Top Beaches In Northern California alternatives for their beach experience, thanks to Northern California’s rocky and stunning coastline. Beaches in Northern California provide breathtaking ocean views, from Carmel and Monterey’s coastal splendor to Crescent City’s coasts.
Various beach surroundings are located within an hour of San Francisco and other Bay Area towns. There are several types of amusement beaches, including both crowded, conventional ones such as Santa Cruz, characterized by its wooden boardwalk, vintage roller coaster, and amusement park attractions, as well as expansive, secluded beaches like The Great Beach spanning 11 miles inside the boundaries of Point Reyes National Seashore. Along California’s legendary Lost Coast, uninhabited beaches like Centerville Beach and other picturesque beaches like Baker Beach await. Baker Beach is almost just under the Golden Gate Bridge and is readily accessible through public transit. Further north, through the similarly renowned Redwood Country, there is even more sand to discover. All California beaches must be open to the public and free of charge, and most of those in Northern California also provide free parking.
- Santa Cruz is the best beach for families seeking a variety of activities. It is a large, flat, broad beach with smooth, golden sand and relatively calm waves. The renowned Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, one of Santa Cruz’s most popular attractions, is also located there. Since its debut in 1907, beachgoers have enjoyed the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster, recognized as National Historic Landmarks, are two rides that line this vintage, mile-long wooden boardwalk. After seeing the many attractions, visitors may appreciate the abundance of stunning natural landscapes available for observation. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary includes the ocean before the beach. It’s common to see dolphins, otters, sea lions, and whales from the coast.
Three Rocks Beach
- The essential components of a superb beach are present at Three Rocks Beach. The site, located near Half Moon Bay, offers a travel time of less than one hour from downtown and approximately 30 minutes to the south of San Francisco International Airport. The beach is readily accessible by car while relatively undeveloped, with the closest residences a few hundred yards from the sand. Portions of this beach have vast, flat sand and other sections with enormous stones and rocks (excellent for photography). The rocks produce Numerous tidal pools, which are enjoyable for children to explore. Some hiking routes go to the precipices of the surrounding high cliffs, which are interesting to explore. Although Three Rocks Beach is a public park, The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay almost owns it. The luxurious resort offers stunning coastline views in all directions from its elevation atop the cliff next to the beach. The structure bears the appearance of a contemporary, opulent Victorian beach resort.
- This beach is perfect for families, especially at low tide when everyone can go tide pooling together. Getting to the beach could be the only challenging part. Visitors may find the beach trailhead sign on Scenic Drive and park along the roadside. The steep slope with cable stairs at the bottom could be challenging to negotiate for families with young children. Alder trees, tidal pools, and offshore rocks at Baker Beach provide a stunning natural environment. Tide-pooling demands careful examination because it exposes delicate marine creatures that can be easily harmed, even by something as simple as turning over a rock.
- A nine-mile stretch of windswept coastline is a section of the so-called Lost Coast. This enormous expanse of untamed, untouched coastline traverses both Mendocino and Humboldt counties in Northern California. A county park, Centerville Beach offers high cliffs and a variety of hiking routes. Riding horses, dogs, cars, and ATVs is OK on the beach. Although the beach is large and flat, the water is chilly and choppy, making it a poor choice for water sports. Centerville Beach is approximately a 4.5-hour drive north of San Francisco, close to the quaint Victorian town of Ferndale.
Trinidad State Beach
- On the 101, Trinidad is a tranquil seaside village about 25 miles north of Eureka. One of Beaches In Northern California oldest beach towns still has a hidden treasure feel to it along this section of the coast. At Trinidad State Beach on the city’s coastline, there is no more excellent illustration of this quality than a diamond in the rough. Take a short stroll down a wooded bluff to get to Trinidad State Beach. As you break through the tree line, you are greeted with the spectacular coastline scenery. Substantial sea stacks break up the expansive beach, and plants and wildlife thrive on these enormous rocks. Sunset certainly brings out the best in this untamed environment. Other well-liked beach activities are hiking, tanning, and discovering tidal pools at low tide. Trinidad’s protruding Trinidad Head is another well-liked tourist destination. It is located south of the beach. Hikers have a great view of the whole beach panorama from the top of its towering head.
Monterey State Beach
- The well-known Cannery Row tourist district of downtown Monterey sits across the bay from the expansive, gradually sloping, and curved Monterey State Beach, accessible by car in 15 minutes. It is one of several beautiful beaches close to Monterey and is divided into a north and south section. For adventurous swimmers, the chilly water and mild surf are ideal. One of the few swimming-friendly beaches in the vicinity is this one. There are several lavatory and shower facilities at Monterey State Beach.
- This lovely, broad beach in Beaches In Northern California is comparable to England’s White Cliffs of Dover in that it boasts magnificent, white sandstone cliffs, much like the English coast. Drakes Beach is another part of the Point Reyes National Seashore and is almost next to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The water has a notably low temperature, seldom surpassing 50°F (10 degrees C), and the waves are turbulent. Although some people surf and participate in other water sports here, any prolonged stay in the water requires a wetsuit. Drive-up parking is available, and the beach also has a tourist center, bathrooms, and a small seaside café. Popular activities there include beachcombing and taking pictures. Be prepared to share the beach with others on any bright day.
