The Best Places to Enjoy the Water in San Francisco

Take Advantage of San Francisco's Bay and Ocean

Sitting on the end of a peninsula, San Francisco is surrounded by water. It has the bay on one side and the ocean on the other. For anybody who wants to get out on the water, or simply relax at a beach or park near the water, there are plenty of places to hang out. Below are just some of the many places in San Francisco that take advantage of its beautiful waterfront setting.
Lands End Park
Lands End Park
Lands End is a park that's located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It runs along the beautiful rocky shoreline and offers stunning views out over the water. It's located between the Sutro District and Lincoln Park and has a number of hiking trails that follow the coast. You'll also find a few small beaches such as Mile Rock Beach and Sea Rocks Beach. Also inside the park is the Legion of Honor art gallery, Holocaust Memorial, a golf course, the USS San Francisco WW2 Memorial, the Sutro Baths, and more. It's a nice place to explore, or find a space to yourself and enjoy reading or simply relaxing.
Seacliff, SF, California, 94121-1545
Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf is a classic tourist's neighborhood in San Francisco. It's filled with souvenir shops where you can by t-shirts and other nick nacks. This is also where you'll find the famous Pier 39 with its many attractions including San Francisco's famous sea lions. Also in the area are a couple of museums, the famous sourdough and clam chowder restaurant, Boudin, and ferries to Alcatraz. Fisherman's Wharf is also the turn around point for one of the cable car lines.
San Francisco, CA
Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in The Best Parks in San Francisco and The Best Places To People Watch In San Francisco.
The Presidio
The Presidio
The Presidio historically served as a U.S. Army base but today it is a large green space and a public park. It's situated in the northwestern corner of the city at the gateway to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio is a national park that is controlled by the National Park Service and it runs between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, ending at Baker Beach. Within the park there are stunning views of Marin County and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a number of biking, hiking and walking paths. There are also plenty of places to enjoy a picnic or rest with a good book. The Walt Disney Family Museum as well as a golf course and several cafes are also found within the park.
The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
Pier 39
Pier 39
Pier 39 is the most popular pier in Fisherman's Wharf. It's a touristy area with a number of shops and restaurants, but people also head to the pier to see San Francisco's famous sea lions. They hang out on the nearby docks and entertain the crowds. The pier is also lined with seafood vendors and a couple of tourist museums.
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA
Sausalito
Sausalito
Sausalito is a charming town in Marin County that sits across the by from the city of San Francisco. Visitors enjoy exploring the charming streets, shopping, and dining in one of the local restaurants. The town is also known for its Richardson Bay houseboat enclaves. Views from Sausalito are pretty spectacular as well, particularly as the sun sinks low.
CA
Kirby Cove Beach
On the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the Marin Headlands area, this small southern-facing beach has fantastic views looking out towards the bridge and the city, as well as the ocean. You'll have to walk about a mile and climb some steps to get down here, but when you do, you'll be alone for the most part.
San Francisco, California
China Beach
This is one of the most scenic beaches in the San Francisco area. As it faces north looking towards the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, beachgoers here will have nice views looking onto some classic San Francisco scenery as well as out to the ocean. The beach here is flat and somewhat wide with room to lounge, or play, although it's not very long. Bring a chair and you can enjoy a good book in a quiet setting. It was once frequented by Chinese fisherman which is where the name came from. To get here head to the parking lot on Seacliff Ave between the Presidio and Land's End park. And try not to gawk at the expensive houses on your way in.
Seacliff Ave, San Francisco, California
Angel Island State Park
Catch a ferry from Pier 41 to explore this beautiful state park. Nature lovers will enjoy the peaceful setting and photography enthusiasts will appreciate the views looking back at the city. This is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay and it has a number of great biking, hiking, and running trails. There are five different picnic areas, eleven campsites, and several nice beaches as well. There's also a casual restaurant on the island.
San Francisco, CA
Interested in more travel advice for San Francisco? Check out A Culture Lover's Guide to San Francisco and Quirky and Unique Neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
This recreation area (not to be confused with Golden Gate Park) is a beautiful natural area in Marin County that's across the Golden Gate Bridge from the city. It offers a beautiful escape from the city with walking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and beaches. The area is known for its stunning views that look back on downtown San Francisco. The park is popular with photographers who want to capture that classic San Francisco shot.
San Francisco, CA, 94123
Embarcadero
The Embarcadero is the eastern waterfront area by the Port of San Francisco. There are a number of piers and iconic buildings, shops, and the famous Ferry Building. There area offers beautiful views of the water and the Bay Bridge.
Financial District, SF, California, 94111
Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is located on the West Coast of San Francisco by the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by the Golden Gate Park, the Richmond District, and the Sunset District.
1506 Great Highway, Sunset District, SF, California, 94122
Baker Beach
Located in the northwestern part of San Francisco, Baker Beach is a public beach that is about half a mile long. The northern part of the beach is a nude beach.
Seacliff, SF, California, 94121
Built on a peninsula, San Francisco is surrounded by water. It touches the bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. With so much of life in the city geared towards the water, there are bound to be great beaches. From small and quiet, to larger and more popular, these are some of the best beaches in San Francisco.

