Best and Fun Northern California Beaches

Best and Fun Northern California Beaches

Looking for Northern California beaches? While SoCal (Southern California) offers fun, sunny beaches, NorCal (Northern California) offers extremely diverse, rugged, and beautiful beaches. Actually, NorCal has some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. For example, Carmel Beach, Santa Cruz Beach, Fort Funston Beach, Sea Glass Beach, Black Sands Beach, The Great Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore, and more. 

Whether you are looking for a long dune beach, whale watching beach, wild island beach, surfing beach, deserted beach, amusement beach, or scenic beach, Northern California has them all. 

Here’s the list of the best and fun Northern California Beaches. Come on, just add them to your California bucket list. 

Northern California Beaches

1. Northern California Beaches: Carmel Beach

Do you love to travel with your dog? And are you a beach lover too? Then, there’s an ideal beach in the picturesque town, Carmel-by-the-Sea in Northern California, for you. It is Carmel Beach. 

It is the best dog-friendly, soft, white sand, relaxing, and scenic beach in Northern California. 

Therefore, it is one of the most popular beaches in the world as well. Thousands of beach lovers attract this beach annually from all over the world. 

So, it is not difficult to find Carmel Beach.  

If you drive for 2 and half hours to the south from San Fransisco, you’ll see Carmel-by-the-sea beach town. Carmel Beach is located right next to it. 

(Actually, Carmel-by-the-Sea town is also a great place to visit as it is filled with local shops, art galleries, and delicious food corners)

Carmel Beach Northern California
Carmel Beach

Apart from the natural beauty, Carmel Beach offers good waves for surfers. So yeah, it is a great surfing destination as well. 

On the other hand, since there’s crystal clear water, surfers and swimmers usually spot dolphins, sea otters, and many sea creatures. 

This is a paradise for swimmers, surfers, kayakers, beachcombers, volleyball players, sandcastle builders, bird watchers, scuba divers, and campers.

Also, if you are looking for a quality beach evening to watch the sunset, Carmel Beach is perfect for that too. Since there’s a walking trail along this one-mile beach, you can easily select a relaxing place. 

If you feel like extending the evening stay at Carmel Beach, you can because it offers excellent camping opportunities for campers. As support, there are public wood-burning fire pits, and propane grills are also allowed. 

It is better not to visit May through August as it can be foggy. But, fall and winter offer good weather. In the case of summer, the parking lot is filled with vehicles, even on weekends. 

However, since the official parking lot is not so big, you can try on-street parking along Scenic Road and on Camino Real.  

Address: 26478 Carmelo St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States  Phone: +1 831-649-2836

Northern California Beaches

Best Hotels Near Carmel Beach

Feel like stay near Carmel Beach? Here are the best accommodation options near the stunning Carmel Beach. Just search below and choose the ideal place for you.

2. Baker Beach

Baker Beach is a great family beach located on the peninsula of San Francisco. It stretches for one mile along the shore of the Pacific Ocean on the city’s northwestern side. (on the west of the Golden Gate)

This may be the most photographed beach in California. 

Especially in the low tide, you can go tide-pooling with friends and family to explore various seaweeds, delicate creatures, many other things. But, it is better not to touch anything. 

Baker Beach, San Francisco, California
Baker Beach

However, the challenging part is getting into Baker Beach. It is a little difficult because the trail quite steep. So, there are cable steps at the bottom. So, yeah, it may not be a good idea to take your small kids there. 

Visitors usually park their vehicles near the trailhead sign on the Scenic Drive.

Actually, Baker Beach is a unique ecological environment that contains tide pools, alder trees, and unique offshore rock formations. So, ultimately it offers a dramatic setting with scenic views. 

Just escape from the hustle and catch this unique beach. 

Address: 1237 Scenic Drive, Trinidad, California. 

Northern California Beaches       

3. Northern California Beaches: Santa Cruz Beach

Looking for a lot of beach activities to do? Then, Santa Cruz beach is the best choice when you are in Northern California. 

It is a wide and flat beach with soft and golden sand. So whether you are looking for swimming, enjoying scenic views, surfing, playing volleyball, watching sea creatures, or whatever, Santa Cruz beach has everything. 

