9 Best Northern California Beach Towns


northern California beach towns

Looking to discover some of the best northern California beach towns? Here is a list of some of the best coastal towns in northern California. 

Some of these towns are well know beach towns and others are smaller gems that you may have never heard of. They each have something unique to offer so you should try and visit them all.

Best Northern California Beach Towns 

The area of northern California is different for everyone, but for this list we are going to say that its everything from the Bay area and up.  

The list of beach towns are not ranked in order of importance, but in order from the most southern town starting in the Bay and moving up the coast.

1. Half Moon Bay

Located just to the south of San Francisco this Half Moon Bay is a must see. This little beach town is right on the ocean and known for a popular surf competition called the Mavericks. 

You will find some amazing seafood restaurants right on the water and some of the best hotels around with beautiful ocean views. This little beach town is also one of the best pacific coast highway stops.

There are also plenty of places to hike, see sea lions, and enjoy the beautiful pacific ocean views. 

Related: Best Stops Along Pacific Coast Highway

northern california beach towns

2. Pacifica 

Located right outside San Francisco, this foggy little beach town is one you will want to see. Known for its surf scene, it definitely has that small town charm even thought its minutes from the big city. 

There are some amazing little dinners in this town. You will also find Pacifica State Beach. Where you can get out an enjoy the ocean. 

3. Point Reyes

You will find Point Reyes about an hour north of San Francisco. One of the amazing places you won’t want to miss here is the Point Reyes National Seashore

Here you will find amazing views, trails, miles of beaches, and wildlife. One of the iconic spots you must visit is the Point Reyes Monterey cypress tree tunnel. There is also a light house, museums, and plenty to see. 

Related: California Bucket List Ideas: Top 15 Things to See in CA

point reyes northern california

4. Bodega Bay

Located in Sonoma county right outside the wine country Bodega Bay is a popular costal town. The city itself is a small little coastal town. You won’t want to miss out on the Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Trail which is a half mile access to a beautiful beach. 

There are also plenty of places to fish, kayak, bird watch, sail, ride horses, and see wild life. You will also find amazing places to stay with ocean views, some of the best restaurants around, golfing, and even a winery. 

5. Fort Bragg

This little town is located right on the ocean in Mendocino county. Popular for a top California destination called glass beach. Glass beach is coved in little bits of colorful glass pebbles. It was once dump site and all the glass bottles have eroded over the and now look like colored pebbles. 

Fort Bragg is there prefect spot for a weekend getaway on the California cost. You will find beautiful hotels, great restaurants, and many outdoor adventures. There are plenty of places to hike, go tide pooling, and explore the beach. 

There is also a actually working train called the Skunk Train that you can ride that runs right through the redwoods. 

6. Shelter Cove

Located in Humboldt county Shelter Cove is a isolated little beach town. Also called the gateway to the lost coast. Popular destinations include Black Sands Beach, and the lost coast hiking trail. Don’t miss out on seeing the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse. 

7. Eureka

Also located in Humboldt county this was once an old logging town. It’s now a modern costal town but you can still see some of the historic sites. Make sure you drive by the old Carson Mansion and check out old town Eureka. 

If you have kids then you might want to visit Sequoia park zoo and drive through the redwoods at sequoia park. You can see the ocean at Humboldt Bay. 

8. Trinidad

You won’t want to miss out on one of the best northern California beach towns. Trinidad offers some of the best seafood restaurants and views of the ocean. The town itself is a tiny little beach town but it doesn’t disappoint. 

There is so much to see and do. There are also a popular nearby state park called Patrick’s point. A perfect spot for hiking or camping. Trinidad is also know for a beautiful beach called Moonstone Beach. You can also find the popular destination of Fern Canyon just an hour north.

Related: Fern Canyon Hike – Northern California Redwoods

9. Crescent City

Located at the very far north of northern California only about 15 minutes from the Oregon border. This little beach town is where the redwoods meet the sea. On one side of the town you have amazing ocean views and the other is the location of the Redwoods National park

Here you will find some of the tallest redwoods in the world. There is plenty to explore in Crescent City. You can hike, check out the harbor, see wild life, go surfing or fishing, or hike through the redwoods. There is also a historic light house called Battery Point

Related: 15 Things to do in Crescent City, CA

beach town in northern california

I hope that this list of the best northern California beach towns helps you to plan your adventure on the California coast!

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