Tucked away at the top of John Daly Boulevard is Daly City’s only official beach access: Thornton Bluffs. Once a part of the planned Ocean Shore Railroad intended to link San Francisco with Santa Cruz , the massive 58-acre Bluffs are one of the Bay Area’s best-kept secrets – plenty of space to find solitude on the legendary Northern California coastline, just minutes away from downtown San Francisco.
Access is easy! Just take 280 South out of San Francisco, exit John Daly Boulevard, and take a right turn at the exit. Continue West on John Daly Boulevard until the road dead-ends into the parking lot for Thornton Beach Vista / Thornton Bluffs.
To access the beach, enter the field to the North of the parking lot and walk toward the horse stables. A paved downhill path brings your directly onto the lower part of the Bluffs, where you can find many paths down to the beach.
Getting off the beaten path is encouraged, and the best way to experience the raw, undeveloped beauty of the area – taking unconventional routes at the Bluffs often leads to hidden trails and paths that offer secluded vistas for picnic lunches and plenty of uninterrupted space for dogs and kids to run and explore. Just watch out for the onshore wind in Springtime afternoons! Best times of year are Summer thru Late Fall. Insider tip: foggy mornings make for a refreshing adventure, with no crowds and mellow offshore winds … or come by at sunset and set up a blanket high up on The Bluffs and try to catch a rare glimpse of a Green Flash –– visibility for this legendary local phenomenon is optimal at Thornton’s, especially in the dog days of Summertime.
Unfortunately, the Bluffs are under threat of development that would create a drastic impact on one of the last few undeveloped pieces of the California Coast that give The Golden State its name. To find out more about how you can support the protection of Thornton Bluffs, visit http://thorntonbeachbluffpreserve.com/about-thornton-beach-bluff-preserve/ and sign the petition to protect The Bluffs at https://www.change.org/p/california-coastal-commission-save-open-space-for-outdoor-recreation-at-thornton-beach-bluff-in-ca?signed=true