Santa Cruz Beach California
Santa Cruz Beach

Especially since the ocean in front of the beach is a part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, obviously there are plenty of fish and sea creatures. (Ex: dolphins, whales, sea lions, otters, etc.)

On the other hand, Santa Cruz Beach’s entertaining part is Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an old mile-long wooden boardwalk. Line with shops, beach cafes, an amusement park, and carnival games, this boardwalk attracts thousands of entertainers yearly. 

Finally, the golden Santa Cruz Beach and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk combination has created a perfect beach destination for beach lovers worldwide. So, expect to have a crowd always. 

Northern California Beaches 

4. Northern California Beaches: Fort Funston Beach

Fort Funston is a former military installation during WWII located in the southwestern corner of San Francisco. Now, it is a protected area under the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. But, still, you can see tunnels and other remnants in this area. 

Now, let’s talk about its beautiful beach. 

Fort Funston Beach in the Bay Area is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in Northern California. However, it is more famous for the breathtaking views, horseback riding, exciting hiking trails, and 200 feet high sandy bluffs. 

Also, since this beach is so windy year-round, it is famous as a hang-gliding destination as well. So, you may surely see some hang-gliders. 

(Due to strong wind and strong currents, swimming is discouraged)

Fort Funston Beach California
Fort Funston Beach

However, catching the sunset from the top of sand bluffs is the best thing to do at Fort Funston beach.   

Another notable feature of Fort Funston beach is observing whales during the migration season from the beach. 

There are two trails to access this beach. The easiest one is Sunset Trail, a one-mile paved trail. And the difficult one, Sand Ladder, is located near the southern end of the beach. 

This beach is a dog-friendly one. You can allow your dog to run freely without a leash.  

Address: Fort Funston Rd, San Francisco, CA 94132, United States

Northern California Beaches

5. Northern California Beaches: Black Sands Beach

Are you a fan of black sand beaches? Not only Costa Rica and Iceland, but also Northern California has a black sand beach.

Located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Black Sands Beach one of the unique Northern California beaches.

Stretching on the eastern side of Bonita Cove, it starts at the bottom of Fisherman’s Trail. The trail is steep and contains numerous wooden steps to help the hikers.     

Black Sands Beach Northern California
Black Sands Beach

Hikers can get fantastic views of this black sand beach and Point Bonita Lighthouse along the trail. So, your camera may already fill with Instagrammable photos even before reaching the beach.

Apart from that, it is ideal for sunbathing, fishing, and walking. Another fact about Black Sands Beach in California is it is a clothing-optional beach. 

But, do not forget to check the tide chart before the visit as it gets narrow at high tide.  

Address: Conzelman Road, Sausalito, CA

Northern California Beaches

6. Point Reyes National Seashore, The Great Beach

Point Reyes National Seashore is a national park with a huge protected coastline that spreads along the coasts of Marin Country, Northern California. So, it offers several beaches for beach lovers. But, The Great Beach or Point Reyes Beach is special.

Located just an hour away from San Francisco, you’ll find this long, deserted beach that stretches for more than 10 miles. But, it is an undeveloped, untouched, wild beach. So, if you are looking for a real natural beach experience, this one is perfect.

The Great Beach Point Reyes Beach
The Great Beach or Point Reyes Beach

Deserted surroundings, wide sandy beach, no crowd, big surf waves, calm and wild environment are the unique features of The Great Beach.

There are two parking lots at each end of the beach. And you can easily access the beach from these parking lots. However, because of the strong current, The Great Beach is ideal for walking, sightseeing, and sunset viewing rather than swimming.

When you walk along the beach, you’ll find an impressive 1870s lighthouse named Point Reyes Lighthouse. Do not miss it too.

Address: Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, United States Phone: +1 415-464-5137

Northern California Beaches

7. Asilomar State Beach 

Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds State Park is a state park located in Pacific Grove, Northern California. The park spreads over 25 acres with dunes, boardwalks, and an attractive coastline.

Come on, everybody, to the stunning Asilomar State Beach.

