20 Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in The San Francisco Bay Area
April 11, 2024

Take your kids and head to the West Coast — you’ll come across stretches of kid-friendly beaches in San Francisco for a perfect beach day family outing this summer!

The San Francisco Bay Area is prepped with places that make the perfect family summer getaway, and the beaches are no exception. Beach holidays can be an excellent family outing. Sand, water, and kids — it’s a natural combination that invites free play and easy family fun. In San Francisco, there’s no shortage of beach attractions that your kids and your entire family will love and enjoy. From sandy shores by the Golden Gate Bridge to tide pools, tiny coves, water holes, lagoons, and inlets, these kid-friendly beaches in San Francisco are the best spots for a beautiful family beach day excursion this summer!

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It’s summertime! The Bay Area offers breathtaking views and mesmerizes you with its incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring beaches. Some are located right on the ocean, while others lie along the bay. And while the hot sunny days are still up, grab your sunscreen, sandals, smash balls, shovels, and sand pails, and get ready for the ultimate sunny family getaway on the West Coast.

Make it your best beach day family outing yet with our list of the best kid-friendly beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area

Aquatic Park Cove

Aquatic Park Cove 

900 Beach St., San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone Number: (415) 298-8826

Aquatic Park Cove is one of the few kid-friendly beaches in San Francisco that’s calm and safe for swimming. It has a narrow sandy beach and a grass park at the end of the Hyde Street Cable Car line on the San Francisco Waterfront. The sandy beach and calm water are perfect for the toddler set. This cove is a great spot for a beach day family outing, for kids to splash around in the waters, and for serious swimmers to enjoy the park.

If your family gets tired of the beach, many other options exist, including the historic boats at Hyde Street Pier, Pier 39, and the Aquarium of the Bay. The view from the pier includes the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco skyline. Furthermore, this peaceful hideaway is a well-known jump-off point for the city’s boating facilities. For more information, please visit their website

Baker Beach

Bowley St. and Gibson Rd., San Francisco, CA 94129
Phone Number: (415) 561-3000

Baker Beach is a famous beach day family outing destination in San Francisco. This stretch isn’t ideal for swimming with rip currents, undertows, and large waves. However, the beach dazzles with awe-inspiring views of the Lands End, the Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge. You can fish or check out the shoreline along the beach and rocky shoreline.

This is another awesome-looking beach in San Francisco where you can hang out with your family and kids. There is plenty of fine, clean sand, which is a perfect medium for sandcastles. A picnic area with tables, grills, and restroom facilities is tucked in the cypress grove at the east end of the parking lot. If you are looking for a fantastic place to photograph the bridge, this is one of your best bets. For more information, please visit their website.

China Beach

490 Sea Cliff Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone Number: (415) 561-4323

China Beach is in a tiny cove tucked between Lands End and Baker Beach in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco. The cove is protected by rock walls on both sides, creating an area that once was a camp for Chinese fishermen, hence the name. This hidden pocket of sand features a picnic area, sunbathing, good play spots for children, and spectacular views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate.

If you are looking for one of the safest beaches for families, China Beach offers shallow waters for kids to play in and sometimes has lifeguards on duty during the summer. It is also a great spot to have a picnic or a barbecue for a fun family beach day outing. Or, take a walk during low tide from China Beach to Baker Beach and find starfish, anemones, and mussels clinging to the rocky crevices of the cliff. For more information, please visit their website

Crissy Field East Beach

1199 E Beach, San Francisco, CA 94129
Phone Number: (415) 561-7690

With iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is a great place to build sandcastles, ride bikes, walk, or have a picnic with your family. There are beaches, a promenade, picnic tables, and tidal marsh overlooks. You can enjoy treats at the Beach Hut Café on the east end next to the Crissy Field Center. The Warming Hut also offers snacks, sandwiches, and drinks at the west end.

East Beach transforms into an epic beach day family outing destination on weekends, with tots splashing at the water’s edge and kite flyers sharing the air space. The beach is wide, safe for swimming and, as you can imagine, very popular on sunny days. You’ll find jogging parents with strollers, runners, boot campers, and cyclists zipping along the Golden Gate Promenade. It’s gated, so the kids won’t be able to just run off. For more information, please visit their website.  

Fort Funston Beach

206 Fort Funston Rd., San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone Number: (415) 561-4323

Without Fort Funston, no list of the best kid-friendly beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area is complete. It is drop-dead gorgeous and overflows with exhilarating family beach day activities, like hiking, beachcombing, hang gliding, and flying remote-controlled airplanes off the cliffs. There are hiking trails along the bluff and two routes down to the beach. This place is a super cute walk with the kids, too, but it takes a bit of an effort to get to and from the beach because you must go down a steep sandhill.

