Summer is upon us, folks. And as temperatures almost reach the blistering 70-degree mark, it’s your job to keep cool. To help you get started, we’ve complied a list of the best beaches in the Bay Area. From tide pools and secluded spots to family-friendly and clothing-optional, we've come up with the top 11 Bay Area beaches for soaking up some vitamin D.
While the waters in Northern California are chiller than the beaches in SoCal, ours simply look better. So by all means, ditch Dolores Park this weekend for some sun-drenched scenery.
Just don't forget to slathering on the SPF. A lot of it. Seriously.
1. Stinson Beach
About a 35-minute drive from the Golden Gate Bridge, Stinson Beach is a quiet and far chicer alternative than Ocean Beach. It's also a great sandy escape from San Francisco without going too far. Warning: The main parking lot fills up by 10 a.m., so get there early. Very early. Otherwise, you can park on the street, which is limited. Otherwise, you can find parking at two miles north in Bolinas.
2. Agate Beach Park
Not everyone is down with roasting in the sun on hot sandy shore. Some beachgoers prefer a more tactile experience, yearning to learn about their oceanographic surroundings. Agate Beach Park in Bolinas is a great spot for doing just that—it features tide pools along a walkable two miles. Sea lions, birds, and other wildlife are popular sights here, too. Parking tip: Park at the Agate Beach campground and head down to the beach, or park at the Big Lagoon County Park day use spot.
3. Marshall's Beach
Yes, another clothing-optional spot. This one is just north of Baker Beach, but not nearly as crowded. While this spot is sunny, sandy, and glorious, it is—to put this delicately—not a family-friendly beach.
4. Baker Beach
The north section of the Baker Beach is clothing-optional. What is notoptional is for people to gawk and take pictures. (Voyeurs have been asked to leave, FYI, so consider yourselves warned.) Feel free to strip down to your birthday suit while you take in some sun and stellar views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
5. Ocean Beach
The city's largest and most popular beach is also one of its most dangerous; it's full of riptides. While the waves here seem small and benign, the conditions in the water are ripe for some of the coastline's strongest and deadliest riptides. That being said, the sands and scene are wonderful. Best of all, beachgoers can enjoy a bonfire in the fire pits come nightfall. Just keep the action on the beach, not in the water.
6. Fort Funston Beach Walk
Great spot for walking; excellent spot for walking your dog. After a hike down from the 200-foot-high sandy bluffs onto the beach, you and your best friend can play fetch, take a dip in the water, or frolic with the other pooches.
7. “Taco Bell” Beach
While we aren’t one to promote fast food chains, this beach's Taco Bell, perhaps the nicest-looking fast food restaurant in the world, is a must-see. Right on the beach in Pacifica, the (gorgeous) surrounding sands are affectionately known to many as simply "Taco Bell beach." Make a run.
8. Devil's Slide (Grey Whale Cove)
This 300-yard-long state beach is a stunner. It's also one of several clothing-optional beaches on our list. (Please, no lurkers or gawkers; this is a friendly space for people who simply don't want to wear a bathing suit.) Also of note: The sheer cliffs of the Devil's Slide promontory, which are as awe-inspiring as they are intimidating.
9. Montara State Beach
After navigating an unstable dirt path down to sea level, you will be rewarded with a smooth-sand beach and stellar views of the Pacific. Montara Beach is approximately a 25-minute drive south from the city, just after Pacifica and Devil’s Slide, and eight-miles north of Half Moon Bay. Secluded and relaxing.
10. Martins Beach
Brimming with the right amount of shade, Curbed SF reader 4Oceanssuggests: “Best public beach in entire region is Martins Beach a couple of miles below (south) Half Moon Bay. Well worth a visit. Park in the dirt lot adjacent to Highway One next to the large blank billboard that used to welcome the public, but has since been painted over by Vinod Kholsa. Then walk around his un-permitted no access signs and gate, and down the freshly paved road approximately 1/4 mile (10 minutes) to the best sandy beach in San Mateo County.”
11. Pescadero State Beach
As serene as it is beautiful, this beach in Pescadero boasts sandy coves, rocky cliffs, tide pools, fishing spots (per the city's name), and picnic facilities. Bonus, on the other side of the highway there's Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, a great spot for bird watchers. But the prime real estate here is the smooth-sand shore.
Update: Weather forecast for Wednesday, July 4, calls for sunshine along with some cloudy intervals.Weather Undergroundpredicts clear skies around 9 p.m.—a good sign for maximum fireworks clarity.
Get ready to celebrate the Declaration of Independence's approval by the Continental Congress the way we do every year, by grilling meats and watching things explode in the sky. San Francisco's fireworks show will get under way onWednesday night at 9:30 p.m.or thereabouts from the foot of the Municipal Pier and from barges north of Pier 39.
Thankfully, San Francisco's many hills also offer vantage points sans Pier 39's total body crush, if you're OK with doing a little hiking and carting around a blanket and provisions. You could also see non-sanctioned fireworks displays in the Mission. And Angel Island or Treasure Island offer great views, too, if you have the stamina for a ferry or car trip.
Below, a map of where we think you should plop down a lawn chair and ogle the fireworks. Or, more precisely, the annual lighting of the fog.
This isn't the type of spot where you plop down a couple of lawn chairs and crack open a beer, but it will have an amazing view of the fireworks that are set off from the foot of the Municipal Pier and from barges north of Pier 39.
2.Indian Rock Park
There's a volcanic rock that's approximately 11 million years old in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the Berkeley hills. When you climb to the top of it, you get an unobstructed view of the Bay Area.
3.West Bluffs Picnic Center
This Crissy Field picnic area is great for large groups who want to make a day of it. There are picnic tables and a large lawn to sprawl out on for the show. From here the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, and Angel Island is breathtaking.
If you want to get dolled up and not have to worry about scoring a comfortable seat, we suggest checking out Hornblower's Fourth of July cruise on theSan Francisco Belle. For $158 per adult (plus tax, service charge, and landing fee), you get a three-and-a-half-hour cruise, a dinner buffet, a hosted wine and beer bar (cash bar for cocktails), live DJ entertainment, and an up-close and awesome view of the fireworks show.
5.Twin Peaks Summit
If you're looking to get your romance on, we suggest driving up to the top of Twin Peaks. Bring a blanket. The location will provide (Karl permitting) views of not just San Francisco's fireworks, but also Berkeley's and Sausalito's bombastic fiery displays.
This small patch of grass in Tiburon will provide breathtaking views of the fireworks. Grab a blanket and a cooler and head over early, as this particular spot fills up fast.
7.San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Stake out a spot on the grassy area next to the Aquatic Park. Since this is a tourist destination, we suggest showing up early if you want to nab a sweet view.
Spectacular views of the bay and ample parking make this spot, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, ideal for watching the fireworks. Be sure to bring blankets and flashlights.
From noon to 10 pm, the Berkeley Marina is throwing an all-day event with a giant slide, dragon boat rowing, pony rides, a bounce house, crafts, face painting, and food trucks. Mini-train rides and water bubble balls will also be on hand. At 9:35, fireworks will go off from a barge south of the Berkeley Pier.
If hiking is your thing, we suggest making the trek up to Coit Tower for the fireworks show, as we're sure the parking lot will be filled up well before dusk.
If you can stomach some bridge traffic and some powerful night winds, head over to Treasure Island. The island's west side has plenty of lawn for you to cozy up on and watch the fireworks from afar.
Fisherman's Wharf is the ultimate tourist destination, so if you're one of the few brave locals who are set on the wharf as your place to view the show, we suggest showing up as early as possible to stake out a spot.
13.San Francisco Art Institute
Panoramic views of the bay make SFAI the perfect place to chill out and watch the fireworks this 4th of July. As some of you may know, winds on the roof terrace can be strong, so make sure to layer up.
14.Bernal Heights Park
If you want a low-key outing and don't mind a faraway, zoomed-out view of the action, head on up to Bernal Heights Park. The crowd will be more neighborhoody and chill than anything happening on the waterfront. All the usual advice about blankets and flashlights applies—and be careful picking your way down those narrow paths if you've had a few.
Alameda’s own floating arsenal of Americana has a view of San Francisco like no other from its deck. In fact, the celebration on boardbegins at 2 p.m.this year and lasts well into the night, making the fireworks a captivating finale to the festivities.