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Not including nude sunbathing.
Baker Beach, located just west of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, is not your typical summer beach destination. While there’s plenty of space on this sandy public beach for sunbathers (clothing optional on the northern end) and surfers, rough and chilly waters — to say nothing of the rip tide — make Baker Beach unpopular with swimmers.
Instead, you’ll find history buffs exploring the artillery installations and photographers trying their luck at capturing the photogenic landscape. And of course, a few nude locals. For an unconventional trip to the beach, check out these three unique attractions at California’s Baker Beach.
Built in 1904 to defend San Francisco during war, this battery is famous for its 50-ton “disappearing gun:” a canon that mechanically moves to and from its hidden emplacement to protect it from attackers. It’s the only remaining gun of its kind on the West Coast, and visitors can attend a demonstration on the first weekend of each month.
Hike the Coastal Trail
The windswept sand dunes at Baker Beach and throughout the Presidio are home to endangered and rare plants like the vibrant purple Dune Gilia — and the plant diversity supports over 350 species of wildlife, including coyotes, California quail, and gray fox. At Baker Beach, visitors can check out the unusual wildlife (and serpentine cliffs) by picking up the cliffside Coastal Trail. You’ll also see uninterrupted views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
While the city of San Francisco has an abundance of high-end hotels and luxury resorts, this beautiful stretch of California shoreline is best enjoyed at sunrise, before the crowds. Spend the night at Rob Hill Campground, perched on the highest point in the Presidio, for an early morning view over Baker Beach and the Pacific Ocean