Ocean Beach

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Ocean Beach Stretching more than three miles from the historic Cliff House Inn to the rolling sand dunes of Fort Funston, Ocean Beach is the longest – and probably the foggiest – beach in San Francisco. San Francisco United States 37.759375 -122.510806
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Ocean Beach - Beach | Outdoor Activity in San Francisco.
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Party Earth Review Stretching more than three miles from the historic Cliff House Inn to the rolling sand dunes of Fort Funston, Ocean Beach is the longest – and probably the foggiest – beach in San Francisco. The area was largely undeveloped... ... read full review

  • Metro:

    MUNI N Line: Judah/La Playa/Ocean Beach‎

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  • Hours:


  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Ocean Beach Review

The Scene

Stretching more than three miles from the historic Cliff House Inn to the rolling sand dunes of Fort Funston, Ocean Beach is the longest – and probably the foggiest – beach in San Francisco.

Stretching more than three miles from the historic Cliff House Inn to the rolling sand dunes of Fort Funston, Ocean Beach is the longest – and probably the foggiest – beach in San Francisco.

The area was largely undeveloped until the late 1800s, when a small amusement park and the famous Sutro Baths swimming complex drew thousands before burning down in the 1960s. Today, the waters off its shores are a popular haunt for local surfers and die-hard swimmers, though the sea's fierce riptides usually scare off – and regularly drown – casual frolickers.

Landlubbers deal with frequent winds and average temps in the 50s, and the natural elements tend to leave the beach sparsely populated, making it a great outdoor spot for dog walkers, Frisbee slingers, kite sailors, and jacket-toting visitors who don’t mind a little sand up their bums.

Joggers, bikers, and skaters enjoy a long sidewalk running parallel to the beach, while birders hope for a sighting of the shy Western Snowy Plover, a threatened species known to reside here.

Clear evenings bring scores of romantic couples out to catch the sunset, often joined by tourists spilling out from Golden Gate Park nearby, but most clear out shortly after the sun goes down. Those who remain set up bonfires in the free decorative fire rings that dot the sand, breaking out their guitars and hiding their beer coolers from the cops who occasionally drive by.

Expansive and uncrowded, blustery but beautiful, Ocean Beach will never be a place people visit to work on their tans – but frankly, neither is San Francisco.

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Tip from Emma:

Sometimes at low tide, you can still see remnants of the King Philip, a large clipper that crashed into Ocean Beach in 1878. However, if you want a guaranteed ruin-sighting, head just north of the Cliff House for the rocky remains of the famous Sutro Baths swimming complex.

  • Crowd

    Surfers, joggers, bikers, skaters, experienced swimmers, volleyball players, fishermen, kayakers, dog walkers, families, tourists, birders, and a younger crowd at night hooting, hollering, and throwing another log on the fire. All ages.

  • Entertainment / Music

    People-watching, birding, and treasure hunting in the sand. Seals can usually be spotted around the aptly named Seal Rocks at the north edge of the beach. Hang gliding and launching oneself off the dunes in Fort Funston, though not technically part of Ocean Beach. Various music around bonfires by night.

    The Cliff House features a camera-obscura – a rare device based on a 15th-century design by Leonardo da Vinci that produces a 360-degree live-image view of the Seal Rock Area.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    No food on the beach. Area restaurants include American bistro Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant right across Great Highway on the western edge of Golden Gate Park; the upscale Shoal’s Restaurant at The Cliff House Inn; and various café’s, pizza joints, and cheaper fare on Judah Street, Taraval Street, and Noriega Street, all within walking distance.

    Bonfires allowed for groups of twenty-five people or fewer; larger groups must obtain a permit. Outdoor showers and restrooms available near the Sloat entrance. Alcohol and glass containers not allowed on the beach, though visitors frequently ignore this rule. Overnight camping prohibited.

  • Prices

    Beach Chalet entrées $12–$24, Cliff House entrées $18–$30+. Ample free parking. Bonfire rings free and first-come, first-served.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes, but warm clothes are advised.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Any rare sunny day, any clear evening to catch the sunset, or any night with a group in the mood for a bonfire.

  • Close By

    Fort Funston (Great Highway at Skyline Boulevard) is a large recreation area featuring rugged dunes and sandy cliffs, and is a popular destination for hikers, horseback riders, and hang gliders.

