Moving to San Francisco, or anywhere else for that matter, is a major decision. Apart from taking into consideration the job opportunities, educational options, and overall safety, it’s also key to know what a place offers in terms of activity and lifestyle.
In California, this often includes swimming outdoors, and while San Francisco isn’t quite like the cities south of the state with its long stretches of sand and ocean accompanied by various food stands, it still definitely boasts of its own attractions for fun in the water.
Whether swimming for leisure or for fitness and/or competition, there are a number of places well worth the visit in the Bay Area that are great for swimming as well as for enjoying everything else that the community has to offer.
When most people (especially those who’ve never been to the state) think of California, what often comes to mind is perpetually warm weather and beaches full of locals and visitors wanting to enjoy the sun and sea. Unfortunately, that only accounts for Southern California.
Up north, the water temperatures, waves, and even marine life are a little different. And the beaches? Rocky, wind-swept, with huge waves crashing into their sheer cliffs. They’re great, but more for the scenery, tide-pooling, fishing, and exploring, but not so much swimming–with a few exceptions.
However, this doesn’t make enjoying a swim in Northern California impossible, as among the top things to do in the Bay Area is, well, swimming. The trick is to recognize that apart from the ocean, there are other bodies of water (and man-made structures) to swim in at San Francisco and the surrounding counties, and the following are among the best:
Free and open 24/7, Aquatic Park is the ideal spot for people who are committed to swimming. Located at the foot of Polk Street and a minute’s walk from the visitor center and Hyde Street Pier, it isn’t the warmest of waterfronts, but on a sunny day, it can be a great place to go to even for those who only swim for leisure.
Aquatic Park is part of the larger Aquatic Park Historic District, a National Historic Landmark and building complex within the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Along with the beach, the district also includes a bathhouse, municipal pier, restrooms, concessions stand, stadia, and two speaker towers.
Heart’s Desire Beach
Described as one of the most pleasant places to swim in Northern California, Heart’s Desire Beach is characterized by its warm water made possible by the nearby Inverness Ridge shielding it from cold winds. Similar to Aquatic Park, swimming in Heart’s Desire Beach is free, and the area also has a picnic area with barbecues, dressing rooms, and toilets.
On sunny weekends and holidays, Heart’s Desire Beach can get a lot of visitors. Good thing, hiking is also among the fun things to do in San Francisco. If you decide to go for a hike in either direction from Heart’s Desire Beach, it will lead to similar but less crowded beaches like Pebble Beach or Indian Beach.
Baker Beach is among the most popular places to visit in the Bay Area. This is not only because it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and sits right on the Southwest side of Golden Gate Bridge, but also for another–albeit, awkward–reason: at the northernmost end of the beach is where nudists go to sunbathe. So if that’s your crowd, you’ll fit right in.
While it’s free to swim and park at Baker Beach, most only come to visit to sunbathe. Since the water is very cold, swimming here is an adventure in itself. Parking is also free, although even that part of Baker Beach gets crowded. However, a short walk through it will lead you to a picnic area with tables, grills, and restrooms.
One for the kids, the Hamilton Pool is among the most popular family attractions in San Francisco, if just for its two waterslides alone. Adding to the attraction is how admission is relatively cheap, currently costing only $6 for adults and $1 for kids.
Recreation swimming at Hamilton Pool happens daily during the afternoon–except Sunday when the pool’s closed. While waiting, visitors can enjoy the facilities at the Hamilton Rec Center. These include basketball and tennis courts, a playground, and an athletic field.
Crown Memorial Beach
A 2.5 mile-long sandy beach in Alameda, Crown Memorial Beach is one of the shorelines in the Bay Area that is not muddy and is swimmable. Although its sand isn’t natural–it was dredged and deposited there–the water is great for wading and swimming because it remains shallow for an extended distance.
At the north end of Crown Memorial beaches are rocky tidepools and the Crab Cove Visitor Center, a Bayfront education center that features an 800-gallon aquarium and interactive marine life exhibits that visitors can enjoy if they are not up for a swim and looking for alternative activities to do in the area.
These are but a handful of great places for swimming and other exciting things to do in San Francisco. If you are interested in settling down in the Bay Area and have questions about places to visit and events to look forward to before you move in, allow the local experts at Team Hatvany to address your queries and even let you know of notable real estate deals in the area. Call them today at 415.710.6462, or send an email to team(at)teamhatvany(dotted)com.