The best beaches in San Francisco are some of the city's most popular attractions. San Francisco is home to numerous relaxing beaches that offer countless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Several memorials and historical landmarks, as well as hiking trails and hang-gliding spots, can be found around the local beaches. 

Swimming is typically discouraged around the Golden Gate area due to rip currents, but there's ample space for relaxing and sunbathing. California is famous for surfing, so many San Francisco beaches are great for tackling the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Be sure to check out the best beaches in San Francisco

What are the best beaches in San Francisco?

  • 1

    Rodeo Beach

    Explore a dark pebble beach

    Rodeo Beach
    • Couples
    • Families

    Rodeo Beach is mostly dark-colored and features numerous pebblestones and is a perfect beach for hiking and bird-watching by the lagoon. The pebbles come in a variety of colors but mostly consist of red, green, and blue, and the rocks are especially appealing if you travel to the south end of the beach. This beach is easily accessible, which helps ensure its lasting popularity. You'll find a parking lot with a trail to the beach, and it doesn't cost anything to park. Pets are welcome off-leash as long they're trained with voice control. You'll find this beach in between the Rodeo Cove and Rodeo Lagoon north of the Golden Gate.

    Location: 1049 Mitchell Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA

    Map
  • 2

    China Beach

    Visit a small local beach

    China Beach
    • Couples
    • Families

    China Beach is relatively small and offers a quiet and relaxing spot where you can enjoy the sand, surf, and breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge. On either side of the beach, you'll find rock walls that keep the beach itself relatively secluded. The tides can vastly change the kind of experience you'll have at this beach. During low tide, you'll find tide pools to explore as well as plenty of room to explore. During high tide, however, the beach can feel a bit crowded at times. You'll find this beach in northern Sea Cliff just east of Lands End Park.

    Location: 340 Sea Cliff Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

    Map
  • 3

    Mile Rock Beach

    Relax in a small, tucked-away cove

    Mile Rock Beach
    • Adventure
    • Couples

    Mile Rock Beach is a relaxing place to go for a stroll and explore the natural surroundings in Lands End Park underneath the iconic viewpoint. The beach features several rocks and logs that have gathered by the shore, giving it a rustic and natural feel. Venture above the beach, and you'll find the Lands End Labyrinth, a fascinating structure made of rocks arranged like a maze with scenic views of the bridge. You'll find this beach near the central shore of Lands End Park on the south side of Golden Gate.

    Location: Lands End Trail, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

    Map
  • 4

    Crissy Field East Beach

    Visit a restored beach

    Crissy Field East Beach
    • Adventure
    • Couples
    • Families

    Crissy Field is a massive park with a restored shoreline that offers exciting beachfront fun whether you're looking to swim, windsurf, walk, or spot wildlife. The beaches here feature some impressive dunes that have become habitats for several native species. The beach itself is fun enough to explore, but Crissy Field is also home to tidal wetlands that contain about 135 species of birds. You'll find a boardwalk to take you through the marsh to get a better look at these coastal creatures. Crissy Field is located just north of the Palace of Fine Arts.

    Location: 1199 E Beach, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 415-561-4323

    Map
  • 5

    Mountain Lake Beach

    Explore a beach on a natural lake

    Mountain Lake Beach
    • Adventure
    • Couples
    • Families

    Mountain Lake Beach is a shining jewel of Presidio in that it offers a quiet place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city. When you visit, you'll be met with still waters and a bustling population of waterfowl like seagulls and ducks. Given the status of Mountain Lake Park, you'll also find numerous hiking trails in the area along with a fitness trail that's one of the oldest in San Francisco. You'll also find a large meadow where you can relax in grassy fields if you're looking for a change of pace. You'll find this lake just north of Lake Street, on the south side of the park.

    Location: 98 Funston Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 415-831-5500

    Map

    photo by Tom Hilton (CC BY 2.0) modified

  • 6

    Baker Beach

    Explore a popular beach by the Golden Gate

    Baker Beach
    • Couples

    Baker Beach is one of the area's most visited beaches and is set in the wake of the Golden Gate Bridge, offering scenic views, soft sands, and plenty of room. It's a great place to relax and put your feet in the water, but don't get out in it because the water is fairly cold all year long, and the rip currents can be dangerous. While this relaxing beach can certainly make your day easier, be aware that the northern end of the beach, North Baker Beach, is clothing-optional, so take note if you don't want to see that or have children with you. You'll find this Baker Beach on the southern end of the Golden Gate.

