San Francisco is surrounded by water, but the area isn’t known for warm beaches where you can soak in the sun all summer long. But there are still pockets of sandy coves and coastal areas where you can find warm beaches near San Francisco.

And the best part? You can even get to some of these beaches by GoCar!

Best Warm Beaches Near San Francisco

  1. Crown Memorial Beach
  2. Coyote Point Recreation Area
  3. Baker Beach
  4. China Beach
  5. Ocean Beach

Crown Memorial Beach 

Photo Credit: Brian Sims via Flickr

Located across the Bay on the sleepy island of Alameda, Crown Memorial Beach had several spas, rides, and attractions and was known as the “Coney Island of the West” before WWII.  Food and shopping were moved to the nearby downtown center of Alameda, leaving the park itself as a great warm beach near San Francisco where one can take in the natural beauty of the Bay and the charm of Alameda Island.

This warm beach near San Francisco features 2.5 miles of beach, bordered by lawns and picnic tables, barbecue pits, and a lawn area with a bicycle trail. The water at the beach is usually warm and swimming is permitted year-round, although there are no lifeguards on duty. 

Crown has sweeping views of San Francisco, and, like most East Bay locations, is several degrees warmer than San Francisco proper.  The spot is popular with windsurfers, and rental sailboards and lessons are available on summer weekends.

Coyote Point Recreation Area

Coyote Point is a recreation area, just south of San Francisco, in sunny San Mateo county. For an entrance/parking fee of just $6, Coyote Point is a great warm beach near San Francisco for picnicking, swimming, windsurfing, bicycling, jogging, fishing, boating, and sailing along the bay.   

Magic Mountain Playground and CuriOdyssey are two attractions for kids at the point, featuring play structures, wild animals, and hands-on science exhibits. The park also hosts movie nights on the last Saturday of the month June through October. Although the area is named Coyote Point, there are rarely any of the animals spotted at the park, so visitors can feel safe exploring the saltwater marsh, or strolling along the sandy u-r-beach promenade to look out over the Bay to the East and South Shores. 
The area is popular with local families for barbecues, picnics, and parties, and a great place to see shorebirds, boats and barges, windsurfers, and planes from the San Francisco International Airport.

Baker Beach

Once infamous as a nude beach and the site of a fatal shark attack, Baker Beach has steadily evolved into one of the most popular, family-friendly warm beaches near San Francisco. Protected from the fog for the majority of the day by the Seacliff neighborhood, Baker Beach is half a mile long and looks out on the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge.

There’s something for everyone at Baker Beach. The beach was the site of the original Burning Man from 1986-1990 before moving to Black Rock Desert, Nevada. The beach’s eastern edge is still considered clothing-optional, although there are fewer nude sunbathers than decades past.  The western edge, near restrooms and an ample parking lot is popular for locals to enjoy a warm beach day in San Francisco.  

The water itself is cold, and there can be an undertow, so sticking to the shoreline is recommended for all except the best of swimmers. Despite the shark attack in 1959, it is much more likely to see sea lions and dolphins playing offshore than a great white shark.
Baker Beach is a stop on all San Francisco tours except the Chinatown Downtown Tour and is a great place to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge or have a picnic.

China Beach

Named after the Chinese Fishermen who would camp there during the Gold Rush, China Beach is a local favorite, and a great warm beach in San Francisco – during the day anyway!  Positioned along the northern edge of the city, to the west of the more popular Baker Beach, China Beach overlooks the entrance to the Bay and has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The beach’s location makes for cooler mornings and afternoons, so plan to visit in the middle of the day when you can be sure the fog from the Pacific Ocean has burned off.  

There is a small parking lot, first-come-first-served barbeque and picnic areas, and a protected rooftop sunbathing area. The bathrooms are under construction as of this writing, although porta-potties are available. The water itself can be rough and cold, and with no lifeguards on duty, swimming isn’t recommended. Visitors can see many unusual sea creatures on a walk along the rock edges of the beach at low tides, like mussels, barnacles, and anemones.  

China Beach is conveniently located on GoCar’s Golden Gate Park and More, Painted Ladies and Haight and Ashbury and All Day Special Tours.  

Ocean Beach

Located along the western edge of the city, where the Great Highway runs along the Pacific Ocean, Ocean Beach is San Francisco’s grandest beach. The beach is surrounded by San Francisco icons: The Cliff House looks over the beach, and Golden Gate Park’s Dutch windmills are visible across the Great Highway.  But the most striking feature is the powerful Pacific, churning offshore. 

The water at Ocean Beach is noteworthy for its strong, dangerous currents and powerful waves, making it popular among serious surfers, but dangerous for casual swimmers. The beach is one of the Bay Area’s top surfing spots. The large parking lots are filled with surfers changing into their wetsuits between open car doors. The long sandy shore is a popular spot for dog walkers, volleyball and bonfires.

During the late spring and summer, San Francisco’s characteristic foggy weather frequently envelops the area in the mornings and late afternoons, so the middle of the day is the best time to enjoy Ocean Beach. The black sand, composed of iron ore magnetite, is slightly magnetic and stays remarkably warm because it absorbs and retains heat even on chilly days. Visitors to Ocean Beach will find sand dollars, beached jellyfish, and may even see the remnants of a three-masted clipper ship, King Phillip, that ran aground in 1878 and occasionally is uncovered by the tides. 

Ocean Beach is first viewed on GoCar’s Golden Gate Bridge and More, Painted Ladies and Haight Ashbury, and All Day Tours as your vehicle turns the corner next to the Cliff House. The view is epic as you descend the cliff, and parking is ample along the Great Highway. Ocean Beach is a must-visit, especially for visitors who have never seen the Pacific Ocean before.