Golden Gate Beaches.
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12 Stunning Golden Gate Beaches to Visit

San Fransisco has incredible skylines, historic landmarks, a wealth of wildlife, and one of the most well-known engineering marvels in the world, but did you also know there are also some incredible Golden Gate Beaches to visit?

Some are local favorites, packed out on summer weekends with families, while others are off the beaten path, with a good chance you could find you have them all to yourself.

With the Marin Headlands to the north, Land’s End to the West, and plenty of islands, these Golden Gate Beaches are something else!

BEST Golden Gate Beaches to Visit

The Golden Gate area is MASSIVE. Sure, there’s the Golden Gate Bridge, but there’s also the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which encompasses the bridge and beyond. We are covering BOTH areas here.

Some beaches will have bridge views, and some won’t, but I’ll tell you what, they are all stunning and worth visiting. Trust me!

Golden Gate Beaches With Bridge Views

If you’re looking to chill on a beach and see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, we have the perfect beaches for you!

There are plenty out there, but if you ask us, these right here are the most worth-it ones.

1. Baker Beach

Baker Beach is one of the most well-known and popular beaches by the Golden Gate Bridge, and once you see this stunning stretch of sand, you won’t be surprised. The sands are soft, golden, and wide, the view of the Bridge is hard to beat, and despite its popularity, there is enough room for everyone to enjoy it. 

Lady walking dogs on Baker Beach at sunset besides the Golden Gate Bridge.
coleong /

The north end of the beach is clothing optional, so either stick to the south if this is not your kind of thing or if you fancy it, join them!

This was the first beach I ever visited in California many years ago when I visited San Francisco! Too bad I lost all my photos from that trip.

2. Marshall Beach

Long and narrow and located very close to the Golden Gate Bridge, Marshall Beach is nowhere near as popular as Baker Beach, even though the views are on par. The main reason for this is access.

To feel the sand between your toes, getting to Marshall Beach requires a hike of around half a mile, which helps to give the beach a nice and secluded feel. This is another clothing-optional beach, but it is still open for all to enjoy.

A viewpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge from Marshall's Beach at golden hour.
Similar views but not as busy at Marshall Beach!

Use the Batteries to Bluffs Trail to reach the water and enjoy the hike as part of the trip. Check the tides, as this beach almost completely disappeared during the high tide, and if the timing works out, try to stay until sunset for some of the best sun and Golden Gate views you will ever see.

3. Golden Gate Beach (Crissy Fields Beach)

Golden Gate Beach, also known as Crissy Fields Beach, is divided into two sections, East and West. West Beach is closest to the bridge and has picnic tables, parking, restrooms, and dogs running free. East Beach still has incredible bridge views despite being a little further away.

Sunrise glow behind the Golden Gate Bridge from Golden Gate Beach.
Unparalleled views from Golden Gate Beach

It is a very windy beach, so the waters are usually full of windsurfers and kitesurfers. Both Golden Gate beaches are busy from early morning until sunset, with joggers running along the surf and families picnicking on the lawns. Seeing the beaches today, it is hard to imagine that this area was once an airfield.

4. Kirby Cove

If you want to beat the crowds but still want that perfect Golden Gate Bridge shot, hike to Kirby Cove. This beach near the Golden Gate Bridge is relatively small, and many tourists don’t know about it.

Low cloud over the Golden Gate bridge framed by trees in San Francisco.
View over Kirby Cove

Don’t forget to take some lunch and use the picnic tables that offer some of the best views of the city skyline. There is also a camping area that is open during the summer months if you can’t seem to pull yourself away from the beauty of this spot.

Nina exploring the abandoned looking Battery Spencer with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
Nina exploring Battery Spencer

Getting to the beach is part of the adventure, as it does require a bit of a hike, starting close to Battery Spencer. It is downhill all the way, so make sure you save enough energy for the climb back up. You can also stop at Battery Wagner on the way down for a different perspective and some history.

TIP: Try to find the hidden swing here! We found it during our visit. I hope you can too!

5. China Beach

China Beach offers some of the most stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is quite a small Golden Gate beach, surrounded by high rock walls and stunning scenery. You can head over to the rocks during low tide and explore the tide pools.

Seagull walking on China Beach as a wave hits a rock with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
This seagull certainly enjoys China Beach

High tide covers much of the beach, so it is worth checking the tide times before you visit so you don’t end up squashed uncomfortably close to your beach neighbor. Sometimes, people may stumble across China Beach when the parking lot for the popular Baker Beach is full.

6. Mile Rocks Beach and Seal Rock Beach

You’ll find the tiny Mile Rock Beach at the Lands End area, snuggled up next to Seal Rocks Beach, two of the best beaches by the Golden Gate Bridge. There are a few steps down to the beach from the main trail, although these stairs are a lot of fun as you have to go under an arched tree trunk.

Although reaching this small rocky cove can be a bit of a challenge, the panorama once you get it makes it all worth it. It is right on the channel that leads into San Francisco Bay. It is also a good vantage point to spot Mile Rocks Lighthouse out in the bay.

Low cloud view of Golden Gate Bridge from Mile Rock Beach.
View over Mile Rock Beach from Lands End Lookout

It’s a wild and rugged place to enjoy, with waves regularly crashing into the rocks, and art in the form of stone stacks and rock piles. Just above the beach, you will find Lands End Point, which offers even better views than the beach itself, reached by a dirt path that leads directly up from the beach. Don’t forget to look out for whales during migration season.

