offMetro+SFThis story is brought to you by offMetro SF. offMetro SF is an online travel guide to getaways from San Francisco—car optional. When you need a city break, we know how best to get you off the beaten path, be it by train, bus, bike, boat, or car share. If you can't make the weekends longer, strive to make them better. Photo by Steve Boland.

Located a quick ferry of train ride from San Francisco, the oft-overlooked island of Alameda is home to a wide variety of unique attractions, including the quiet, lovely Crown Memorial State Beach, an  unassuming two-and-a-half-mile stretch of sand with calm waters, a bird sanctuary, and a fascinating visitor’s center.

The quiet shores are a great spot for picnicking, flying kites, or just snoozing in the sun. The beach is open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and the admission is free.

Go for a dip, stay for sunset

The water at Crown Memorial may be slightly murky, but they’re still welcoming to visitors, from curious toddlers to triathletes in training, who come to enjoy the colorful tide pools, marine creatures, and windsurfing here.

And when the day’s activities are coming to a close, Crown Memorial is a helluva place to be at sunset, when the sun dips down behind the San Francisco skyline.

Organic bites

If you’re in a picnic state of mind, stock up on fixin’s from local purveyors at the Alameda Market Place.

Those looking for a sit-down meal could opt for classic California bites at the intimate Pappo (510-331-9100), or get adventurous at ethnic eateris Burma Superstar (510-522-6200) or Speisekammer (510-522-1300).

A Fine (mari)time

In addition to waterfront, the beach also offers the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, home and migratory stop to many species of birds. Or take a hike out to the Crab Cove Marina Reserve and the fantastic, interactive Crab Cove Visitor Center, complete with a 700-gallon Bay Ecology exhibit showcasing marine life.

Directions

Take BART to 12th Street/Oakland City Center, then take the AC Transit 51A bus (from Broadway & 12th Street) to Santa Clara Avenue and 8th Avenue. The beach is a 12-minute walk from the bus stop.