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The beautiful Bay Area weather is back, which means it’s time to hit the beach. When I moved to California from the East Coast back in sixth grade, the beach was my family’s second home. We explored Bay Area beaches and have been finding cool spots ever since. 

Here are some of my favorite beach spots in the Bay Area all within 1-2 hours from San Jose: 

  1. Capitola Beach: Capitola, CA

Capitola Beach is a great photo spot because of the colorful beach houses which stand out when you visit.  

You can eat by the sea at one of the restaurants with different cuisines in Capitola Village. Some restaurants there are Margaritaville and Zelda’s on the Beach

There are many spots to park around Capitola including designated parking lots and street parking. The parking lots have shuttles to the beach during busy times of the year. 

Walk around Capitola Village and play games at the arcade, grab some ice cream or shop at small businesses.

Picture of colorful Capitola houses by California Beaches 

2. Carmel Beach and Carmel-by-the-sea: Carmel, CA

Carmel is my number one favorite beach spot in the Bay Area, but it is the farthest one I’ll mention. This is a day trip to the beach because there is so much to do in the town. 

It’s best to spend the day in the town and hit the beach for sunset. There are restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and boutiques all around Carmel-by-the-sea. My favorite bakery there is called Carmel Bakery on Ocean Ave. The bakery has all sorts of sweet treats and even ones for your dog. Carmel is also a dog safe beach! 
The beach is about a 10-15 minute walk from the town depending on where you park. There’s also a parking lot at the entrance of the beach at the end of Ocean Ave.

Picture of desserts at Carmel Bakery by See Monterey  

3. Natural Bridges State Beach: Santa Cruz, CA

Natural Bridges is located in Santa Cruz. You can either hang out at the beach or go on a long walk along the coast to a small lighthouse. 

There is also a smaller trail called the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve Loop where you can sightsee monarch butterflies from late fall to winter. There are multiple spots on this trail along the coast to watch the sunset while watching the waves hit the sand under you. 

Parking at this location is $10 for a day.

Picture of the sunset at Natural Bridges State Beach taken by Sachi Tolani

4. Wilder Ranch State Park: Santa Cruz, CA

If you enjoy walking, this is a great spot for you. Wilder Ranch State Park is a great place for a long walk along the coast. This state park is 7,000 acres long and there are multiple trails. 

I went on a trail that led down to multiple pocket beach spots on the way. 

The whole beach was basically for ourselves because many people don’t know about this spot. 

There’s a $10 fee for parking to visit Wilder Ranch.

Picture of Wilder Ranch State Park taken by Sachi Tolani

5. Baker Beach: San Francisco, CA

If you want a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is the beach for you! Make sure to go on a day where Karl the SF Fog isn’t present. I suggest adding this spot on a day trip to San Francisco. 
This is a great beach to have a picnic with friends and family and admire the view of the Bay. There are picnic tables, grills, and restrooms at this beach. Other spots you can see from Baker Beach are the Marin Headlands and Lands End. Because it is a smaller beach, it can get crowded on hotter days. There’s one parking lot, which can get filled quickly.

Picture of the Golden Gate Bridge view at Baker Beach by California Beaches 

6. Pacifica State Beach: Pacifica, CA

Pacifica State Beach is located along Highway 1 and is close to San Francisco. This beach is known for surfing and Taco Bell. There is a beachside Taco Bell Cantina at this location and a deck with a view of the ocean. 

This beach also has many trails nearby to walk and hike on. There is one right along the beach where you can hike up to see a view of the whole crescent-shaped beach.

Picture of Pacifica State Beach taken by Sachi Tolani

Other beaches to check out are Davenport, Shark Fin Cove, Ocean Beach, Half Moon Bay, Monterey State Beach, and Stinson Beach

Each beach is different in its own way and there are so many fun things to do like hike on a trail, swim in the ocean, picnic with friends, or watch the sunset.

Tag @HerCampusSJSU in your beach pics this spring! 

My name is Sachi and I'm a Marketing Major at SJSU and I love photography, going on new adventures, and doing anything creative!
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