San Francisco Bay Area Naturist Resources
Table of Contents
There is no federal law against nudity. Nude beaches, such as Baker Beach in San Francisco, operate within federal park lands in California. However, under a provision called concurrent jurisdiction, federal park rangers may enforce state and local laws, or invite local authorities to do so.
A 1972 California Supreme Court decision In re Smith held that simple beach nudity (absent sexual or shock motives) does not constitute the crime of indecent exposure as defined by Penal Code Section 314.
The California State Park system is a special case. Simple nudity is illegal in state parks except in areas designated for the purpose. Although the state has declined to officially designate any nude beaches, traditional use has un-officially designated them, according to the Cahill policy.
It is widely believed that health laws require shoes in a restaurant or food store. However, such laws apply only to the food-handling staff. There is no California state health law requiring customers or patrons to wear anything at all. Dress codes are at the discretion of private business management. See letter from California Department of Health Services.
Finally, California Penal Code section 647(a) states:
647. Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor:However, it would be quite a stretch to apply this law against nudists, since simple nudity is not a lewd act.
Various counties and municipalities may enact their own dress codes, and many have. For example:
San FranciscoSan Francisco is the newest Bay Area city to enact an ordinace prohibiting simple nudity in public, via the infamous Wiener Bill (named after its author SF Supervisor Scott Wiener) formally known as Ordinance 234-12 which, when signed into law by Mayor Edwin Lee on December 6, 2012, added San Francisco Police Code Section 154 to prohibit nudity on public streets, sidewalks, street medians, parklets, plazas, and public rights-of-way, and on public transit vehicles, stations, platforms, and stops, except as part of permitted parades, fairs, and festivals.
San Jose Municipal Code 10.12.030:
Mountain View Ord. No. 22.73, 7/30/1973
8.16.010 Purpose of provisions.
Municipal Code Corporation maintains a library of many of local Codes of Ordinances on the web.
The Bay Area Naturists, P.O. Box 23781, San Jose CA 95153, are a loosely-knit collection of people in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas who combine ecology awareness with body acceptance.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian, 520 Hampshire St., San Francisco CA 94110-1417, publishes an annual Nude Beach Issue featuring Gary Hanauer's excellent research.
Betsy Malloy's Nude Beach Guide - California, A Guide to Visiting a California Nude Beach, is hosted by About.com.
Susan Breslow Sardone's Nude Beach Guide, Guide to Finding a Nude Beach Getaway, is hosted by About.com.
Nude & Natural, published by The Naturist Society, P.O. Box 132, Oshkosh WI 54903, (920) 426-5009. This group, headed by Lee Baxandall, began in the 70's as the "Free Beaches Documentation Center" with a quarterly newspaper, the Sun. As a magazine, it was renamed to Clothed With the Sun and later Nude & Natural or simply N. It has expanded into the finest English-language naturist magazine; every quarter it is packed with useful reports and lively discussion of issues of naturist relevance. Subscription included in annual membership, either directly through TNS, or through Bay Area Naturists (includes local dues).
The World's Best Nude Beaches & Resorts, also published by The Naturist Society, has become the definitive work for finding accepted naturist locations throughout the world. Its beautiful color photography enhances any coffee table and is a tremendous aid to explaining our lifestyle to others.
Naturist Action Committee is the non-profit political arm of The Naturist Society (TNS). NAC's nine volunteer board members are elected democratically from and by the membership of TNS. NAC is a grass roots organization that relies on the involvement and participation of individual Naturists and groups at local levels.
Naturist Education Foundation is the nonprofit informational and educational arm of The Naturist Society. NEF is an organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the awareness of Naturism and body acceptance among both Naturists and non-Naturists, and to achieving an understanding and acceptance of Naturists and their activities throughout North America.
The Bulletin, ISSN 0279-8158, a monthly newspaper for members of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR, formerly American Sunbathing Association), 1703 N. Main St. #E, Kissimmee FL 34744-3396, (800) 879-6833, contains reports from affiliated nudist clubs.
American Association for Nude Recreation, Western Region is the western branch of AANR, above.
Naturally magazine is a well-known naturist publication edited by Bern Loibl & family under "Internaturally" P.O. Box 317,, Newfoundland, NJ 07435-0317. Its focus is worldwide upscale naturist travel for individuals and families, and is beautifully illustrated with color photographs.
Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest (ISBN 1-890880-01-9) and Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Northwest by Jayson Loam and Marjorie Gersh are considered the Bibles of the traveling hot-pool dippers, both nudist and vestist. Northwest covers Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming; Southwest covers California, Baja California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. Included descriptions, directions, photographs, and maps to both public-land springs and private resorts, noting the accepted dress code for each. Available at major bookstores or from Thermal Access (831) 426-2956.
Body Freedom Collaborative leads or supports projects including: Naked Freedom Film Festival (NFFF), Free Beach Trilogy (FBT), World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD), World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR), Mermaid Swim, Polar Bare Dip, Seattle Free Beach Campaign (SFBC), Discovery Beach Bares (DBB),
Photo Naturals is a project whose goal is to depict nudity as a natural, positive, and uplifiting experience against a backdrop of forest, ocean, river, sky, earth—joyful naked bodies connecting with the universe on a sensual and spiritual level. See also Naked Club, a growing group of free-spirited adults who believe that being naked is a wholesome and enlightened way of experiencing life. This website—our photos and videos—is our message to the world that a truly open and accepting society starts with body freedom. Nude people of any age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation are all beautiful. Come with us on our uplifting clothes-free adventures on planet Earth!
Gay Naturists International is a network of gay men naturists.
Facebook hosts a number of nudist groups:
Why the Nudity Taboo is Unethical and Must Go by Nick Alimonos
Naturist Philosopher Thoughts and ramblings about naturism
Nudist-Resorts.Org bills itself as "The World's Most Complete Nudist Discussion Forum / Bulletin Board."
Reluctant Parner Community is an on-line support group for Nudists / Naturists whose spouses or significant others are reluctant to participate in naturist activities.
Skinny Trippers are naturists who take Skinny Trips and share experiences through Skinny Trip Reports.
NIFOC, an acronym for Nude In Front Of Computer, is a family-oriented nudist chat room.
NNN list is a private mailing list for the discussion of the experience of non-sexual nudity as a form of relaxation or recreation, as a social activity, or as a "lifestyle" sometimes known as "naturism" or "nudism".
The Naturist Journal is a web-based newsletter of naturist-related news and opinion.
My Naked Truth by Gypsy Taub, is a series of interviews with interesting people about all matters of life (of which nudism is just one).
Living Nude on Tiger Mountain is a blog in the Seattle Post-Intellgencer by Cynde Moya, who lives year-round in a rustic cabin at Fraternity Snoqualmie Family Nudist Park on Tiger Mountain.
Through A Naturist's Lens by Robert G. Longpré
The San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas are divided into distinct micro-climates. For example, a summer day might be a sunny 100° F in inland San Jose but only 50° F in foggy San Francisco just miles away— that's a temperature gradient of a degree per mile!
Along the coast the temperatures are nearly constant, year-round. In fact, a sunny winter day can be warmer than a foggy summer day. Generally, spring and fall provide the best beach weather, between the winter rains and the summer fog.
Inland, summers are usually hot and dry while winters are cool and rainy.
Before going to the coast, check the current satellite weather.
Orr Hot Springs, 13201 Orr Springs Rd. Ukiah, CA 95482 (13 miles west of Ukiah), (707) 462-6277, Several covered soaking tubs, one large covered hot tub, one outdoor soaking pool. Swimming pool just outside the sauna door. Massages available. Community Kitchen (Great full restaurant-size & quality). Several cabins at reasonable rates. Dorm sleeping & camping at a nominal fee. Please call ahead for reservations, no drop-ins allowed. map
Wilbur Hot Springs, Wilbur Springs, California 95987-9709, (530) 473-2306 has been highly rated by many visitors. Clothing is optional in the bathing area (it is, however, required everywhere else on property). map & satellite photo.
Red Rock Beach, just south of Stinson Beach on Highway 1 at milepost MRN 11.35, is a mellow, sheltered nude beach. Park off the highway and follow the long trail down to the beach. Aerial photo. map & satellite photo.
Muir beach, one of the best nude beaches around, was in 2001 the center of some nasty conflicts among local residents, with nudists cited for violation of Marin County Chapter 6.76 (for more information see "`Nudies' stir passions at Muir's Little Beach" by Dave Mitchell, Point Reyes Light, May 31, 2001). However, in 2002 it seems that the woman responsible for the complaints has moved away and nudists are returning to Muir without incident. Aerial photo. map & satellite photo.
