Your travel companions are all about hitting up historic landmarks and points of local interest; that said, what San Francisco excursion would be complete without some quality beach time? Bear in mind, these aren’t your typical huge expanses of hot sun and sizzling sand; beaches in Northern California are some of the most beautiful in the world, but they aren’t always temperate; layering comes highly recommended. Whether you’re after a little solitude amongst the seabirds, a place to picnic, beach-comb or pop open that great bottle of regional wine or just a soothing stroll in the sand with your morning coffee, the locals do have their favorites, and we’re sharing them right here! Peaceful Ocean beach is a wonderful option if you’re craving a natural refuge away from the busy city for an hour or two. This almost-five-mile stretch of inviting white sand is located on the Western-most border of San Francisco, just adjacent to Golden Gate Park and offers a perfect venue for kite flying, horizon-scanning or just catching your breath. East Beach, also known as China Beach, is a versatile, family-friendly choice: this small, sheltered cove in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco features tidy picnic areas with clean restrooms and bracing cold water showers, shallow waters for habitual waders and the perfect opportunity to sneak in a little sunbathing against the dazzling backdrop of the Marin headlands and Golden Gate Bridge. In the heart of the City, also boasting fabulous views of Golden Gate and iconic Alcatraz , you will find tiny urban beach Aquatic Park, formerly known as Black Point Cove. Bring your steamy sourdough chowder bowl out to the steps to enjoy a waterfront repast amongst the local seagulls.