Crissy Field Beach in San Francisco
With ample parking, mild bay water and views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field Beach is popular destination for San Francisco families with little ones pretty much any day of the week. Building sandcastles, flying kites and exploring the wetlands are all popular activities for active kiddos. Bonus: The beach and waterfront promenade is dog-friendly (under voice control) and there are bathrooms and a new cafe nearby.
Lake Anza in Berkeley
Grab the goggles and swimsuits and head on over to the Lake Anza swimming facilities in the Berkeley hills. In spite of how crowded this favorite gathering spot can get, swimming here always feels like a local secret, tucked away in the midst of hiking trails, below the picturesque hills. This stretch of beach typically gets plenty of sun, while the surrounding landscape protects your wet ones from the wind. Hungry swimmers can recharge at the Lake Anza Beach Club with nachos, smoothies, sandwiches, ice cream, and more. The Lake Anza swim season opened April 30, with lifeguards at the ready daily. Adults pay $3.50 to get in, and $2.50 for the kids.
Cull Canyon in Castro Valley
This popular little swim spot features an 1.5 acre lagoon that's ideal for those who find themselves needing a break from the summer swelter. Cull Canyon is great if you've got little ones because of the lagoon's gradual drop, where your kiddos can build up their confidence in the water. Post up at one of the shaded picnic areas and dig in to your picnic lunch. There's a beach access fee to enter swim area ($2.50 age 1-15), but parking is free! Open daily now through August 26th, 5:00 am - 10:00 pm
Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore
If you’ve found yourself in Livermore in the summer, you know how scorching hot this part of the Bay (far outside the fog belt) can get. Del Valle Regional Park offers the perfect solution, with not one, but two swimming beaches opening for the season. While swimming is permissible through much of the five-mile-long lake, the East and West beaches offer lifeguard services between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm from mid-June through August 21, with no fees required. And when the family’s all toweled off, the park has picnic facilities, boat rentals, and a visitor center to keep you occupied.
Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton
Just a mile outside downtown Pleasanton is a sweet little spot for swimming, picnicking, boating, and general fun in the sun. You're almost guaranteed warm weather at Shadow Cliffs during the summer months, and luckily this little swimming lagoon is ideal for kids to cool off and splash around; even early in the morning the water is far from chilly. There's a bathhouse and refreshment stand open on weekends in spring and fall, and daily during summer months. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, but swimming is allowed throughout the year. Hours are 6:00 am - 9:00 pm now through Labor Day, cost is $6 per vehicle and $2 for dog fees (if you're planning on bringing Fido).
For more swim spots in the Bay Area, click here.