It may technically be one of the last days of summer, but here in SF we're just getting started! In honor of this crazy heat wave we've been having, and to celebrate being able to go to the beach sans jacket, I've rounded up five of my favorite SF beaches.
1. Baker Beach
Baker Beach is classic San Francisco. The views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate are classic, and the beach features BBQ pits, parking and soft sand. This family-friendly outpost in The Presido is convenient to get to by MUNI or car, and is actually pretty sheltered from the wind. Be adventurous and see how far out you can get before your toes go numb!
2. China Beach
Venture a little more westward past Baker Beach and you'll find yourself at the small and private hide-a-way known as China Beach. Popular for wedding photos and solo sun bathers, this beach is pretty secluded. Accessed through the Sea Cliff neighborhood, one of the nicest neighborhoods in The City, you'll walk past ridiculous houses with perfect ocean views. This beach has a small parking lot and pretty nice bathrooms. Come early, the beach can fill up fast! On the other hand, I've spent many sunny afternoons here where the parking lot was full, but everyone had plenty of room to spread out. Bring a picnic--there aren't really any food options close by.
3. Land's End
Land's End may be known for it's shipwreck-laden past and stairway hikes, but the rocky beach at the bottom is a great spot to watch the tide come in. The hike isn't super long, but the stairs on the way up are not for the faint of heart. There's plenty of parking, and be sure to check out the USS San Francisco. Bring food and plenty of water. There are no facilities at the bottom, and you'll be wanting some water on the way back up. If you can, time your visit for low tide and check out all the awesome creatures that live on the rocks and in tide pools, just be careful! The waves are extremely dangerous, and rogue waves can sneak up on you.
Usually reserved for brave swimmers decked out in wet suits, this cove on SF's Northern Waterfront is a great small beach for kids. The water is gentle, the sand is soft, and In-n-Out is just around the corner. Bring sand toys for the little ones, or take a dip in the calm water. It might be freezing, but people have been swimming at The Dolphin Club here since 1877!
5. Ocean Beach
At the edge of San Francisco, and usually windswept and damp, even Ocean Beach has it's days. The beach is huge, and is dog and family friendly. There are tons of MUNI lines that'll get you out here, and there are also plenty of parking lots. Often, lots of sand dollars and jelly fish wash up, and some of the sand dollars manage to stay whole. Be mindful of rip currents if you attempt a swim, often the currents are much stronger than you think. There are a series of bonfire pits at the northern end of the beach, so grab some friends and some firewood from the local Safeway and bonfire it up!
BONUS : Bay Area beaches not to miss
Grey Whale Cove at Devil's Slide
Located south of The City on Highway 1, Grey Whale Cove is probably one of the most beautiful beaches on the West Coast. Nestled between high cliffs, the sheltered beach offers Hawaii-style soft, clean sand, crashing waves, and relative seclusion. As explained in the SF classic Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, there is a straight side and a gay side, and both are nude friendly. Bring plenty of water--the stairs on the way back up to the parking lot are a killer. The beach has no permenant facilities, so change at home or by your car. Sometimes there's a porta-potty, sometimes there's not.