If you are looking for the best ocean beaches near Sacramento to drive to on your next day trip, you’re in luck! I have gathered all the best beaches closest to Sacramento. While Sacramento is located in California’s Central Valley, it is not that far from the coast. The closest beaches to Sacramento are 95 miles away in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can leave Sacramento and drive to the beach in less than 1.5-hours. Sacramento can get very hot during the summer, but have you have tried cooling off along the coast instead? During the summer, many people from Sacramento and the valley head over to the coast to explore nature and enjoy the amazing coastline views. To help you choose your perfect beach destination, I have gathered the top-rated beaches that are within a 2.5-hour drive. Here are my picks for the best ocean beaches near Sacramento.

Ocean Beaches Near Sacramento, CA

  Many of these beaches are located in San Francisco, since the Bay is only about 1.5-hours away from Sacramento. If you are going to drive that far, you might even want to drive a bit farther to see some other beaches along the coast. In addition to the best Bay Area beaches you will also find the top-rated beaches to the neighboring counties of MarinSonomaSan Mateo, and Santa Cruz.  

1. Baker Beach

Photo by Andreas Strandman Located under the Golden Gate Bridge you will find the closest beach to Sacramento on this list. The drive to Baker Beach from Sacramento is about 1-hour and 40-minutes depending on traffic.
The 1-mile long Beach is just steps from downtown San Francisco and is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is one of the best beaches in San Francisco, a favorite of locals, and it has a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Plan on arriving early because parking fills up fast. The large waves and undertow make the water unsafe for swimming. Baker Beach is a popular spot for picnics, photography, and walks along the sand. At low tide there are also tide pools. Two popular hikes at Baker Beach include the 2.2-mile Batteries to Bluffs Trail and the 4-mile Lands End Coastal Trail.

2. Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is found on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. This beach is known as one of Northern California’s best kept secrets! You can drive to this beach in a little under 2-hours from Sacramento. Stinson Beach is known for its stunning white-sand, beautiful views, and hiking trails. It is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Point Reyes National Seashore. Make sure you plan to arrive early because parking is limited. There is a lifeguard on duty from May to Mid-September as this beach is a great spot for surfing and swimming. You can also rent boards, wetsuits, kayaks or bikes from the nearby Stinson Beach Surf and Kayak for the day. The Stinson Beach area includes restrooms, a snack bar, and picnic tables.

3. Ocean Beach

Another one of the best beaches near Sacramento to visit is Ocean Beach. This beach is also under a 2-hour drive from Sacramento. Ocean Beach is located next to Golden Gate Park and is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This beach is much wider than other beaches in the Bay Area and the sandy beach is 3.5-miles long.

It is a great place to spend the day but not a safe spot for swimming due to rip currents. This beach is mostly flat and sandy, but does also have some small sand dunes.

Most people go here to walk and just enjoy the views. Plus it’s next to the city and so you can easily walk from the beach to Golden Gate Park and even to the San Francisco Zoo. There are also 16 fire pits so you can enjoy a bonfire right on the beach. Keep in mind that fires are only permitted March through October. Ocean Beach is a great beach not too far from Sacramento where you can enjoy the views, walk the sandy beach, watch the surfers, and even have a bonfire.

4. Muir Beach

Muir Beach in Marin County is a favorite among the locals. This beach and lagoon is tucked back in a quiet cove and is only about a 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Sacramento. If you want to see the best views of this stunning beach, then you will want to check out Muir Beach Overlook. This is also a gorgeous spot to watch the sunset! There are some great trails that have breathtaking views of the ocean and coastline. A few of the popular trails include the Bay Ridge Trail and the Dias Ridge Trail. The beach is also less than 10 minutes from Muir Woods National Monument. You can visit one of the most amazing beaches on the north coast and then see the towering trees of Muir Woods on the same day.

5. Rodeo Beach

Rocks and waves at Rodeo Beach. Rodeo Beach is unique because instead of just sand it has small colored pebbles covering the beach. It is a great beach in the Bay Area that is only a 1-hour and 40-minute drive from Sacramento. This beach is located in Marin County and is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is a popular spot for beach combing and surfing. Rodeo Beach borders the bluffs and the Rodeo Lagoon. While this beach is unsafe for swimming, it is a great spot for hiking and bird watching. It also might be a good idea to bring lunch as there are no nearby restaurants or places to eat. You could even have a picnic on the beach!

