You don't need $134 a month to swim here, just a little chutzpah. There's no better way to spend a summertime weekend than at the beach. It's the magical arousal of the senses: the smell of coconut lotion and the sandy texture of a dropped hot dog, the sound of waves lapping the shore and the view of scantily clad sunbathers. This historic beach once was known as the "Coney Island of the West," but these days the 2.5-mile stretch of sand is home to more sand castles than carnies. Unlike most beaches in the area, the shallow bay water actually gets warm enough to allow comfortable swimming, and a low tide means great mucking around for the toddlers. There are dunes for hiking, a paved bike trail, and often enough breeze for windsurfing. The west end has a bathhouse for changing and a picnic area replete with barbecue pits and lots of grassy space for lounging.
Tilden Park, Berkeley