Santa Cruz in Central California or Malibu in Southern California have, but they do offer gorgeous scenery and a place to relax. While sunbathing is a popular activity here, many locals and visitors choose to spend their time at the beach engaged in adventurous activities. If you’re the type of traveler that loves to kayak, go fishing, and hike along the rugged coastline, than Northern California is definitely the right part of the state for you.