Ocean Beach User Reviews

Average rating:
Not your SoCal beach
Adrienne Z. Mar 25, 2013
Take the N-Judah all the way to the end of the line on a sunny day and find yourself on the beautiful Ocean Beach. It won't be hot, but that doesn't dampen the mood- there are always a few bikini-clad sunbathers, wave chasers, and parasailers taking in the 70 degree sunlight. The sand isn't as luxurious as you might find on SoCal beaches, but the atmosphere is one of relaxation and good vibes. And watching the sun set from Ocean Beach is pretty spectacular. Less like going to the beach and more like spending a day at a sandy park near the ocean. Visitors from the South scoff at Ocean Beach, so it's more of a local crowd. Not too many restaurants or bars nearby, just a few cute coffee shops and shady-looking motels. Bring a picnic, a frisbee, some flip-flops, and as with everywhere in SF, lots of layers.
Where life slows down, one cool breeze at a time
Allison W. Feb 28, 2013
Want to see the famous rolling fog of San Francisco? Do you like cool breezes and the salty air? Ocean Beach is located in the heart of that fog in Outer Sunset. But not all days at Ocean Beach will be foggy, if you're fortunate enough to see the fog burn off in the morning, that's when you'll want to head to this gem. It's easily accessible from the Muni, the N line to be exact. You'll see a lot of locals around these parts. It is a beautiful beach with chilly air, you are now officially warned. I suggest you bring a jacket and some flip flops. I know, that's contradicting, but you'll see that it's way easier to walk through the sand this way. The great part about this beach is it is surrounded by local breakfast joints (Sea Breeze Cafe, Outerlands, and Java Beach Cave, to name a few) that serve up a mean Cup O'Joe or a killer omelette and home fries. Picture this: you take the Muni down, grab a cup of piping hot coffee, and head to the beach. The. Perfect. Day. All summed up for you.
Breathtaking views, deceptively cold
Rebecca H. Feb 27, 2013
Ocean Beach is loved by locals, but visitors should note it is no Southern California beach. Unless the city is experiencing a miraculous heat wave, the beach is always windy and always cold. However, there's nowhere better to take a deep fresh breath of Pacific Ocean air. Great place for dogs, surfers, runners and bonfire goers.
Cold Water and Classic Views
Shaun P. Feb 12, 2013
It's around the time you're barefoot in the sand, staring out at the Farallon Islands and watching the boats exit the Bay that you'll start to wonder if you're really in metropolitan San Francisco. Though foggy for most of the year, Ocean Beach seldom disappoints when the weather is right. Grab yourself a burrito at either Papalote (on Fulton and Masonic) or El Burrito Express (26th and Taraval), make your way down to the beach and watch the sunset. Or, head up the Great American Highway towards the Cliff House for some finer dining (directly behind the Cliff House is a small, fully operational camera obscura. For $3, you can see the entire beach in a very new way.) A quarter mile up the road, and you'll find the entrance to both the Land's End trail for a hike, or the stairway down to the Sutro Baths for some historic sight seeing. Surfers abound, dogs run free, and bonfires are perfectly legal. Afterward, head down to Java Beach Coffee (there's one on Judah and another on Sloat) for a coffee or a beer on tap. Ocean Beach, and the surrounded Sunset District, will charm you to your hearts content.
Dog Heaven
Sara G. Jan 11, 2013
This is definitely my dogs favorite place to go. She loves the waves and the thousands of birds flying around for her to chase. Ocean Beach is a local spot for surfers, dog owners, and runners. My typical day here is walking from my Parkside home with my dog down to the beach and letting her run around and do her thing. I will often bring a packed lunch and lay out, when the weather is kind enough to lend us some light! I just let my dog run around and enjoy the beauty that is the beach!
Layer up
Jackie D. Dec 4, 2012
If you're looking for a beach to tan at, Ocean Beach is not the place for you. SF's notorious fog seems to take permanent residence here and on the few days where it is sunny, there is usually a strong wind that maintains cooler temperatures. That being said, this beach is great for flying kites or bundled up days at the beach. You're also allowed to build bonfires here, which is a ton of fun on summer evenings when you can hang out with friends and enjoy the laid back SF vibe.
Claire B. Nov 29, 2012
This is one of the only beaches that allows you to have bonfires. On weekend nights you will always find students huddled around the fires having a great time. The only downside is that it closes at 10, so your bonfire fun will end relatively early.
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