As part of the Asilomar Marine Reserve, Asilomar State Beach is a rocky, wild, sandy beach that stretches for one mile.

In the low tide, you’ll find some exciting tide pools along the beach. But, keep in mind, you are not allowed to fish, collect rocks and shells on the beach since it is a marine reserve area.

Asilomar State Beach California
Asilomar State Beach

There are plenty of small walking trails and flat sand areas on the Asilomar State Beach. Since it offers breathtaking sunset views, beautiful blue water, and wild surrounding, this is easily one of the best North California Beaches.

(But, be careful when you walk as it has unpredictable surfs and rips currents)

Since the parking lot is located close, it offers direct access to the beach after a short trail.

On the other hand, Asilomar State Beach is located next to the USA’s famous scenic drive, “17-mile road”. That means you are getting a chance to explore more beautiful beaches, mansions, golf courses, other scenic attractions. (Ex: Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, etc.)

Address: Sunset Dr, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, United States Phone: +1 831-646-6440

Northern California Beaches

8. Northern California Beaches: Caspar Headlands State Beach

Caspar Headlands State Beach is located near the village of Caspar in Mendocino County, Northern California. Spreading over 75 acres, this park was established in 1972. 

Casper Beach is a protected beach under the state park system of California.

On the other hand, since it is located between the drainage of Doyle Creek and Caspar Creek, it makes one of the safest beaches for swimmers. Although the water is usually chill and random rip currents exist, most areas are perfect for swimming.

Caspar Headlands State Beach
Caspar Headlands State Beach

If you are looking for a beach camping experience, there’s an RV campground near Casper Beach. And also, some exciting hiking trails offer scenic coastal views as well. 

Swimming, camping, hiking, and sightseeing are fun things to do near Casper Beach. So, don’t miss it. 

Address: Co Rd 409, Caspar, CA 95420, United States

Northern California Beaches

9. Three Rocks Beach, Half Moon Bay

Three Rocks Beach is one of the best public beaches in Northern California. Located in Half Moon Bay, this beach has all the features of a perfect beach destination. 

For example, Three Rocks Beach has an untouched, wild, undeveloped environment, easy accessibility, wide, soft sand, huge rocks, boulders, scenic views, Instagrammbale spots, tall cliffs, hiking trails, and tide pools. 

So, obviously, it is filled with many beach activities. 

When its flat and wide sandy beach areas blend with unique rock formations and huge boulders, it offers wonderful photo locations for you, especially in the evening. 

Three Rocks Beach, Half Moon Bay
Three Rocks Beach, Half Moon Bay

Also, the rocks on the beach create a lot of tide pools. So, visit there with your kids in the low tide to explore various shells, rocks, and sea creatures. 

If you are into hiking, there are some excellent hiking trails to the tall cliffs on the beach. In the end, those cliffs treat you with breathtaking views of the ocean.  

For those who are coming from downtown San Francisco, it takes less than one hour. And it is just 30 minutes away from San Francisco Airport.

Are you looking for luxury accommodation near Three Rocks Beach, Half Moon Bay? The only and the best option is The Ritz-Carlton. Book your accommodation here.     

Address: 1 Miramontes Point Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, United States

Northern California Beaches

10. Northern California Beaches: Rodeo Beach

Rodeo Beach is another stunning beach located in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin County, California. (just 2 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge)

So, this beautiful beach cove is easily reachable from San Francisco, and the parking lot is also close to it. So, within a short walk, you are on the beach.

Since Rodeo Beach is perfect for hikers, surfer, beach explorers, and birdwatchers, it is very famous among locals and tourists.  

Especially, the Bird Rock and Rodeo Lagoon offers great opportunities to spot various migratory birds. So, if you are into bird watching, do not forget binoculars. 

Also, it is a famous surfing destination as well.

Rodeo Beach Northern California
Rodeo Beach

If you are into hiking, Rodeo offers you some exciting hiking trails too. The most highlighted hiking trails are Rodeo Beach Coastal Trail and Miwok trail.

The Miwok trail is a bit steeper. But it is totally worth try as it offers marvelous views of the Rodeo beach and the Pacific Ocean.

On the other hand, the most popular hiking trail is Rodeo Beach Coastal Trail. It is an easy one that stretches for 5.1 miles and is filled with the best views throughout the trail.     

Rodeo beach is not white or golden in color because it contains small, pebbly stones in various colors, blue, red, green, and brown.

However, the calm surrounding, stunning views, and scenic trails make Rodeo Beach on the best Northern California beaches. 

So, just add it to your California bucket list. 

11. Northern California Beaches: Centerville Beach

Centerville Beach County Park is a secluded beach park located five miles west of Ferndale, a historic Victorian city area. 

It offers you free access to the beautiful Centerville Beach that stretches for nine miles. This beach has a wild surrounding with magnificent sandstone cliffs, birds, and other wildlife.    

Centerville Beach Northern California
Centerville Beach

So, Centerville Beach is a perfect secluded beach for picnickers, horseback riders, beachcombers, kiteboarders, and windsurfers.    

Also, if you are lucky enough, you may catch whales in the distance during the migrating period (April and May).  

Are you ready to try all of these fun activities?

Address: Centerville Rd, Ferndale, CA 95536, United States

Northern California Beaches

12. Northern California Beaches: Drakes Beach

Do you believe that there’s a similar place to England’s White Cliffs of Dover in Northern California? Well, you have to. 

Drakes Beach is a beach that quite similar to England’s White Cliffs of Dover. It is a beautiful wide beach that contains white sandstone cliffs, just like England’s one.   

Drakes Beach California
Drakes Beach

This is also a beach located in Point Reyes National Seashore. So, it has similar features to The Great Beach.

For example, Drakes Beach offers rough waves, chill water, surfing opportunities, easy access, easy parking, and a visitor center. And the Point Reyes Lighthouse is located nearby too. 

So, after visiting The Great Beach, surely visit Drakes Beach as well.

Northern California Beaches

13. College Cove Beach, Trinidad

College Cove Beach is a lovely, wild beach located on the north of Trinidad State Beach, in Trinidad Town.

Actually, it is an impressive beach cove that splits into two sections during high tide. So, it is safe to visit the two sections in the low tide.

Being quite a large beach, College Cove has an attractive lush surrounding. Although the water is chill, it is a famous swimming destination and a year-round surf spot.

College Cove Beach, Trinidad
College Cove Beach

As a bonus, you’ll find various marine lives as well, for example, seals, sea lions, and many other sea creatures.

Also, plenty of small tide pools contain seaweeds, starfish, sea urchins, mussels, clams, and shells. So, if you are into beachcombing or exploring beaches with your kids, College Cove Beach during the low tide is perfect. 

Another special feature of this beach is that you’ll probably spot whales migrating between Baja California and Alaska from College Cove. But, it is a rare thing. So, you have to be lucky to catch it.    

However, College Cove Beach in Trinidad is definitely one of the best Northern California beaches for beach lovers. 

Address: College Cove Trail, Trinidad, CA 95570, United States

Northern California Beaches

14. Northern California Beaches: Stinson Beach 

Stinson Beach in Marin Country, California, is a census-designated place. So, there are only around 600 people live in this area. 

Therefore, Stinson Beach is obviously a secluded, untouched beach located just 2.5 miles east-southeast of Bolinas. 

Located at an elevation of 26 feet, this beach is known as the best-kept secret beach in Marin Country as well. Although it is just 35 miles away from downtown San Francisco, it has an authentic rural beach surrounding.

Stinson Beach Northern California
Stinson Beach

You cannot find houses, big hotels, beach mansions, beach crowd, and other fancy beach amenities. Instead, Stinson Beach is all about spectacular nature. 

White powdery sand, soft-touch, perfect sunny surrounding for sunbathing, gentle surf, and safe for swimming are the wonderful features of Stinson Beach. 

Are you looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Just drive for 35 miles and spend some quality time on Stinson Beach.  

If you have more time after visiting the beach, do not miss visiting Muir Woods National Monument and Mt. Tamalpais State Park, located right next to Stinson Beach. 

Northern California Beaches

15. Northern California Beaches: Sea Glass Beach

Here’s a unique and amazing beach.

