Best Beaches if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area

Top 11 Beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area

By Susan

July may be over, but the summer weather definitely isn’t!  Don’t forget to plan an end-of-the-summer beach trip soon!  Overwhelmed by the number of potential beaches to choose from in California?  Find out with TourMega which of the best beaches to go for your next trip if you are visiting the San Francisco Bay Area. Check out our top 11 beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1. China Beach, San Francisco

On a clear day, the views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the beach can take your breath away. The China Beach Cove is protected by rock walls creating a protected area that once was a camp for Chinese fishermen, hence its name. Just south of here has many hiking trails to explore. A great hidden gem beach tucked in the beautiful Sea Cliff neighborhood, this beach adds just the right amount of a very picturesque vibe to the already charming San Francisco.

2. Sunset State Beach, Santa Cruz County

Sunset beach speaks for itself! Many beach lovers can’t get enough of this place because of its beautiful white sand and gorgeous beautiful views of its sunsets! It goes without a saying that the sunsets here are glorious, like a painting full of splendor and color. You can take absolutely stunning pictures including cute sand dollar shells! The Sunset State Beach has about 90 shady family sites with additional camping nearby Manresa State Beach. During the summer season, State Parks offers events and activities including nature hikes, campfire programs and junior rangers. 

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3. Marina State Beach, Monterey County

Ideal beach if you’re looking to have a romantic stroll with miles to walk along the shore or park to give yourself quick breaks in your day to enjoy the unobstructed view of sun setting into the ocean. Aside from it being quite chilly, the waves are lively, sand is smooth, and landscapes expansive. Great beach to see sand dunes, sunsets, have picnics or fly a kite!

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4. Muir Wood/Beach, Marin County

Muir Wood/Beach may be your next discovery! Many visitors make their way from Muir Woods towards Muir Beach to catch a beach full of peace and serenity. Close by is Slide Ranch located between Muir and Stinson beaches, teach little ones about how food is grown! It is close to the millions of people living in the Bay Area and we all need some mindfulness once in a while especially in this fast-paced life of ours! This place is dog-friendly and I would definitely come back and recommend to family and friends as a local beach to enjoy just outside the city.

5. Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County

This stunning location is a must and one of the hidden treasures of the Bay Area. It offers amazing adventures together with cypress tree tunnels, forests, lighthouses, whale watching and tons more. There’s always something going on, but regardless of the day, it’s always the best place for aimless exploring and the best getaways for people living in the Bay Area. Check out more beautiful photos!

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6. Stinson Beach, Marin County

This is truly a must visit if you are looking for a sandy beach that’s not rocky and for calm waters. This place is filled with happy families and you just feel positive being here. There are lots of places to eat nearby such as a cute little cafe that serves almost everything (Burgers and Taco’s) and with a nice view and a couple of tables. With opportunities for surfing, hiking, volleyball, picnicking, people continue to visit this beach over a century. Bring your friends and families and enjoy the beautiful waters and scenery!

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7. Alameda Beach, Oakland

Did you know San Francisco has multiple islands? Alameda Beach is a hidden jewel on the island of Alameda. Discover Alameda’s treasured beach with lovely friends and families. This beach is close to the city and great for delightful picnics. Visitors love to come here and bury their feet’s in the sand and lounge all day!

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8. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur

When you think of Big Sur, I bet you’re imagining beautiful beaches, soft sand, and majestic waves. Well, at Pfeiffer beach, it’s everything and more! This beach is famous for its stunning, iconic, and legendary purple sand (created from manganese garnet particles) as well as, the key-hole rock formation as seen in the picture. The further north the more purple the sand becomes! You’ll definitely need to mark this beach on your bucket list as it is one of the best escapes for people living in the Bay Area!

9. Capitola Beach, Capitola

Capitola beach is perfect for family outings. A unique feature of this beach is the multicolored Capitola Venetian Hotel, which is gorgeously stunning! Here they have some great local events, such as Wine Festivals, Begonia Festivals, and more—along with the ambiance of little shops like many jewelries, ice-cream, and candy shops. During the summer, they have live music and during the week they show movies for kids. But if summer is too far away, there are also plenty of nice restaurants walking distance away from the beach!

10. Board Walk, Santa Cruz

The boardwalk is a beach you cannot miss if you’re in the area! Take a stroll through the arcade and walk down into the rides and to breathe history in it. With a variety of thrill rides, games, mazes, and food, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk is always a fun place to visit. During the summer they feature free Wednesday Movie nights on the beach. Most of the movies played are family oriented, after a day on the beach, it’s the most surreal experience under a cool starry night while looking up at a big screen that will make your night the most memorable.

11. Half Moon Bay State Beach, Santa Cruz

Half Moon Bay beach is described as the beautiful, picturesque, and stunning view. Though it may not be as famous or well-known, this is still a great beach in and of itself.  There are cliffs that overlook the beach with paved trails for those who want to go on nice walks and to overlook the coastline. Picnic tables and grills for your convenience, camping sites, hiking, and occasional whale sightings! This is a spectacular beach for many activities and many do love it!

We hope you enjoyed this article on our top 10 beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area as much as we did writing it! Check out our website at to find the best tours and activities around the best beaches! Wondering what are the best places to visit for food in San Francisco? Check out The Best Cities for Food Around the World: San Francisco blog for more exciting reads!

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