The Bold and the Beautiful: NorCal Beaches You Don't Want to Miss

What makes the Bay Area unique is its microclimate system. At the height of summer, it can be eighty-degrees on sunny Stinson Beach and hovering in the mid-fifties less than a dozen miles south at Ocean Beach. If you are determined to have sun with your beach, stick to Marin and Point Reyes to the north and Half-Moon Bay and the Santa Cruz area to the south. If you happen to be visiting in July and August, the "winter" for much of San Francisco because of the fog, you might have to drive for a bit to find the sun. Luckily, all drives in every direction from San Francisco are beautiful.

But don't cross off those local San Francisco beaches just because of a little foggy weather. Remember: fog is not poison gas. In fact, in this day and age of worrying about health and avoiding pollution, fog offers the coolest and freshest air around. If you're traveling from most of the nation during the hotter months of the year, just consider that blasting fog at Ocean Beach or Ft. Funston our Bay Area version of free and natural air conditioning. 

Whether you're looking for fog or sun, though, this list has the best beach for you.

Point Reyes National Seashore
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


Although Point Reyes is farther than Ocean Beach or Stinson, most would agree it's well-worth the drive. If you're looking for smaller crowds and a more rugged beach day, be sure to include Point Reyes National Seashore in your trip. As the name...  Read More

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


Just a short but beautiful drive south of San Francisco, the beach at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve offers a living classroom for kids of all ages. When the tide draws out, the pools fill up with all kinds of sea urchins, small fish, crabs and other...  Read More

Mill Valley


A true local gem, known for its pristine conditions and gorgeous coastal scenery, Muir Beach is one of the top beaches in the area. The quiet cove is often secluded, offering a relaxing respite from the buzz of the city. Hikers especially enjoy...  Read More



Nature lovers find this to be one of the best beaches around for bird watching. Just off Rodeo Beach, Bird Island's white cliffs are covered with cormorants, gulls and pelicans. The section of the Coastal Trail near the island is particularly...  Read More



Fort Funston is known for its dog-walking trails and its hang-gliding, but it's still a lovely beach to visit, even if you don't have any interest in either of those activities. Just south of Ocean Beach, Fort Funston offers the same long...  Read More

Presidio Heights


Incredible views and plenty of fishing make this one of the best beaches in the area. Situated at the foot of the rugged cliffs on the western shoreline of the Presidio, Baker Beach boasts stunning vistas of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin...  Read More



If you're looking for a beach with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, this tiny cove is the perfect spot. Located between Baker Beach and Lands End, China Beach is a sheltered, nearly private pocket of sand, making it ideal for sunbathing,...  Read More

Presidio Heights


With so many beaches in the area, you'll have plenty of choices for fun in the sun, but Crissy Field is by far one of the most unique. Here, visitors enjoy both sandy expanses and plenty of grassy areas. A flat, hard-packed promenade offers a...  Read More



Definitely one of the most well loved beaches in the area, Stinson Beach offers outstanding recreational opportunities. The long, flat beach is always filled with people walking, enjoying a picnic or playing with their dogs. It's open...  Read More

Ocean Beach
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


During the summer months especially, locals flock to the area beaches, and Ocean Beach is one of their top choices. This expansive shoreline extends from the Cliff House to Fort Funston along the glistening Pacific Ocean, making it a great spot...  Read More


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom