Baker Beach off Lincoln Blvd., southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge
China Beach off Sea Cliff Ave., between Lands End and Baker Beach
Open sunrise to sunset
Entrance fee: None
Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.
A number of great beaches are found along San Francisco's Pacific Ocean shore. Two beaches included here - Thornton Beach and Phillip Burton Memorial Beach - are actually at least partially in San Mateo County, but their access is from Fort Funston in San Francisco. Famous Ocean Beach stretches for miles along the western coast near Golden Gate Park, while China Beach, Baker Beach and Marshall's Beach are between Lands End and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Secluded China Beach in the Sea Cliff neighborhood near Lands End is a favorite with many who seek a quiet place to sunbathe, relax, or perhaps enjoy a picnic. Similar to its larger neighbor Baker Beach, China Beach has amazing views of the Golden Gate and the Marin headlands. Read more about China Beach below.
Baker Beach is immediately southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge. The one mile stretch of sand faces the Pacific Ocean. Baker Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Outcroppings of serpentine rock rise above the beach. The northern end of the beach has a history of being clothing optional. Among the attractions of the beach are wonderful views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin headlands, and the Pacific Ocean. See more about Baker Beach below.
Marshall's Beach is a secluded length of sand northeast of Baker Beach. To reach Marshall's Beach, take the sand stairs to the Coastal Trail and then almost immediately onto the Battery to Bluffs Trail.
Phillip Burton Memorial Beach is tucked between Thornton Beach and Fort Funston near Daly City. Access to the beach is through a staircase and trail leading down from Fort Funston. A network of trails spreads along the bluffs above Burton Beach and Thornton Beach, some leading south to the Mar Vista Stables on Skyline Boulevard.
Due to erosion of the bluffs above the beach, Thornton State Beach (officially in San Mateo County) was closed. Access to the beach area is still possible from Fort Funston via Phillip Burton Memorial Beach.
See our OCEAN BEACH page for photos, maps, and complete information about this popular beach.
Baker Beach's mile of sand along the Presidio's northwestern shore is attracts locals and visitors alike. The breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin headlands are unmatched. Photographers, painters, wedding parties, and tourists are seen along the beach any time of year. Dog lovers enjoy one of the few beaches where pets can be let off leash to romp and play.
The beach can become crowded on warm summer weekends, but many times there are plenty of parking spaces available in the two lots. Portable toilets are located at the southwestern lot and regular restrooms can be found at the northern lot. Access to the beach is off Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio.
The Battery Chamberlain, disappearing shore guns from early in the 20th century, can be viewed along the bluff above the beach. Trails connect various parts of the beach. The infamous sand stairs lead from Lincoln Blvd. and the Coastal Trail down to the beach - a tough climb back.
China Beach is nestled between Lands End and Baker Beach. The small pocket beach offers a scenic retreat with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin headlands. There is a picnic area and a small, sheltered sunbathing deck located on top of the lifeguard equipment pick-up station. Access to the beach from the parking lot is via a staircase or a paved drive. There are restrooms and cold water showers. Dogs are not allowed on China Beach.
Formerly a shore defense installation, Fort Funston is located along Skyline Boulevard above Burton Beach and
the southern end of Ocean Beach. It features early artillery batteries and trails. Dogs are allowed to run off leash
here. Hang gliding is popular along the bluff. See more about activities in the area on our
BEACH ACTIVITIES page.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety