Watch CBS News

Your Guide To The Bay Area's Best Beaches

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to over 30 stunning beaches, both right on the Pacific Ocean, as well as inland along the Bay. Explore dozens of beautiful Bay Area beaches, from great views to awesome hikes, and even to the perfect road trip pit stop.

More:4 San Francisco Workouts Worth The Money

Pebble Beach/Bean Hollow
(3 miles south of Pescadero on Highway 1)
More Information

While most people think of golf when they hear the name "Pebble Beach", this secluded spot actually is a beach filled with...pebbles. A perfect spot for kids to explore, Pebble Beach makes for an awesome ocean-side family adventure.

Limantour Beach

Far off the beaten bath, Limantour is gorgeous and often empty beach along the Point Reyes National Seashore. In fact, Limantour is Brian's Pick for his favorite beach in Point Reyes.

San Gregorio

San Gregorio General Store
Highway 84 and Stage Road
San Gregario, CA
(650) 726-0565

Just between Half Moon Bay and Pescadero, and known for fun shopping, live music and some of the best Bloody Marys in the Bay Area, the San Gregario General Store is a beach-side stop unlike any other. Still a working post office, you can grab provisions, fruit and vegetables, clothing, gifts, beach supplies and of course, a cocktail.

Kirby Cove
(415) 331-1540

Kirby Cove is amazing campsite in the southern Marin Headlands, with a super-secluded beach, and a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Most folks don't even know that camping is allowed here, so take advantage of this postparc perfect beach and plan an overnight trip.

Steep Ravine Campground

Just south of Stinson Beach, you'll find this little known batch of rustic wood cabins, perched atop the cliff, with a commanding view of Stinson Beach. The cabins are sparse, so plan on bringing everything but the tent. Terrific for groups and families, Steep Ravine is a special Stinson secret.

Cypress Inn
407 Mirada Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 726-6002

A luxurious beachfront-inn located on miles of pristine white sand beaches with the Pacific Ocean at your doorstep. This oceanfront property is located just 30 minutes south of San Francisco and offers 18 guest rooms complimented by dramatic ocean views and gracious personalized service.

Davenport Roadhouse
1 Davenport Avenue
Davenport, CA 95017
(831) 426-8801

This 12-room Inn features a dining room with beach views, a full bar, live-music twice a week and a private path directly to the beach. The Roadhouse provides an easy but surprisingly secluded getaway from Bay Area folks, especially those from the South Bay, looking for a quick and relaxing vacation.

Pelican Inn
(415) 383-6000
Nestled just between Muir Beach and Muir Woods, the Pelican Inn is on of the most special Northern California treasures we can think of. This English-style pub offers fine dining, a low-ceiling pub and even charmingly appointed rooms, should you wish to spend the night. Don't miss darts in the pub, where folks are known to break into the occasional English drinking song.

Muir Beach Overlook:

Muir Beach is a spectacular dark sand beach, slightly more secluded than her popular neighbor, Stinson Beach. A great place for playing with the whole family, even the four-legged members, Muir Beach features excellent sand castle tools, like driftwood, seaweed and mussel shells. The hikes up above the beach over breath-taking views of the crashing Pacific waves.

Highway 1 at Devil's Slide
Highway 1 at Devil's Slide as seen from Montara State Beach. (CBS)

Gray Whale Cove/Devil's Slide Overlook

Located at the perilous cliffs of Devil's Slide, this stop will provide you with breathtaking views of the Pacific on a clear day.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Overlook
210 Pigeon Point Road
Pescadero, CA 94060
(650) 879-0633

A 115-foot New England style lighthouse creates a picturesque setting from which to view the San Mateo County Coast. And who doesn't love a lighthouse? This is a beautiful and educational spot to explore with the whole family.

Cowell Ranch State Beach

So hidden, you can't even see Cowell Ranch from the parking lot. Stroll 1/2 mile down a charming path and you'll find the roar of the Pacific. Usually people-free, Cowell State Beach is just 5 miles South of Half Moon Bay.

Pirate's Cove (0.7 mile hike south of Muir Beach in Marin)

From the Muir Beach parking lot, head across the walking bridge, and up the Fire Road, where you'll find the main trail. From our experience, it's best to hit the beach on a low tide, as it's super small, but very stunning if you time it right! Pirate's Cove io amed from the bootleggers who used the cove to ship in illegal booze during Prohibition.

McClure's Beach
(16 miles west of Pt. Reyes Station in Marin)

Another one of Brian's Favorites, McClure's Beach is a secluded North Bay spot requiring a quick hike along a winding path. What you find at the end is one of the most hidden and special beaches in all of the Bay Area. Keep in mind, most Bay Area beaches are hardly tropical. The Pacific is a brisk 55 degrees, famous for her rip tides and yep, great white sharks.

A dog walker escorts dogs along the beach at Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Crissy Field Beach

Beautifully maintained, you may have drven past Crissy Field many times, but have you ever stopped to walk around? A favorite of local dog-owners, Crissy Field is perfect for a stroll in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. In the warm months, visitors are treated to live music, outdoor film screenings, and even Shakespeare.

China Camp State Beach
(415) 456-0766

China Camp gets its name from its fascinating California history. An actual Chinese fishing village from the 19th century, the original cafe is still in operation. China Camp is also a favorite of hikers and mountain bikers.

Lake Anza at Tilden Park

Looking for a beach in the East Bay? Look no further than the sandy shores of Lake Anza in Berkeley's Tilden Park. Lovely trails, lots of wildlife, a fun snack bar, and even water warm enough to swim in, Lake Anza is the perfect East Bay spot for a romantic stroll or an all-day, inexpensive family adventure.

Taco Bell on the beach in Pacifica
5200 Coast Hwy
Pacifica, CA 94044
(650) 355-4210

This is why you're here in the Bay Area. Because we have a gorgeous Taco Bell in a rustic wooden building with a stunning deck sitting feet from the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. If you're going to have a Chalupa (and you're going to have a Chalupa), you might as well have one in heaven.

Surfer's Grill

Surfer's Grill
on Stinson Beach (located in the Lifeguard Tower)
(415) 868-1777
More Information

Stinson Beach, Eye on the Bay's FAVORITE Bay Area Beach, has an array of fantastic selling points. But even if you pack your own gourmet and organic snack, there is something reassuring about the old school Surfer's Grill, a snack bar located right at the top of the beach, serving up all of the food you expect from a snack bar on the beach. Yum!

Alamere Waterfall
Here is a great link to help guide you to the falls:
More Information

What could be more breath-taking than a waterfall dropping right into the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean? Thats what you'll find at Alamere Falls. Take a hike along the California Coast Trail starting from the Palomarin trailhead near Bolina, to discover this unexpected North Bay gem along the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Stinson Beach
Marin County, CA
More Information

Our number one pick for Eye on the Bay's favorite beach in the Bay Area is the gorgeous 3-mile long Stinson Beach. Nestled in a charming beach-side village on the west side of Mount Tamalpais, Stinson is a small surfing community with free beach access, an array of fun dining and overnight options, shopping, sports and plenty of sun. Home to all kinds of fun events, like the finish line of the century-old Dipsea Race from Mill Valley, Stinson Beach is not just a breath-taking beach, but an adorable town of about 700 friendly people. It's the perfect go-to beach in the Bay Area, but arrive early. It's a popular spot.

Ready for your next adventure? Head over to Eye on the Bay's Travel & Outdoors and discover the best of the Bay.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.