Bass Lake is a popular skinny-dipping site. It's in the Point Reyes National Seashore, about 3 miles hike north from the Palomarin Trailhead, at the northern end of Mesa Rd. in Bolinas. See maps to trailhead and picnic meadow.
Frogs 10 School Street Plaza, Fairfax CA 94930, (415) 453-7647. Therapeutic massage, private redwood hot tubs, saunas, sun deck, invigorating cold plunge. Open from 11 a.m. until midnight. Use of facilities half price with any massage. Map
Meadowlark Country House is a B&B on 20 acres near Calistoga, with a clothing-optional pool, hot-tub, sauna, and deck. Seven rooms with private bath and scenic views, TV, VCR, and phone. Full breakfast is served. Owner Kurt Stevens is a naturist and member of AANR. Guests are straight gay, bi or whatever. Phone: (800) 942-5651 or (707) 942-5651; Fax: (707) 942-5023.
Highlands Resort, 14000 Woodland Drive, P.O. Box 346, Guerneville, CA 95446, is a rustic gay, Lesbian, and straight-friendly resort with a clothing-optional pool and hot-tub. Phone (707) 869-0333 or Fax (707) 869-0370.
The Woods Resort at the Russian River, 16484 4th St., Guerneville CA 95446, (877) 887-9218, is mainly a gay resort but they do welcome straight couples as well. Their pool is clothing-optional.
Fog Heaven: The sun will come out tomorrow. Or maybe not. It's summer in the city, and that means gray skies. by Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, August 19, 2005
Baker Beach is in the city of San Francisco, in the Presidio, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The north end (closest to the Golden Gate Bridge) is a long-standing traditional nude beach with no hassle: walk 0.3 miles north from the north parking lot off Bowley St. on Gibson Rd., or walk down the sand ladder from the top of the hill on Lincoln Blvd.. Served by SF Muni bus route #29. Aerial photo. Satellite photo and map.
Gray Whale Cove State Beach, Montara CA. This traditional clothing-optional beach, located at Devil's Slide between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, has some of the most interesting topology of the northern California coast. Park in the lot on the inland side of Highway 1 exactly 1¼ miles north of the Chart House Restaurant in Montara, cross the highway and walk down the gated driveway, use the restrooms and descend the 145 stairs to the beach. The beach is clean and wide, and the surrounding cliffs block the wind and make for interesting scenery.Photo Aerial photo. Map to Parking.
Lupin Lodge, P.O. Box 1274, Los Gatos CA 95031 or 20600 Aldercroft Heights Rd., Los Gatos CA 95033-8624 (408) 353-9200, is a very pleasant clothing-optional membership resort, in the Santa Cruz Mountains just south of Los Gatos, since 1936. It is well-equipped with heated swimming pool, sauna, spas, tennis and volleyball courts, and clubhouse restaurant. Visitors welcome.
Red White & Blue Beach, 5021 Coast Rd., Santa Cruz CA 95060, (831) 423-6332. (Latitude: 36.977, Longitude: -122.141) is permanently closed to the public since owner Ralph Edwards retired at the end of 2006. He died January 22, 2014, and the family has no plans to reopen the beach. For many decades until Ralph's retirement, the clothing-optional beach on Scaroni Road just off Highway 1 at milepost 24.9 (less than ten miles northwest of Santa Cruz, see map & satellite photo) was a favorite of naturists because it provided flush toilets, showers, an improved campground, and a secure, clothing-optional off-highway parking lot. Aerial photo.
Kiva Retreat House, 702 Water St., Santa Cruz CA 95060, (831) 429-1142, is a former single-family dwelling in downtown Santa Cruz converted into a clothing-optional retreat, with several spas and pools, a sauna, massage tables, and sunbathing area. Hours noon till 11pm every day; Friday and Saturday to midnight. No reservations are necessary. Admission includes use of all community areas; private tubs and staff masseurs are available at extra charge. Multi-visit passes and annual memberships are available.
Sequoians Clothes Free Club, 10200 Cull Canyon Road, Castro Valley CA 94546, (510) 582-0194. Less developed (and less expensive) than Lupin, this friendly AANR-affiliated club in the east-bay hills has a number of resident members and many more summertime visitors contributing to social events such as luaus and potluck dinners.