Sea Glass Beach is located in MacKerricher State Park, Fort Bragg Coastal Town, California. 

This beach’s specialty is not filled with sand, but it is filled with colorful sea glass. And, of course, the glass is not natural. But, the formation process is 100% natural. 

Actually, this beach is a result of three large dumpsites in California during 1906 and 1967. When the dump glass has been weather by the ocean water for so many years, it creates this kind of colorful beaches. 

Sea Glass Beach California
Sea Glass Beach

You can see glasses of different shapes and colors along this beach. Obviously, this is not a big and long beach, and there is a fixed amount of these unique glasses. So, you are not allowed to take them home. 

Locals believe that tide brings new colorful glasses every day. So, they take glasses home as souvenirs resulting in a very less amount left on the beach.

So, just follow the rule and help to save this wonderful beach. 

On the other hand, Sea Glass Beach in California is rough and not suitable for swimming. Instead, it is for seeing colorful sea glasses and exploring tide pools. Are you interested? 

Address: Fort Bragg, CA 95437, United States

Click here to read more about Sea Glass Beach, California.  

Northern California Beaches

16. Northern California Beaches: Shell Beach 

Looking for a private beach for fishing? Shell Beach is a heaven for fishers as its rocks are covered with mussels. 

Shell Beach is located on the south side of the Russian River in Jenner town. Surrounded by huge rocks, this beach is thin and rough. But, it is ideal for beachcombing, hiking, fishing, and watching the sunset.

Shell Beach Northern California
Shell Beach

Since it has a calm and private surrounding, you can have a relaxing time with your family. Especially if your kids love exploring beaches, Shell Beach offers plenty of tide pools during the low tide. 

You have to take a small hike to get there. Since the path is slippery, do not forget to wear suitable shoes. 

Address: Highway 1 and Shell Beach Road, Jenner, CA

Northern California Beaches

17. Bodega Dunes Beach 

Bodega Dunes Beach is located on Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, 90 minutes away from San Francisco and one and a half hours away from Napa Valley. 

It is a sandy beach sloping mildly into the sea and surrounded by low grassy dunes.

You can walk along the soft sandy beach or walk on the wooden boardwalk to explore the surrounding.  

Bodega Dunes Beach
Bodega Dunes Beach

If you are into camping, Bodega Dunes Beach offers a great campground with 100 fantastic camp-on-the-sand sites. So, it will be a perfect beach camping holiday with your family and friends. 

Or, if you are looking for a luxury beach getaway, just try Bodega Bay Lodge, which is located on a bluff overlooking the stunning Bodega Dunes Beach.  

Address: Salmon Creek, Jenner, CA 95450, United States. 
Northern California Beaches

18. Northern California Beaches: Moonstone Beach Country Park

Again another wonderful beach in the small fishing town, Trinidad.

Moonstone Beach Country Park is located just 5 miles away from Trinidad (to the south side).

Being a scenic sandy beach surrounded by large rocks, it shows some hidden caves during the low tide. So, if you love beach exploring, Moonstone surely a good choice. 

Moonstone Beach Country Park Trinidad
Moonstone Beach Country Park

On the other hand, this beach is a great surfing destination for surfers. And also, this is an ideal family beach destination as well.

There’s a little river, literary called “Little River,” that flows to the sea near Moonstone Beach. Its slow river current and warm water offer a safe play area for kids. 

If you want to take your dog, Moonstone allows that too. Actually, it is one of the best dog-friendly beaches in Northern California. 

Scenic views, rocky cliffs, peaceful, lush surrounding, safe for kids, dog-friendly, and ideal for surfers are the incredible features of this hidden beach.

Are you still going to miss Moonstone Beach Country Park? 

(Actually, there are two Moonstone Beaches in California, one is already explained above, the other one is located in Los Angeles, Southern California)

Address: Trinidad, CA 95570, United States  Phone: +1 707-677-1616

Northern California Beaches

19. Northern California Beaches: Gray Whale Cove State Beach

Gray Whale Cove State Beach or Devil’s Slide is a state park located nearly 18 miles south of San Francisco. 

