San Francisco Beaches

Enjoy an Urban Oasis

Come out to play at San Francisco beaches. You'll find plenty to do. You can go hiking, fishing, kayaking, hang gliding and horseback riding. Do a little bird watching, watch the whales go by, enjoy the wildlife. Or just gawk at some drop dead gorgeous scenery. 

Fort Funston beach   Photo by Valerita/Flickr.com

Yes, there's fog. But it burns off quickly, and when the sun shines on the bay area, it's glorious.

We'll explore San Francisco beaches by starting in the south-east, then heading north as we work our way around the peninsula. 

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Candlestick Point State Recreation Area

This park is located in the southeast area of the city and offers beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay. You'll find picnic areas, fishing (including two fishing piers) and hiking trails. Windsurfing is popular here. There's parking and wheelchair-accessible restrooms and trails.

For more information and to download a park brochure and map, see Candlestick Point State Recreation Area


Aquatic Park

Map courtesy of NPS

You can enjoy a variety of activities at this San Francisco beach and park. Located at the west end ofFisherman's Wharf, there's a small sandy beach, bleachers, bocce ball courts, lawns, showers and wheelchair-accessible restrooms. The 1,850 foot Municipal Pier curves into the bay here, and is a popular spot for fishing. 

Photo by Adam Fagen

The Maritime Museum features historic artifacts and exhibits, and Hyde Street Pier houses a collection of historic vessels. There are tours, a book store and a visitor center. Entrance fee.

For more information see San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park


The Presidio

Map courtesy of NPS

The Presidio occupies 1491 acres to the south of the Golden Gate Bridge. This area was a US army post for 150 years, but now it's a major historical and recreational area.

There's plenty to do and see here. There are 11 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of bicycle routes. The Coastal Trail will take you from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to the Cliff House.

For more information and to download maps and brochures see Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Beaches of the Presidio

Crissy Field

Photo by yourFAVORITEmartian

You'll find newly restored tidal marshes and sandy beaches along the bay shore. Enjoy a stroll with stunning views. Golden Gate Promenade is a bicycle and pedestrian trail that runs along the shoreline all the way to Fort Point (beneath the Golden Gate Bridge). This windy beach is good for sea kayaking and sailboarding.

There's parking, restrooms, picnic areas, two cafes, a bookstore, telephones and visitor information. Dogs are allowed on a leash except in designated protected habitat areas.

For more information and to download a map see Crissy Field

Presidio Coastal Bluffs

More great views of the Pacific coastline. You'll find rare plants here, and you can take the Coastal Trail to Crissy Field, or head the opposite direction to Land's End and Cliff House. The small pocket beaches are accessible only by a very steep, treacherous trail.

Parking available, but no facilities. Leashed dogs are permitted. 

Baker Beach

Photo by Jeremy Bishop

This is quite possibly the most popular and warmest of the San Francisco beaches. On sunny weekends it can get crowded. The surf at this beach is dangerous, so don't even think about swimming. But you can enjoy some fantastic views, fish, picnic, explore tidepools and watch the wildlife.

There are two parking areas, restrooms, a phone, picnic tables, and hiking trails. Leashed dogs are allowed.

The rockier north end is used as a clothing optional beach

China Beach

This tiny secluded cove offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Sheltered from the wind by rocky cliffs, this San Francisco beach is popular for swimming and sunbathing. Lifeguards are on duty from April to October. Access the beach via a steep paved access road.

You'll find a sundeck, a picnic area with barbecues, and restrooms with showers. Parking is limited. Dogs are not permitted at this beach. 


Land's End Beach

Map courtesy of NPS

This wild, secluded San Francisco beach, also known as Mile Rock Beach, is tucked among the dramatic cliffs west of Lincoln Park. The trail system along the bluffs offers outstanding views, with many hidden areas to explore. Abundant plant life includes twisted cypress groves.

Bring a jacket, as it can get windy and chilly here. The cliffs are dangerous, so keep clear of the edges and be aware that trails are sometimes closed due to landslides. A steep trail leads to the beach.

Swimming is not allowed, but dogs are allowed on a leash. Parking is available at El Camino Del Mar,West Fort Miley, and the Cliff House. You'll find a picnic area with restrooms at West Fort Miley


Cliff House

Photo by sam?

The Cliff House has been a San Francisco landmark since 1863. The original building burnt down in 1894 and was replaced by an impressive Victorian structure. That too burnt down in 1907 and was replaced in 1909 by the structure that stands today. The building is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the Park Service completed the most recent renovations and additions in 2004. You can enjoy the outstanding views from this historic locale overlooking Ocean Beach, or eat at the Cliff House Restaurant.

Just to the north, you'll also find the ruins of the Sutro Baths, which was a massive structure built in 1896. The baths featured seven swimming pools, complete with slides, springboards, and trapezes. All that's left now are a few sad remnants of the pools.

For more information and to download a brochure see Cliff House


Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach and Cliff House   Photo by Nick Sherman

This four mile strand is the largest San Francisco beach, and extends from the Cliff House to the San Francisco Zoo. Surfing and fishing are popular here, but it's not safe to swim due to rip currents, and the weather is often cold and windy. This beach can get very crowded on weekends.

Horses are allowed on the beach south of Golden Gate Park. Dogs are allowed, and may be taken off leash on the northern end of the beach. Beach fires are permitted between Lincoln Way and Fulton Street.

Public restrooms and showers are located at the southern end of the beach. The Ocean Beach Esplanade, a paved walkway, will take you all the way to Fort Funston.

For more information see Ocean Beach


Fort Funston

Photo by Mark Hogan

This park is popular with hang-gliders and dog walkers. There's a picnic area and a hang-gliding observation deck, where you can enjoy stunning views. Take the steep unmarked trail to the beach and pristine sand dunes. Hiking, horseback riding and bird watching are also popular here. You'll find a system of multi-use trails for horses and pedestrians.

This is one of the most interesting San Francisco beaches. There are dramatic cliffs, a rare dune habitat, and beautiful stones and shells to discover. The beach stretches for 4.6 miles, so you'll have plenty of space to roam. Be aware that during high tides the beach may not be accessible.

As the name implies, Fort Funston was once a military facility, and you'll still find the remains of gun emplacements designed for coastal defense, including Battery Davis located on the observation deck.

There's a large parking at the southern end of the park, off Skyline Boulevard. Sunset Trail and restrooms are wheelchair-accessible. Hang gliding club facilities are available.

Dogs are required to be on a leash or under voice control. 

Map courtesy of NPS

Virtual Guidebooks provides panoramic views of various locations in San Francisco.


More San Francisco Bay Area Beaches

Point Reyes Beaches | Marin County Beaches | San Francisco Beaches South

Half Moon Bay Beaches | San Francisco Beaches Resources