Your Destination Guide to San Francisco

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Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach

© Moody 75

Located just 20 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Stinson Beach is one of Northern California's most stunning, hidden treasures. Open every day of the year from 9:00am until sunset, this quiet retreat personifies beauty and serenity providing views both near and far. Tucked amidst 60 square miles of vegetative landscape and a seemingly never-ending seascape, Stinson is also a sleepy, yet charming beach community, just waiting to be engaged.

Dating to the late 19th Century, the rolling hills above Stinson Beach were nothing more than a blanket of eucalyptus and cow breeding ranches. As a result of the 1906 earthquake, occupying refugees soon built Stinson's first hotels and stores, deeming it shortly thereafter Stinson's first ever subdivision. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 abundantly provided entry into the County Park for those traveling by car. Before the bridge, Stinson Beach was merely accessible to and from San Francisco by sail, via horseback to San Rafael, and on foot along the Dipsea Trail. Settlers began to occupy the surrounding communities during World War II, constructing much of what Stinson is today. After passing hands from county to state in 1972, Stinson Beach was declared part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area and, most importantly, a recognized attraction.

Commonly a one day excursion from the city, Stinson Beach is also suited as longer escape as well. This beach community is comprised of numerous hotels and cabins for extended lodging, along with an array of shops and stores. Grabbing a bite at eateries like Parkside Café or Sand Dollar Restaurant are splendid choices. Claudia Chapline Gallery and Shakespeare at the Beach may peak the interest of some, while others may find themselves pursuing adventurous, outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking or surfing.

Though not an option for camping or fishing, this beach community is well equipped with outdoor showers, BBQ grills, and 100 picnic tables. For unprepared picnic seekers, the seasonal snack bar is a satisfying resource from April to September. Stinson's sandy beach stretches for three and half miles and provides lifeguards from May through October.

Beyond Stinson Beach are other destinations such as Muir Woods, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, and Point Reyes Lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore, all no more than a short drive. While this striking Northern California beach will surely please most people, some will be perplexed and surprised that such tranquility lies but a short distance from the commotion of the city of San Francisco.

Attraction Information

  • Hours:
  • Open every day of the year, 9am to sunset (varies seasonally)
  • Admission:
  • Free
  • Directions:
  • Leaving from San Francisco, cross the Golden Gate Bridge, take Hwy. 101 North approximately three miles to the "Hwy. One, Stinson Beach" exit. Follow the signs and enjoy your drive down one of the most scenic highways in the nation. Stinson Beach is approximately 20 miles from San Francisco.
  • Contact:
  • Location: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, 1 Calle Del Sierra, Stinson Beach, CA
  • Phone: Stinson Beach Lifeguard Information Line: 415-868-1922
  • Website:
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