It is a sheltered cove surrounded by cliffs that unexpectedly drop into the ocean. Also, it has several trails that connect nearby McNee Ranch State Park and Montara Mountain. 

Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Gray Whale Cove State Beach

According to its name, there should be Gray Whales. So yes, this beach is known for catching gray whales swimming near the shore. Especially during their migration period, mid-April to mid-May. 

Apart from whale watching, this beach famous for sunbathing. Those who prefer nude sunbathing head to the right side of the beach. Others head to the left when you enter the beach. 

In the case of reaching Gray Whale Cove, you should follow the clearly marked steep trail carefully. 

Address: Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, United States Phone: +1 650-726-8819

Northern California Beaches

20. Monterey State Beach 

Extending from Monterey to Seaside, Monterey State Beach is a protected beach that is more famous among paragliders. (Just a 15 minutes drive from downtown Monterey)

It is a wide beach that gently slopes into the bay. And it contains cold water with gentle waves. That means if you are ok with the cold water, it a swimming-friendly beach. (There are restrooms and showers as well)

Monterey State Beach California
Monterey State Beach

The Seaside end of the beach is more famous for paragliding. Also, if you are looking for Surf fishing, you can do it at Monterey State Beach.  

Since there are no campgrounds near this beach, you may look for a better place to stay. Our suggestion is the hotel Monterey Tides located in front of the bay. It offers you scenic views of the Pacific Ocean with a super service. So, book it here.

21. Northern California Beaches: Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach is a long (2.5 miles long), attractive beach in Crescent City, Northern California. So, it has plenty of parking space to make easy access for the visitors. 

Rocky tide pools, scenic views, sandy coves, agates, and more parking spaces are the most highlighted features of this beach. Actually, Pebble is one of the most southern beaches on this list because it is just 20 minutes away from the Oregon Border.  

Even you don’t have time to stop at Pebble Beach; it is totally worth driving along Pebble Beach Drive to get the breathtaking views of the ocean.  

Why does it call Pebble Beach?

Pebbles Beach Crescent City California
Pebbles Beach

Its southern part is rockier and filled with large rocks and small pebbles everywhere. Therefore, you can see tide pools during the low tide. So, if you expect to explore things on the beach with your kids, just head to the southern part.

On the other hand, the northern part is a flat, sandy beach where you can walk peacefully. Also, it offers stunning views of the offshore rock and Preston Island. 

Aside from beachcombing and walking, Pebble Beach offers many other fun beach activities. It is famous for surfing, birdwatching, whale watching, hunting for agates, and spotting sea lions.  

And the good news is, Pebble Beach ends at another gorgeous beach called Point Saint George, which is famous for exciting hiking trails. So, do not miss it too. (explained below)

Address: Crescent City, CA 95531, United States

Northern California Beaches

22. Greenwood Creek State Beach

Greenwood State Beach or Elk Beach is a protected beach located in the village of Elk (an incorporated village) in Mendocino County, Northern California.

It is a 47-acre park opened in 1978 and situated 15 miles north of Point Arena Coastal City on Highway 1. So, you can find the parking lot off Highway 1 in front of the Elk store. There you get access to the beach trail. Finally, you can find this beach exactly at the place where Greenwood Creek spills into the ocean.

Greenwood Creek State Beach California
Greenwood Creek State Beach

So, when the water is calm, you can kayak to Greenwood Cove to see amazing rock arches, sea stacks, and the only water accessible beach Elk Creek.

If you are not willing to kayak, you can enjoy the picturesque views of an offshore rock island, Gunderson Rock, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Address: 6101 Highway 1, Elk, CA 95438, United States

23. Big River Beach at Mendocino Headlands State Park

Big River Beach is a fantastic beach that offers picnicking, sunbathing, and many other fun beach activities. Located in Mendocino Headlands State Park (just 3 hours north of San Francisco), this is the place where Big River spills into the Pacific Ocean.

Since it is a white sand beach that stretches for a long area, it is popular among locals. Also, anybody can easily access the beach as the parking lot is nearby. But, the happy news is it doesn’t exist a lot of crowds. So, you can have quality beach time.

