Ocean Beach is a long, beautiful beach running along the west coast of San Francisco. This stretch is often less crowded than many of the city’s other beaches. Go for a solitary stroll on the sand and watch experienced surfers take on the large waves and strong currents.
At more than 3 miles long (5 kilometers), Ocean Beach is perfect for walking and jogging. As you amble along the shore, look for seabirds flying above the Pacific Ocean. Common species sighted here in winter include tiny snowy plovers, who can often be spotted combing the beach for food or resting in the dunes. At the northern end of the beach lies the Cliff House, a casual all-day restaurant with excellent views.
Walk north of the restaurant to see the ruins of the Sutro Baths, once one of the world’s largest indoor swimming centers. The baths opened to the public in the late 19th century and were forced to close in 1966 due to insufficient revenue. Wander around the remnants and try to imagine how the complex would have looked in its heyday.
Toward the south end of the beach is San Francisco Zoo, which houses exotic animals. Ride the zoo’s historic Little Puffer, a miniature steam train that was built more than 100 years ago. This remarkable zoo also features educational exhibits on numerous animals, including koalas and eagles.
Golden Gate Park, a vast public space with lakes, gardens, playgrounds, sand dunes and walking trails, borders the beach. Ocean Beach is also near the Legion of Honor, part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Browse a collection of ancient and European art held within a beaux arts-style building overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
Use free parking lots at the northern and southern ends of Ocean Beach. Because of its dangerous rip currents, swimming is not recommended. Ocean Beach is located about 14 miles (23 kilometers) from San Francisco International Airport.
Swap San Francisco’s east coast crowds for refreshing sea breezes and coastal views at Ocean Beach.