The mile-long stretch of Baker Beach, located just off the Presidio west of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, is an incredibly popular spot for both tourists and locals. Baker Beach doesn’t exactly fit the norm of other beaches, though: treacherous waters make swimming virtually off-limits, and San Francisco weather
usually sits the beach at a chilly 60℉. But don’t let that deter your visit. Its oceanic scenery, wildlife, hiking, and nearby landmarks will keep Baker Beach on top of your beach bucket list.
Take in some history at Battery Chamberlin
Take in some history at Battery Chamberlin
Built in 1904, Battery Chamberlin was constructed for the military in order to better accommodate the lighter, stronger, more powerful coastal defense artillery. Shut down in 1948, Battery Chamberlin is now home to the last six-inch “disappearing gun” of its type on the west coast. Demonstrations are held during the first full weekend of each month, allowing visitors to participate, and a small coastal defense museum is on site as well.
Battery Chamberlin, Lincoln Blvd, San Francisco, CA, USA
Pack a coastal picnic
Located at the east end of Baker Beach’s parking lot is a picnic area tucked within a cypress grove. This area features tables, grills, and restrooms, making it the perfect place to have a coastal lunch. It’s an easy walk, but get there early as the tables and grills can fill up quick.
Take a photography workshop
Many photography studios offer workshops for taking the most breathtaking photos of San Francisco (several are all along Baker Beach). Total photography newbies should give this a try as some workshops offer the use of their own equipment, yet even the most seasoned photographer could benefit from the more advanced options and workshops and put the gorgeous San Francisco coast in their portfolios.
Baker Beach is home to some of California’s best-known wildlife. While sitting on the shores, flocks of brown pelicans can be seen flying overhead and even diving into the surf to catch fish. Multiple types of shorebirds can be seen gathering along the beach, too. And a few lucky, sharp-eyed individuals can even glimpse dolphins and harbor porpoises popping up to the surface.
Fish off the coast
Baker Beach is a popular spot among fishing enthusiasts, particularly for striped bass and dungeness crab caught off these shores. Find people fishing off the piers, boats, kayaks, and just outside of the surf. A word of caution: Baker Beach is notorious for having rough surf, so only experienced boaters and kayakers should journey out into the water.
Backtrack and check out the Main Post
Walking away from the Golden Gate Bridge back through Baker Beach will lead to Presidio Park. This National Recreation Area includes the Main Post, an open green area with a visitors center. It’s a great place to relax and escape the immediate wind chill of Baker Beach’s shore. The visitors center offers more fun resources at the park as well as opportunities to learn more about the historic area.
Main Post, 103 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 561 5300
Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio
Marvel at the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, the most infamous San Francisco icon, is not only visible from Baker Beach but also quite accessible. Just a 2-mile drive from the beach, the Golden Gate is a great way to end a day at Baker. Park right before the bridge to soak in the views, walk from one end to another, or just keep driving across to the Marin Headlands (just be conscious of the toll booths).
Hike the Baker Beach Coastal Trail
The Baker Beach Coastal Trail stretches from Fort Point to the Golden Gate Bridge over a total of 4.2 miles (6.7 kilometers). The trail offers some of the most majestic and picturesque views in California. It’s not too treacherous a hike, but proceed with caution as there are multiple stairs.
Check out the nude side of the beach
Feeling really adventurous? Over the eastern cliffs of Baker Beach is the clothing-optional area, perfect on those rare warm weather days at Baker Beach when sunbathing is optimal. Be aware, though, that public nudity has been outlawed in San Francisco since November of 2012, but most locals will affirm that the law is not strictly enforced.