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California is notorious for its beaches. Sprawling white sands and beautiful blue waters can capture the soul.

Whether you are a resident or a tourist, the Bay Area beaches are a MUST visit. San Francisco boasts some of the best beaches in the world—so which ones should you plan on seeing?

Here are the best bay area beaches you must visit before the summer is over:

A Little Background

The beautiful Bay Area is comprised of 9 separate counties that are adjoined by the bay. They include:

  • City of San Francisco (also a county!)
  • Sonoma County
  • San Mateo County
  • Alameda County
  • Contra Costa County
  • Marin County
  • Napa County
  • Solano County
  • Santa Cruz County

The area is rapidly expanding with new businesses and residents alike. There are endless activities to take part in every season—with summer being the clear favorite!

Baker Beach

This beach is located close to the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Perfect for a family-friendly visit, you can sprawl out on the golden beach or visit the historic military gun installation that was created back in 1904.

If interested, there is a section of the beach that is *clothing-optional! This beach is solely to enjoy on land as the waters are deemed too unstable due to frequent rip currents and cold water.

Sutro Baths

The Sutro Baths are an infamous place to find yourself relaxing this summer. The ruins are deemed a historic site as back in March of 1896, they were privately-owned freshwater and saltwater pools. The baths inevitably closed in 1966 yet the beach below is open to the public.

A fascinating tunnel burrows through the large Seal Rocks and a rock arch that has direct access to Point Lobos—quite popular with tourists. If you love hiking, the Lands End Trail is a perfect place to take in the scenery. You’ll also stumble across several shipwrecks too!

Ocean Beach

A notoriously wide and long beach, Ocean Beach is definitely a stop you should make this summer! There is ample parking and several walking connections that allow you easy access to this luscious beach.

Take part in windsurfing or simply playing in the waves. When you’re done swimming in the cool waters, you are permitted to light a bonfire in one of the provided fire rings. Don’t forget to watch out for those rip currents!

Black Sands Beach

This beach has—you guessed it—black sand! Boasting incredible city views, the magnificent black sand is both beautiful and inviting—perfect for tourists and residents alike.

Several areas of Black Sands Beach are clothing-optional for the brave, so be aware if you are planning to have a family day with children. Don’t forget to get there early as parking is limited, and this is one of the most sought-after beaches in the country!

Rodeo Beach

If you are looking for a wide-pebble beach, you’ve found it! The dark-colored sands are made up of a plethora of different types of rocks and pebbles, which make for a glorious view and walk. This popular spot is riddled with both tourists and residents alike.

Famed photographers hit this area as it offers spectacular views of nightly sunsets. If you are a birdwatcher, this is the most optimal spot to catch offshore birds landing on Rodeo Lagoon and on the beach itself.

Stinson Beach

This large public beach is beyond breathtaking. Adorned with gorgeous foliage and flowers, Stinson Beach is a popular getaway—even in the winter!

If you are planning a trip here in the summer, be sure to leave early to grab a coveted parking spot; it fills up fast! This one-hour-away from San Fran beach is perfect to plop down and catch some sun while people-watching.

Ross Cove Beach

Another diamond in the rough, Ross Cove Beach is on the north side of Pillar Point. It falls between Moss Beach and Half Moon Bay near the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

The annual Maverick’s Surf Competition is the top place onlookers flock to witness some of the best surfers in the world compete for the title. If you enjoy watching surfers, dog-walking, trotting along the marked trails, and simply relaxing, Ross Cove should be on your list.

Venice Beach

If you are looking for an expansive itinerary with a beach setting, Venice Beach awaits you! Hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching, basking in the summer sun, and more are found on the sandy beaches of Venice Beach.

Located between two creeks—Frenchmans and Pilarcitos—Venice Beach is the best of all worlds. If you enjoy fishing or even skating for some summer fun and exercise, all you need is a day pass to enjoy yourselves!

San Gregorio State Beach

This stunning beach is most popular for picnics and people-watching—let alone sunbathing! The San Gregorio Creek flows directly down the beach line where the lagoon can fill the majority of the cove. What a sight to see!

Birdwatching is a great activity to participate in at San Gregorio Beach as the stretch of sand with the sandstone cliffs marking the horizon is the perfect backdrop. At the north end of the creek, you can investigate fossils and caves in the sandstone cliffs. Be warned: there is a nude beach nearby!

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that no other place in the country boasts the best beaches as the Bay Area in California. Armed with ample activities for the high octane and perfect places to plop down and relax, the Bay Area sets the bar high.

Whether you are quickly stopping into the Bay Area or plan to take some much-needed time off of life, these beaches are your best bet. Take a tour around some of these top Bay Area beaches and it’ll be a summer to remember!

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