Now granted, we haven't even begun to visit all of the area beaches. We've found a few that we really like and so far have just kept going back to them. That's not say that we won't visit others (I have a list a mile long and I know that no two beaches in this area are the same) but for now, we've really had a great time at Pacifica, Muir, and Marshall Beach.
Even though no two beaches are the same, they all have one thing in common...cold pacific waters.
That doesn't stop people from getting in the water, but most people have wet suits on. I've seen a number of kids in the water in just their bathing suits, but we all know kids are tiny little super humans with amazing amounts of energy and the ability to endure just about anything in the name of fun. All the adults and people with sense are either walking around at the shore line or wearing a wet suit.
The first beach we visited when we got here was Pacifica. Not only is it the closest to us, but it's very accessible. You do have to pay to park, but we've never found the parking lot full. When you first pull in, you will think that the beach is going to be overcrowded. There are always a ton of cars in the parking lot (seriously ALWAYS), but once you get out, you realize that most of the people are actually in the water. Trying to surf. I wouldn't even say trying, it's more like waiting for a wave to come. And it never does. Of the number of times we've been to the beach, I'd say we've seen a handful of people actually stand up on their boards to surf and it's only been for a split second or two. Most of them just sit out in the water splashing around and hanging out.
Another thing we like about Pacifica is that it's a dog friendly beach, but dogs have to be kept on leashes. The beach area is pretty nice with hiking trails just off to on side, houses lining the other and a taco bell right on the water. I just had to take a picture to share.
Not your typical Taco Bell. Beyond Taco Bell, there are a number places to eat nearby including a Peruvian restaurant just across the street. I have it on the wait list until my Peruvian expert comes to visit. If you want a quick trip to the beach near the city, this is your place. Given its location, it gets a lot of sun during the day and it's a great beach to come and play or layout, and watch the surfers...hanging out. That's what we do.
Moving on, Muir beach is not nearly as accessible, but definitely worth the drive! Located next to Muir Woods, it is only 12 miles outside of San Francisco in Marin County. Although the curvy one lane road makes for a slow drive, it is very enjoyable (unless you are prone to car sickness...). A great day could be made going to Muir Woods in the morning then spending the afternoon at Muir Beach. Heck, you could spend the entire day at this beach, because it is WONDERFUL! The parking at Muir is free, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are times when the lot is full. All around the beach are hiking trails so just because the parking lot may seem crowded it doesn't mean the beach is. Once you park, it's a short walk to this hidden gem. From what I understand, the hikes just off the beach are really great and lead to spectacular views of the beach. We've yet to hike the area, but like everything else, it's on our to do list. The beach is not only dog friendly, but they allow dogs off leash so at any given time there are a number of dogs running around having the time of their lives splashing in the water and chasing balls. We took Kaiser there this weekend and he did just that.
As a dog lover, seeing dogs having a ball makes me love Muir all that much more. Kaiser could spend hours there catching his frisbee and Landon has no problem making some fun of his own playing in the sand right at the waters edge. He also enjoys climbing on the rocks. Always with the rocks.
And how about that house in the far left corner? I'd love to live there! Unlike Pacifica Beach, you won't find any surfers at Muir, because this beach has large boulders just off shore. On the bright side, it makes for gorgeous scenery and a great place for some photography as Adam can prove.
The best part of Muir beach, the part that makes me love it the most, is also something we haven't participated in yet, which is that they allow bonfires on the beach!!! It is seriously a bucket list item for me. They have a small number of fire rings set up that make fires and cookouts really easy. When we were there this weekend, a huge group of people seemed to be having an all day party there with a buffet line set up for a large group of all ages. And who can blame them? I'm saving our first bonfire for a special upcoming visitor. All I know is, laying in the sand basking in the sun by day, popping a bottle of wine as the sun sets, and then enjoying s'mores alongside a warm fire after dusk is the absolute perfect day to me. But despite our lack of bonfires, we've still enjoyed many perfect days here. It's my favorite beach in my favorite area. The only single complaint about Muir beach is that there is no wash station back at the parking lot you're forced to do like the locals and bring a few bottles of water to wash off before getting back in your car. Or take the sand home with you.
Muir Beach is pretty hard to beat, but if you want a quintessential San Francisco beach experience then a short hike to Marshall Beach is the place to go. Back into the city, Marshall Beach is easily accessed through the Battery Buff Trail. Although, getting back to the car leaves you a little breathless. The trail leads the way down to this hidden city beach through a maze of beautiful wildflowers.
There it is, the most beautiful sigh in all of San Francisco. And the lower you go, the better it gets.
Marshall Beach has a witching hour, sunset. If you are looking for a place to be to watch the sunset, this is your place. It's absolutely magical. And quintessential San Francisco.
The beautiful blues, purples, and yellows against the back drop of the Golden Gate bridge, water, and rocks is unbeatable. Every sunset is different too and no matter how many time we visit, this view always impresses.
Magical. Of course, you won't be the only enjoying this view as many people come down to watch the sunset from here. It's never overly crowded, but you'll no-doubt come across a number of photographers. Photographers taking pictures of the scenery, engagement shoots against the backdrop, and portraits. The first time we visited, a young pregnant woman was there to have some pregnancy pictures taken...nude ones. That's right, it is San Francisco after all. The view is completely worth having to divert your eyes (or not if that's what you are into), but this isn't a beach where I would recommend spending the day with the family. There are also a number of strange rock huts that have been built where people seem to hang out. I'm not sure if they are living there or doing something else. Anyone's guess is as good as mine, but we made sure to keep our distance. It was obvious they were built for privacy within the beach.
So instead of exploring too much, I convinced Landon to do a little photo shoot of our own. Here's my idea of a portrait on Marshall Beach.
Boys and rocks!
So basically, San Francisco has great beaches just like everything else. The water isn't warm enough to swim in, but that doesn't take away from the day at the beach. The best part is, there is so much more to do and explore at each of these places. Hanging out at the beach is fun enough, but I'm excited to hike the surrounding areas, have a bonfire, and eventually explore a few water activities. We might even have to bust out our wetsuits. I doubt there will be any "surfing" in our future, but paddle boarding or boogie boarding would be fun for us to explore.