opening of bay in san francisco

10 Warm Beaches near San Francisco [Great for Swimming!]

  • Although the beaches around San Francisco generally have cooler waters, there are warmer beaches that get plenty of sunshine and are protected from the wind.
  • Stinson Beach, Crown Memorial Beach, and Parkside Aquatic Park offer warmer conditions. 
  • The best time to experience the warmest and sunniest days is in late summer to Fall when temperatures range from 56°F to 70°F

Are you looking for the warm beaches near San Francisco for a chance to build some sand castles or for a romantic place to watch the sunset?

Since I was a kid, I was drawn to Northern California’s gorgeous beaches with their rocky shorelines full of tidepools and long stretches of soft sand.

To this day, I look towards San Francisco, hoping to break away from the inland heat for a breezy but warm day at the beach.

Having spent countless days exploring the beaches surrounding the Bay Area, one thing is for sure: not all beaches near San Francisco are warm, especially during the summer.

To ensure that you can make the most of your getaway to the beach, I included all the details you will need to know, including which beaches are the warmest and the perfect time to visit to avoid those cold and foggy days.

half moon bay beach

Are there any warm beaches near San Francisco?

Having spent countless days at beaches near San Francisco, I can confidently say that none of the beaches in the Bay Area are warm compared to those in the southern portion of California.

All of the beaches in San Francisco have cold water that is too chilly for most visitors and are often plagued with a layer of fog that prevents the sun from warming the sand.

This doesn’t mean there are not warm days at the beaches around San Francisco, but you will have to time it right by checking the weather before visiting.

The good news is that these beaches close to San Francisco are still perfect for seaside activities like picnicking, strolling, sightseeing, and sunbathing, even on colder days. 

This is why we love staying by the beach for hours to enjoy the cool ocean breeze, fine sand, and the spectacular views that make a visit the best way to escape mainland California’s sweltering heat.

10 Warm Beaches Near San Francisco, CA

1. Stinson Beach

panoramic view of a warm beach in san francisco

Stinson Beach, known for being one of the warmest beaches in San Francisco, is an inviting getaway for those seeking the sun and nature.

This beach stretches for 3.5 miles and is among the few warm beaches in California with fine, white sand near San Francisco.

Stinson Beach has been our go-to place for taking a restful break after reveling in the beauty of the forest and the majestic view of the Golden Gate Bridge along the various trails on Mount Tamalpais. 

This popular spot presents an opportunity for a refreshing picnic by the water and a round of volleyball, fishing, or even trying your hand at surfing the waves.

Shops, cafés, restaurants, and art galleries line the town, where we recommend spending time shopping, lounging, and doing other indoor fun. 

After a tiring day of recreation in this coastal town, we usually have a light meal at the grassy 51-acre park with about a hundred picnic tables. 

With picturesque sceneries and various worthwhile activities, we are sure that Stinson Beach makes for a perfect sunny getaway.

2. Drakes Beach

white sandstone cliffs at drakes beach california

Are you looking for the best beach near San Francisco to escape the summer crowds?

We recommend checking out Drakes Beach, a beautiful strip of sand tucked away on the other side of Point Reyes.

While it takes a little longer to reach than the other beaches on this list, it is worth the trip to stroll along its sandy shores overlooking the dramatic white sandstone cliffs.

One reason is that we find this gem very accessible as we can park our car on the beach and instantly have our feet embraced by the soft sand.

Point Reyes shields this spot from the cool weather, so Drakes Beach provides sunny weather suitable for outdoor amusements even when it is foggy on North Beach. 

In fact, on sunnier days, the water can be warm and calm enough for a bit of wading and swimming.

Plus, if you are visiting with your kids, you can take them to see the famous northern elephant seals, which are a delight to watch at the Elephant Seal Overlook near Chimney Rock.

📢 LOCAL TIP: If you enjoy dramatic shorelines, check out the beaches in Half Moon Bay.

3. Crown Memorial Beach

If you want to avoid the fog and cool breezes at San Francisco’s Pacific Ocean beaches, the Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda City is your best option. 

Crown Memorial Beach may be comparably small, but it boasts a long walking trail near the waterfront with an overarching view of the city skyline

This warm beach in the Bay Area is pretty shallow, so we found that the water stays warm enough to swim in.

It was pretty crowded with families and kids enjoying the water when we visited on a weekend, but it was still easy to find parking along the long stretch of the shoreline.

We also had a great time at the Crab Cove Visitor Center, which has a small aquarium and displays describing local marine life. 

After a long day of activities, we hung out in the picnic area, where we grabbed a quick snack before hitting the road home. 

This is the closest warm beach to San Francisco on this list.

4. Baker Beach

beach with view of golden gate bridge
This beach by the Golden Gate Bridge has one of the best views!

