Often windswept, foggy and cold, San Francisco's main beach is nonetheless a respite from the bustle along much of the city's eastern waterfront. Ocean Beach is typically sparsely visited, though a warm weekend or special event can attract a crowd. When it's not fogged in, you can see from Montara Mountain and Pedro Point in the south, across...
Often windswept, foggy and cold, San Francisco's main beach is nonetheless a respite from the bustle along much of the city's eastern waterfront. Ocean Beach is typically sparsely visited, though a warm weekend or special event can attract a crowd. When it's not fogged in, you can see from Montara Mountain and Pedro Point in the south, across the mouth of the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands and Point Reyes; on a particularly clear day you may catch a glimpse of the Farallon Islands, 28 miles offshore. The ocean here can be wild with huge breakers, and often the riptides are so powerful that even wading is unsafe. Nonetheless, experienced surfers and wind sailors ride these waves nearly every day, and hardy fishermen, beachcombers, and dog walkers brave the sands regardless of weather.
For many years, this four-mile stretch of beach was isolated from the rest of San Francisco by miles of sand dunes called "the Outside Lands," now the residential neighborhoods of the Sunset and Richmond districts. In the late 1800s, visitors came by horse, carriage, or trolley to enjoy such attractions as the Cliff House
, Sutro Baths, the gardens of Sutro Heights, and other attractions. The Great Highway was built in the 1920s, and paved paths were eventually extended along most of the beach.
Visitor Center:The Golden Gate Park visitor center is across the Great Highway from the Ocean Beach Esplanade, nestled into the western edge of the park near JFK Drive. The visitor center occupies the ground floor of the Beach Chalet, a 1925 Spanish Revival-style building designed by Willis Polk, which originally housed a lounge and bathing facilities for Ocean Beach swimmers. You can view frescoes that Works Progress Administration artists painted on the walls in 1936-37 and pick up information about the park; there is also a small gift shop. On the second floor is the Beach Chalet Restaurant and Brewery; the Park Chalet restaurant juts into Golden Gate Park behind the visitor center.
At the northern end of Ocean Beach, several accessible spaces are near the ramps to the sidewalk and Esplanade, west of the Great Highway: one just a short way up the hill toward the Cliff House, and several at stairwells 15, 21, and 27. Several, including some with access aisles, are in the Beach Chalet parking lot on the east side of the highway.At the southern end of the beach, two accessible spaces with access aisles are in the parking lot at the end of Sloat Boulevard, west of the Great Highway, and several are along Sloat Boulevard near the zoo.
At the Sloat Boulevard parking lot and the ground floor of the Beach Chalet
Other Things of Interest
About two miles south of Ocean Beach on Skyline Boulevard is Fort Funston, once a coastal defense installation and now a windswept blufftop park favored by hang gliders and dog walkers. Wheelchair accessibility to the trails is limited by steep slopes, blowing sand, and crumbling pavement, but an accessible boardwalk leads to an overlook where on a clear day you can see many miles up and down the coast and watch hang gliders soar along the bluffs.