San Francisco is famous for its hiking trails and trails in the surrounding national parks. The Bay Area offers plenty of opportunities for hikers and backpackers whether you're in the city or out in nature.
If you're looking for more information about San Francisco, read Places with Water Views in San Francisco.
San Francisco offers some of the best outdoor activities in the world. With beautiful weather, scenic mountains, and fantastic beaches, it's the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking, rock climbing, biking, and kayaking, to surfing, sailing, paddle boarding, and skydiving, there's something for everyone.San Francisco has some of the best museums in the country. From iconic museums like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Asian Art Museum, to unique museums like the Cartoon Art Museum, there's something for everyone.San Francisco is a city full of history and heritage. From its iconic cable cars to its historic architecture, San Francisco has a wealth of interesting sites to explore.

San Francisco is known for being a foodie's paradise. The city is home to some of the country's best restaurants, as well as gourmet food shops, farmers markets, and food trucks. With so much to choose from, it can be hard to choose where to go. Luckily, San Francisco's food scene is diverse, so no matter what you're in the mood for, you're sure to find something you love.San Francisco is a terrific cruise destination because there is so much to see. When getting off of a ship at the port here, you can quickly and easily stroll around town to see so many of the city's famous sites and attractions from Pier 39 to Coit Tower to Lombard Street and the city's famous cable cars.San Francisco has an abundance of family-friendly attractions, making the city a great option for a family vacation with the kids. From museums to parks, there are plenty of attractions to keep children entertained.San Francisco is a honeymooner's paradise. The scenery, the romance, and the architecture are all perfect for a romantic getaway. The Bay Area also boasts some world-class restaurants and theater productions, making it perfect for a honeymoon filled with fine dining and a show.

San Francisco is a city that embraces romance. From the cable cars, to the restaurants, to the beautiful parks and gardens, San Francisco's love of life, its romance, is palpable. Here are some of the most romantic spots in this dynamic city.San Francisco is a backpacker's paradise. With its vibrant nightlife, cheap hostels and hotels, and easy access to all the attractions, it's no wonder that backpackers from around the world flock to the city.San Francisco's beaches are legendary, and the city's best waves are right at its doorstep. From beginners to experts, you'll find San Francisco beaches welcoming surfers of all skill levels.San Francisco is a city that has it all. From its rich history, to its diverse culture, to its incredible food scene, San Francisco has a little bit of everything for everyone. And it's all packed into a small area so that visitors can explore everything they want on foot.

San Francisco is known for its beautiful weather and amazing scenery, making it a perfect destination for photographers. The hilly streets and colorful architecture provide endless opportunities for stunning photos. There are a variety of places in San Francisco to take photos, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Cable Cars.San Francisco is home to some of the most impressive landmarks in the world. The city is famous for the Golden Gate bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid, and Alcatraz Island, but there are also many other iconic landmarks and architectural marvels throughout the city.San Francisco is famous for its nightlife, and with good reason. With a variety of bars and clubs, there is never a shortage of things to do after the sun goes down.Kayaking is an activity that can be enjoyed year-round in San Francisco. With calm waters, the San Francisco Bay offers perfect conditions to kayak. The bay is dotted with islands, and kayaking is one of the best ways to explore them.

