Northwest of San Francisco, the beach lies just south of the point at which the Golden Gate Bridge meets the peninsula. The iconic view paired with the Pacific Ocean make it a splendid destination for much-needed R&R. As a clothing-optional beach, the northern section tends to be frequented by head-to-toe sunbathers. Whether this is your style or not, you are sure to have the freedom to sunbathe as you please.
1504 Pershing Dr, San Francisco CA +1 415 561 3000
Grab a few sandwiches and a few friends before heading to this Bay Area state park. Featuring picnic tables, barbecue pits and lawn space, Crown State Beach presents a prime location for picnicking. Some picnic areas allow for reservations by phone call. Swim in the warm, shallow and kid-friendly waters, take out the fishing rods or learn about the history of the area at the Crab Cove Visitor Center.
Crown State Beach, Alameda, CA + 1 888 327 2757
One of the cleanest beaches in the state, Stinson Beach also offers immaculate views. About a half-hour drive from the Golden Gate, visitors will arrive at a coastal, cliff-filled scene home to a small surfing community, adventurous pathways and an adorable neighboring town. Several hiking trails, including the popular and lengthy 9.5-mile Dipsea Trail, are available for the explorers among us. Both quaint and more upscale eating options are nearby in the town of Stinson Beach. The ability to hike before a dip in the ocean provides a true California beach day.
1 Calle Del Sierra, Stinson Beach, CA +1 415 868 1922
Santa Cruz has earned the nickname ‘Surf City‘ for a reason. The city’s beaches offer manageable waves for both beginner and advanced surfers, making it a premier destination for all ability levels. For those just looking to get their toes wet, Cowell’s Beach Surf Shop is a classic location for novice surfers. With its clothing shop, board and wetsuit rentals and surf lessons, Cowell’s has everything necessary to hit the waves. If visiting on the weekend, make sure to arrive early, as rentals go on a ‘first-come, first-serve’ basis.
Cowell’s Beach Surf Shop, 30 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA +1 831 427 2355
Burger. (Burger Dot) boasts the burger of a meat lover’s dream between two buns. With 22 unique burger options on the menu, six choices of sliders, hot dogs, sandwiches and salads, this cozy hamburger joint has something for everyone. Moreover, the restaurant’s ingredients for burger bliss are wholesome and nutritionally superior to many other vendors. The restaurant uses grass-fed beef whenever possible and purchases produce locally. After a day on the sand or surf board, ‘the dot’ will surely hit the spot.
1520 Mission St Santa Cruz, CA + 1 831 425 5300
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is centrally located right on the beach and is host to a multitude of activities. From the historic Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and 1911 Looff Carousel to mini golf and laser tag, the Boardwalk guarantees fun for friends and families of all ages. During the months of April and May, rides are generally open from 12pm-5pm, with longer hours on the weekends. Stores such as O’Neill Surf Shop and the Beach Shack, as well as many food vendors, are also located right on the Boardwalk.
400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA +1 831 423 5590
With ten fire pits and ample roaming room, Seabright State Beach is conveniently located near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The sandy expanse delivers a spectacular sunset to admire over s’mores. Dogs are allowed on a leash and the beach has free parking, making Seabright a fun place for the whole family. Make sure to be nearby at sunset in order to claim the fire pit of your choice.
E Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA +1 831 427 4868
On every Saturday from May through December, the Coastside Farmers’ Market in Half Moon Bay is open to the public. From 9am-1pm, the Coastside Farmers’ Market connects visitors to Coastside farmers, ranchers, fisherman and culinary artisans who sell diverse, healthy selections. Baked goods, fresh berries, vegetables and live music will feed your senses and appetite.
If ‘Learn to Scuba Dive’ is still on your bucket list, invest a few days and dollars in Monterey, a long-time favorite getaway spot. The city has many local businesses that offer scuba instructions and diving opportunities, and the stunning city is sure to make for a premier scuba experience. While there, don’t miss out on trying the clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, tasting wine at the Ventana Vineyards and exploring the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Ventana Vineyards, 2999 Salinas Hwy, Monterey CA +1 831 372 7415
Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey CA +1 831 648 4800