18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (2023)

Sactown’s summer heat can be brutal. With temperatures climbing many days into the triple digits, it’s no wonder you would look for the best beaches near Sacramento.

These beaches are the perfect way to escape the heat with their cooler coastal temperatures and the chilly water of the pacific.

While there are no beaches in Sacramento, some of California’s most incredible beaches are just an hour-or-so drive away for the perfect getaway. This list is arranged from the closest to the farthest for your convenience.

You can bathe in the California sun and wiggle your toes in the miles of sandy beaches that will greet you with their refreshing cool breeze from the Pacific.

What is the closest ocean beach to Sacramento?

The closest beach to Sacramento is Ocean Beach in San Francisco which takes about a 1.5 hour drive.

Quick Snapshot:

  • Best Beach near Sacramento: Tennessee Valley Beach
  • Closest Ocean Beach to Sacramento: Ocean Beach
  • Best Local Swimming hole near Sacramento: Paradise Beach

Best Beaches near Sacramento

Ocean Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (1)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 97.9 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:35 hrs
  • Parking: Free parking, street parking
  • Amenities: restrooms, promenade, paved bike lane, fire pits, restaurants nearby, cafes nearby
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes
  • Accessibility: drive-in

Ocean Beach is almost always covered in fog during summer mornings if you’re looking for a reprieve from Sacramento’s heat.

These cold summer beach days are the perfect excuse to make a campfire in the fire rings located on the 3.5-mile-long beach.

The waters here are dangerous for swimming, but the waves here are great for surfing, with varying wave sizes that are perfect for amateurs to professionals.

The western portion of the Golden Gate Park is just across highway 1 from the beach, which you can explore before or after you play in the sand. This is the closest beach to Sacramento on this list.

Pacifica State Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (2)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 102 miles
  • Drive Time: 1:35 hrs
  • Parking: pay-to-park lots, free parking (limited to 30 minutes)
  • Amenities: restrooms, outdoor showers, cafes & restaurants nearby, trails, paved bike path
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (on-leash)
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

Pacific State Beach, also known as Linda Mar Beach, is a popular beginner-friendly surf spot in the San Francisco area.

This beach is one of the top places to take a surf lesson in Northern California. The soft waves and gentle breaks make it one of the safer beaches for kids to play on the sand and in the water.

There are hiking trails that lead to multiple viewpoints and a paved bike path that runs behind the beach.

There are some great restaurants, a coffee roaster, and a local brewery at the southernmost portion of the beach. If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach near Sacramento, this is a good option.

Fort Funston Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (3)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 96.3 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:35 hrs
  • Parking: free parking
  • Amenities: trails, viewing platforms, restrooms, fossils, military ruins
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (dogs allowed off-leash if under voice control)
  • Accessibility: hike-in

Are you looking for the closest beach to Sacramento where you can take a nice, relaxed, long walk with your furry friend? Fort Funston Beach just might be the place for you.

This extremely dog-friendly beach will allow your dog off-leash to run and enjoy the sand while you take in the beautiful ocean views.

Fort Funston is one of the nation’s hotbeds for hang gliding with its 200-foot cliffs where these aerial acrobats catch the updrafts coming off the Pacific Ocean.

This long strip of beach is best enjoyed toward the end of summer and the early fall when the chance of a foggy day is lower.

Tennessee Valley Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (4)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 91.2 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:40 hrs
  • Parking: free parking
  • Amenities: restrooms at the parking lot, trails
  • Dog-Friendly?: No
  • Accessibility: short hike

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Tennessee Valley Beach is a wide dark sand beach that is reached via a 1.7-mile fairly level hike that starts from the Tennessee Valley trailhead’s parking lot.

The trail leading to the beach is popular with beach goers and hikers that enjoy the walk with views of the wildflowers and wildlife along the way.

If you plan to stay for a picnic, be sure to bring your food, water, and blanket as there are no services in the area.

Early mornings on the beach are often foggy and a little chilly, so get there early if you want a refreshingly cool early morning walk by the beach.

This ocean beach near Sacramento is an easy drive and rarely gets too busy if you’re looking for a quiet escape.

Don’t forget to pack this on your next trip to the beach!

Baker Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (5)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 97.1 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:40 hrs
  • Parking: street parking, pay-to-park lot
  • Amenities: restrooms, picnic tables, grill, trails
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (on leash)
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

Baker Beach is popular among locals and tourists alike for having one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Large waves and strong undertows make swimming dangerous, but it is a great place to get your feet wet as you walk along the shore with the bridge as your backdrop.

The picnic area east of the parking lot is shaded by cypress trees and has grills and a restroom.

