Ocean Beach is the largest beach in San Francisco, and probably not at all what you think a beach should be. Unlike the counterparts in Southern California, Ocean Beach is windy, cold and sometimes the water can be deadly. That being said, it’s iconic to San Francisco and a must-visit when you’re traveling to the city.
Stretching along most of the western side of San Francisco is where you’ll find Ocean Beach. There’s tons of parking options in lots or along the streets in Outer Sunset, a sleepy neighborhood of the city. I love visiting this area when I need a little peace from the hustle and bustle. Grab a blanket and a sweater and tuck yourself in the sand dunes to block the wind while watching the waves crash below. Or head out early in the morning to go surfing! Skip swimming though – the riptides here are gnarly and people have lost their lives before. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, head north along the beach to Land’s End/The Sutro Baths to see some beautiful ruins and get a bit of hiking in. After, grab a fancy dinner at the Cliff House or beers at the Beach Chalet (this spot has a great view of the sunset on clear nights!). During the summer you can wander down to the beach at night and have bonfires, though bring even more sweaters and blankets for this one.
I once did a “beach day” at Ocean Beach on a rare sunny day. I wished I had brought some layers to bundle up in because the heat didn’t stay around for long! Despite being not at all like a normal beach, I love this spot. A little oasis in the city.