Best Unknown Scenic Spot

China Beach

Ocean Beach offers a due-west orientation along with an impressive vista north and south -- and a face full of gusting wind. For a kinder, gentler side of the Pacific Ocean, take your out-of-town friends to China Beach, just west of Baker Beach on San Francisco's north shore. Walk north on 27th Avenue until it hits Sea Cliff Avenue in the hoity-toity Sea Cliff area of multimillion-dollar mansions. Follow Sea Cliff Avenue west until the cul-de-sac ends at a parking lot. Above you sit snazzy homes with picture windows catching the glint of the sun; below is China Beach, sheltered from the wind. The chilly waters deter swimming, but the sparse crowds (tour buses are prohibited from Sea Cliff) make this a fine spot for reading, meditating, or playing Frisbee or fetch. Or simply take in the picture-postcard view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and savor your moments in perhaps the last scenic spot in America without concession stands, corporate logos, or ATMs.

 
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