Local tips: The beach gets crowded especially when it’s warm and sunny, so arrive early to secure a parking spot. Also, the north end of the beach is a clothing-optional area, so stay clear if you are squeamish about nudity.

Rodeo Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (6)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 97.4 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:40 hrs
  • Parking: free parking, street parking
  • Amenities: restrooms, picnic areas (wheelchair accessible), trails, lagoon (best for bird watching)
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

This beautiful beach close to Sacramento is unlike others on the list as it is a unique strip separating the Pacific Ocean and Rodeo Lagoon.

With ample parking spaces, picnic tables, and beautiful trails, Rodeo Beach is great to visit when you’re looking for a place to have a relaxing day with family or friends.

Instead of a classic sandy beach, you will find small multi-colored pebbles that are a combination of brown, red, green, and blue.

The water isn’t particularly safe for swimming, but it is very popular with surfers and skimboarders.

Rodeo Beach is also a famous beach for dog lovers as they are allowed to play off-leash if they remain within earshot.

Muir Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (7)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 96.3 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:45 hrs
  • Parking: free parking
  • Amenities: restrooms on the parking lot, trails, overlook, overlook picnic site with grills
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (on-leash or under voice control)
  • Accessibility: short walk via a pedestrian bridge from the parking lot

This lesser-known beach is popular with locals and is much less crowded than the neighboring Stinson Beach, which is just up highway 1.

This secluded beach near Sacramento also attracts the clothing-optional crowd, which hangs out on the beach’s northernmost portion.

One of the beach’s biggest draws is its tide pools, where you can explore for anemones, hermit crabs, and other sea creatures.

Though Muir Beach is not a great swimming beach, there are plenty of other things to keep you entertained, including using the fire pits, watching for whales at the viewpoint, and playing in the sand.

Black Sands Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (8)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 97.4 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:45 hrs
  • Parking: free parking, street parking
  • Amenities: restrooms at the parking lot, trails
  • Dog-Friendly?: No
  • Accessibility: steep dirt path

Black Sands Beach in the Golden Gate Recreation Area is one of the best beaches near Sacramento if you’re looking for a relatively secluded and uncrowded beach to escape the crowds and the heat.

Due to its limited accessibility and shortage of parking, most would skip this spot and go for the other larger beaches in the area.

This keeps the crowds at Black Sands Beach to a minimum, and it rarely gets too busy.

The beach offers cool water for your feet and stunning views of the opening to the bay and the San Francisco peninsula. It’s best to know that the area west over the rocks is considered clothing-optional.

Read more about Black Sands Beach

Montara State Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (9)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 106 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:45 hrs
  • Parking: Free parking
  • Amenities: vault toilets in the main parking lot, picnic tables, tide pools, trails, fishing
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (on-leash)
  • Accessibility: drive-in

Montara State Beach is one of the best beaches close to Sacramento. It is located just north of Montara along the San Mateo County Coast.

Its main draw is its clear waters and immaculate shoreline, where you can take a leisurely walk, go beachcombing, or explore the nearby tidepools.

There’s a lot less crowds compared to the beach just north of Montara. This beach is a great secluded destination for peace and tranquility.

Dillon Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (10)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 101.9 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:50 hrs
  • Parking: pay-to-park
  • Amenities: restrooms, picnic area, picnic area café, surf shop, cabin rentals, store
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (allowed off-leash on the beach)
  • Accessibility: drive-in

Dillon Beach, owned by Dillon Beach Resort, is the only privately owned beach in Northern California and is accessible to the public for a small fee.

The water here is excellent for swimming, but be prepared for the cold and pack a wetsuit. This beach is also excellent for surfing, kiteboarding, and skimboarding.

A cafe, general store, and restrooms are available near the beach which makes this beach perfect for a family outing.

This is one of the beaches near Sacramento that allow dogs to run off-leash on the beach, so it’s also a nice place to take your dog with you.

Make sure to take this with you if you’re going swimming.

Stinson Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (11)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 102.3 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:55 hrs
  • Parking: Free parking
  • Amenities: restrooms, volleyball, trails, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, picnic tables, grills, fishing
  • Dog-Friendly?: No
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

Stinson Beach is one of the best beaches close to Sacramento for those not afraid of getting in the cold water.

Its shallow water’s edge is great for kids to play but pay attention to rogue waves and potentially dangerous rip currents. This beach is also known for a famous great white shark attack that took place in under 6 feet of water.

If you are inclined to stay on land, Stinson Beaches’ fine sand is perfect for digging and building sand castles.

A snack bar is open during summer, and a few charming restaurants are available just in the adjacent town if you decide not to pack a lunch.

