Baker Beach, a mile (1.6 kilometers) of prime San Francisco coastline in the southwest corner of the Presidio, attracts a diverse crowd. Nestled in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, this sandy promenade offers exquisite views of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s not just the majestic scenery, though, that draws visitors. People come here to sunbathe, play Frisbee or go fishing along the shore. The north end is a famous and popular nudist beach. On hot days in summer, Baker Beach becomes crowded, so getting there early is highly recommended.
Bring a packed lunch to enjoy at the picnic spot, sheltered by sand dunes that keep the ocean winds at bay. The barbecue pits and tables go fast in the high season, especially on weekends.
Head up to Battery Chamberlin at the north end of the beach, where a 97,000 pound (44,000 kilogram), six-inch (15-centimeter) “disappearing gun” is on display. On the first weekend of every month you can see a demonstration of the great rifle, which is similar to those that were originally set up here in1904.
Baker Beach’s dramatic setting amid the coastal bluffs is home to some of California’s wildlife. Flocks of brown pelicans grace the sky, while migrating shorebirds explore the shoreline for food. Dolphins and harbor seals can sometimes be spotted surfacing nearby.
For visitors traveling by car there is a free parking lot close to the beach, but this fills up fast. Buses regularly stop in the upper parking area too. Reaching the beach by foot can be tricky in poor conditions. You can hike around the rocks to the north of the beach at low tide, but the surf can make this a hazardous pursuit. Be sure and pay attention to the tide level.
Baker Beach also serves as a gateway to the rest of the Presidio trails, and makes a pleasant stop-off point when exploring the rest of the region.