This beach is also famous for its pet-friendly vibes and dunes. Dog owners will be happy to know they can take their leashes off here. It is a terrific place to watch whales between December and May. Keep an eye out just past the breakers for Bottle Nose dolphins and seals. Sandy cliffs drop 200 feet to a beautiful beach at the southernmost edge. This spot is an ideal beach day family outing destination in the Bay Area, and the views are gorgeous!

Marshall's Beach

Marshall’s Beach

Lincoln Blvd. and Langdon Ct., San Francisco, CA 94129
Phone Number: (415) 561-4374

If you’re looking for a secluded experience, Marshall’s Beach is the spot for you. Located just north of Baker Beach, this is one of the best kid-friendly beaches in San Francisco. It’s incredibly photogenic, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Marin Headlands. It’s a must if you are a visiting family and your family likes to hike. Trails along the bluff descend long, windy paths and stairways.

This beach is as up close as you can get to the bridge! The rocks are pretty cool, too. Although steep at times, the pathway is still gorgeous, with tall grass, flowers, and breathtaking views. It’s an excellent place for birdwatching and has some of the most spectacular ground-level views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mile Rock Beach at Lands End

El Camino Del Mar, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone Number: (415) 426-5240

Mile Rock Beach is in a small cove tucked below Lands End Point in San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is surrounded by towering rock walls that impress visitors with its extraordinary scenery. Additionally, it’s a getaway to an artsy and legendary stone maze created by Eduardo Aguilera several years ago. Also visible offshore is the lighthouse foundation on Mile Rock, which gives this beach its name.

Like Marshall’s Beach, you should go if your kids are into hiking, or at least you can carry them. Once you get there, there are also many rocks and sticks (which could be fun), so walking around is not easy. It also has enormous waves crashing into the big rocks, so not for the 2-year-old that gets frightened pretty easily. Unlike most kid-friendly beaches in San Francisco, it’s unique, so if you are at Lands End and if all of the above sounds like a good fit, go for it!

Ocean Beach

Sloat Blvd. and Great Hwy., San Francisco, CA 94132
Phone Number: (415) 561-3000

Ocean Beach is a long beach spanning the entire Sunset District of San Francisco from Cliff House south to Sloat Boulevard. It’s also a wide beach, especially compared to all the other kid-friendly beaches in San Francisco. The widest part of Ocean Beach is at the north end, where Golden Gate Park faces the ocean. Like all the beaches along the coast in San Francisco, Ocean Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The Esplanade is superb for walking, and you could extend your trip into Golden Gate Park or the San Francisco Zoo. Bonfires are allowed in fire rings, which are provided between stairwells 15 through 20. When the wind is kicking (most of the time), you can find windsurfers riding in the wild waves along Ocean Beach. Note that swimming is dangerous here due to cold water temperatures and strong rip currents. For more information, please visit their website

Sutro Baths

680 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone Number: (415) 426-5240

Are you searching for one-of-a-kind, kid-friendly beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area? Then, don’t forget to include this beach on your list! With its Instagrammable ruins and gorgeous views, this rocky beach will unleash your inner shutterbug. This western seafront is home to this former public bathhouse that operated between 1896 and 1964.

The Sutro Baths was a large, privately owned public saltwater swimming pool complex in the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District. It is located at the end of Golden Gate Park, with views stretching out to the ocean and up toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Hikers can hike the scenic Lands End Trail, which begins at the parking lot and ends at Mile Rock Beach. When the tide is low, hikers will also spot a few shipwrecks in this area.

West Bluff Picnic Area and East Beach

603 Mason St., San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone Number: (415) 561-4323

If you’re looking for a place to host a tremendous American barbeque family outing, look no further than the West Bluff Picnic Area and East Beach. Located near the Golden Gate Bridge, the views here are breathtaking. It also offers magnificent views of the Marin Headlands and Angel Island. Picnic sites are first come, first served, equipped with barbecue pits and picnic tables. Restrooms are also located nearby, making visiting with kids very easy!

Whether you bring a picnic or buy lunch at the Warming Hut, relax and enjoy yourself while the kids fly kites nearby or play in the water near the shore. This a great spot to watch a flotilla of vessels, from sailboats to freighters, go by. The Golden Gate Promenade, part of the Bay Trail, is a multi-use path that runs through Crissy Field for runners, walkers, and bikers to enjoy.

