7 Best Bay Area Beaches for Families to Visit This Summer!

The Bay Area is full of amazing attractions for families. Including a variety of beaches where kids of all ages can have fun playing in the water, exploring the natural wildlife of the San Francisco Bay, and enjoying walking and hiking trails. These beaches are fun, exciting, and perfect destinations for cooling off from the summer heat. So check out these best Bay Area Beaches for families!

a young family with a baby on a bay area beach with the golden gate bridge in the background

Seven Best Bay Area Beaches for Families!

Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay. It offers families some of the most spectacular views of the entire Bay Area. This park features hiking trails and other recreational opportunities and is one of the best hidden gems in the Bay Area. It features a visitor center, day-use boat docks, individual and group picnic areas, as well as campsites. 

Angel Island features a rich historic past and was once a stop for Spanish explorers. It served as a cattle ranch, military base, and much more until the military departed in the 1960s and allowed the parklands to welcome visitors. Families can enjoy picnic areas, exhibits, fishing, tours, scuba diving, snorkeling, wildlife viewing, windsurfing, and swimming at this state park – the perfect place to beat the summer heat. 

Pescadero State Beach

Pescadero State Beach features a mile-long shoreline with sandy coves, rocky cliffs, fishing areas, tide pools to explore, and picnic facilities. It is located just across the highway from Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, which is a popular destination for bird watchers and naturalists. 

Be aware that this beach is rocky and is only accessible by a narrow stairway at the end of the parking lot. No dogs are allowed. Free guided marsh walking tours are available for families to learn more about the wildlife in the area. Kids can have fun playing in the ocean at Pescadero State Beach, even though the water can be chilly. Families with kids of all ages can enjoy fishing, the beach, vista points, wildlife viewing, geocaching, surfing, and swimming. 

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is one of the best hidden gems of Northern California. It is located just 20 miles north of San Francisco, next to Mount Tamalpais State Park. It is close to popular attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge and is a fun day trip for both area families and tourists visiting the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Stinson Beach is expansive and flat, making it a great beach for families because it is easy to walk. The fine, smooth sand is perfect for digging holes or building sand castles. Stinson Beach’s water is shallow and is a fun, safe place for kids to play and swim. The Muir Woods and rock formations are a beautiful backdrop to this picture-perfect Bay Area beach. Dolphins, seals, and whales can often be seen from the shore. This beach also features a small concession stand, restrooms, and plenty of nearby restaurants. 

two young brothers playing in the waves on a bay area beach

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach features a 3.5-mile stretch of white sand, with expansive surroundings and few tourists. This is the perfect escape from the city, where families can enjoy watching the waves, looking at seabirds, and playing in the water. It is located at the westernmost border of San Francisco, adjacent to Golden Gate Park. 

Ocean Beach is perfect for strolling, birdwatching, flying kites, and splashing in the water. The water can be very cold, however, and it is important for families to check beach conditions before letting their children play in the water because of dangerous currents. Public transportation is the best way to get to Ocean Beach, and the sunniest months for walking the beach are September and October. 

Crown Beach

Eighth Street and Otis Drive

Alameda, CA

Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach is named in memory of State Assemblyman Robert W. Crown, who spent years campaigning for the preservation of public parkland. This beach features a 2.5-mile-long beach with sand dunes and a bike trail. This beach has fantastic landscaping and engineering and was restored in 1982 with sand from the San Francisco Bay. 

The water is warm and shallow at Crown Beach, making it a great place for families. At the end of the beach, there is a bathhouse with changing rooms. Swimming is permitted at Crown Beach year-round during park hours, but there are no lifeguards on duty. Families can also learn about the natural history of Crown Beach at the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary. This sanctuary harbors aquatic birds and salt marsh creatures. Crab Cove is a marine reserve where plant and animal life is protected

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

400 Beach Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the best seaside parks in the world, featuring a vibrant, bustling amusement park with fun rides, remarkable history, and a fantastic expansive beach area for families to enjoy. The Boardwalk has been in operation since 1907 and is a place to enjoy affordable family fun. Admission is free, summer entertainment is always a highlight, and ride tickets are affordable for all families. 

Two of the Boardwalk’s rides are National Historic Landmarks. The indoor arcades offer a large selection of games, including pinball machines, redemption games, vintage games and laser tag. But a massive source of fun is the two-story miniature golf course! The food at the Boardwalk also offers families many choices, from corn dogs to deep-fried artichokes to funnel cake to chocolate-covered bacon. The Boardwalk spans a wide sandy beach along the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It’s not unusual to spot dolphins, otters, sea lions, and whales. This is the last of the great seaside amusement parks in the United States. But it also features expansive beaches, swimmable water, and fun rides for the whole family. 

Pregnant woman in a pink dress walking along a bay area beach with her husband

China Beach

China Beach is a tiny cove tucked between Lands End and Baker Beach, located in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco. This sheltered area of sand features a picnic area, places for sunbathing, great spots for children to play, and spectacular views of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge.

This beach was named after Chinese fishermen who long ago anchored their boats to the cove and camped on the beach. Families can look at a monument to these early residents at the trailhead near the parking lot at the end of Sea Cliff Avenue. The beach can be accessed from a paved drive or from a stairway that goes from the parking lot to the water level. 

Best Bay Area Beaches for Families

These best Bay Area beaches for families are great places to explore and beat the heat this summer. Families can enjoy building sand castles, walking along the shore, looking at wildlife, and splashing in the water. But each of these beaches offers kids of all ages a place to explore, play in the water, and have fun exploring the beauty of the Bay Area. 

So are you on the hunt for more Bay Area family and motherhood content? Then you are in the right place! The blog links below feature more of my work alongside helpful Bay Area insight and tips straight from a mom! To set up your next photo session, reach out any time!

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