Next door neighbor Seal Rocks Beach is a small cove with dramatic rock formations, incredible sunsets, and big surf, and it is definitely also worth checking out.

Great Golden Gate Beaches Without Bridge Views

It’s not all about the views of the bridge, though! If you want some more beaches in the Golden Gate area, we think these beaches below are also super worth it.

GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) has SO many beaches, and while these below won’t give you a peep of the bridge, we give you a reason to visit them anyway!

7. Rodeo Beach

Rodeo Beach is an awesome beach in San Francisco that may lack bridge views but is seriously cool in other ways. This crescent of sand has some spectacular scenery, squashed in between high cliffs and incredible rock formations, backed by a wide lagoon, and with the angry Pacific out front.

Nina walking along an empty Rodeo Beach near San Francisco.
A relatively empty Rodeo Beach

If you head north of this incredible beach, keep an eye out for flashes of bright color, as it is known for the beautiful multicolored pebbles carried onto the sand from Rodeo Creek. Found in stunning shades of blue, green, red, and orange, it makes a change from walking on sand.

Surfing and skimboarding are popular activities, especially in the summer months, although swimming is not advised as the water can be very dangerous.

Surfer standing in the wash of the ocean at Rodeo Beach in San Francisco.
A surfer weighs up his options

The lagoon to the back of the beach is a popular bird-watching spot, helped by Bird Island, which sits just off the shore. The cliff-top above is known for being one of the best places to watch pelicans in California, and hawks, gulls, herons, ducks, terns, willets, loons, and grebes are just a few of the bird species here.

TIP: Do all (or just a part) of this hike near Rodeo Beach and get views from above.

8. Black Sand Beach

Black Sand Beach is an alternative option when beach hopping in San Fran because, well, the sand is black! Sure, it might not be as picturesque as some of the beaches covered in fine golden sand, but it certainly is more unique.

Tourists along Black Sand Beach in on a cloudy day near San Francisco.
Come and enjoy Black Sand Beach

You’ll feel like an explorer or a pirate as you descend the steps down onto this beach on the Marin Headlands. The black sand here was formed from the black pillow basalt found in the Marin Headlands, exposed from when lava was pumped from underground vents many years ago.

Be aware that the trail down to the beach has a lot of stairs, and always check the tides before you visit, as at high tide, the majority of the beach disappears entirely.

Wooden bridge that crosses over to Point Bonita Lighthouse.
Point Bonita Lighthouse is nearby!

Battery Wallace sits nearby and is the ideal place to end the day, with picnic tables and grills overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge.

TIP: Point Bonita Lighthouse is also close by and is open over the weekend if you want to peek inside!

9. Tennessee Beach

Tennessee Beach, although beautiful, has a bit of a dark history. The beach was named after the SS Tennessee ship that crashed here in 1853, and during the low tides, the metal skeleton can sometimes be seen today. The vast stretch of sand is strikingly dark, contrasting with the vegetation’s lush greens and high cliffs behind it.

Getting to the beach is part of the adventure, as it can be accessed via a two-mile hike from the Tennessee Valley Trailhead, which ends at the beach.

Rocky cliffs at Tennessee Beach near San Francisco.
Huge cliffs at Tennessee Beach!

Head up to the Tennessee Valley Overlook for impressive views of the surrounding rock walls and the Pacific Ocean, and you can also find a historic military bunker here. The waves are crazy strong here, creating crashing waves for most of the year.

TIP: Don’t let the hike put you off; trust me, it’s super easy and well worth it.

10. Muir Beach

Although it won’t be giant bridges you see if you make the trip out to Muir Beach, you can witness the grandeur of the giant redwoods that Muir Woods is known for.

The bridge is a little further away from San Fran than some other beaches on this list, but it is worth making the 20-minute journey to enjoy this huge beach, with plenty of room to relax on the soft sand.

Tourists on a relatively empty Muir Beach on a sunny day.
Plenty of space for everyone at Muir Beach!

Gray whales can sometimes be seen directly from the beach during migration season as they travel from Alaska to Mexico. However, you may better spot some from a loftier position, such as Muir Beach Overlook.

RELATED: 5 of The Best Hikes in Muir Woods + Top Tips on How to Get Here

11. Steep Ravine Beach

Steep Ravine Beach is in Mount Tamalpais State Park. The beach is skinny and rocky, and at the bottom of a steep canyon. The rockiness of the beach, coupled with the short walk to reach it, helps to keep the beach nice and secluded.

Overlooking Steep Ravine Beach in Mount Tamalpais State Park.
View over Steep Ravine Beach and cabins

If you visit, you’ll be one of the few San Fran visitors who make it to this hidden gem. The iconic Steep Ravine Cabins are particularly popular, perched high on the bluff top and are one of the most incredible places to camp in California.

RELATED Uncovering Mount Tamalpais State Park Near San Francisco

12. Stinson State Beach

Stinson State Beach may be around 20 miles from San Francisco, but the drive to this huge, stunning beach is worth the drive. You could spend the whole day walking for miles along the beautiful white sands, play volleyball and BBQ day with friends, or surf the waves; the options are endless.

Tourists enjoying the day on Stinson State Beach in California.
Stinson Beach is very long
Seagulls surrounding tourists on Stinson State Beach in California.
These guys seem wholly unbothered by seagulls!

Snack bars are open in the summer, and the nearby town provides plenty of other dining options, making it a popular day trip from the city for visitors and locals alike.

TIP: Winter and spring are the best months for surfing.

We hope this helped you choose which Golden Gate beaches to see during your visit!

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