Release of the former Fort Ord to civilian use has made some new beaches available for nude bathing. Indian Head Beach at Fort Ord Dunes, just south of the pre-existing Marina State Beach, is increasingly popular with naturists. Aerial photo.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is indeed "totally clothed", but a short walk upstream along the Big Sur river from the State Park Campground brings you to some pools which may or may not be for nude use depending on who else is there. One time, I went there with my then-young son and we happened upon some German tourists who had been skinny-dipping. Seeing us, they dressed so as not to offend us, but relaxed again as soon as we undressed and demonstrated we were like them.
In California State Parks, we live by the Cahill policy, which says that nudity is illegal, but no one will be arrested unless there is first a complaint and then a request to dress which is disobeyed. That is, if you are told to dress, ask if there was a complaint; if there was, you must comply.
If you want a serious hike, start at the U.S. Forest Service office about 1/2 mile south of the State Park and hike the Pine Ridge Trail about 11 miles east until it encounters the river again at Sykes Hot Springs. These natural hot springs feed user-built redwood tubs (carved from redwood tree stumps) and are always clothing optional. To go in and out in one day is a grueling undertaking; you may want to back-pack a sleeping bag and make it two days. Maps available at USFS office.
Across the street from the USFS office is Sycamore Canyon Road, which takes you down to Pfeiffer Beach. On USFS land, there is no rule against nudity here, but the nudists usually go to the extreme north end of the beach--beyond the rock formation, almost to Cooper Point. Aerial photo.
Esalen Institute, just south of Big Sur, has completed restoration of the magnificent hot-spring baths destroyed in the 1998 El Niño storms. The clothing-optional tubs, perched on cliffs just above the Pacific, are and are only available to registered guests. As a workshop and retreat center, access to Esalen Institute is by reservation only. The tubs are open to the public between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. for a fee. You need to make reservations at (831) 667-3047.
Ventana Inn & Spa, Big Sur, is an upscale resort hotel offering one of whose two pools is clothing-optional and has a clothing-optional sun deck. Phone (831) 667-4222, fax (831) 667-0573.
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, 39171 Tassajara Road, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, is a Zen Buddhist community which was established by the San Francisco Zen Center in 1966. Its hot springs were used by Esselen Indians, and it has been a hot springs resort from the 1860s. From May through August, Tassajara offers guest practice and work-study programs, workshops and retreats as well as individual accommodations for vacationing guests. For the rest of the year, September through April, the monastery is closed to the public so that students of Zen Buddhism can engage in traditional monastic training periods. Reservations are absolutely required, even for day guests. Phone (415) 863-3136.
Pirate's Cove near San Luis Obispo is a delightful nude beach. It faces south, is sheltered from wind and surf, and has water calm enough for swimming. A closely-knit community of regulars cooperate to prevent harassment and other misbehavior. The sandy beach is about a quarter mile long. Directions: Exit U.S. 101 at Avila Beach Rd. and go west about 1.9 miles, during which you will pass Sycamore Mineral Springs (a commercial spa on your left). Turn left (south) onto Cave Landing Rd. Go about 0.5 miles to the top of the ridge. Where the road turns left (inland), park in the dirt lot on your right. As you face toward the ocean (south), turn left (east) and follow the trail down to the beach. Do not try to access the beach from Bluff Drive. Aerial photo. Maps to parking lot and beach.
Laguna del Sol (formerly called Rawhide Ranch), 8683 Rawhide Lane, Wilton CA 95693-9409, (916) 687-6550, is the largest nudist resort in northern California, with three pools (one indoor), two spas (one indoor), huge clubhouse with dance floor, lake, acres of lawns, plenty of room for RV's. Southeast of Sacramento, about three hours drive from San Jose. Weather.
River Dippers, P.O. Box 188366, Sacramento CA 95818-8366, is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing information about public locations in central and northern California where people may swim or sunbathe free of clothing (or with whatever attire they wish) without hassles. In addition the club facilitates social gatherings hosted by member volunteers.
Beaches (north to south)
Wilderness Hot Springs
Travel (Non-Landed) Clubs
Beach Advocacy Groups
There are vastly too many sites to list them all. Here are a few.
The real-estate agents listed below specialize in housing well-suited to clothing-optional lifestyles. Please contact each agent directly for a description of their services.
Alameda and Contra Costa counties
Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties
Pasco County and North Tampa
The travel agencies listed below (in alphabetical order) specialize in travel to clothing-optional destinations. Some are full-service agencies offering travel to your choice of destinations; other put together specific tours exclusively for their clients. Please contact each agency directly for a description of their services.