The beaches of San Francisco are not your typical beaches. With the city's weather hovering around 55° to 65° Fahrenheit all year round, it's uncommon to experience "beach weather" while in the city. Nevertheless, a lot of people still visit them to explore the scenery, hold picnics, and just relax. On the sunny days, after the winds and the cold have called it quits at Baker Beach in San Francisco, locals know it's time to hit the shores.
In remarkable contrast to the extremities of Ocean Beach, Baker Beach is the best thing in town for a natural outdoor experience. Covering approximately one mile of the prime coastline of San Francisco in the southwest section of the Presidio, this beach appeals to a diverse crowd.
Located in the vicinity of the Golden Gate Bridge, the sandy seafront offers beautiful views of the Pacific and the bridge itself. And it's not just the amazing sceneries that attract visitors; people visit the beach to play Frisbee, sunbathe, or fish along its shore. The north end is a popular and famous nudist beach. Baker Beach is always crowded on hot summer days, so it's advisable to get there early if you intend to spend some fantastic time with your friends or family.
Carry packed lunch and some snacks to enjoy during a picnic at the beach. The picnic spots are sheltered by sand dunes which are naturally formed to keep the winds at bay. Barbecue tables and pits go fast during the high season, particularly on the weekends.
Head to the Battery Chamberlin at the beach's north end, where a 44,000 kilogram (97,000 pounds), 15-centimeter (six inches) "disappearing gun" can be seen. Every month, on the first weekend, you can view a demo of the great rifle that is similar to the ones originally designed here in 1904.
The dramatic setting of Baker Beach amid the coastal bluffs offers an excellent habitat for some wildlife. Flocks of brown pelicans can be seen gracing the sky as the migrating shorebirds search the shoreline for anything edible. Harbor seals and dolphins can sometimes be seen surfacing nearby.
If you are traveling to the beach by car, there's a free parking lot next to the beach, but this space fills up quickly. Buses often stop in the parking area as well. Accessing the beach by foot is a little challenging in poor weather conditions. You may hike around rocks to the beach's north at low tide, although the surf could make this a somewhat dangerous pursuit.
There's a lot to do at Baker Beach. When going to the water, arrive early and snag a BBQ grill and a picnic table for an outside dining. Sit by the shore and enjoy the view of the brown pelicans or a red-tailed hawk searching for an afternoon meal. If you are a nature lover, you can catch a glimpse of the sea stars during low tide. There's also a rock formation of grey-green serpentine, as well as native wildflower which blooms on the dunes throughout the year. Occasionally, harbor seals and dolphins surface in the waters — a scene you wouldn't want to miss.
If you're up for outdoor expeditions, take the Sand Ladder to California Coastal Trail that links to the Batteries to Bluff Trail. You can also choose to go to the more isolated Marshall's Beach where if you dare to go bare.
Whatever entices you, it's clear that the scenery at Baker Beach is quite unforgettable. If you are planning an overnight vigil, don't forget to taken along your blanket and some layers.
An easy way to enjoy Baker Beach and its natural surroundings is on this San Francisco beach walking tour. Not only are all details taken care of for you, an exert guide takes you along the coastal trails and footpaths from the Golden Gate Bridge to Baker Beach, all the while pointing out the most interesting features.
You visit hidden vantage points, the high bluff along the Coastal Trail, and take in the fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean waters, seeing it all in a way you never would on your own.
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With lots of park trails nearby and rolling sands of the beach just steps away, the neighborhood is a suitable base camp for active households, lovers of nature, and anyone who loves drifting off to the sound of sea waves.
Marking the hillside above the Lincoln Boulevard, you can find amazing surprises in the apartments of Baker Beach, including updated kitchens and hardwood floors. The large windows of most apartments allow for plenty of natural light in addition to offering excellent Pacific Ocean views. The sunsets in this neighborhood are usually fiery reds and oranges as opposed to shades of grey.
Outside the apartments, native grasses and plants share the space with neighborhood gathering spaces, organic community gardens, playgrounds, and bike racks. The availability of the PresidiGo Shuttle allows for easy access to Presidio's Main Post and to downtown San Francisco.
As we mentioned, Baker Beach in San Francisco has a huge designated parking area. Most days, you can easily get here without having to worry about where to park. Also, you can get a bus to The Presidio. From here, you can hope into a free bus, PresidiGo, which will drop you off a block from the entrance.
Alternatively, you can walk from the main gate of The Presidio. It's quite some walk, but you will be able to enjoy some scenery while at it. Biking to the shore is also a great experience. Be sure to carry your snacks as there are no food services on site.
The best method of getting back from Baker Beach is via the Sea Cliff neighborhood. When walking to the western side of the beach, you will come across a short route up a small hill; climb it.
Sea Cliff is an exclusive neighborhood in the city that looks the part. Every mansion is more perfect than the next. Walking through Sea Cliff, you want to reach a numbered street where you can take a left turn. From there, walk south till you reach California Street. At this point, you can either decide to go with a bus or continue walking towards Richmond neighborhood. Sand-encrusted and sweaty, you may as well stop by the Blue Danube Coffee House to grab some Italian soda before taking your cab home.
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