If you plan on visiting, check the weather before leaving, as somedays summer fog conditions just aren’t ideal for a beach visit.

Pro-tip: If you’re prone to car sickness, take a motion sickness pill as the drive to this beach from Sacramento is windy.

Half Moon Bay State Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (12)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 112.5 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 1:55 hrs
  • Parking: pay-to-park
  • Amenities: restrooms, picnic tables, campgrounds, trails, outdoor showers
  • Dog-Friendly?: No
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

Half Moon Bay State Beach is a single state park with four individual beaches: Francis Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and Roosevelt Beach.

It’s a 4-mile stretch of wide, sandy beach that is some of the most beautiful in Northern California.

If you’re only visiting for the day, there are picnic tables with grilling stations at Francis Beach overlooking the ocean so you can enjoy a picnic or a bbq with family or friends.

Take off your shoes and walk at the water’s edge, or you can even wade into the water if the cold doesn’t bother you. Be careful and keep an eye out for rip currents as not all of the shore is patrolled by lifeguards.

Limantour Beach (Point Reyes)

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (13)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 104 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 2 hrs
  • Parking: Free parking
  • Amenities: restrooms, outdoor shower, picnic tables, benches, trails
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (on-leash)
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

Limantour Beach is one of the calmer and quieter beaches at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Because of this, it’s a family favorite for beach walking, beachcombing, and even swimming on calm days. The water here gets as low as 50°F, so wetsuits are advised.

This beautiful stretch of beach is also home to a lot of wildlife, including sea lions, harbor seals, and the occasional passing grey whale. The weather can be very chilly, even in the summer, so plan and dress appropriately.

Point Reyes Beach (North)

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (14)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 108 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 2 hrs
  • Parking: street parking, pay-to-park lot
  • Amenities: restrooms, scenic view/photo spot
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (on-leash)
  • Accessibility: drive-in

Point Reyes Beach is located at the end of the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Also known as the Great Beach or the Ten Mile Beach, this long undeveloped shoreline makes it almost a guarantee that you can find a private stretch of sand all to yourself.

It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the beach, so if you’re looking for a calm and quiet escape from the Sacramento heat without going for a hike, this is your perfect option.

Take your snacks, water, and other supplies you may need, as this beach is relatively secluded with very few services in the area.

Wrights Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (15)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 115.8 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 2 hrs
  • Parking: a pay-to-park lot
  • Amenities: campground, restrooms, picnic tables, trails
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes (on-leash)
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

Wrights beach has a campground on-site that can be reserved if you plan on staying for the night.

The best part is waking up with a cup of coffee and beautiful ocean views. If you hike the Kortum Trail, you’ll find that it connects Wrights Beach with other nearby beaches as it traverses the jagged cliff line overlooking the ocean.

This is not a swimming beach but a great place for hiking, watching wildlife, or just enjoying the crashing waves.

Redondo Beach (Half Moon Bay)

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (16)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 116.4 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 2 hrs
  • Parking: Free parking
  • Amenities: tide pools, trails
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in

Redondo Beach is a little difficult to access as there is no designated trail from the parking lot on the bluff down to the beach.

You will need proper footwear and decent mobility to reach the beach. If you make the trek, you will be greeted with a beautiful sandy beach with eroded cliffs that is secluded and away from the crowds.

If you are into hiking, an easy trail follows the coastline that stretches from the Ritz Carlton to Half Moon Bay State Beach.

Although not the nearest beach to Sacramento, this ocean beach is worth the drive and a beautiful escape from the heat.

Goat Rock Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (17)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 120 miles via I-80 W
  • Drive Time: 2:15 hrs
  • Parking: street parking, pay-to-park lot
  • Amenities: restrooms, picnic tables, BBQs
  • Dog-Friendly?: No
  • Accessibility: hike-in, drive-in, kayak

If you’re looking to catch some wildlife during your beach day out, Goat Rock Beach is home to a large colony of harbor seals where you watch them swim and sunbathe.

Walk to the northmost portion of the peninsula to check them out, but stay at least 50 yards away as they do not like to be disturbed, and they might have pups.

The strong currents make the waters too dangerous for swimming as it is located at the mouth of the Russian River, but there’s nothing wrong with taking your shoes off and going for a walk at the water’s edge.

For an extra fun adventure, rent a kayak in Jenner and kayak over to the beach. This is one of the best beaches in Northern California that you should visit.