Baker Beach, located in the southwest corner of the Presidio, is one of the most popular and best beaches in San Francisco.

It is bustling with locals and tourists on those sunny, windless days due to its long strip of sandy shore below the impressive serpentine cliffs. 

Baker Beach is one of our favorites because it offers a staggering view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay opening, which makes it worth the trip just for some amazing photos.

Marine life also thrives in that area, and we were lucky to spot a few harbor seals coming up to the water’s surface.

To wrap up our day by the beach with a hearty meal, the al fresco picnic area, complete with BBQ grills and large tables, came to our rescue.  

Just note that the northern side of Baker Beach is clothing-optional for visitors who want that nude beachside experience, so make sure you are comfortable and visiting with adults before going north.

This may not be one of the best swimming beaches in San Francisco, but it’s still worth a visit.

📢LOCAL TIP: Looking for another nudist beach in San Francisco? This black sand beach is a hidden gem.

5. Ocean Beach

beach near sacramento
Ocean Beach San Francisco

If you plan on visiting San Francisco and wish to chill out on the sandy shoreline, Ocean Beach is the closest beach to San Francisco, as it is only a short drive from the heart of the city.

A stroll along the 3.5-mile-long sandy shore of Ocean Beach is best done on the warm and sunny days of September and October when visitors can enjoy watching surfers having their fun and seabirds above the horizon.

But we must mention that despite going on a cool and foggy summer day, we still had a wonderful time spending a few laid-back hours on the beach.  

Aside from its stunning waterfront, we also got a charming view of the Seal Rocks and Cliff House, which looked extra breathtaking in person. 

Finally, we found no better way to cap a day of calm at Ocean Beach than setting up a bonfire, watching the sunset, roasting s’mores, and just lying around by the heat of the fire until evening.

6. Clipper Cove Beach

Clipper Cove Beach is an adorable, slender beach perfect for a relaxing walk or a leisurely day by the water, and we are surprised that this lovely spot sees fewer visitors.

This thin strip of sand is nestled snugly on Treasure Island’s sheltered, north-facing side, making it typically shady and windless with tranquil waters to match.

The water is shallow and calm and is an excellent spot for kayaking for beginners, something we mean to try on our next visit.

The little beach is seldom crowded and dog-friendly, perfect for taking your furry friend on a sandy adventure by the beach. 

We recommend this park for a relaxing day of chilling by the water, which is easy to do while watching the boats anchored in the cove. 

Clipper Cove Beach is the ultimate haven for a slow day by the water, with a sweeping view of the Bay Bridge and the East Bay in the background. 

If you stick around until sunset, you will also get to see the city and the bridge lights turn on for the evening.

📢 LOCAL TIP: You can stay at one of these hotels with ocean views if you want to wake up to the sound of the crashing waves and the cool sea breezes.

7. China Beach (East Beach)

warm beach in the bay area with a view of golden gate bridge
China Beach San Francisco

San Francisco Beaches may not have waters optimal for swimming at all times, but there is one thing these beaches will always have: astonishing views.

China Beach is a hidden gem tucked in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco that flaunts a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands.

There were unlimited parking spaces and a paved walkway leading to the beach, which was super convenient. 

Aside from the gorgeous waterfront and iconic sights, the sheltered strip of sand provides spots for sunbathing, holding picnics, and playing by the beach.

We were fortunate to catch China Beach during a low tide, so we saw some mussels, anemones, and starfishes in the tide pools, which provided an amusing experience. 

Ultimately, a trip to the China Beach area presents a back-to-back beach day opportunity because China Beach is just next to Baker Beach, making this destination ideal for a whole day of relaxation on the shore.

📢 LOCAL TIP: As part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, drinking beer and wine are permitted outside. Have a nice picnic and see the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

8. Coyote Point Beach

Coyote Point Beach lives up to its reputation as a top destination for recreation in the South Bay. 

People consider Coyote Point a regional recreational area because it offers a superb spot for picnicking, bicycling, fishing, boating, windsurfing, and more among the warm Bay Area beaches.

The currents are pretty mellow, and the area is not too windy in the morning, so swimming is possible on a warmer day if you are brave or wear a wetsuit.

We enjoyed strolling along the beach promenade and the Coyote Point Marina, which offers anchorage for sailboats and motorboats.

If you look up to the sky, you can also chance upon planes taking off from and landing at the San Francisco International Airport. 

Kids will also love the castle-and-dragon-themed playground and the science museum and zoo in one at CuriOdyssey. 

This is one of the best warm beaches near San Francisco for swimming, but do know that the shore is rocky, so we recommend bringing water shoes.

9. Parkside Aquatic Park

If swimming is your non-negotiable for visiting a beach, Parkside Aquatic Park might be your best option for swimming beaches near San Francisco.

