Visitors expecting bikinis and suntan oil will rarely find them at Northern California beaches. The weather and water here are usually cooler than in Southern California. They are, nevertheless, blessed with San Francisco's views and the Pacific's rolling waves.
Point Lobos & Great Highway
along the western edge of The City features four miles of sandy shoreline waiting to be explored. At the north end of the beach, the historic Cliff House sits high above the shore and is a spectacular viewpoint for observing the powerful Pacific. Nearby is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Visitor Center, stocked with informational pamphlets and maps. A four-mile walk down the Ocean Beach Esplanade or a short drive south on the scenic Great Highway leads to Fort Funston. From the wooden observation deck built into the hillside, daring hang-gliders can be seen soaring over the cliffs and sea.
28th Avenue & Sea Cliff
Tucked away behind the million-dollar homes of the Seacliff district is China Beach, one of San Francisco's few beaches safe for swimming. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, and there are changing rooms, barbecue pits, and an enclosed sun deck. The beach is accessible from Seacliff and 28th Avenue, near El Camino del Mar. After a chilly swim (water temperatures hover in the 60s in summer), a game of frisbee, volleyball or smash-ball is a great way to warm up on this sandy playground.
Off Lincoln Boulevard and 25th Avenue, in the Presidio
Stretches along the western shore of the Presidio below Lincoln Boulevard. Only minutes frtom downtown SF is it one of Americas nude beaches.
Although swimming is dangerous, hikers and sunbathers here are treated to beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands from the ocean side of the peninsula.
For security reasons, this beach is patrolled.