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First Visit to San Francisco: Ocean & Muir Woods Questions

by P. Perry
(Muskogee, Oklahoma)

What is the best spot to experience the ocean? First time to see the ocean and am very, very excited (40 years old).

I love taking pictures and want to know the best spot for this as well as I plan to put names of family members in the sand and taking pictures as well and hope to find a good site for that as well.

What is the best way to get to Muir woods? We don't really want to take a tour.

I am beyond excited for this trip. Thank you so much for this site. I have been looking at it off and on for days.

My Response:

Hello and thank you for your questions! I can feel your excitement and I can’t wait for you to visit San Francisco. You will love it even more once you get the chance to visit!

There are a few options to visit the ocean and/or the waterfront. If you want to visit the shoreline along the Pacific Ocean, then you should head out to Ocean Beach. It’s on the western side of the city. There is plenty of space and it is usually not too crowded, so you would have plenty of room to write names in the sand for your pictures.

It does get foggy at Ocean Beach during the July and August months, so make sure you wear warmer clothes if you plan on visit during that time. It can be a full 15 to 20 degrees cooler than downtown SF and the Fisherman’s Wharf waterfront. Click here for details on visiting this beach.

There are also some other options (that I think are more beautiful) that are technically not the ocean, but the SF Bay instead.

Baker Beach: This is on the western side of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Presidio. The water here is in the area where the Pacific Ocean and the SF Bay met. I love this one as you could write in the sand and possibly get a picture of it along with yourself and the bridge. Check out this page for pictures and an idea on what you will find here.

Crissy Field: This is on the eastern side of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is another amazing place, with plenty of sand, where you might be able to add the bridge to your photos.

Aquatic Park: This one is the easiest to get to as it’s right in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf. This small beach offers views of Alcatraz along with some sand that you could write names in for your pictures. It’s smaller and the busiest of the four I have listed here, but you could easily add this into your day without taking too much time trying to find it. It’s on the western side of Fisherman’s Wharf right next to the Hyde Street Pier. This is also not along the Pacific Ocean, but the SF Bay instead.

Muir Woods

If you do not want to take a tour of Muir Woods, you have a few other options for your visit. You can either bus or ferry up to Sausalito and then take the special summer shuttle or you can rent a car for the day and drive.

On my Muir Woods page, you will find out more about both options. The public transit option will take more time, but is a fun adventure. Driving is faster, but you will take tight turns on narrow passages in the mountains, so you will want a drive that will take their time and is not afraid of a challenging road.

Click here for pictures of my last visit here and tips for getting here on your own.

On your way in and out of Muir Woods, you might want to consider spending a little time in Sausalito. This cute waterfront town offers shopping and some amazing views from its wonderful restaurants. Click here to learn more about what there is to do in Sausalito.

A Few Other Tips for Your Visit

Alcatraz: Since it is your first visit to San Francisco, do not miss Alcatraz. I love the night tours as they are more personalized and are offered to fewer people. They are a little more expensive, but worth it. Make sure if you plan on visiting Alcatraz that you book as far in advance as possible, as tickets sell out quickly in the summer. Click here for more details on the night tour of Alcatraz.

Free Walking Tours: Don’t miss out on these fun, free walking tours offered through the SF Public Library. They feature 5 to 10 tours a day and visit the most interested districts and attractions. It’s a great way to learn more about San Francisco! < a href =>Click here for their daily schedule.

Half-Priced Tickets: Another way to save money and see more of SF is through This ticket retailer helps tour and events sell through their tickets. Most are offered at up to half-off the full retail value. You can find tickets to everything from SF Bay Cruises to top theater performances. It’s a service I use often and they have an amazing selection. Click here to their current selection of tickets. Also, check back often as they update their site almost every day.

Have an amazing time in San Francisco! Feel free to add a comment to this page if you have any additional questions before your trip!



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