This San Mateo park has a roped-off, current-free area in the Marina Lagoon, purely designated for some dipping under the sun.

After some swimming, we found that the shaded picnic tables with BBQ grills a few feet off the beach area were great for grilling up some lunch.

Aside from shore life, the park is also bustling with seabird activities, and we had a blast watching the birds fly about the shore and dock.

Kids are also in for fun playing at the two playgrounds and building sandcastles at the park. 

With its diverse offerings and family-friendly atmosphere, Parkside Aquatic Park is a fantastic choice for hours of seaside enjoyment in the San Francisco Bay Area.

10. Santa Cruz Beach

santa cruz beach california

This list of the best beaches near San Francisco would be incomplete without Santa Cruz Beach, which is only a one-hour-and-a-half drive from the city.

Santa Cruz is famous for its warm and sunny weather, which we appreciate even more because of its wide variety of beachside activities. 

Aside from the Main Beach, this area is home to 14 state beaches, such as Natural Bridges State Beach, which offers an excellent vantage point for viewing seabirds and seals.

A trip to Santa Cruz Beach is incomplete without a visit to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which houses thrilling rides suitable for kids and kids-at-heart.

We also had the best time eating the county fair-style concessions sold along the boardwalk, which was undoubtedly a great way to spend a cheat day.

If high-adrenaline attractions are not your thing, simply strolling around to soak in this timeless beauty is also an excellent way to enjoy your time at Santa Cruz Beach.

Aside from hanging at the boardwalk, we recommend playing a round of beach volleyball, dipping in the cool water, and even exploring the Santa Cruz Wharf.

If you’re looking for one of the best beaches near San Francisco for swimming, this is the place to go.

📢LOCAL TIP: If you love ending your day at the beach with a pint of cold beer (like we do), make sure to check out one of the breweries in Santa Cruz.

RELATED: Do you love road trips? Santa Cruz is a great stop on your way to Monterey from San Francisco.

opening of bay in san francisco

What is the warmest beach near San Francisco?

Santa Cruz boasts some of the warmest beaches near San Francisco, making it a popular seaside attraction park for tourists. 

During the summer, the temperature and conditions on the beach can be optimal for water activities such as swimming, kayaking, and surfing. 

Even on cooler days, it is still warm enough to have some seaside fun along the beach.

What is the warmest beach in the Bay Area?

The warmest beach in the Bay Area is the Manresa State Beach in Monterey Bay, which is situated an hour and a half from San Francisco.

The water temperature is highest in August (60°F) and lowest in June (57°F). 

The best month for seaside activities is September when the air temperature averages 76°F. 

RELATED: You can also visit these beaches around San Jose for more options.

Best Time to Visit the Warm Beaches in the Bay Area

woman on a coastal trail

Although visitors usually flock to beaches in the peak of summer, late summer to fall is the best time to visit the Bay Area and experience its warm beaches in San Francisco.

While the rest of the country is cooling down, San Francisco typically starts to warm up by early September

September in the city offers the warmest and sunniest days of the year, making it a perfect time to stroll or even take a quick dip at the beach.

During this time, the fog over the water disappears, and weather forecasts begin to tell of clear skies.

The temperature fluctuates from 56°F to 70°F on average, and it becomes warm enough to wear shorts and a shirt at the beaches.

Map of Warm Beaches in San Francisco

FAQs: Swimming Beaches in San Francisco 

What is the warmest beach water in Northern California?

Stinson Beach and Drakes Beach is the warmest beach near San Francisco in Northern California, with a water temperature averaging 59° F in September.

Swimming is possible with a wetsuit at Stinson Beach in Point Reyes.

Drakes Beach, also located near Point Reyes, is sheltered enough, providing waters optimal for some dipping.

Is it warm enough to swim in the ocean in San Francisco?

While the water is typically cold at beaches around San Francisco, swimming on a warm day is still possible.

You can swim a little longer at the hot beaches near San Francisco if you are equipped with a wetsuit.

Does San Francisco have a beach?

Surrounded by water, San Francisco City boasts several beaches, each catering to different outdoor activities such as strolling, picnicking, and sunbathing.

If you’re interested in visiting some beaches in San Francisco, California, some options include Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, China Beach, Marshalls Beach, Mile Rock Beach, Seal Rocks Beach, Aquatic Park, and Crissy Field East Beach.

Bottom Line: Warm Beaches in Bay Area

Now that you have had time to select the best warm beaches near San Francisco, all you have to do is pack up a picnic lunch, put on your swimsuit, and grab your beach blanket.

Now do not get upset if the beach has a little fog when you arrive in the morning, as it will most likely burn off by midday, providing you with plenty of sunshine.

Not every beach in the Bay Area will be warm most of the year, but they are beautiful and worth exploring the sandy shores with your loved ones.

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