Main Beach, MacKerricher State Park
- MacKerricher State Park is central to many marine endeavors located near Fort Bragg. It includes several miles of coastline and areas close to the water. Moving dunes, abandoned railroad trestles, and Glass Beach’s trash-turned-treasure are just a few of these diverse settings. The Main Beach at MacKerricher is a breathtaking wild beach bordered by Laguna Point. It is close to Lake Cleone and the park’s extensive network of campsites. Stroll the length of the sand arc that leads to the tide pools here. Glass Beach lies farther southerly in MacKerricher, beyond the well-known Pudding Creek Trestle, and is often seen by tourists. This stunning and intriguing beach is distinctive because it was once a bottle dump. Although the beach is now a state park with protection, years of pounding waves smashed the bottles into little, rounded glass pebbles.
- On Bodega Bay, Bodega Dunes is a well-known sandy beach with a dune backdrop that slopes gently into the water. Bodega Bay is located in Sonoma County, near Napa Valley and roughly 90 minutes from San Francisco. The little village is well-known to Hitchcock and moviegoers since it was the backdrop for the venerable horror film The Birds. The expansive beach at Bodega Dunes transforms into a succession of low, grassy dunes as you leave the coast, with paths and the odd wooden boardwalk dividing them. Bodega Bay has several attractions, including the beach and the neighboring Bodega Head outcropping that protrudes into the water. Nearly 100 sites (for tents, campers, or trailers) are available at the Bodega Dunes campsite, which also offers hot showers and facilities. It provides a beautiful opportunity to camp on the beach. The Lodge at Bodega Bay is a beachfront resort with a well-known spa and a private golf course for those seeking a far more opulent beach vacation.
State Park for Prairie Creek The Redwoods and Gold Bluffs Beach
- A wild and wonderful beach called Gold Bluffs Beach may be located in Northern California on Highway 101, often known as the Redwood Highway. The state and federal governments jointly administer a portion of the larger Redwood National and State Parks. It is also a portion of the larger Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Access to Gold Bluffs Beach requires a five-mile drive on a narrow, steep dirt road. Larger cars and RVs are not allowed. But if you make the trip, the beach provides a stunning illustration of the Redwood Coast.
- Additionally, it has the rustic Gold Bluffs Beach Campground, where tourists may spend the night adjacent to the sound of the ocean. When you’re at the location, drive to Fern Canyon, appropriately named at the end of Gold Bluffs Beach Road. Fern Canyon, a 50-foot-tall stream canyon, is adorned with ferns in a variety of green hues, creating a picturesque passage for visitors. It is advisable to wear water shoes when exploring Fern Canyon.
- The community of Carmel-by-the-Sea in gorgeous Northern California’s primary beach region. The little town is a terrific destination since it has independently owned stores, eateries catering to foodies, and art galleries. South of San Francisco, it’s a three-hour journey that’s quite beautiful. The expansive, sandy beach has dazzling white sand and is dog-friendly (leashes are necessary). Particularly with the open-air fire pits for wood burning, it is famous throughout the day and into the evening. In the spring and summer only, from 4 to 10 p.m., you may enjoy the crisp sea air by building a bonfire in the fire pit. Grills powered by propane may be used all year. Surfing, playing volleyball on the open courts, and walking on the beach are all enjoyable activities. It is often windy and a popular location for kite flying. Dunes surround the beach, with a row of cypress trees along the cliffs. There is a beautiful walking path that is around the whole region.
Fort Funston, a name that suggests an entertainment park, is a section of the extensive, fortress-like 19th-century defenses encircling San Francisco. The Golden Gate National Recreation Region, a national park, currently includes the region, which was primarily constructed in the 19th century but was utilized during the Cold War. Steep, 200-foot-tall cliffs surround Fort Funston Beach, and the environment is often highly windy. Fort Funston Beach is one of the Bay Area’s most well-liked hang gliding and parasailing locations due to the cliffs and wind. Swimming in the surf is not advised due to its roughness. Moreover, the gradient between the parking lot and the coastline is high.
When Is the Best Date to Visit Northern California’s Beaches?
The prolonged summer season, which includes June, July, August, and September, is the most fantastic time to come for a beach vacation, even though Beaches In Northern California coast boasts a temperate temperature throughout the year. The longest days of the year and often the hottest temperatures may be found during these months. This time of year, temperatures should be mild, seldom rising over the high 70s Fahrenheit throughout the day. Outside the busiest travel seasons, September and October are fantastic months to explore the seaside. Several cities, including Santa Cruz and San Francisco, enjoy some of their most pleasant weather in September and October. These seasons’ primary drawbacks are The broad fog that starts to roll in throughout the mornings and the earlier sunsets.
Similarly, if you want to avoid the typical tourist season, April and May are ideal months to visit. Enjoy weather during this time of year, including downpours, cloudy skies, and less sunshine. However, the springtime temps are still moderate and frequently reach the mid-sixties.
Which beaches are nearest to the Bay Area?
Baker Beach and Ocean Beach are within the city’s borders and readily accessible by foot or public transit. Ocean Beach, a well-liked escape location for urban residents, borders the city’s western edge.