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Sacramento might be smack dab in the middle of the California Central Valley, but it’s not that far from the coast. And while there are some parks and beaches in and around Sacramento on nearby lakes and the Sacramento River, it’s nice to enjoy a sandy beach on the ocean even though it takes more time and effort to get there.

The capital of California being an inland city has the advantage of several highways leading to the coastal towns (some north and some south of the Bay). Within two and a half hours of Sacramento there are several options.

  • The closest beaches are on San Francisco Bay near the city of San Rafael or on the East Bay (1.5 hours). But if you have committed to driving this far, it’s worth driving farther to more epic Pacific beaches.
  • Marin County has these world-renowned ocean beaches. This includes famous beaches in the small funky beach towns of Muir Beach and Stinson Beach (around 2 hour drive).
  • North of these Marin beach towns are more options in Dillon Beach, Bodega Bay, and even the quiet little town of Jenner in Sonoma County which is just a 2.5 hour drive from Sacramento depending on traffic.
  • The city of San Francisco has beaches near downtown that are on the bay with stunning views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge (1.75 hours), but it’s the oceanside beaches of San Francisco that really stand out.
  • South of San Francisco you’ll find incredible beaches along the San Mateo County coastline. This includes some fine beaches near Half Moon Bay, Montara, and San Gregorio (2.25 hour drive).
  • Farther south, but still just a 2.5 hour drive, there are the beaches of Santa Cruz County.

With so many options, it was hard for us to come up with a top list of beaches near Sacramento, but here is a list of our favorites from north to south.