Home California Hidden Beaches in San Francisco: Two of the Best San Francisco Sunset Spots

Hidden Beaches in San Francisco: Two of the Best San Francisco Sunset Spots

written by ParoChak September 17, 2016

San Francisco may be a tiny city but is filled with locals secrets, under the radar spots and of course, hidden beaches. Being a San Francisco resident, I have combed several of these lesser known beaches in the city in search of secluded spots to witness a tranquil sunset.  So here are two of my recommendations for two super special, relatively unknown and locals favorite beaches in the city which double up as the best San Francisco sunset spots.  These two are also easily some of the best beaches in the Bay Area due to their golden-pink sand and gorgeous views of the Golden Gate bridge in the distance. Remember, San Francisco beaches are chilly and windy and you need to be dressed appropriately to counter all these crazy microclimates in our tiny city!

Best San Francisco sunset spots #1. MILE ROCK BEACH

 Mile Rock beach, a small rocky beach jutting out into the Pacific ocean, overlooks the Golden Gate bridge in one corner of the Land’s end coastal trail. This is one of the best beaches in Bay Area and is also one of the best spots to watch a sunset in San Francisco. All you need is a good jacket (does get windy and chilly), a camera + tripod (if you are a photography nerd) and the will to climb down and up a few hundred flight of stairs to witness the best San Francisco sunset! Best of all,this is a dog friendly beach (here is my dog friendly hiking guide in San Francisco for more dog friendly attractions in the city)

How to get to Mile Rock Beach?

Getting to this secluded beach in San Francisco is pretty easy and you can either drive to or take the Bus 38 to Land’s end, specifically park at or start from El Camino del Mar and Point Lobos Avenue, just up the hill from the Cliff House and the Sutro Bath ruins, which is the trailhead. Then start your journey along the coastal trail, which follows the steam railroad route established by Adolph Sutro (owner of the Sutro Bath house, the ruins of which still persist at Land’s End) to bring in people from downtown San Francisco to enjoy the bath house. Steam train later gave way to electric cars but the route was constantly plagued by landslides and finally after the torrential rains of 1925, where huge portions of the route caved into the ocean, these tracks were deemed too costly for repair and abandoned. The trail also has several curved rest areas where you can sit and enjoy a beautiful view of the ocean and listen to the fog-horns. 0.6 miles of hiking along the trail will lead you to a sign for the beach towards the left. What follows after that is several flights of sandy steps (there are quite a few of them) as you descend into the rocky, sandy cove providing a spectacular view of the Golden Gate bridge. This hidden beach in San Francisco is a great spot to catch a sunset as it offers different crimson ad pink hues of the setting sun against the backdrop of the bridge, the passing ships and waves furiously crashing against the big rocks jutting out of the water. Best of all, since very few people know of this under the radar beach, you will be witnessing a beautiful San Francisco sunset with only a few people around! Another attraction is a cylindrical object jutting out of water that used to be a once functioning lighthouse, named the Mile Rock beach lighthouse. Its defunct now and there is an automated light to guide the ships. If it’s not too foggy you might also catch the flashing lights of Point Bonita lighthouse in Marin headlands (Sausalito), one of the remaining active lighthouses in California.

Piles of stones and rocks, neatly arranged (the remnants of the famous San Francisco “labyrinth”), will greet you once you are at the beach along with photography aficionados with their cameras and tripods to catch the best San Francisco sunset. Not too many people descend all the way down, so sit here, relax for a while and watch the sun go down in solitude. This is a dog friendly beach and so pups are welcome. After leaving the beach, you may continue up the coastal trail that leads you the beautiful museum Legion of Honor and finally the China Basin (dogs are not allowed here) or make your way back to the parking lot with the twinkling lights of the GG bridge glittering away in the fading evening light. You can stop by for dinner at the famous Cliff House or in one of the many restaurants in the Richmond neighborhood.

 

Best San Francisco sunset spot #2 CHINA BEACH

China Beach, another secluded beach in San Francisco is also one of the best San Francisco sunset spots. This beach is  pretty much one of the lesser known beaches in San Francisco Bay Area and is a sandy patch at the very end of Sea Cliff Avenue. It is essentially a small cove in the  San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood and lies between Baker beach and Land’s End, overlooking Marin Headlands. The name comes from it’s past as a camp for Chinese fishermen. In case you are interested in public transportation, San Francisco’s MUNI has you covered. Board the Bus # 38 (which also takes you to Land’s End) and hop off at Geary Blvd and 30th Avenue in Outer Richmond, after which a brisk 15 minute walking will take you to this hidden beach in San Francisco. Enjoy a beautiful (albeit chilly and windy)  San Francisco sunset with another breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the horizon.

