If you’re planning your first trip to San Francisco, visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is probably at the top of your itinerary. Even though this signature landmark can be seen from almost every vantage point, we’re going to recommend the best one to you, known as Baker Beach – a San Francisco gem hidden in plain sight.
Why Should I Visit Baker Beach?
Other than the glorious Golden Gate Bridge views you can witness that’ll take your photography portfolio to the next level and make your Instagram account the home of aesthetics, Baker Beach offers you a myriad of opportunities to have fun, relax, self-reflect and, at times, even find inspiration for your work. All outdoors, of course.
Baker Beach is a cherished beach of Presidio – a park and former U.S. Army post in San Francisco. This one mile stretch of beige sandy beach is laid out at the base of the jagged and mighty serpentine cliffs west of the Golden Gate, which is how you get an incredible panoramic picture of the bridge as well as that of Lands End and Marin Headlands.
First time visitors should know that Baker Beach isn’t designed for swimming (just like the majority of the beaches in San Francisco) due to the cold water temperature mixed with rip currents, big waves and undertow, so unless the typical SF weather takes pity on us, the waters of Baker Beach aren’t swimmable. However, it is designed for literally anything else you’d like to engage in while relaxing on the beach such as picnicking, sunbathing, playing, taking pics, running, and even nude sunbathing on the northernmost part of the beach. We also have good news for hikers: they can hike from The Fort Point to Baker Beach and be rewarded by some of the best views of the iconic San Francisco landmarks.
There’s a cypress grove near the parking lot which is lined with amenities such as picnic areas, tables, grills and bathroom facilities. The lot itself is big enough to accommodate around 50-ish cars.
It’s also worth mentioning that Baker Beach is a prime fishing spot, so don’t be surprised if you encounter quite a few anglers here and there on the coastline.
Baker Beach offers all that a person could wish for for a memorable outing with friends, family or as a solo visitor. It’s considerably less crowded, less bustling, less overwhelming and significantly more enjoyable than other similar spots.
Spot a pelican here and there, even a porpoise if you get lucky and enjoy the breathtaking sunset.
Important Additional Info To Take Into Account
- It shouldn’t come as a surprise that even though Baker Beach is relatively crowdless, it still sees a lot of traffic during weekends.
- Because of the mercurial weather in the area, it’s always recommended to bring a coat.
- Baker Beach is dog-friendly. Just make sure to keep an eye on them and clean up after them when necessary.
- Don’t forget that the northern section of the beach is frequented by clothing-optional sunbathers. This is especially note-worthy for families visiting with kids.
- Secure your car! Remove all your valuables from it, and watch out for your belongings on the beach. Unfortunately, carjacking numbers in San Francisco are rising, so be sure to follow this tip in every risky area of the city.
How Do I Get To Baker Beach?
Baker Beach is easily accessible. Travel along Lincoln Boulevard through the Presidio. Then turn onto Bowley Street and keep going till you see the parking lot. It can also be reached by taking the Presidio GO Shuttle South Hills Route or Muni 29.
What Else Can I Explore On Baker Beach?
If you’d like to make your beach day more memorable, be sure to take a look at Battery Chamberlin (sometimes referred to as Chamberlain). With Presidio being a former US Army post on the northernmost part of the San Francisco peninsula, it’s no surprise that you can find what is called the last ‘disappearing gun’ near the beach.
Built on Baker Beach in 1904, the six inch, fifty ton disappearing gun at Battery Chamberlin is of the same type that once defended the city. Battery Chamberlin is one of 15 gun batteries the US Army built on Presidio’s coast when the area was an Army post.
Note: at the time of writing, Battery Chamberlin is closed for repairs. If you decide to visit, make sure it’s open.
If military history isn’t exactly your thing, you can opt for visiting some of the lighter and equally impressive attractions such as Presidio Park, home to many beautiful beaches such as Marshall’s Beach which is a premier spot for bird watching.
Baker Beach is often a place where people do outdoor yoga, so if you’re big on maintaining a peaceful mind and like to escape your intrusive thoughts, grab your mat and join the fellow yogis.
There are also a lot of sightseeing and scenic tours that are available for booking if you’d like to explore the nearby areas.
Where Can I Stay?
First-time visitors are in for a treat. If you’re looking for a place to stay specifically near Baker Beach or the surrounding area, there are plenty of accommodation options that you can choose from here.
Just like every state park in the country, Baker Beach is also a Leave No Trace active zone which requires you to leave the place in pristine condition. Remember to clean up after yourselves, especially after your furry four-legged family members because of the dog-friendly policy.
If you’re visiting the clothing-optional side of the beach, remember:
- You need to respect other people’s privacy and space.
- You must not stare or point at beach-goers.
- You must not do anything that would make other people feel uncomfortable.
- You must not harass anyone. Fully exposed skin isn’t an automatic green-light for any kind of non-consensual behavior.
- You have to keep your cameras out of the way of others.
- You have to familiarize yourself with the local nudity etiquette which differs on every nude beach.
The Final Takeaway
As one of the prime spots of San Francisco, Baker Beach is a must-see destination for numerous reasons that no longer need a re-introduction. Remember to respect the etiquette guidelines and do research of your own in case of visiting the clothing-optional part of the beach.
As you can already see, Baker Beach offers all and even a bit more for anyone who’s looking for a place to chill, have fun or just spend some quality time with loved ones. So pack a bag and take a memorable beach day for yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Baker Beach is one of the closest beaches to Golden Gate Bridge and as a result offers some of its best views. It’s also relatively crowdless which helps people escape a hectic beach experience.
Yes, you can definitely see the Golden Gate from Baker Beach. It is, in fact, one of the closest beaches to the bridge as it is the place to visit for incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Unfortunately, you can’t swim at Baker Beach as undertow, rip currents and massive waves make it impossible.
Baker Beach is one of the nicest beaches in San Francisco. Apart from the panoramic views of the city’s iconic landmarks, it can provide its guests with a plethora of outdoor activities to make for an unforgettable beach day.
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about tourist destinations, sometimes life happens, weather happens, property owners happen, etc. We always recommend you go to the official web page and/or the relevant state authority page of your destination to check conditions, times and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your adventure!