Running for 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) along San Francisco’s Pacific coast, Ocean Beach marks the western edge of the city. The wide shoreline attracts both locals and visitors for picnics, walks, beach bonfires, and beautiful sunsets. Though swimming isn’t common here (the water is cold), surfing is popular.
Because it is located across the city from the main tourist areas, Ocean Beach may not be on every tourist’s itinerary. However, it’s easy to squeeze into your sightseeing schedule with activities like a Golden Gate Park bike tour, GoCar tour, or coastal walking tour. Also, Ocean Beach is convenient to a selection of attractions in this part of the city, including the Legion of Honor museum, Lands End, Sutro Baths, and San Francisco Zoo.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring layers, as the wind and fog can appear suddenly on the coast, even if it’s warm and sunny when you arrive.
- Beach fires are permitted only in the fire rings and only from March through October.
- Glass and alcohol are not allowed on the beach.
- Surfing at Ocean Beach is not for beginners, as the waves are large and the current is very strong.
How to Get There
Starting at the Cliff House in the Outer Richmond neighborhood, Ocean Beach stretches south for 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers). By car, drive all the way west on Fulton Street or Lincoln Way until you reach the coast. Free parking lots are available; if they are full, there is street parking in the adjacent neighborhoods. By light rail, the N-Judah line ends just across Great Highway from the beach.
When to Get There
Sunset offers a tranquil atmosphere and the best photo opportunities as you watch the sun sink into the Pacific. The sunniest months with warmest temperatures are typically September and October. In July and August, the beach is usually blanketed in fog. The beach parking lots close at night.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco’s biggest city park is adjacent to Ocean Beach and just a few blocks from the Cliff House. It’s convenient to visit all of these sights on the same day, though there’s a lot of ground to cover. Stretching nearly half the width of the city, Golden Gate Park features world-class museums, a golf course, lakes, bike trails, gardens and playgrounds, sports fields, two windmills, and even a bison paddock.