There something quintessentially Californian about watching the sunset on a beach while roasting marshmallows on a roaring bonfire. While reenacting this golden hour moment is outlawed on many of San Francisco's beaches, these stretches of sand, from Marin to Santa Cruz, will have you devouring s'mores in no time. Just remember to check if it's a Spare the Air day before you head out.
San Francisco's go-to 3.5-mile stretch of white sand, Ocean Beach, offers phenomenal views of the Golden Gate Bridge and (surprisingly) isn't usually that crowded. There are twenty designated pits for either wood or charcoal fires, which are open daily until 9:30pm. For surfers and volleyball enthusiasts, it’s also a great place to catch a wave or strike-up a friendly match with fellow beach bums. Best of all, your furry companion can tag along, too. (San Francisco)
Kirby Cove Campground
Campfires can be conducted at Kirby Cove Campground as long as they're kept within the BBQ pits or already constructed fire rings. Enjoy an evening under the stars, then wake up to sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and nearby headlands. Reservations must be made in advance to access the campground and fire pits. (Marin Headlands)
A short drive from the Presidio, Muir Beach sits at the foot of the Tamalpais Valley. Six firepits are available to permit-holding beachgoers from early May to late November. Keep an eye out for humpback and gray whales; both are known to frequent the area as they migrate up the coastline. (Marin Headlands)
Drakes Beach, along the Point Reyes National Seashore, is a breathtaking swath of natural beauty. Once you’ve collected your firewood and correctly dug your fire pit at least 30 feet from any vegetation, take a second to appreciate the surrounding cliff sides and starlit sky—Point Reyes is one of the least light polluted areas in all of the Bay Area. Be sure to purchase a beach fire pit permit before striking that match. (Marin Headlands)
Seabright State Beach
Seabright State Beach on the Monterrey Bay has ten fire pits available on a first-come, first-served basis. Just a short drive from nearby Beachside Boardwalk, you can bask in the warm glow of a roaring fire after an evening spent at a one of California’s classic amusement parks. Firepits are available year round, but all fires must be put out by 10pm sharp. (Santa Cruz)