Summertime Rolling: Bay Area & Central Coast Beaches

A friend and new California transplant asked about beaches in the Bay Area. Though the coastline doesn’t compare to the sunny, warm, and fog-free paradise of Southern Cali, here in the northerly reaches of the golden state,  sun-worshipping on the coast is hard to come by but the views are gob-smacking gorgeous. From Morro Bay all the way up to the national border, the land literally falls off steep jagged cliffs. Cypress pines or towering redwoods cling to the last bit of earth before the Pacific comes roaring in with constant crashes and booms. Though the sea-scape is breath-taking, there’s only a certain window of time, where an admirer can gape at the horizon before the wind kicks up and chases you away.

Be warned, because of the cold clime, rough rip currents, a shelf that drops away suddenly, and the threat of great whites, make swimming a dare devil act. With that said, here’s a list of rough and ragged corners of heaven on earth:

San Francisco (these beaches are likely to be foggy and cold year round save for autumn)

  • Ocean Beach
  • Crissy Field


Marin

2-3 hour drive south (the further south the better swimming)

4-5 hour drive south

And no trip along the California coastline would be complete with a jiving soundtrack:

http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/bh/branches/embed-audio

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Summertime Rolling with Central and Nor Cal Camping

My aunt asked for camping suggestions between Los Angeles and San Francisco, preferably along the coast, and, for now, California is under no short supply of beautiful spots to pitch a tent however at least seventy state parks are currently under threat of being shuttered permanently.

Though summer may not feel as fierce and fiery as we’d wish, there’s no time like the present to soak up all the golden state has to offer. Below is a list of the parks that I’ve been hankering to visit or enjoyed the pleasure of their beauty during past jaunts.

Central Coast

Big Basin, Santa Cruz, everyone says this is the place to go, but we’ve yet to visit.

Henry Cowell, Santa Cruz, we stayed here two years ago. Very nice facility with trails right next to the campsites

Half Moon Bay State Beach

Henry Coe State Park– haven’t camped here but have hiked. Huge park, great trails, a relative short drive off the 5, near Gilroy. I’d love to go back and trek the wilderness here.

San Simeon State Park

Morro State Park

Morro Strand State Beach– we stayed here ages ago. It’s right on the beach. Beautiful area.

Lake Nacimiento


Big Sur

Pfieffer State Park– on the eastern side of the highway, so all beach access requires a car, huge park that runs alongside a creek. Great facility. We stayed here three years ago and are going back this September.

Riverside Campground- We stayed here last year, park runs along the Big Sur river and they provide tubes if you want to go tubing down the river. No trails from the park, so you have to drive, and the site is right off the highway, so you can hear cars drive by, but the traffic stops by 10pm.

Limekiln and Kirk Creek– right on the headlands next to the Pacific, these sites are at the very southern foot of Big Sur. We went hiking on some of the trails last year, its relatively flat but absolutely gorgeous views of the ocean.

Bay Area

Samuel P. Taylor, Central Marin- inland park in the middle of redwoods with a creek throughout.

**Some of these parks may be closing by this fall. Check the California State Park Foundation for a complete list of closures and consider taking some action to keep our gems open to the public.

For kicks, take a virtual tour of our favorite haunt, our home away from home, Big Sur:

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