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Beaches that Make Summer Last Longer

Montara State Beach. All photos by Dana Rebmann

The calendar may say fall but in the Bay Area, but the weather and the calendar don’t always see eye to eye, so don’t pack away those summer clothes just yet. Think of waking up to a sunny morning as a day to stock up on much needed vitamin D. In other words, get to the beach. Here are a few sandy suggestions, in case you need some inspiration.

There’s plenty to like about Montara State Beach, but the fact that it’s so close to San Francisco is near the top of the list. The views can’t be beat, and there’s rarely a crowd.

Didn’t have time to pack a picnic? You can pick up everything you need for a great lunch at Gherkins Sandwich Shop right on Highway 1, just past the beach access and parking area. If you’ve got a sweet tooth try the Ooey Gooey – nutella, peanut butter, marshmallows and honey toasted on a sweet roll. You can wash any sticky hands in the waves.

Point Montara Light Station is only a 5 to 10 minute drive south.  At just 30 feet, the tiny lighthouse comes with big views.

Heading north to Sonoma County, the high cliffs of Bodega Head are known as perfect spots to watch migrating gray whales, but most visitors blow right by peaceful Campbell Cove below without realizing what they’re missing. Campbell Cove is on the left, just as you turn up toward Bodega Head. It’s a great spot for tide pooling and its calm water is especially nice for families with young kids. Campbell Cove is across the channel from popular Doran Beach, but getting to Doran Beach means backtracking around Bodega Bay.

Don’t pack a picnic. Do stop at Spud Point Crab Company. Have some chowder or crab cakes at the picnic tables in front of the shop and watch as they cook the day’s haul of crab. It’s popular place with the local fisherman, that should say it all.

If you’re looking for the fun of the beach with cooler temperatures, the Mendocino Coast might be calling you name. You’ll spend more time on the road, but will feel the cool payoff the minute you step out of the car. But instead of coming with your swimsuit and flip flops, be sure to bring a sweater or jacket and hiking boots, because it can get chilly even when the sun is out in full force.

Glass Beach is a shiny gem in Fort Bragg. Once a dumping ground, polished glass pieces now shine in the sand. The beach is close to downtown so walking on and off the beach is easy.

A little closer to home, Manchester State Park is the place to go if you’re the type who loves hunting for sandy treasure and having long stretches of sand to yourself. A bit off the beaten path, you should come prepared with a picnic that will last you through the day.