While San Francisco is famous for its foggy weather, few people know our secret: late summer and fall is when we enjoy some of our best weather all year. So grab your suit and towel because the Bay Area sports a healthy variety of swimming spots. If you’re brave enough to take a dip in the cold Pacific, there’s hardly a shortage of beaches. That’s why we’ve curated a list for you to keep on hand when you want to put those toes in the sand.

Baker Beach

With absolutely stellar views of the Golden Gate Bridge, this beach in the northern part of the city is first on our list. Baker Beach is half a mile long and at the base of a range of spectacular cliffs. Baker Beach was originally part of a 160 acre property owned by John Baker in the mid 19th century, called Golden Gate Milk Ranch. Baker died in 1863, and his widow lost ownership of the property, but Baker’s grandson, Fairfax Henry Wheelan, sued to have the title returned to the family, so the beach retains the name.

From 1986 to 1990, Baker Beach hosted Burning Man, but, due to local ordinances limiting the size of campfires on the beach, the art festival was relocated after the 1990 burn, in which the iconic wooden “man” statue was prevented from being ceremoniously set ablaze, as it is every year. The northernmost section of the beach is considered “clothing optional,” so do take heed before making a family outing.

Marshall’s Beach

This is kind of a sneaky one. Marshall’s Beach is another name for the northernmost, clothing optional section of Baker Beach. It does get mentioned independently and locals clearly have a preference in using the proper nomenclature. Keep in mind the local lingo and you should be just fine.

Ocean Beach

On the west coast of San Francisco, Ocean Beach sits beside the Great Highway and adjacent to Golden Gate Park. The National Park Service takes cares of it as part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, so this beach is more clean than most and a particularly magnificent spot to cool off. It sits so close to the Pacific that it tends to be foggy in the summer, and the water (due to a process called upwelling) tends to be colder than you might expect. Ocean Beach is a favorite spot for surfers and other water sports enthusiasts.

When Sutro Baths still existed, it was a famous resort, but the ruins took on a more casual character through the 1970s. Occasionally, the wreckage of a three-masted clipper ship, the King Philip, is still visible in the sands just offshore.

Aquatic Park

The beach at Aquatic Park is at the foot of Polk Street and is one of the cleanest in the State. The beach emerges into a lagoon with a view of mountains that glow at sunset. It doesn’t get the same crisp winds off the ocean that the beaches nearby experience. For many locals in the area, a daily swim at Aquatic Park begins or ends their day. Victoria Park is to the south, meaning you can get there easily on the Powell/Hyde Cable Car.

Gray Whale Cove State Beach

This beach, beside the Devil’s Slide Trail, is about twenty miles outside of the city proper. The cove is blocked on three sides by steep cliffs, lending it an isolation and coziness that’s hard to find at most Bay Area beaches. Also clothing-optional, Gray Whale Cove has been a favorite swimming spot for those in the know for decades. Hiking trails connect it to Montara Mountain and McNee Ranch State Park, as well, so pack a picnic lunch and make a day out of it.

Hamilton Pool

We’ve covered most of the major beaches, but the Bay Area isn’t short on pools either. Our favorite is Hamilton, mostly for the two (yep, two) amazing waterslides. Open every day but Sunday, it’s on Geary Boulevard, in the north east end of the city.

Mission Community Pool

The pool in Mission Dolores was refurbished in 2013 and is another local favorite. It’s the only city-operated outdoor pool in San Francisco and has been so since it was built in 1926. It’s a large pool, offering recreational and lane-swimming, along with some truly beautiful murals adorning the pool’s outer walls.

Danielle Lazier + Associates

There seems to be a good swimming spot in just about every San Francisco neighborhood. If you’re in the market for your piece of San Francisco real estate, or you’d like to chat about your preferred secret swimming hole, give Danielle Lazier + Associates a call! Our team of San Francisco experts know all the best spots in the city and are ready to help you find your next home or investment in local Bay Area real estate.


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