Big River Beach Mendocino California
Big River Beach

On the other hand, if you like the beach exploring Big River Beach offers plenty of caves and coves. So, you can explore various shells, stones, sea creatures, and sea plants.

Also, this beach famous among kayakers, surfers, canoers.

If you expect to bring your kids to Big River Beach, that’s totally cool because Big River’s water is safe and calm for the kids who love water plays.

Another unique feature of this beach is, it is a perfect place for bird watchers and wildlife explorers because Big River Estuary (a lush green forest with 7000 acres) is located on the other side of the beach.

Are you still going to miss Big River Beach?

Address: Mendocino, CA 95460, United States

Northern California Beaches

24. Northern California Beaches: Gualala Point Regional Park

Located at the mouth of the Gualala River in Sonoma County, Gualala Point Regional Park is a protected regional park handled by the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department.

The park spreads for 103 acres, and it features a wonderful beach, a campground, the Gualala River, an estuary, and plenty of exciting hiking trails. So, obviously, there are many things to do in the Gualala Point Regional Park, especially related to its beaches.

Lush green trees and bluffs surround the beaches in this state park. Therefore, it contains many hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the ocean.

Gualala Point Regional Park California
Gualala Point Regional Park

Especially, the Gualala Bluff Trail is so exciting and stretches up to an awesome ocean overlook where you can usually spot whales. That feature makes this beach one of the best northern California beaches.

Also, when you walk along the beach, you’ll spot some seals and picnicking areas.

And as mentioned earlier, Gualala Point Regional Park features a campground called Gualala Point Regional Campground. There are many trails to reach this place. Every trail is exciting and stretches through unique tree tunnels called “hobbit tunnels.”

Since this campground is located along the Gualala River and nearby the beach, it features exciting swimming holes, redwood trees, and many hiking trails. Therefore, camping at Gualala Point is one of the best ways to get a true California beach experience.

Address: 42401 Coast, CA-1, Gualala, CA 95445, United States

Northern California Beaches

25. North Salmon Creek Beach 

North Salmon Creek Beach is one of the best summer vacation destinations in Sonoma County, Northern California. So, it is more famous for exploring the beach, fishing, kite flying, picnics, and surfing.

Located right off Highway 1 and nearly 2.5 miles north of Bodega Bay, North Salmon Creek Beach offers you easy access.

Once you reach the sand beach, you can see the mouth of the Salmon River. And if you continue further to the south side of the beach, you’ll meet the South Salmon Creek Beach. (explained below)

Northern Salmon Creek Beach California

The whole Salmon Creek Beach stretches for about 2 miles.

This is not a swimming-friendly beach as there are dangerous riptides and sharks. But, you can try swimming in the creek instead.

Apart from that, Salmon Creek Beach is a very clean sandy beach. But you can find amazing driftwoods everywhere. And also, there are plenty of tide pools during the low tide with starfish, sand dollars, and many other sea lives.

Keep your dog at home and come along with your kids to explore North Salmon Creek Beach this summer.

Northern California Beaches

26. Heart’s Desire Beach

Heart’s Desire Beach is a beautiful and famous family-friendly beach located in the Tomales Bay State Park, Northern California. So, it is quite busy on weekends and sunny days.

Since it is located adjacent to the main parking lot, you can easily find and access the shore. Heart’s Desire Beach is a paradise for kayakers, swimmers, boaters, clam diggers, hikers, and bird watchers.

Heart's Desire Beach California
Heart’s Desire Beach

In the case of hiking, there are excellent hiking trails on the north and south sides of the beach. The north hiking trail takes you to Indian Beach, while the south trail takes you to Pebble Beach.

Also,  Johnstone Trail, a longer hiking trail, leads you to the Tomales Bay State Park’s southernmost beach, Shell Beach.

Are you free this Sunday? Then, plan your weekend getaway to Heart’s Desire Beach.

Address: 1100 Pierce Point Rd, Inverness, CA 94937, United States  Phone: +1 415-669-1140

Northern California Beaches

27. Northern California Beaches: Agate Beach

Agate Beach is for travelers who are looking for an exciting hike and a secluded beach. Stretching for 2 miles, it is also suitable for beachcombers and agate hunters.

