Heading to North-Central California in search of fun and the best beaches near Sacramento, you’ve come to the right place!
Sacramento, the capital of California, sits at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers. I’m sure you’ve encountered this information all over the internet, as it’s widely known, and it’s precisely why Sacramento is affectionately referred to as the River City.
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What sets Sacramento apart from other places is its distinction as home to 40 farmers’ markets, an abundance of locally sourced, fresh cuisine, a vibrant hipster culture, picturesque tree-lined streets, a colorful downtown area, and a myriad of opportunities to experience Sacramento riverfront living.
However, there is one drawback to the beaches near Sacramento: the waves and rip currents can be quite dangerous, making them less than ideal for swimming. Additionally, most of the in-town beaches feature sandy shores, making them ideal for surfers.
Taking all of this into consideration, this blog is going to guide you through the best beaches near Sacramento that you can visit with your family and kids.
Table of Contents
Family-friendly Beaches Near Sacramento
1. Mitchell’s Cove Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 148 miles via I-80W
- Drive time: 2hr 35 min
- Parking: Free
Nestled along West Cliff Drive, just south of Westside Santa Cruz, Mitchell’s Cove Beach is a coastal gem that bears witness to the ebb and flow of substantial tides and currents throughout the day.
Your canine companion is most welcome here off-leash between sunrise and 10 am, as well as from 4 pm until sunset. However, if you wish to bring your dog in between these times, please ensure you have a leash on hand.
Moreover, the beach offers an ideal vantage point for spotting migrating gray whales, and various bird species, and enjoying peaceful sunsets. Monolithic rocks adorn the coastline, providing a scenic view of the Pacific Ocean.
Mitchell’s Cove Beach is one of the family-friendly beaches near Sacramento for weekend fun. Here, you can soak in sunbathing, surfing, canoeing, swimming, snorkeling, collecting shells, and exploring tide pools.
- Please note that there is no lifeguard stationed at the beach.
- The water currents can be strong, so always check tide timings and currents before your visit.
- In the spring, the beach air may carry the scent of marine vegetation.
- Consider taking your child to Sergeant Darby Park, where they can enjoy swings and play tennis
2. Paradise Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 5 miles
- Drive time: 15 minutes
- Parking: Free
- Location: 5211 Carlson Dr Sacramento, CA 95819
Visitors of all ages are welcome to explore one section of the expansive American River Parkway Regional Park, Paradise Beach, renowned for its swimming opportunities in Sacramento and pretty American River beaches.
It is situated within a cove formed by a bend in the river, nestled near California State University. The accumulation of sand along the shoreline entices children to build sandcastles.
While your furry friend is welcome on a leash at the beach, please keep in mind that the currents can be strong, and there is no lifeguard on duty, so exercise caution when entering the water.
During the summer, the beach provides a station where you can rent life jackets before taking a dip. You’ll need to hike half a mile from the parking lot to reach this scenic spot, making it an ideal destination. Additionally, picnic tables are available for families to enjoy a leisurely Sunday lunch.
Tip: After your beach visit, consider heading to Glenn Hall Park, which boasts tennis courts, a baseball field, and a soccer field. You can also enroll in swimming lessons at Glen Hall Pool Park.
3. Robert W Crown Memorial State Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 84.6 miles via I-80W
- Drive time: 1 hour 33 min
- Parking: $4
- Location: 8th St & Otis Dr Alameda, CA 94501
As you journey towards Yuba City, a scenic 2.5-mile Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach sits along the San Francisco Bay. Whether you’re a local seeking a renowned walking spot near Sacramento, a quiet fishing hideaway, or hiking trails immersed in the serene lake atmosphere, this place is perfect for you.
Nestled along the tranquil shores of Lake Natoma, you’ll discover this hidden gem. This destination beckons East Bay locals, drawing them in for days of windsurfing and picnicking beneath the radiant sun. The park is generously dotted with grilling stations, enhancing the outdoor experience.
At the pier, you’ll witness skilled fishermen angling for bass, crappie, and catfish. If you’re someone who enjoys the thrill of being in the water yet cherishes the beach, you can rent boats here, allowing you to relish boating adventures and idyllic moments on the tranquil lake.
