Okay, though you may not be reaching for your two-piece when you’re in San Francisco—the weather here doesn’t exactly lend itself to that—the Bay Area city has beautiful beaches that are worth visiting even when it’s cold and foggy. Because having a picnic on the beach with the Golden Gate Bridge as your backdrop is perfection. Especially when you can BYO beer and wine on most beaches as long as they’re not in glass containers (we literally asked the superintendent at National Park Service).
Fortunately, Ramona, Underwood, and The Drop make amazing wines in cans (you’re welcome!). Also, pack Humboldt Fog cheese (find it at Cowgirl Creamery when you’re in SF) and pair it with pinot or prosecco (really, the goat cheese goes great with both). Ahead, the five best beaches in San Francisco where you can walk your dog, go for a hike, catch the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and—weather permitting—lay out.
Have a Bonfire at Ocean Beach
Located on the west side of San Francisco, Ocean Beach is a great place to take your dog, have a bonfire or a picnic, but not to swim or lay out, because it’s almost always cold. But it’s also next to Golden Gate Park, where you can go to the Japanese Tea Garden or de Young Museum.
Ocean Beach, San Francisco
Go for a Hike at Lands End
This two-mile-long trail (from Point Lobos trailhead to El Camino Del) is one of the best hikes in the city. Lands End has access to the Sutro Baths, stairs for the ultimate workout, and a gorgeous place to catch your breath, called Lands End Point. And if you’d like to take a longer break, visit San Francisco fixture Cliff House, where there’s endless champagne during the Sunday brunch.
680 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco
Run Stairs at Baker Beach
Though this is known as a nude beach—because it is—Baker has the best view of the Golden Gate, is one of the busiest beaches with fully clothed people too, and has a sand ladder where the city of San Francisco works out.
Lincoln Boulevard, San Francisco
Have a Picnic at China Beach
Between Baker Beach and Lands End is this cove in Sea Cliff. Sidenote: Peruse through the neighborhood because the homes here are gorgeous. The beach is small and surrounded by cliffs, so it’s a little harder to get to but a great place to have a picnic and, on warm days, go for a swim.
China Beach, San Francisco
Watch for Sea Creatures at Stinson Beach
Located just outside San Francisco (20 to 25 miles away) is this beautiful beach in Marin County. On warm days, it’s a great place to lay out or swim because through September, lifeguards are on duty. It’s also a great place to spot dolphins, whales, and sea lions. While you’re here, visit Muir Woods National Monument, where there are over 500-year-old redwoods.
Stinson Beach, Marin County
See the City Views at Crissy Field
Take a walk along the path at Crissy Field. Enjoy a meal in the Marina and then walk from Fort Mason to the Golden Gate Bridge. On your way there, you’ll see gorgeous views of the Bay as well as the bridge and Alcatraz, and once you reach the bridge, turn around to check out the gorgeous views of the city behind you. It’s also a great place to take your dogs for a beach day or go for a bike ride. On a chilly day, treat yourself with a hot cocoa from the Warming Hut.
Crissy Field, San Francisco
What’s your favorite beach in San Francisco? Share in the comments below!