The San Francisco area is full of family-friendly fun, and the beaches are no exception. If you’re looking for a great place to take your children near the Bay Area, you’ll have plenty of beautiful kid-friendly options. According to available amenities and popular opinion, these beaches are your best bet.
Here is our list of the top 10 family-friendly beaches in San Francisco.
Conveniently located at the end of the Hyde Street Cable Car line on the San Francisco waterfront, Aquatic Park Cove offers views of big historic boats, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the city skyline. The San Francisco Maritime Museum, a family-friendly experience, sits at the center of Aquatic Park Cove near the beach. There’s also a park at Fort Mason just a short walk away.
Tip: Take a walk on the long municipal pier that protects the cove. Your kids will love it.
2. Baker Beach
Baker Beach is one of San Francisco’s most popular spots, and it’s one of several in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Just north of the main parking lot is the Battery Chamberlin, a large historic military gun installation that was built in 1904 and a great experience for your children. Swimming is not recommended here. Baker Beach is all family-friendly, but just a quick note should you decide to explore the north side – North Baker Beach is a clothing optional area.
Tip: Parking at Baker Beach can be tricky since it’s such a popular place. Come early in the day for a shot at finding a spot.
3. China Beach
China Beach faces north toward the Marin Headlands and has a nearly perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. From the parking area, which is below the intersection of El Camino Del Mar and Sea Cliff Avenue, you’ll walk down a long ramp or take a more direct stairway which drops down to a building with restrooms and a rooftop deck. The China Beach Cove is protected by rock walls on both sides creating a protected area that once was a camp for Chinese fishermen, which is how it got its name.
Tip: This beach isn’t safe for swimming, and there are no lifeguards on duty.
Crissy Field Park is in the old Presidio Area of what is now the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The beach at the east end is wide, safe for swimming, and extremely popular for families. Crissy Field Center will have all the snacks and provisions your crew needs, and the Golden Gate Promenade, which goes all the way from the park to the Golden Gate Bridge, is perfect for taking a long scenic walk.
Tip: Head to the west end of Crissy Field, the West Bluff Picnic Area, for more beaches, trails, and of course, perfect picnic spots.
This historic army post in Sausalito sits at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge and dates back to the early 1900s. While you won’t see a typical sandy beach at Fort Baker, you will find the Bay Area Discovery Museum, which is educational and interactive. Other family-friendly points of interest include Horseshoe Cove, where children are often seen playing at the water’s edge, and Battery Cavallo and Battery Yates, two historic gun installations facing San Francisco Bay.
Tip: You can fish here without a license, so bring your equipment and take your kids fishing off the pier.
Schoonmaker Beach is also located in Sausalito, and it has gradual slopes and calm waters protected from the ocean waves where kids can play safely. Two parks, Dunphy Park and Marinship Park, are within walking distance of the beach and offer games like volleyball and bocce ball. It’s considered safe to swim here, and people love kayaking in the area as well.
Tip: The nearby Bay Model Visitor Center (2100 Bridgeway) has a huge scale model of San Francisco Bay that people of all ages can appreciate. It’s open Tuesday-Saturday, and admission is free.
You’ll find this beautiful stretch of beach on San Pablo Bay near Tiburon. Even though the beach at Paradise Beach Park is narrow and rocky, it’s a great place for children to explore. There are plenty of BBQs, picnic tables and benches for seaside lunches, and the nearby open grassy fields are perfect for playing Frisbee.
Tip: Entry and parking is free the first Saturday of the month.
8. Rodeo Beach
Located on the sand spit that separates Rodeo Lagoon from Rodeo Cove on the west side of the Marin Headlands, this beach is full of pebbly stones and rocks that are often photographed. Children get a kick out of the unique rocks, which is part of the reason Rodeo Beach is so popular with locals and tourists. You’ll also find plenty of family-friendly amenities here, like restrooms and picnic tables.
Tip: Bring your binoculars and check out Bird Rock, which sits just offshore. Your children will enjoy seeing all the birds.
9. Muir Beach
Muir Beach is a tiny town of just 310 people in western Marin County. Perfect for the family who wants to get away from it all, sandy Muir Beach is equipped with fire pits, picnic tables and restrooms. Redwood Creek flows right into the ocean here, slowing down near the beach and forming a lagoon.
Tip: In recent years, Muir Beach has benefitted from renovation efforts. There’s a new parking lot, restoration of damaged wetlands, a new bridge spanning Redwood Creek, new trails and new restrooms.
10. Stinson Beach
The town of Stinson Beach is a popular getaway from San Francisco (it’s about an hour north), and it’s a great place to take your kids beachcombing, especially in the mornings when the tides are low. The main beach in town is a favorite local beach and the parking is free, so arrive early to stake out a good spot. Swimming is allowed at Stinson Beach, but it’s prone to rip currents, so check with the lifeguards before you swim (the water is cold too!). Picnic tables, BBQs and restrooms make this a perfect beach for families.
Tip: Walk to the Parkside Snack Bar at Parkside Stinson Beach Restaurant located just across the street from the main beach parking lot. There they have delicious takeout items like fish tacos, burgers (grass fed!), and soft serve ice cream with swirls. Parkside Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner inside and has a bakery plus a coffee bar with espresso and tasty treats.
Related: Tide Pools in the Bay Area