    Location: Bowley St and Gibson Rd, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA

    Map
  • 7

    Ocean Beach

    Visit the Sunset District's beach

    Ocean Beach
    • Adventure
    • Couples
    • Families

    Ocean Beach is a massive beach that stretches the entire length of the Sunset District and offers opportunities for walking, biking, sunbathing, and windsurfing. In addition to its impressive length, the beach is also notably wider than many other local alternatives. You'll also find regular winds here, which make windsurfing popular. This beach offers quite a few features, such as bonfire rings. You can set up a fire in between the provided rings, whereas other beaches don't allow fires at all. Just remember that this beach's cold waters and rip currents make it unappealing for swimming. You'll find the beach on the west side of town between the Dutch Windmill and the San Francisco Zoo.

    Location: Sloat Blvd and Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA

    Map
  • 8

    Fort Funston Beach

    Visit the southernmost Pacific beach in town

    Fort Funston Beach
    • Adventure
    • Couples
    • Families

    Fort Funston Beach is known for hang gliding more than anything else, but you'll also find places for hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. You'll find a hang glider platform at the edge of the bluff here, along with a facility that can offer hang gliding assistance should you need it. At the hang gliding facility, you'll find 2 hiking trails that can take you to the beach, or you can use a sand ladder for more direct access. Don't forget to keep watch for any fossils and sand dollars you may find along the shore here. This beach is located just west of Lake Merced by the Olympic Club.

    Location: Skyline Blvd and John Muir Dr, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA

    Map
  • 9

    Sutro Baths

    Discover a beach by modern-day ruins

    Sutro Baths
    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    Sutro Baths is a destination that lets you explore the ruins of what used to be a massive structure alongside a relaxing beach by a bluff. The baths were originally a large indoor swimming pool establishment that was popular in the early- to mid-20th century. The facility burned down in the 1960s and was never rebuilt. Today, you can explore the ruins left behind, which consist of concrete walls and a few pools that are reminiscent of Roman ruins. You can see it all for yourself by visiting the area south of Point Lobos by the USS San Francisco Memorial in Lands End Park.

    Location: 1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 415-426-5240

    Map
  • 10

    Aquatic Park Cove

    Relax at a tiny and calm beach

    Aquatic Park Cove
    • Couples
    • Families

    Aquatic Park Cove is a relatively small beach that's notably calm since the narrow stretch of sand it's on is sheltered from the waves of the Pacific. This stretch of beach is often so calm that it's indistinguishable from a pool. Because of this, it's one of the best places in the city to go for a swim in the ocean without having to worry about rip currents. Keep in mind that when you travel here, you should probably take the cable car or a ride-share, as parking is very limited. You'll find this beach east of the Palace of Fine Arts near the ferries to get to Alcatraz.

    Location: 700-898 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Map
  • 11

    Marshall's Beach

    A hidden San Francisco beach with spectacular views

    Marshall's Beach
    • Adventure
    • Budget
    • Photo

    Marshall's Beach is a long and narrow stretch of sand near the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Marin Headlands, the half-mile trek down to the beach (and back up) often deter the crowds. So, if you're looking for a secluded, clothing-optional beach just a few minutes from the city, this one's for you!

    To get to the beach, park at the Langdon Court parking lot, just off Lincoln Blvd. The 'Batteries to Bluffs' trailhead is at the back of the parking lot, on the left. Be sure to bring some extra layers, especially if you're planning to stay and watch the sunset. The beach can be completely gone at high tide, so check the tides chart before making the trip.

    Location: Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA

    Map
  • 12

    Kirby Cove

    Take in a stunning panorama of the Golden Gate Bridge

    Kirby Cove
    • Adventure
    • Budget
    • Families
    • Photo

    Kirby Cove is a small, sandy enclave at the base of the Marin Headlands, on the northern side of the entrance to San Francisco Bay. Reaching the beach requires a steep 1-mile descent along a dirt path, but you’ll be well-rewarded for your efforts. Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge stretching across the bay with San Fransisco in the distance and waves crashing against the rocks is an unforgettable sight.

    The trail begins at the parking area above Battery Spencer, on Conzelman Road. Bring enough water to stay hydrated for the steep ascent back to your automobile. There is a campground with 4 campgrounds at Kirby Cove. Visit the National Park website to make a reservation.

    Location: Kirby Beach, California 94941, USA

    Map