Given the vast number of stunning beaches in Marin, we're hard-pressed to narrow our favorites to a mere seven. These sandy and rocky gems are each well worth a visit, whether it's to take in views of wildlife or splash around in a lagoon. Read on, and prepare to get sand in your suit.
For Hikers: Rodeo Beach
This scenic beach feels a world away from San Francisco, but in reality, you can get to and from this enclave on a MUNI bus. If you're feeling ambitious, take a bus to the city side of the Golden Gate Bridge, then hike the 9-mile Rodeo Valley Trail through Marin to the beach. The crashing surf and proximity to the city's fog make this a bundle-up beach spot, but the views make up for the chill. Military history buffs will love the short hike up from the beach to the Battery Wallaces, army posts first constructed in 1908 as part of Fort Barry. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, 94941.
For Families: Muir Beach
With soft sand, a warm(ish) lagoon, and ample sea anenomes for observation, this beach was practically tailor-made for families. Grab some sandwiches to go from the nearby Pelican Inn, and set up a picnic in the sheltered areas behind the towering boulders that dot the beach. Chase your children (or fur babies—dogs are permitted if on leash or under voice control) along the sand, and venture up to the Muir Beach Overlook for stunning views. But don't stray too far north past the rocks—the northernmost area is an unofficial nude beach. Coastal Trail, 94965.
For Picnics: Stinson Beach
Don't let those Jaws-esque signs frighten you: Stinson Beach is prime picnicking territory, and the swimming isn't bad either (well, at least by Northern California standards). Although you should always take care when swimming or surfing, the last reported shark attack at the beach was 13 years ago, and many beachgoers mark Stinson as their favorite place to wade into the water. But this beach is a treat even if you're a landlubber, with ample space to spread out a blanket and take in the sun. Stinson Beach, 94970.
For Secret Lovebirds: Palomarin Beach
Located at the south end of Point Reyes, you'll have to power through the Palomarin Trail to Alamere Falls to earn the right to lounge on this secluded beach, but the view from the top and tranquility below are sweet rewards. Scramble down the loose-rock cliffs at your own risk, or take the safer route down the trail to reach the beach. Be sure to pay attention to the tides, but if you can time it right, the tidepools below are breathtaking. 94924
For Swimmers: Heart's Desire Beach
Accessing this beautiful spot requires an $8 vehicle fee, but you can rest easy knowing that your cash is going to maintaining this popular beach. And popular it is—picnic tables and prime real estate fill up early for good reason, so get there on the early side and camp out. The sheltered location, views, and balmy (ok, relatively balmy) water mean advance plannin is necessary. Inverness, 94937.
For Wildlife: Limantour Beach
If you dream of little birds helping you get dressed in the morning, you're going to love Limantour Beach. Although these (non-animated) birds keep their distance, you'll be able to spot dozens of species if you have an afternoon to spend on this scenic strip of sand. Harbor seals also call the area home, and if you're lucky, you may sight mother grey whales with their young calves. Despite the bounty of wildlife, Rover is welcome to accompany you at the southeast end of the beach, provided that you keep him on a six-foot leash. Point Reyes National Seashore, 94937.
For City Slickers: Paradise Park
If your idea of a day in nature consists of outdoor boozy brunch, a trip to Paradise Park will stretch you just the teenist bit outside of your comfort zone. With reservable picnic tables and grills, you can be assured of a comfy seat, and the close-by parking lot is convenient enough for even the least practical shoes. Pack a picnic, and settle in for the day. 3450 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, 94920.