San Francisco Beaches

The San Francisco beaches might not be ideal for swimming, but that doesn't mean that they aren't fantastic places to hang out for a while. The San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of northern California are too cold for most people, so those who wish to swim or even surf are encouraged to bring a wet suit to help manage the cold water temperatures. The cold water isn't the only thing that can dissuade people from spending a day at the beach in San Francisco. On most days in The City, as area residents commonly refer to San Francisco, the weather just doesn't lend itself to a day at the beach. When the wind dies down and the fog clears, however, it can get warm in San Francisco. On days like these, many locals and tourists alike make a break for beaches such as Ocean Beach, Aquatic Park, East Beach, and Baker Beach.

Ocean Beach is arguably the best beach in The City, and it is also the largest strip of sand in town. At four miles long, this beach at the western end of Golden Gate Park offers plenty of room for beachgoers, and surfers can often find some challenging waves at Kelly's Cove. While Ocean Beach can be an ideal place to stroll or soak up some rays, it isn't the best beach in the world for swimming. As is true at all of the San Francisco beaches, this beach in particular has tricky tides. Ocean Beach offers dog-friendly areas for visitors who wish to bring their four-legged friends, and it also features a café and a restaurant.

When a day at the beach in San Francisco is the aim, there are others worth considering. Aquatic Park is one of them. This small beach sits on San Francisco Bay, and it can be found near Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf. When the weather is warm, many locals like to pay Aquatic Park a visit after finishing up at work or before heading out on the town, and it can be an excellent place to rejuvenate. One of the best things about Aquatic Park is that visitors who get hungry can walk over to the restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf to grab something good to eat. The sourdough bread bowls that are filled with savory clam chowder are wildly popular, as are the sundae's that can be purchased across the street at Ghirardelli Square. While the water at Aquatic Park is cold, visitors are often known to wade in the shallow wading area. For those who prefer sticking to land, this urban beach in San Francisco features a paved walkway along part of its stretch that can be used for activities like strolling and biking.

While most of the San Francisco beaches lack lifeguards, East Beach has them during the summer months. This beach is one of the better local beaches for families. The shallower waters here can also be ideal for wading. Like Ocean Beach, this beach is on the Pacific side of the city awards visitors with breathtaking views that include the Golden Gate Bridge. East Beach is a popular place to enjoy picnics on warmer days, as it boasts picnic areas with grills that visitors can use on a first come, first serve basis. For those who want to visit this attractive beach in San Francisco, it can be found in the upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood. As a side note, East Beach, which is also referred to as China Beach, is close to the Exploratorium, which is one of the best family attractions in the city. Families, and any other groups for that matter, might consider pairing a trip to the beach with a visit to the Exploratorium.

Rounding out the list of top San Francisco beaches is Baker Beach, which locals often refer to as "nude beach." Due to the fact that it is essentially a clothing-optional beach, Baker Beach isn't exactly the best beach in the city for families. That being said, people of all ages frequent it on warm days. Baker Beach offers beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge, and it is also the best beach in town for those who want to enjoy some beach-related activities. Sand volleyball is popular at Baker Beach, and other things that visitors like to do include tossing a Frisbee around, surfing, flying a kite, and even some swimming for those who wish to brave the chilly waters.

Beach enthusiasts who are visiting San Francisco aren't limited to the beaches that can be found in the city. Across the Golden Gate Bridge, beautiful Stinson Beach awaits. This beautiful beach is one of the best beaches in northern California, and it offers to a state park where visitors can go hiking, enjoy a picnic, or other outdoor activities. Heading south of The City, it doesn't take very long to get to Santa Cruz, and there are some delectable beaches in and around this laid-back city, especially for those who like to surf. The further south travelers go, the warmer the California beaches get, which is worth noting for those who want to enjoy some serious beach time on their getaway in the Golden State.

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