Kid-Friendly Beaches Near San Francisco Bay Area

Kid-Friendly Beaches Near San Francisco Bay Area

Black Sands Beach

Conzelman Rd., Sausalito, CA 94965
Phone Number:
(415) 561-4700

Nestled deep within the Golden Gate Recreation Area woods in San Francisco, these dark shores are beautifully juxtaposed with the bright blue waters and lush greenery. This option is great if you want to cut some miles off, and you’ll still have four magnificent miles of silky, black sands to picnic on and take endless photos. Again, this isn’t a place for swimming with its icy waters and rough waves, but it’s perfect for a day of walking and exploring.

The hike down is made easier with many wooden steps to help ease the steep grade. Once you’re down on the beach, spread out your picnic blanket, relax, and explore the shoreline, where you’ll also be able to see Sutro Tower and Baker Beach in San Francisco. With stellar views and surreal black sands, this beach will urge you to snap many photographs. Moreover, it gives you ample opportunities for hiking and picnicking.

Cull Canyon Lagoon

18627 Cull Canyon Rd., Castro Valley, CA 94552
Phone Number: (888) 327-2757

Located in the East Bay, this oasis features one of the best beach spots in the Bay Area for a fun family outing. With tons of vigilant lifeguards and shallow waters, this lagoon is, hands down, the safest beach for kids in the area. Perfect for families, the park also has shaded picnic areas and a white sand beach suitable for building sandcastles.

This unique swimming spot has a sandy beach entry to a lagoon that has been tamed into the shape of a swimming pool. The swim complex, including a bathhouse and vending machines, is open during the warm weather season. It is ideal for families with small children who enjoy splashing in the shallows and playing on the white, sandy beach. Swimming is allowed only when lifeguards are on duty.

Half Moon Bay State Beach

95 Kelly Ave., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Phone Number: (650) 726-8819

Are you seeking a change in scenery and a family outing over the weekend or on holidays? Drive over the iconic Bay Bridge and down and through the hills of the San Francisco Bay Peninsula to the quaint town of Half Moon Bay to spend a day enjoying some time on the beach. Half Moon Bay State Beach offers four famous beaches — Francis, Venice, Dunes, and Roosevelt — where you can bathe under the sun for as long as you want.

Families usually take this chance to enjoy a picnic, camping, surfing, and fishing while overlooking the Pacific in a cheap yet fun way. This state park features a four-mile-long stretch of wide, sandy beach that has become a favorite destination for beachgoers throughout the Bay Area and visitors worldwide.

Linda Mar Beach

5000 Pacific Coast Hwy., Pacifica, CA 94044
Phone Number: (650) 738-7381

Linda Mar Beach is the southernmost of Pacifica’s large beaches. This picturesque, long, crescent-shaped beach marks the northern gateway to the coastline, stretching south of San Francisco, and is widely regarded as the best beach for surfing, kayaking, and water play in the Bay Area. The little stream on the south end of the beach is a delight for young children who don’t like the waves.

Linda Mar Beach offers a recreation trail along with the ocean, surfing and surf camps, restrooms, and showers, and is very popular with dogs (dogs must be on leash). Also known as the Taco Bell beach, surfers, boogie-boarders, and beach bums flock to this mile-long stretch of sand for its excellent waves and plentiful parking. Several surf schools offer lessons for kids and adults.

Montara State Beach

2nd St. and Cabrillo Hwy., Montara, CA 94037
Phone Number: (650) 726-8819

This mile-long strip fascinates visitors with its natural beauty. It is a wonderfully beautiful beach located about 20 miles south of San Francisco and 8 miles north of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1. The beach is vast, expansive, and accessible from the road, though the steps can be a bit steep. It is one of the cleanest, kid-friendly beaches in the state and a popular location for exploring tide pools, surfing, and fishing. Low hills bound the beach both to the north and south.

Behind the beach are stunning sculpted sandstone cliffs making this a very photogenic spot. Montara State Beach is part of the Montara State Marine Reserve. The beach also offers outstanding trails for active travelers who want to ride horseback, hike, and bike. Restaurants and grocery stores are nearby, and overnight accommodations are available at the Point Montara Lighthouse.

Muir Beach

Muir Beach

200 Pacific Way, Muir Beach, CA 94965
Phone Number: (415) 561-3000

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this seaside wonder will captivate you with its pristine environment. It’s one of the best and prettiest kid-friendly beaches near the San Francisco Bay Area. As you visit this beach, you may also savor the therapeutic sea air tinged with seaweed scents. Afterward, you can enjoy an array of outdoor activities, including hiking and beach volleyball.

