Ah, beach days in California. They’re synonymous with sunshine, surfers, and bleached-blonde hair. But those visiting San Francisco from far away for the first time might not realize that this image of the beach is really describing SoCal, not the Bay Area.
But don’t put away that bathing suit yet! The vibe and weather in NoCal may be very different than what you’ll find near Los Angeles and San Diego, but there are still many beautiful places near San Francisco to have yourself a beach day.
Agate Beach Park
Nature lovers will love Agate Beach Park outside of Bolinas. Here are some reasons why:
· There is a huge variety of seabirds and shorebirds around the beach. Bring binoculars so you can try to identify them!
· At low tide, you’ll find tide pools with sea anemones, fish, and other fascinating marine life.
· Hiking trails through the park are a great place to observe a variety of wildflowers.
Muir Beach across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County is a perfect beach to escape the crowds. This low-key, quiet spot is popular with locals and a wonderful place to have a bonfire. The beach is dog friendly and there are no lifeguards. If you have a National Parks Passport, you can get a stamp for visiting since it’s a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Other cool aspects of this beach are that you need to access it via a 450 ft pedestrian bridge and nearby, is Muir Overlook which presents a stunning view of the Pacific from the coastal cliffs.
Half Moon Bay State Beach
If you’re a fan of outdoor activities, you should check out the beaches at Half Moon Bay State Beach. The state park is made up of four different beaches and a campground so you can get your outdoor fix. Activities include:
· There are four miles of coastline at the park, perfect for long walks on the beach.
· The waves are good enough that these beaches are popular with surfers.
· There’s a horseback riding trail and on nearby Poplar Beach, you can ride horses along the water’s edge.
· Some areas are designated to allow fishing.
· There are lots of picnicking and grilling stations at Francis Beach.
· The campground has 52 campsites for tents and RVs, coin-operated public showers, and some stations have electrical hookup available. Reserve a spot here.
If you love city beaches where there’s all kinds of life happening, go to Ocean Beach right in San Francisco. This is one of the most visited beaches in the area and is a great place for people-watching. You’ll see surfers, parasailers, kiteboarders, and kite-flyers. If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re probably right – the beach is windy. It’s not a top place to picnic or swim, you’ll still enjoy strolling the mile-and-a-half long stretch of beach or cozying up by a bonfire.
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