The Sunset/Ocean Beach area, located on the west side of the Golden Gate Bridge, is very different in look, feel, and even climate than the Marina/Golden Gate area. It’s rugged, and and can be chilly and foggy. There’s gorgeous running along the water here, with views out to crashing surf. The main road is called The Great Highway, which runs for 3.8 miles between the Cliff House at Point Lobos Ave. and Skyline Blvd. (Lake Merced). In a wonderful experiment that started during Covid, the Great Highway is closed to cars from Friday at noon to Mondays at 6am.
There are numerous options for running this stretch: a paved path for most of the way between the road and the beach; an interior path on the east side of road; on the shoulder of the road; and on the beach itself. Start at The Cliff House, a Victorian era complex set on a windswept hillside cliff, originally built in 1863. The Visitor Center has tons of information about the trails in the area. Run south toward the zoo, by the western entrance of Golden Gate Park, with the Pacific ocean to the west and the Sunset neighborhood to the east. There are some views of the ocean from the road. The run ends near the entrance to the zoo, where The Great Highway Extension goes for another 0.8 miles to Skyline Blvd.