San Francisco’s Ocean Beach

San Francisco is an especially lovely city, but if the city’s concrete canyons and skyscrapers have you longing for a quiet place and an unobstructed view west, you’re in luck! San Francisco’s Ocean Beach is an easy stroll or a quick bus ride away. Located along the city’s west side, Ocean Beach runs from Point Lobos on the north end to the San Francisco Zoo on the south. It is 3.5 miles of sand, surf, legal (and illegal) fire pits, great picnic spots, deliriously happy dogs and wide-open spaces.

If fortune smiles and the weather is clear and calm, it is an ideal spot to spread out a blanket, open a bottle or two of wine, graze on a picnic lunch and forget about everything but the sounds of the waves lapping on the beach. Even when the fog creeps across the water on little cat feet and the sky is overcast, Ocean Beach is a still a great place to be, as most folks stay indoors and you can enjoy having the place (mostly) to yourself.

Only the most intrepid souls swim and surf in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean here, but you can occasionally find one or two out there furiously working to stay warm, often with big smiles on their faces. If your timing is good, you may also see other mammals, such as migrating whales and dolphins, as well as the aforementioned dogs in fearless pursuit of sticks and tennis balls, oblivious to the chilly water.

If Ocean Beach sounds like your kind of place, you’re better off walking or taking public transportation, as parking is quite limited and if the weather is nice, virtually non-existent. You’re also better off dressing in layers, with a good wind- and rain-proof shell, as once the cold wind gets into your bones, it is tough to shake without heading inside. There are a few places not too far off the beach to grab a bite and something warm to drink, if you like, but with a bit of foresight and planning, you can bring some provisions with you, scavenge some firewood and chase the chill around a bonfire. For information about your mass transit options to and from Ocean Beach, visit the official site at or