5 Favorite San Francisco Area Beaches


What San Francisco beaches may lack in warmth, they certainly make up for in beauty. When the wind isn’t too chilly we love to head to one of our favorite beaches in the area for wave chasing, hole digging, picnicking, sand castle building, and general frolicking. When the weather’s really warm, it seems as though all of the city stops whatever they’re doing and heads to the beach! All of the ones I’m featuring here are within a 40 minutes drive of the city. Do you have a favorite?

We’ll start down south and head up north:

1.  Montara Beach, Half Moon Bay (25 minutes south): Park at La Costarena and walk down the steps to this beautiful white sand beach. This is our favorite spot when it’s warm as it’s the nicest and cleanest of the beaches on this list. There are great rocks and driftwood to climb on, and little caves in the rock wall to hide out in. Be sure to grab some dinner at Gorilla BBQ on the way back home to the city.

Keep on reading to see 4 more favorite beaches…


Featured items from Old Navy: Black and white printed shorts $17, white vintage tee$7.97, neon textured cardigan (only $10!), straw fedora in stores (similar). Also, Avianna straw bag from Sole Society,  leather sandals from Target, turkish towel from etsy.

Photography and styling by Liz Stanley. Modeling by Maddie Bachelder. Images taken at Chrissy Field beach.


-1This post was sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s latest fashion lineup in store or online at oldnavy.com



2. Ocean Beach– This one has the easiest access to the beach, and beach is huge. No stairs or difficulty parking. The beach itself isn’t super clean, it’s an urban beach and a beautiful place to watch a sunset and throw a frisbee after dinner. We love to get dumplings at Shanghai Dumpling King a few blocks away afterwards.

3. China Beach–  This is our favorite spot because it’s just 5 minutes from our house in the fancy Seacliff neighborhood. There’s a lovely view of Golden Gate bridge and beautiful cliffs and rocks to play on. There’s also a small stream that comes down the middle of the beach which makes it ideal for little kids to build dams or splash around in. Parking is relatively easy unless it’s a really warm weekend, although there is a long set of stairs or ramp down to the beach. Easy access to bathrooms and water to wash off sand make it a great spot for families as well. Grab sandwiches at Angelina’s Cafe on the way for a picnic.sfbeaches3

4. Chrissy Field- When it’s not foggy, this one has beautiful background of the Golden Gate Bridge (it’s the spot where all the images in this post were taken). It’s right in the city’s Marina district and close to lots of other tourist-friendly places like Lombard’s crooked street, the Presidio, and shops on Chestnut. This is also our favorite spot for little kids because there are nice shallow tide pools to play in on the western side of the beach. Famous Dynamo Donuts has a stand here in the mornings for the best donuts in down, or head to Chestnut treat for lots of other food options.

5. Stinson Beach– Take a beautifully scenic road 40 minutes north on the cliffs to this tiny beach town called Stinson beach. It’s a huge long beach spotted with surfers and cute beach houses and a few restaurants in town. Parking is pretty easy in the large lot but it can be really crowded on a sunny Saturday. Right before the parking lot and next to Parkside Cafe is a great order at the counter type joint where we always get burgers/fries/ice cream. Stinson is also a great home base spot to spend the weekend exploring the coast and Point Reyes.  sfbeaches6


I love Stinson Beach! I live in SF as well and I did surf camp up in Stinson and after we’d go to Parkside for ice cream!

I just was at half moon bay yesterday, seriously gorgeous. i love all of the beaches around here and bundling up in a blanket that they require.
i also love the beaches a little farther south like pescadero and san gregorio.
love this post and now i have to visit the rest of these beaches!

Love those shorts/the entire outfit! Such a great look for SF beaches – you need the sandals AND the sweater, haha.

Cute outfit, those shorts are a steal and that sweater is adorable too. love neon!

I just got the same bag from Sole Society, perfect beach bag and those shorts are adorable, can’t believe they’re only $17. I’ll keep this beach list in mind the next time we visit our fam in SF, thanks for sharing!

So all the beaches are chilly in the summer or are there some that are warm? I’m still in shock from our trip to SF two weeks ago- so cold!

Ah, I remember now that China Beach has a small stream too – right in the middle! It’s smaller than the Baker Beach one so I forgot all about it! Regardless, they are both great. We are a permanent fixture at Baker on weekends (my kids love the sea caves). We should meet up! My kiddos are 3 and 5 and total water/sand rats.

I love all of these beaches (except Stinson, which I have yet to get to). I think you mean Baker Beach for #3, though – not China Beach 😉 It’s our fave too because of the stream! Kids can get wet without risking ocean currents. China Beach is lovely, too, of course – we do crab boils there with our friend who has crab traps.

I agree the stream is the best at China Beach (it has a huge sign that says China Beach at the top so I’m pretty sure I’ve got it right!). Although we try not to think about where exactly that stream through the concrete is coming from?

Thanks Sara! I will pass that compliment onto Maddie. If I were the model it would be a beached whale look (I’m 6 months pregnant) so I’m passing on doing that right now!

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