The high bluffs boarded the sandy beach in the north and south. There are picnic areas ideal for a fun family outing with available tables, grills, pit toilets, and water. Bonfires are allowed only in designated fire rings. If you bring your dogs, they must be on leashes. There are strong currents, so swimming is not advisable. At the northern end of Muir Beach, you’ll find some tide pools teeming with starfish. But use caution when climbing these rocks with kids.

Pescadero State Beach

Pescadero Creek Rd. and Cabrillo Hwy., Pescadero, CA 94060
Phone Number: (650) 726-8819

Looking for a sandy beach to set up your family beach day picnic? Pescadero State Beach offers sand, sand, and more sand, perfect for the kids to build sandcastles. It has a mile-long shoreline with sandy coves, rocky cliffs, tide pools, fishing spots, and picnic facilities. The area beaches also have riptides. It’s fine to play along the edges of the water on a calm day, but be very careful to keep an eye on the surf.

Pescadero State Beach has two distinct beach areas that are divided by the creek mouth. South Beach is a series of small circular rocky coves with sandy bottoms. Unfortunately, these cove beaches are narrow, eroding spots primarily wet at high tides. If you want a more expansive, sandier beach, head to Pescadero State Beach’s North Beach north of the bridge. Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is across the highway from the beach and makes a great hiking destination and birding spot.

Rodeo Beach

1049 Mitchell Rd., Sausalito, CA 94965
Phone Number: (415) 561-3000

Windswept, exhilarating, and covered with unique red and green pebbles, this beach is just three miles northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is sheltered by cliffs and bounded by a lagoon, and it offers good picnic sites for a family beach day outing and relaxation. You’ll find this multi-colored pebbly beach in the west area of the Marin Headlands. Attentive beach walkers may see jasper, carnelian, black agate, and jade among the beach sands.

With strong currents, Rodeo Beach may not be ideal for swimming. But it’s packed with activities, especially for kids and the whole family. You can go skimboarding, hiking, kite flying, or bird watching. Kids often skip the waves altogether to splash around in a pool of water right on the sand, cut off from the ocean much of the year. The kids can play mountain climbing and seek out tide pools along the base of the cliffs that protect one side of the beach.

Stinson Beach

3514 Shoreline Hwy., Stinson Beach, CA 94970
Phone Number: (707) 878-3030

Located around 20 miles away from San Francisco, this 3.5-mile-long beach amazes visitors with its natural beauty and white sand. Being only a 35-minute trip from the Golden Gate Bridge, Stinson Beach is an easy option. It is the perfect place for a family outing to spend the day swimming in the surf and playing in the sand.

A lazy, lovely day at Stinson Beach makes for a memorable summer day that your kids will recall for years to come. With its gentle waves and lifeguards on duty, Stinson Beach is by far the best beach for swimming in the Bay Area. What’s more, it’s an excellent beach for picnicking, fishing, hiking, surfing, and volleyball. You and your kids will never forget the fantastic, flamboyant sunsets you can watch from Stinson Beach.

Thornton State Beach

Thornton Beach Rd., Daly City, CA 94015
Phone Number: (831) 335-6318

Like most kid-friendly San Francisco Bay Area beaches, this park often gets rather windy. Nevertheless, it has striking vistas that will more than make up for its windy conditions. It’s deemed one of the prettiest beaches on this side of California. Besides admiring the views, the park is also perfect for sunset viewing and relaxing. You can spend hours here just lounging and listening to the crashing waves.

Thornton State Beach is a remote beach below tall bluffs just south of San Francisco. The park is known for the hiking and equestrian trails on the bluff terraces high above the waterline. Thornton Beach is best at low tides as the entire beach can be wet during higher tides. If you walk north on the beach, you’ll be at Phillip Burton Beach and eventually get access to Fort Funston.

Beach day in San Francisco

Best Kid-Friendly Beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area

Taking the family to the beach can create lifelong memories. Kids love spending the day at the beach building sandcastles, digging, and running in and out of the waves, especially during the summer. Start planning your beach day family outing and check out any of these kid-friendly beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.

These sandy beaches offer appealing features and family-friendly amenities such as picnic grounds, dining options, boardwalks, and parks, with water and beach sports opportunities for the entire family to enjoy. Please be mindful of beach safety rules.  

San Francisco offers so many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources, or browse through our things to do in San Francisco with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Francisco? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended outdoor blog posts.

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