Ocean Beach San Francisco Guide

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach, on the Pacific Ocean of California, is the main beach for San Francisco coastal visitors. Stretching for over a mile, the shoreline has hosted lazy days, surfing competitions and is even close to the first Burning Man event of San Francisco. Located near the western entrance of Golden Gate Park and accessible by the N train daily, Ocean Beach was not always the popular spot we know today.

In the past, Ocean Beach was known as “outside lands,” too far for most of the San Francisco general population to travel. Over time, as three-hour picnickers gave way to day travelers, then to overnighters — along with the addition of attractions such as the Cliff House, an upscale restaurant, and the Sutro Baths, a once glorious six-pool swimming building — Ocean Beach began to become a viable tourist destination. Today, the site is a nice spot for a beach trip…for anyone.

If you wake up and downtown San Francisco has no fog? —Maybe you should try Ocean Beach for the day.

Ocean Beach Graffiti Wall

But it’s not your typical California, Baywatch-style beach. Generally, depending on the time of year, the conditions are foggy, windy and cold. If you’re lucky and hit Ocean Beach on a special day, you can score awesome, sunny conditions. Be careful in the water, though. The Northern California swell produces strong, cold currents, and people have been known to drown from the undertow when standing in knee-deep water. Even the notoriously free-spirited surfers use caution in these waters.

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Ocean Beach offers a refreshing and scenic respite from the high action of San Francisco and environs, but perhaps you don’t wish to spend an entire day giving the fish an up-close-and-personal view of your bikini or lounging on the shore. Feel free to add a day hike or a visit to the Dutch Windmill or Sutro Baths. And don’t forget your sunscreen and a jacket. The weather can be unpredictable.

Bonfires on Ocean Beach

How Do I Find Ocean Beach?

  • Ocean Beach is located on the western side of San Francisco on the Pacific Ocean. A good central spot is the corner of JFK Drive and the Great Highway or the corner of Judah and the Great Highway.
  • You can use public transportation routes 1, 2, 5, 18, 31, 31ax, 38, 38ax, 48, 71, 71L and the N to access Ocean Beach. Usually the easiest are the 5 and the N, though.
  • To reach the Ocean Beach from Union Square you can ride the 5R or N. The N goes to the community of Ocean Beach; the 5R visits the landmarks such as the Cliff House and Sutro Baths. The ride should be around 1 hour for both.

Ocean Beach Surf

Orange Sky Co. says:

Orange Sky SF Logo

Ocean Beach is not your typical sunny beach. Although the light does comes out, there’s always chill in the air. The water can be dangerous, too. It’s best to use caution and expect your visit to be cold. Otherwise, have fun!

Location of Ocean Beach