Note: The beach faced destruction by the forces of wind and water, but in 1982, it underwent a remarkable restoration, transforming it into the beautiful beach it is today, offering a splendid place to spend your time.
4. Montara State Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 106 miles VIA I-80 W
- Drive time: 1.45 hours
- Parking: Free
- Location: Corner Of Highway 1 Montara, CA 94037
Nestled along the Half Moon Bay on the San Mateo County Coast, Montara State Beach is a place where everything around it is truly spectacular. Here, you can explore the scenic trails of McNee Ranch, behold the majestic Montara Mountains, and savor the mouth-watering delights at the famous La Costanera Restaurant.
For those in search of weekend getaways from Sacramento, this place is worth checking out, and the best part is, that you can bring your dog along. Experienced surfers are particularly fond of this spot, thanks to the consistent 3-6 foot high waves.
Additionally, Point Montara boasts a state park-owned lighthouse that offers accommodation, making it another excellent option for lodging. Montara State Beach also provides the opportunity to indulge in tide pooling, a unique outdoor recreational adventure to enjoy near Sacramento.
- Waves are dangerous, so be careful, try to avoid swimming
- On the beach, you’ll find two sets of volleyball nets which is a great alternative to fun for beachcombers
5. Bodega Bay Beaches
- Distance from Sacramento: 109 miles via I-80W
- Drive time: 2 hours 8 min
- Parking: $7
Bodega Bay, tucked away in Sonoma County, boasts some of Northern California’s most epic beaches, spanning a rugged 13-mile stretch of diverse natural beauty. This charming town is perhaps best known for its pop culture significance, as it was the filming location for the iconic 1963 movie “The Birds.”
Within the Sonoma Coast State Park, don’t miss the opportunity to hike the trails of Goat Rock Beach, where you can witness breathtaking sunrise views. Other family-friendly sandy beaches in the region, easily accessible from Sacramento, include Wright’s Beach and Schoolhouse Beach.
The bay also harbors some secluded coves that serve as an inspiration for writers, beckoning them to stop and create beautiful pieces of art. If your beach visit is motivated by fishing, bird watching, or kite flying, then Doran Beach is a hidden treasure waiting to be explored in this remarkable region!
- Sonoma Coast Beach is not ideal for swimming as the riptides are dangerous
- Just north of Bodega Bay sits Blind Beach from where you can get an amazing view of arched rock
6. Muir Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 96.3 miles via I-80 W
- Drive time: 1.45 hours
- Parking: Free
- Location: 199 Pacific Way Muir Beach, CA 94965
If you’re someone looking to venture beyond the city limits, consider a visit to the picturesque seaside town of Sausalito, and from there, make your way to Muir Beach. Nestled on the West Coast of the Marin Peninsula, Muir Beach is a secluded cove within the Marin Headlands.
This location, easily accessible from Sacramento, is perfect for summer fun, allowing you to explore Muir Woods, with its majestic redwood trees, and embark on scenic road trips. However, be prepared for crowds as this destination can get quite busy.
After you’ve explored Muir Beach, you can also make your way to Mount Tamalpais State Park, which is conveniently nearby. Also, there is a little secret that this beach near Sacramento at the north end is an unofficial clothing-optional beach.
Note: Muir Beach sits adjacent to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Tip: Please note that there is no lifeguard stationed at the beach. So, ideally swimming is not recommended
7. Crystal Cove State Park – Laguna Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 478 miles
- Drive time: 13 hours
- Parking: $3.00 / hour
- Location: 8471 Pacific Coast Hwy Laguna Beach, CA 92651
If you’re seeking fun water activities near Sacramento only for the weekend, consider a visit to Crystal Cove State Park, located in South California’s Orange County. This picturesque park, situated in Laguna Beach, offers a wide range of aquatic experiences, from scuba diving to tide pooling.
It’s the perfect destination to satisfy your craving for water-based adventures I recommend visiting during the summer when they celebrate an arts festival. However, it’s important to note that the beaches here are relatively small but exude a unique and offbeat vibe.