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This is a local's guide to two hidden beaches in San Francisco, California, USA that double up as some of the best San Francisco sunset spots. Catch a gorgeous San Francisco sunset with a spectacular view of the Golden gate Bridge. One of the beaches is also dog friendly! Pin this to your California board now! #california #sanfrancisco #sanfranciscobeaches #sunset #USA #localsguide #likealocal #sfattractions

 

This is a local's guide to two hidden beaches in San Francisco, California, USA that double up as some of the best San Francisco sunset spots. Catch a gorgeous San Francisco sunset with a spectacular view of the Golden gate Bridge. One of the beaches is also dog friendly! Pin this to your California board now! #california #sanfrancisco #sanfranciscobeaches #sunset #USA #localsguide #likealocal #sfattractions

 

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16 comments

Lola The Rescued Cat September 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Your posts definitely have the west coast calling to me! I love your photos and your descriptions of these fantastic places and I hope to be able to take a trip out there some day soon.

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Tenacious Little Terrier September 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm

I don’t mind a climb for a great view and photo opportunities! That is a great place to watch sunsets. Mr. N would be zooming up and down those stairs like they’re nothing.

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ParoChak September 7, 2017 at 12:50 am

You have to make a trip to SF soon with Mr. N!

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Irene McHugh September 6, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Matthew and I made sure to walk the Land End’s Traill after visiting the Legion of Honor museum. We didn’t head down to the beach, mainly because we didn’t have Bernie or Lizzie in our sad dogless ives yet, but we did somehow arrive at Cliff House right before sunset. We scored a table with a beautiful view of the sunset and enjoyed their delicious clam chowder. One of my happier memories from living briefly in San Francisco.

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ParoChak September 7, 2017 at 12:50 am

So glad to know you enjoyed your time in San Francisco. Do revisit with the doggies!

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Dorothy "FiveSibesMom" September 7, 2017 at 12:38 am

That beach is a photographer’s dream! I’d love to be out there to shoot, plus dog friendly? A dream spot. Love your shots. If I’m ever out there, I’m there for sure with my camera in hand!

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ParoChak September 7, 2017 at 12:50 am

Thanks so much Dorothy!

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Rebecca at MattieDog September 7, 2017 at 12:48 am

We’ve actually visited this one! We love the combination of the rocks, water, cool breeze and glorious sunset – all enjoyed with our fuzzy ones! Your pictures are absolutely reflective of the beauty in that area, and I particularly love the ones on the beach – doggos love to roam on the beach (and sometimes roll around in the wet sand….). I’m going to share your site with my girlfriend who just move to the area with her pup – your site will be a great resource for her (a Seattle transplant)!

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ParoChak September 7, 2017 at 12:49 am

Thanks So much Rebecca! Really appreciate this gesture!

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Sweet Purrfections September 7, 2017 at 1:56 am

I remember seeing the fog “rolling in” over the islands and the Golden Gate bridge when we took a dinner cruise. What surprised me was how cold it got the closer we got to the bridge. It was August and frost was forming on the windows. Such a beautiful location!

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Jeffrey September 7, 2017 at 2:43 am

Beach, dogs hiking and a sunset? Sounds and looks like a perfect day to me. Will have to check it out next time I’m in the Bay Area.

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Mishu September 7, 2017 at 3:34 am

I think I have being there, as well as other dog friendly beaches at SF area. It’s also the only place in the world where the summer is not terrible 🙂

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Amy Shojai, CABC September 7, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Your pictures always transport me. Thank you! I love watching sunsets.

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Caroline February 10, 2018 at 4:57 am

Loved this! I discovered Mile Rock recently and thought it was such a beautiful place! And I’ve always thought China Beach was such a hidden gem in the city.

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Frankie February 10, 2018 at 6:16 am

I never even thought to try and find a beach when we were in San Francisco (a long time ago!) but I think we would if we headed there again. Some great practical advice on how to find these great places – thank you!

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Lieselot De Brauwer February 10, 2018 at 8:00 pm

Some cool spots there! I haven’t spent that much time in San Fran yet, so I guess I’ll have to go back 😀

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