Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Things To Do & See
Here’s a complete list of the beaches in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These 26 coastal access points around the San Francisco area are a mix of interesting historic sights and scenic natural areas. About half are south of the Golden Gate Bridge including beaches in Pacifica and Daly City, and the rest are north of the bridge and located in Marin County. If you are staying in the city of San Francisco, the Golden Gate NRA has beaches along the city’s waterfront, in the Presidio area, below Lands End Park, and around Fort Funston, all of which are easy access with a car, public transportation, or even on foot.
Things to do in Golden Gate NRA
- Hiking is one of the park’s top activities. Many of the beaches require a hike to reach them anyway, but venturing farther is easy with trails that meander about the bluffs.
- Visit historical military structures. There so many to see, but some of the best can be found on the Marin Headlands (Kirby Cove and South Rodeo are the best), Fort Baker, Fort Funston, and Lands End. The ruins of the Sutro Baths are a non-military site worth visiting just south of Lands End.
- Photograph lighthouses. See Point Bonita Lighthouse, the hidden Fort Point Lighthouse (under Golden Gate Bridge), Mile Rock Lighthouse at Lands End Beach, and even the overlooked lighthouse on Alcatraz Island. From diverse vantage points in Golden Gate National Recreation Area you can also photograph the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Rent a bike to see more beaches. The Marin Headlands has a bike lane and the entire San Francisco waterfront from Fishermans Terminal to Ocean Beach is bikeable.
GGNRA is one of our favorite national parks because all the beaches have free access and free parking! Alcatraz Island is the only exception as it requires an inexpensive ferry trip to get there (swimming is not advised). Of course, this means that some of the parking areas will be full when you get there (the Marin Headlands beaches for example), but the tourists usually move through quickly so patience is rewarded.
The park has many visitor centers where you can stop in an ask questions about trails, beaches, historical features to discover, and much more.
Dogs are welcomed in various parts of the recreation area. Read about the pet rules and areas here.
Many of these beaches are kid-friendly, but Stinson Beach is the only beach in the park with lifeguards. Use caution when playing in the surf at the wild beaches such as Ocean Beach where rip currents are strong.
Below is a complete list of the beaches in Golden Gate National Recreation Area from south to north.