National Park Beaches

Whether it’s the main attraction such as Acadia’s rocky coastline, or an added bonus like rafting down Grand Canyon’s Colorado River -- here are the best parks for beach lovers.

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Point Reyes National Seashore, California
Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

Just 35 miles northwest of San Francisco, Point Reyes is a popular escape for hiking one of its many trails and kayaking the shores of Tomales Bay and the coast. It's also known for wildlife -- making it one of the best places for bird watching and spotting Northern Elephant Seals (during winter months). 960 1280

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Juan Bautista de Anza Trail

Juan Bautista de Anza Trail

The Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded in 1771 and is a designated stop on the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. In 1775, Anza led more than 240 men, women and children from Nogales, AZ, to settle in San Francisco. 960 1280

Ed Bierman, flickr  

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

Sunlight shines through 240 acres of Coastal Redwood trees at Muir Woods, 12 miles north of San Francisco, and one of the few remaining forests in the Bay Area. 960 1280

Justin Kern, flickr  

Fort Point

Fort Point

Constructed during the height of the California Gold Rush, Fort Point's master masonry has been called "the pride of the Pacific." Overlooking the majestic Golden Gate, Fort Point protected the San Francisco harbor from attack during and after the Civil War. 960 1280

California Bear, flickr  

Port Chicago Naval Magazine

Port Chicago Naval Magazine

WWII's worst homefront disaster took place on the evening of July 17, 1944, when 320 Americans were instantly killed by an explosion of 2 ships loaded with ammunition. Reservations are required to visit the site and must be made at least 2 weeks before your visit to the Memorial. 960 1280

Bruce C. Johnson Jr.  

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

The infamous federal prison often overshadows the natural side of "The Rock," but whether you go for the fort's storied history, the West Coast's oldest operating lighthouse or unmatched Bay views -- it's worth the ferry ride. 960 1280

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Golden Gate National Rec Area

Golden Gate National Rec Area

How's this for impressive statistics: The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the largest urban parks in the world with nearly 60 miles of California coastline, over 13 million visitors a year and no access fees. Of course, the crown jewel of the Bay area's "backyard" -- and its most beautiful and recognizable landmark -- is the bridge itself. 960 1280

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Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Tao House, located in Danville, CA, is the Monterey Colonial hillside home of America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill. While O'Neill and his wife only lived in the home for 7 years, it was where he wrote his final and most memorable plays: The Iceman Cometh, Journey Into Night and A Moon for the Misbegotten. 960 1280

Eugene O’Neill Foundation  

Yaki Point
Yaki Point

Yaki Point

Within the Grand Canyon take in the view from Yaki Point. From an elevation of 7,000 feet, you’ll see the rocky terrain dotted with pinyon pines and junipers -- trees with nuts that sustain wildlife such as deer, squirrels, ringtail and birds. 960 1280

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South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail

The South Kaibab Trail leads to the Colorado River. Along with the Bright Angel Trail, the path provides a direct route to the bottom of the canyon. But with minimal shade, be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Mather Point

Mather Point

It took 6 million years for water to carve out the Grand Canyon. Get an expansive view of this handiwork at Mather Point -- where vibrant, ancient rock layers await, stretching back 1.7 billion years. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Tusayan Museum

Tusayan Museum

For nearly a millennia, Native American peoples have regarded the Grand Canyon as a sacred place. Visit the Tusayan Museum for a look into Pueblo Indian life at the canyon 800 years ago. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Yavapai Observation Station

Yavapai Observation Station

Without a power plant in sight, the Grand Canyon is home to some of the cleanest air in America. Check out an air quality monitoring stand, located outside the Yavapai Observation Station (pictured here). 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Shiva Temple

Shiva Temple

See that broad, flat-topped plateau off in the distance? That’s Shiva Temple, a mesa about 1 mile long, with an area of about 300 acres. It’s located near the canyon’s North Rim. 960 1280

Pippawilson, flickr  

Kolb Studio

Kolb Studio

At the edge of Grand Canyon you’ll find Kolb Studio -- in the early 1900s, it was the home and photographic studio of outdoorsmen Emery and Ellsworth Kolb. Today, an art gallery operates inside the building, showcasing artwork from the canyon. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Bright Angel Lodge

Bright Angel Lodge

Bright Angel Lodge was built in 1935 to accommodate the increasing numbers of visitors coming to the canyon via train. The lodge’s rustic architecture of logs and stone was conceived by American architect Mary Colter. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Mule Corral

Mule Corral

These little guys -- call them “long-eared taxis” -- will take you on a cliff-hugging trip through the Grand Canyon. But relax, each mule goes through 1 year of training before it’s ever allowed to carry any passengers. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Trailview Overlook

Trailview Overlook

From Trailview Overlook you can look down at Bright Angel Trail -- the main route used for centuries to enter and leave the Grand Canyon. 960 1280

Rosa Say, flickr  

Trail of Time

Trail of Time

Discover the Grand Canyon’s geologic splendor. Take the Trail of Time, a nearly 3-mile-long interpretive walking trail, to peel back the pages of time -- as told through the landscape’s many rock layers. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Hopi House

Hopi House

Architect Mary Colter designed Hopi House in 1905. Today, this Pueblo-style building is the Grand Canyon’s largest gift store; it features a large selection of authentic Native American art and craftwork. The building is located in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. 960 1280

Al_HikesAZ, flickr  

Grand Canyon Depot

Grand Canyon Depot

Also within Grand Canyon Village: the Grand Canyon Depot -- one of 3 remaining railroad depots in the US built with logs. The depot opened in 1910, courtesy of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway -- one of the largest railroads in the US at the time. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Roaring Springs

Roaring Springs

Nearly 5 miles down the Grand Canyon’s North Kaibab Trail you’ll find Roaring Springs. It’s one of several underground water supplies within the Grand Canyon. Listen closely … and hear the roar. 960 1280

Grand Canyon NPS, flickr  

Night Skies

Night Skies

Get out your telescope: The Grand Canyon offers prime nighttime skies for observing stars. Without a telephone pole or electric wire in sight, it’s just the starry skies above … and an awe-inspiring feeling within. 960 1280

Justin Kern, flickr  

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Grand Canyon Skywalk

And for the ultimate view, you’ve got to experience Grand Canyon Skywalk: this glass bridge walkway offers a jaw-dropping 4,000-foot-high view of the Grand Canyon’s floor. 960 1280

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