Santa Cruz Beach

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (18)
  • Distance from Sacramento: 148.1 miles via I-80 W and I-680 S
  • Drive Time: 2:25 hrs
  • Parking: street parking, pay-to-park lot
  • Amenities: restrooms, boardwalk, amusement park, shops, arcade, restaurants, pier, volleyball courts, kayak rentals
  • Dog-Friendly?: No
  • Accessibility: drive-in

Santa Cruz is the farthest beach from Sacramento on our list. This destination-worthy beach is worth the drive, especially if you’re going with your family.

Located just off the sandy beach is the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California’s oldest amusement park, complete with rides, games, and carnival food.

It can get crowded during the summer, so plan your visit here and make sure you come early. Santa Cruz is also home to countless beautiful beaches, including Mitchells Cove and Natural Bridges.

Best Swimming Holes near Sacramento

18 Best Beaches near Sacramento [+ Swimming Holes] (19)

If the long drive to ocean beaches near Sacramento is not an option for you, there are swimming holes in the area to cool off. There are amazing lakes and rivers that are perfect for beating the Sacramento heat.

Paradise Beach

  • Distance from Sacramento: 5 miles
  • Drive Time: 14 minutes
  • Parking: free parking
  • Amenities: restrooms
  • Accessibility: drive-in, a short walk

Located near California State University, Sacramento, Paradise Beach is not an ocean beach per se but rather a cove created from a bend in the American River.

This swimming area is a popular destination for families and young adults for swimming and skimming as there are a lot of shallow areas along the beach.

The shore is a short walk from the parking lot, which makes it a little more tucked away.

Edwards Crossing (South Yuba River)

  • Distance from Sacramento: 68 miles
  • Drive Time: 1:20 hours
  • Parking: street parking
  • Amenities: no amenities
  • Accessibility: drive-in, hike-in

The South Yuba River is known for its crystal clear emerald waters and array of different swimming holes perfect for a cool and refreshing swim.

Most people swim near the bridge as it’s shaded and not so deep. The farther you hike down the river, the more you will find some secluded spots as well as some nude bathers.

There aren’t a lot of parking spaces here, so make sure you come early and only park at the designated spaces if you don’t want to pay a hefty fine.

Natural Bridges / Coyote Creek Cave

  • Distance from Sacramento: 85 miles
  • Drive Time: 1:35 hrs
  • Parking: pay-to-park (limited)
  • Amenities: toilet in the parking area
  • Accessibility: hike-in

If you don’t mind going on a two-mile roundtrip hike, the swim-through tunnel of Natural Bridges in Calaveras will reward you with ice-cold waters and complete shade inside a limestone cave.

The hike is a little challenging, so make sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring a backpack to keep your hands free. It’s best to visit on weekdays to avoid crowds and enjoy being in nature.

Auburn Swim Hole on the American River

  • Distance from Sacramento: 36 miles
  • Drive Time: 38 minutes
  • Parking: street parking, pay-to-park
  • Amenities: no amenities
  • Accessibility: drive-in

Auburn Swim Hole is located at the confluence of the north fork and the middle fork of the American River, just offset from the famous Foresthill Bridge.

It has very clear, slow-moving water, making it safe to swim in if you stay close to the shore. Free lifejackets are available hanging from signposts around the area for extra safety.

There’s plenty of space to spread out for a picnic and make a day out of playing in the water while enjoying the cool breezes that come down the canyon.

Make sure you pay for parking (cash only) at the kiosk on Foresthill road because rangers check parking passes on cars.

The slope leading to the water is easy to walk down, but this area is particularly rocky, so make sure you wear proper footwear.

Read More: Our full guide to the Best Swimming Holes near Sacramento

FAQs about Best Beaches near Sacramento

Does Sacramento have a beach?

Sacramento doesn’t have an ocean beach, but Paradise Beach on the American River is a favorite among locals to go to when they’re looking for somewhere to swim in and enjoy a day out by the water.

Where can I escape the heat in Sacramento?

There are swimming holes near Sacramento that are less than an hour away and beaches along the coast with great hiking trails about an hour or two drive from the city.

Does Sacramento have a lake?

Sacramento County has Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma. Folsom Lake is located 25 miles from downtown, and the water temperature here is pleasant during the summer. Lake Natoma is part of Folsom Lake and is great for kayaking, swimming, and other water activities.

Wrap-up: Best Beaches near Sacramento

With some of the best beaches near Sacramento only a short drive away, there’s no need to suffer through the summer heat. Get up, grab your bag and gear, and get out and explore these beautiful Northern California beaches.

Related:

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  • Best Beaches in Lake Tahoe
  • Best Beaches near San Jose, CA
  • Best Gifts for Beach Lovers
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  • Sacramento Coffee Shops
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