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Life’s a Beach When You Live in Lamorinda

Written by Jennifer Seelig. Posted in Recreation + Travel

Whether you want to go under the Boardwalk … or down by the sea … there’s a patch of sand screaming your name.  Thanks to our perfect positioning in the Bay Area, Lamorindans can be beach-bound in no time!

Half Moon Bay

The beauty of living in Lamorinda is we’re beyond lucky to be within a short drive of some of the best beaches the Bay Area has to offer. Whether you want to go under the Boardwalk … or down by the sea … there’s a patch of sand screaming your name.  Thanks to our perfect positioning in the Bay Area, Lamorindans can be beach-bound in no time! 

Stumped about where to go in search of sand and surf?  LamorindaWeb does the beachcombing for you and here’s the list of our faves. Cowabunga, Lamorinda dudes and dudettes!

Baker Beach

Escape the crowds at this secluded mile-long beach, which provides breathtaking panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, and Lands End. Large waves, undertow, and rip currents make the beach unsafe for swimming, but the bluffs surrounding the beach help block out the wind, making this an ideal beach for a day of playing in the sand with the kids.  Portable toilets and picnic tables are nearby, too.  Warning: nude sunbathers do tend to frequent the far end of the beach, so be prepared that you may very well see more than just the beautiful views.  parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/baker-beach.html

China Beach

This is one of the safest San Francisco beaches for families, with shallow waters for the kids to play in and lifeguards on duty April through October.  China Beach has beautiful views of nearby Golden Gate Bridge, and there are picnic areas with grills, restrooms, showers, and changing rooms available.  This getaway is situated in the northern part of the city, making it the perfect escape for families who want to avoid the crowds who swarm to the more urban Ocean Beach.  parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/china-beach.html

Angel Island

Getting to Angel Island does require a boat or ferry ride, though it’s worth the extra effort!  Angel Island boasts beautiful yet generally crowd-free beaches, plenty of grassy patches and BBQ pits nearby, so you can enjoy the view of the water - and a picnic - all at the same time.  If the family wants to get a little more physical, consider one of the many hiking and biking trails wearing around the island.  Informational tour are also offered, should you want to learn a bit more about this angelic Bay Area spot.  angelisland.org

McNear's Beach

It’s earned its reputation as one of the most popular beaches in the Bay Area – McNear’s Beach in San Rafael.  Not only does it score high in the beauty department, visitors have plenty of options for keeping their cool - in addition to the beach, there’s a family swim pool ($4 fee per swimmer).  Other entertainment options abound – tennis courts and a large grassy area for lawn sports, too.  Don’t forget your parking money – the cost to park is $7 weekdays, $8 weekends. marincounty.org/Depts/PK/Divisions/Parks/McNears-Beach

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach has so much to offer – more than simply sand for sitting!  The area is surrounded by beautiful views, miles of hiking and cycling trails, and plenty of cool ocean breezes.  There are BBQ grills and clean bathrooms, and lifeguard supervision May through October.  Another draw is the 51-acre park adjacent to the beach.  Plus, with more than 100 picnic tables tucked among the park's shade-bearing trees, it is a great place to enjoy a picnic with the family.  stinsonbeachonline.com

Bean Hollow

A favorite once discovered, Bean Hollow State Beach is located 3 miles south of Pescadero. This beautiful stretch of golden sand requires no hike-in, yet on most afternoons the place is wonderfully un-crowded. Spend the afternoon playing Frisbee with the kids, barbecuing, or exploring the many tidepools. Bean Hollow is also one of the few Bay Area beaches that still allow dogs. parks.ca.gov/?page_id=527

Half Moon Bay

Offering 8 miles of continuous beach, Half Moon Bay is a great place to escape with the family for a day.  Dune Beach gets especially high marks for its easy access, ample parking and clean bathrooms.  The kids will love playing in the dunes and the surf here.  If you’re feeling ambitious, turn your day at the beach into a bit more – bring your bikes and go for a ride with the family along the scenic Coastside Trail.  parks.ca.gov/?page_id=531

Lounge at a Lake

If your preference is to bypass the beach in favor of something that’s more along the lines of the ‘ol swimmin’ hole, consider these dip-worthy locales:

Go splashing at Shadow Cliffs Lake in Pleasanton!  Buoys mark the swimming area, which is lifeguard-supervised, and the water is perfect for a lake swim.  There are restrooms and a refreshment stand, too, plus a separate waterslide area (for a fee) if you or the wee ones want to take a more adventurous plunge.  ebparks.org/parks/shadow_cliffs

Amble over to Lake Anza in the always-cooler-on-that-side-of-the-tunnel Berkeley Hills.  It’s a gem of a lagoon in Tilden Regional Park, with an inviting beachy area and shelter from the wind.  Don’t forget to pack some spare change, as a small swim fee applies.  ebparks.org/parks/tilden

Lake Temescal is another East Bay option and offers easier access if you don’t want to wind through the Berkeley Hills to reach Lake Anza.  It’s close and convenient (right at the Highway 24/13 interchange) and is a hot spot for Bay Area folks hoping to cool down.  There’s swimming and fishing, plus picnicking, too.  ebparks.org/parks/temescal