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Best beach town in San Francisco area for a week's stay?

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Looking for some advice on beaches in the San Francisco bay area. Our family is taking a trip to San Francisco in the fall and we'd like to spend 1 week at the beach and one week in the city. I found a great apartment in the city, so that part is taken care of. Now I'm hoping to find a great beach community less than 25 miles away from San Francisco. We'd prefer a sandy beach to a rocky one and some place with a nice town to explore even if it's small. I don't really know where to start since I'm not at all familiar with the area outside of downtown San Franciso, there seem to be so many nice options. Someone recommended Stinson Beach. Ideally I'd love to be able to get a vacation rental where we could walk to shops, restaurants and groceries and enough diversity to go out to a different restaurant each day for a week. Our other option is to drive to Santa Cruz but I'd rather stay closer to the city for a variety of reasons.

I'd love to hear any suggestions! Thanks!

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