6. Goat Rock State Beach

Looking down at Goat Beach in California. Boat Rock State Beach is located in Sonoma County just off Highway 1. The drive from Sacramento to Goat Rock Beach is about 2.5 hours. The rocks, cliffside, and the views at this sandy beach are some of the most beautiful that you will find in all of California. Just make sure that you are careful near the water because this beach has large and dangerous sneaker waves. Despite being one of the most dangerous beaches in Sonoma County, this beach has pristine views. It is also home to a colony of harbor seals that hang out near the beach. Goat Rock Beach has restrooms and picnic tables and some of the best hiking trails. If you visit from December through April, keep an eye out for whales as they are often spotted here during male migration season. You could also experience a nice coastal hike along the beach bluffs on the 0.8-mile Kortum Trail. It is even more beautiful in the spring and summer when you can see wildflowers and California Golden Poppies.

7. Wrights Beach

Waves on the sand in Sonoma County.
Another great beach in Sonoma County that is only about a 2-hour drive from Sacramento is Wrights Beach. It is located off Highway 1 within the Sonoma Coast State Park. While the water here is also unsafe for swimming, the beach is amazing and you can camp right next to the sand at Wrights Beach Campground. Campsites #1-10 even have ocean views! Just make sure you reserve your spots early as this popular campground fills up fast. Wrights Beach is one of the longest sandy beaches in Sonoma County. There are a few different day use areas where you can access the beach.

8. Pacifica State Beach

Pacifica State Beach with town in the background.
Pacifica State Beach is also known as Linda Mar Beach since it is located next to the Linda Mar Subdivision in the City of Pacifica. This beach is about 1-hour and 45-minutes from Sacramento. Pacifica is one of California’s best underrated surf towns. This crescent shaped beach is a great spot for beginner surfers. If you want to try surfing, there are a few different surf shops that rent boards and wetsuits right next to the beach. It is one of the best beaches for swimming since it’s sheltered in a cove which offers some protection from larger waves. The beach is easy to access as it is right off Highway 1. There are also bathrooms and outdoor showers. You will find a Taco Bell Cantina right on the sand. It is one of the coolest Taco Bells ever! You can walk right up to the takeout window from the beach, or you can go inside and enjoy your food with views of the ocean.

Pacifica State Beach should be on your list for one of the best beaches near Sacramento to visit.

You can even make a weekend trip out of it and stay at one of the hotels right near the beach in Pacifica.

9. Montara State Beach

Sand and surfers at Montara State Beach.

Montara State Beach is just under 2-hours from Sacramento and is a great ocean beach to explore the tide pools and enjoy stunning beach views.

This 1-mile long sandy beach is located on the San Mateo County coast. This is not a great beach for swimming as there are many rip currents.

You will find two different access spots to get down on the sand. The wooden stairs at Martini Creek and the easier cement stairs behind La Costanera Mexican Restaurant. Next to the beach are hiking trails and some great views from the McNee Ranch. Montara State beach is less crowded than many of the other beaches in the area and you can spend the day relaxing and enjoying the ocean.

10. Santa Cruz Beach

Santa Cruz beach and amusement park.
Santa Cruz Beach is just a 2.5-hour drive from Sacramento. This beach is best known for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The Boardwalk has rides, entertainment, food, and drinks. You can have days full of fun at this oceanfront amusement park. The actual beach is found right next to the boardwalk and is the perfect spot to swim and spend some time on the sand. Just make sure that you get there early as parking can fill up fast. Santa Cruz beach is only a few hours from Sacramento, but it feels more like you are on one of the Southern California Beaches. Down on the beach you will find lifeguard towers and volleyball nets. This beach definitely has that California vibe! You could even spend a weekend exploring the City of Santa Cruz, which is one of the best beach towns in California. These 10 best ocean beaches near Sacramento are my favorite places to get out of the Central Valley and go spend some time on the coast.
The next time that you want to get out of the city or take a trip to the coast to cool off in the summer, I hope that these beaches help you choose the best beach to visit near you.
  • Don’t forget to pack an edible snack for when you get hungry at the beach.
Original content written by Amber from askforadventure.com.