In the morning, you can enjoy the beach, gazing out at the Pacific Ocean. Then, in the evening, head over to Crystal Cove State Park for camping, which I can assure you is a whole new level of adventure. I always suggest staying at Moro Campground.
8. Sly Park Recreation Area – Jenkinson Lake
- Distance from Sacramento: 0.5 miles
- Drive time: a few minutes
- Parking: $13
- Location: 4771 Sly Park Rd Pollock Pines, CA 95726
Near Placerville sits a hidden gem that is an ideal destination for swimming, water skiing, boating, and paddle activities, welcome to Sly Park Lake. You’ll completely love the sparkling blue water and spending time here.
There are picnic tables by the shoreline, I recommend having a romantic lunch there with your loved ones. Also, do not forget to check the wildlife along the trails. You’ll be sure to witness varied species of birds here.
Also, there are camping facilities like RV and tents available at the Recreational Park Area. You can also explore other El Dorado County attractions like wineries, or spend time at South Lake Tahoe.
9. Sandy Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 95 miles
- Drive time: 1.5 hours
- Parking: $7
Sandy Beach is one of the beaches in the Sacramento Delta region, conveniently located just a few minutes away from Rio Vista. It’s a place that you should consider visiting. Notably, from this beach, you can catch a glimpse of the impressive Rio Vista Bridge.
What truly sets this destination apart is the relaxed pace of life you’ll experience here. Time seems to slow down at Sandy Beach, making it a perfect spot to unwind and soak in the tranquil surroundings.
Tip: With a total of 42 campsites equipped with RV hookups, I highly recommend considering a night of camping at this location.
10. Fort Funston Beach
- Distance from Sacramento: 96.3 miles via I-80W
- Drive time: 1.35 hrs
- Parking: free
Fort Funston Beach is one of the off-leash, dog, and kid-friendly beaches near Sacramento where you can spend hours enjoying the air, views, and the sun.
But do you know what makes this beach stand out from others? The 200-foot cliffs, where hang gliding and aerial acrobatics are possible, offer unforgettable views of the Pacific Ocean.
During the summer months, the beach gets crowded, so you can come here in the early hours of sunrise for a quieter environment.
Tip: There is no lifeguard tower, so be careful while swimming
11. Redondo Beach ( Half Moon Bay)
- Distance from Sacramento: 372 miles
- Drive time: 11 hours
- Parking: $1
Redondo Beach, also known as Wavecrest Beach, is located at the central portion of Half Moon Bay. It features brown sandy shores and rocky reefs along the shoreline. To access this beach, you’ll need to embark on a hike. However, it’s important to note that the water here can be very unpredictable, with the presence of rip currents.
Tip: Here you can spot bird species like pelicans, gulls, halibuts, and sanderlings, hence, bring your camera to capture them
The town of Sacramento may not be gifted with beaches but that doesn’t mean you cannot visit the nearby beaches and take full advantage of it. All the beaches I’ve mentioned above are within your reach, making it ideal for everyone who loves the beach.
So, if you’re planning for a day trip, weekend trip, or overnight stay, these spots are great to go. Also, the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco’s skyline is amazing to behold. Let me know which beach you are visiting.
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FAQ: Beaches Near Sacramento
1. Are there any beachside campgrounds near Sacramento?
A. Yes, camping is possible at Bodega Bay’s Doran Campground. It is located south of Bodega Harbor and costs $37 per night, with an additional $9.50 reservation fee. The campground is equipped with potable water, restrooms, and electric outlets. The best part is that dogs are allowed, but you should keep them on a leash.
2. Can you swim in the Sacramento River?
A. Yes, you can, but please do not swim, as it’s not my statement but rather from higher officials. The water temperature is too low due to the Sierra snowpack melting, which causes the cold water.
3. Are the Sacramento River beaches safe for children and families?
A. Yes, Sacramento beaches like Ocean Beach are kid and family-friendly and a great spot to escape the heat and enjoy swimming. Additionally, the wide beach offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and leisurely strolls.