Ocean Beach#19 in Best Things To Do in San Francisco
Located in the northwestern corner of San Francisco, Ocean Beach separates attractions like the San Francisco Zoo and Golden Gate Park from the Pacific Ocean. This 3 ½-mile stretch of sand is a welcome respite from the city's bustling downtown. Visitors and locals can walk the beach, while experienced surfers brave the frigid water in search of the perfect wave. While swimming is not encouraged here due to strong currents, travelers can build a bonfire and hang out and soak up the scenery by one of the 16 fire rings that pepper the beach. Average temperatures at the beach typically hover around 50 degrees. Also, keep in mind that fog shrouds the shore during the late spring and summer, while the sunniest months are September and October.
Past visitors praise the views from the beach, as well as its soft sand. They also echo the National Park Service's sentiment that the water is best left to expert surfers, as riptides make casual swimming exceptionally dangerous. While parking at the beach is free (located along the Great Highway side), some travelers warned that it can be a challenge to get a spot on days when the weather is particularly nice.
To avoid the issue of parking, visitors can opt for public transit like the N line on the Muni Metro or the No. 5R and 18 bus routes, which also stop nearby. The beach is open around the clock daily, though the best times to visit are between sunrise and sunset. For more information on Ocean Beach, check out the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy website.
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#1 Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge's vaulting, orange arches amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay have made it one of the West Coast's most enduring symbols and the city's most popular tourist attraction. The bridge's name, "Golden Gate," actually refers to the body of water it spans (the Golden Gate Strait that connects the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay), and was built to make travel between San Francisco and Marin County an easier feat.
There are plenty of great spots to capture a snap of the majestic bridge. But if you want a truly postcard-worthy shot, head to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, situated high on a hill overlooking San Francisco. If you have extra time, make sure to explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The actual span of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses multiple places in San Mateo (south of San Francisco), San Francisco and Marin Counties (Alcatraz and Muir Woods included), but notable parts of this recreation area can be found just a stroll away from the Golden Gate. From the bridge, travelers will find some scenic, bayside trails, some of which lead to secluded beaches, including Kirby Cove and Black Sands Beach. If you really want a trek, journey to the Point Bonita Lighthouse for sweeping views of the bay, found at the very tip of the Golden Gate Strait.
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