Now we know Trinidad is a paradise for beach lovers. Agate Beach is about 6 miles away from this little fishing town. Being a part of Patrick’s Point State Park, Agate Beach surrounds by California’s coastal redwoods. So, altogether, this beach offers some exciting hiking trails with scenic views of the redwoods and the ocean.

Northern California Beaches Agate Beach
Agate Beach

For those who prefer more outdoor activities, they can plan camping near the beach. It will surely be an unforgettable beach vacation experience.

Patrick’s Point State Park provides access to the Agate Beach parking area. Then you have to get a little difficult hike down to the beach. So, obviously, there’s not much crowd on this beach. (Since it is a fairly steep hill, do not forget to wear suitable shoes)

That means you can have a relaxing time there. Walking to explore the beach, observing wildlife, bird watching, spotting sea lions and whales in the near distance are the exciting things to do on Agate Beach.

Another special feature of Agate Beach is, it is ideal for expert surfers. But, it is not safe for swimmers as there are dangerous currents.

Just escape from the busy life and spend a relaxing time at Agate Beach, California.

Northern California Beaches

28. Northern California Beaches: Klamath Beach

Klamath Beach is a fun beach located on the Klamath River delta’s southern side. Actually, it is situated on a large spit which safeguards the river’s entrance. Therefore, Klamath Beach offers you a safe space to swim, fish, boat, and do other water activities.

Apart from that, you can experience surfing, beach walking, beachcombing, and bird watching like fun activities too.

Klamath Beach Northern California
Klamath Beach

A small parking space is also available for visitors. In addition, there’s a small trail from the parking to the beach. When you walk along the trail, you will meet some ancient ruins of Native Americans. The place is called Yurok Ceremonial Grounds, and it contains some ancient wooden buildings. So, visiting Yurok Ceremonial Grounds is an additional benefit of visiting Klamath Beach.

Address: Klamath Beach Road, Klamath, CA

Northern California Beaches

29. Natural Bridges State Beach

Natural Bridges State Beach is a state park in Santa Cruz, California. Although the park stretches for 65-acres, the beach exists in a small area.

This park’s name has come from its most highlighted feature, a natural rock bridge located right off the coast. It really looks like a bridge that connects two large rocks.

Natural Bridges State Beach California
Natural Bridges State Beach

Also, this beach area is a famous hotspot for migratory butterflies. Who doesn’t like to visit a beach surrounds by over 100,000 Monarch Butterflies? It is just like a fairy tale.

If you visit Natural Bridges State Beach during the winter (from October – January), you can see colorful Monarch Butterflies migrating towards this beach. Actually, it is a rare thing to see by any traveler, especially for birdwatchers.

Aside from that, Natural Bridges State Beach is perfect for beach explorers. Some tide pools are filled with hermit crabs, starfish, colorful sea anemones, and many other creatures. So, your kids will love this beach.

If you like swimming, sunbathing, boogie boarding, or hiking, the beach is ready for that too. Since the beach has soft clean and, you and your family can have a relaxing beach time.

So, plan for a family picnic at Natural Bridges State Beach.

Address: Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States  Phone: +1 831-423-4609

Official website:

Northern California Beaches

30. Northern California Beaches: Lagoon Creek Beach

Lagoon Creek Beach is an excellent beach for surfers and beachcombers. Although it is a small beach located on the south end of False Klamath Cove, it is perfect for a family picnic.

The Lagoon Creek Picnic Area is also located close to the beach, and it features picnic tables, sufficient parking space, and a large lagoon. If you are into hiking, a hiking trail will lead you to a scenic viewpoint that shows the cove, ocean, and False Klamath Rock. There’s a bench to sit too. Isn’t it a romantic hiking idea?

Lagoon Creek Beach Northern California
Lagoon Creek Beach

If you further continue this hiking trail, you will end at another beautiful beach.

However, the Lagoon Creek Picnic Area is a part of the Redwood National Park. So, there are many things to see and do.

Lagoon Creek Beach is exactly located just five miles north of Klamath. So, if you are in Klamath, just visit this beach with your family.

Address: Redwood Highway, Klamath, CA, United States 

Northern California Beaches