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Summer Break Adventures: Kid-Friendly Beaches in the Bay Area

A toddler with a beach bucket at the beach

Summer break is in full swing and our team has been hitting the beaches with our kids.  Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly beaches in the Bay Area!

Sand Castle at Stinson Beach

Sandcastles at Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach in Marin County  tops our list of kid-friendly beaches in the Bay Area.  The soft sand is perfect for building castles and when the kids get tired of that they can dig for sand crabs and go boogie boarding. Photo ops abound at Stinson, especially at sunset.  If it’s windy, bring your pop-up tent because the sand does fly.  Come early on weekends since the free parking fills up fast.  Bring your dog to the North end of the beach and the whole family can be together.

Child at Rodeo Beach

Moody Fog at Rodeo Beach

Rodeo Beach This short, moon-shaped beach on the west side of the Marin Headlands is made up of beautiful, pebbly, dark sand (bring your water shoes).  It gets pretty breezy, making this a great kite-flying beach.  Your little beachcombers can look for jade, carnelian and jasper on the shore (but no collecting, so make sure they leave their treasures).  Also, bring some binoculars and watch for birds on Bird Rock or visit the Marine Mammal Center after the beach; it’s right nearby. Parking is free at Rodeo Beach and you can bring your dog.

Johnson’s Beach  Another of our favorite kid-friendly beaches in the Bay Area turns 100 years old this year!
Johnson’s Beach on the Russian River in Guernville is a sunny spot where families can get on the water in a kayak, pedel boat, tube or canoe.  There’s no sand but the real appeal is floating by Redwoods with the ducks and listening to oldies blasting from the beach speakers.   The kids never let us leave without an ice cream from the snack shack and we usually end up staying for burgers, beer and wine too.  It’s $7 to park and $10 to rent an umbrella.   This is a perfect spot to visit after a hike at Armstrong Redwood State Nature Reserve.

A toddler at Goat Rock Beach in Jenner

Goat Rock Beach

Goat Rock Beach  in Jenner is where the Russian River empties into the Pacific Ocean.  It’s not a swimming beach because of the dangerous waves and currents but there are many other ways to have fun.  Our kids love collecting driftwood and rocks and exploring the part of the beach around the river.  There’s a harbor seal colony with adorable pups on the beach in summer.  We’ve even seen whales off the coast in late winter.  Parking is easy with an $8 day-use fee.  Bonus points if any of the grown ups in your crew recognize this beach from the final scene of Goonies!

A child and father explore the tidepoools

Exploring the Tide Pools

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach is a budding marine biologist’s dream!  Visit at low tide to explore the tide pools.  We’ve been rewarded with sea creatures galore, including colorful starfish, rock crab and sea anemones.  Make sure to wear shoes with soles since the pools can be slippery. Before you leave the beach use the telescope to get a closer look at the resident harbor seals and their pups.  There is easily accessible, free parking across the street but leave the dogs at home.

Cull Canyon in Castro Valley is the last-but-not-least of our favorite kid-friendly beaches in the Bay Area.  The littlest beachgoers can splash in the small roped off area.  Older swimmers can take a quick swim test and swim off to the platform to jump in.  The attentive lifeguards, big bathroom with changing stations and family-friendly vibe make this such a fun, easy day trip.  Bring your own umbrellas and food and don’t forget water shoes.  A beach access fee applies ($3.50 for adults, $2.50 for kids) but parking is free.

What are your favorite kid-friendly beaches in the Bay Area?  We’re all parents here and we’d love to explore your suggestions- pop into our Facebook page and give us the details!