Sailing in San Francisco is a unique experience, and a great way to see the city from the water. From sunset sails to dinner cruises, there are many options to choose from.San Francisco is home to some of the best fishing in the country. The bay is teeming with fish, including salmon, halibut, and rockfish. Anglers of all ages and skill levels flock to the city's piers and waterfronts to catch their limit.San Francisco's location on the Pacific Ocean makes it one of the premiere locations for windsurfing in the world. The waters here are smooth, and the winds are consistent, too. The winds blow year-round, but the best winds are in the summer.Parasailing is a thrilling adventure that puts you high in the air, where you can take in some of the most breathtaking views of San Francisco. Parasailing is an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone, and it's an ideal way to see the sights of San Francisco from a different perspective.

San Francisco's iconic Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf are hubs for all things water-related. With dozens of different options, San Francisco is a terrific town to explore from the water, or just have a great time on a boat.San Francisco is the birthplace of the hippie movement, and the city's musical legacy lives on today. With an abundance of live music venues, from bars to clubs to outdoor festivals, there's never a shortage of musical events happening in the city.San Francisco has a reputation as one of the most theater-centric cities in America. Theaters line the city's streets, and nearly every corner has a performance of some kind. With dozens of theaters, a theater district, and a thriving theater community, it's no wonder that San Francisco is a mecca for theater lovers.

San Francisco is famous for its shopping, with high-end boutiques, department stores, and flea markets all across the city. San Francisco has everything from high-end designer fashion to vintage finds and one-of-a-kind items.San Francisco has long been known as the "Capital of Cool". The city's status as a tech hub is undeniable, and nowhere is this more evident than in its many tech companies. Tech companies dot the city's skyline, and you'll find them everywhere. Whether it's walking down the street and spotting a tech company's logo, or seeing employees sporting their company logo on their t-shirts, San Francisco's tech scene is inescapable.San Francisco is known for its amazing hotels, and with good reason. The hotels in San Francisco are as eclectic and unique as the city itself. From boutique hotels to luxury hotels and anything in between, San Francisco has some of the best hotels in the world.San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is one of the best places in the city for bird watching. With more than 1,000 species of wild birds, the park is teeming with life. You can spot some species by walking the trails, and there are also several spots where you can sit on a bench and watch the birds.

San Francisco is a melting pot of different cultures. From its diverse neighborhoods to its eclectic food scene, San Francisco's culture has been shaped by the many people who have come and lived here.San Francisco's nightlife scene is legendary, and it's easy to see why. With everything from huge clubs to intimate lounges, there's something for everyone. Whether you're looking for dance clubs, live music, or somewhere to sip a cocktail, San Francisco's nightlife scene has got you covered.

San Francisco is famous for its hilly terrain, and cycling is a great way to explore the city. There are plenty of great places to rent a bike, and the city's hilly terrain makes it perfect for a leisurely ride. Many of the best routes are along the waterfront, and there are also many quieter, residential streets to explore.San Francisco's architecture is as diverse as the city itself. From Victorian to Art Deco to contemporary, the cityscape is dotted with architectural styles, and is home to a variety of famous landmarks.San Francisco is one of the world's great cities for art, with a vibrant art scene that's constantly evolving. The city's museums and galleries are world-renowned, and many have free or inexpensive admission.San Francisco is a beautiful city, and with 15 international schools, it's the perfect place to study English abroad. The city's cultural diversity, its rich artistic heritage, and its many attractions make it an ideal place to learn English.

San Francisco's gardens are some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. From formal, manicured gardens to natural, wild gardens, San Francisco's gardens are a great place to spend an afternoon.San Francisco's farmers markets and flea markets are more than just places to buy fresh produce or artwork. They are community gathering spots, where locals come to socialize, play, eat, drink, and listen to live music.The San Francisco Bay Area is home to several excellent aquariums, including San Francisco and Oakland's popular California Academy of Sciences. Visitors can explore over 1,000 species of plants and animals in more than 100,000 square feet of exhibits, including a giant kelp forest, a coral reef, and a tide pool.San Francisco is home to two world-class zoos: the San Francisco Zoo and the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. The San Francisco Zoo is home to over 1,200 animals, including African elephants, Asian elephants, giraffes, tigers, lions, and cheetahs. The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is home to over 1,500 animals including African lions, giraffes, tigers, and cheetahs.

San Francisco has dozens of breweries, and each one offers a different experience. From classic brewpubs to cutting-edge breweries, there's no shortage of great places to enjoy a beer.
How much does it cost?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $34 to $1,617. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $189. A few of the best options are below.

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