Considering a last-minute day trip this Labor Day weekend?
Nowadays, travel restrictions mean that figuring out where to go for a quick getaway in the Bay Area — and throughout California, for that matter — requires some serious strategic thinking and research.
This holiday weekend, day-trippers would be wise to first check localized weather and air quality reports, and also identify which roads, beaches and parks are closed because of recent wildfires or COVID-19 restrictions.
In other words? Your options are a good deal more limited than your average Labor Day weekend. But the good news is several beaches and beauty spots that were previously closed are open again for Labor Day weekend. Read on for more.
Which Beaches Are Open on Labor Day Weekend?
A number of destinations that have been previously discouraging visitors due to mid-August's massive lightning-sparked wildfires are now largely welcoming them back — albeit with limitations.
And with a few exceptions, most other state park beaches in San Mateo County, Marin County and Sonoma County will also be available for you to visit.
Also open: the beaches in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area from Fort Funston in San Francisco to Stinson Beach in Marin County. So are all East Bay Regional Park District beaches, including Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda.
If you are bound for the sand this weekend, again remember, the Bay Area's excessive heat warning means it’s supposed to get really hot — even along much of the coast. So try to go early, stay hydrated and seek shade.
Park officials are also reminding visitors to wear masks when not swimming, keep at least 6 feet away from other beachgoers (outside of your family), and avoid congregating in large groups to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Which Beaches Are Closed on Labor Day Weekend?
Among the big Labor Day weekend beach closures is Pacifica, just south of San Francisco. Here, all beaches — including the very popular Linda Mar Beach — will be closed from sunrise Saturday, Sept. 5 to sunrise Tuesday, Sept. 8. In its announcement of the closures this week, Pacifica officials cited concerns with large crowds and the spread of COVID-19.
Also off the table this weekend are the beaches in Santa Cruz County — mostly. All county beaches are closed starting Saturday at 5 a.m. through Monday at 5 p.m., with the exception of a four-hour window on both Saturday and Sunday. On those days, the beaches will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
This decision, made by the county’s Board of Supervisors, is also to prevent COVID-19 transmission. And the county means business: It’s warning that sheriff’s deputies will be ticketing violators, with fines up to $1,000 or six months in jail.
That said, the ocean off Santa Cruz County’s coast is still open: You’re allowed to walk across the sand to go surfing, swimming or whatever other non-motorized aquatic activities suit your fancy.
Which Parks Are Closed on Labor Day Weekend?
Unfortunately, some of the most exquisite parks throughout the greater Bay Area are also off limits this weekend, including pretty much all of Point Reyes National Seashore, where firefighters continue to battle the Woodward Fire.
That includes “all roads, parking lots, trailheads, trails, facilities, beaches, campgrounds, etc. within Point Reyes National Seashore west of Highway 1 are closed to all visitors until further notice,” according to the park’s website.
Samuel P. Taylor and Tomales Bay state parks are also closed.
Also fully closed is the iconic Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County, which was badly scorched by the CZU Lightning Complex of fires in late August. Those fires have temporarily shuttered many other state park gems in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties as well, including Henry Cowell Redwoods, Castle Rock, Año Nuevo, Portola Redwoods and Butano state parks.
Pescadero Creek, Sam McDonald and Memorial parks in San Mateo County — all in the mandatory evacuation zone of the CZU Lightning Complex fire — will remain closed as well.
Visiting Sonoma on Labor Day Weekend
In Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, which was seriously threatened by major blazes in late August, Armstrong Redwoods State Park and Austin Creek State Recreation Area are also still closed until further notice because of fire damage.
Overall, though, the Russian River is “open for business," said Karin Moss, executive director of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re really hoping to have a strong Labor Day,” she said, noting that public beaches along the river are open.
Moss also encourages visitors to “do your due diligence” and check the air quality in the area, where temperatures are reach triple digits.
And although most recreation areas in Sonoma County will be open this weekend, some locals are encouraging visitors to avoid the beaches on the coast and along the river, which have often been inundated on weekends during the pandemic.
“We understand that with soaring inland temperatures and a long holiday weekend, people will want to come to a cooler climate and enjoy the beauty of Sonoma County’s coast and rivers,” said Claudia Vecchio, the president and CEO of Sonoma County Tourism, a privately run agency. “We are simply asking that people plan to have other experiences this Labor Day weekend.”
All Beach and Park Openings and Closures, County by County
All ocean and Russian River beaches are open – but large gatherings are prohibited, and some park entrances will close when lots are full. Visitors should also be aware of ongoing road closures.
Almost all inland parks are open, with the exception of Armstrong Redwoods State Park and Austin Creek Recreation Area, which remain closed until further notice because of recent damage from the Walbridge Fire, part of the LNU Lightning Complex.
The following parks are closed: Del Valle Regional Park, Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve, Mission Peak Regional Preserve, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, Ohlone Wilderness Regional Preserve, Ardenwood Historic Farm, Bay Point Regional Shoreline, Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area, Round Valley Regional Preserve, Little Hills Picnic Ranch.
These east Napa parks are closed because of fire damage and road closures from the LNU Complex: Robert Louis Stevenson State Park (Table Rock side & Mt St Helena side), EcoCamp Berryessa; Berryessa Vista Wilderness Park; Oat Hill Mine Trail (Calistoga & Aetna Springs trailheads). Bale Grist Mill and Suscol Headwaters Park are also closed.
All beaches in the county and a number of state parks are closed because of either crowding concerns or wildfire damage. Closures include Big Basin Redwoods including Rancho Del Oso and Little Basin), Castle Rock and Henry Cowell Redwoods SP (including Fall Creek).