Sutro Baths and Cliff House
The Sutro Baths are one of those things that just seem completely unreal. Located in San Francisco, California, it was once a huge private swimming pool complex that was built in the late 19th century. Unfortunately, a fire in 1966 destroyed the main complex and the building was left abandoned. The Cliff House, a resort built near the Sutro Baths, suffered the same fate. The Cliff House earned its name due to the fact that it was perched atop a cliff overlooking Seal Rocks, providing the guests with incredible views of the coast line.
The tragic fire left both the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House in ruins, but it left behind an eerily beautiful landmark in San Francisco.
The Sutro Baths ruins are located on the north end of Ocean Beach. Although there was once talk of turning the former swimming complex into high rise apartments, these plans were never realized, so only the rubble of the former building remains.
The Cliff House was rebuilt, but it is a mere shadow of its former glory. It is no longer a resort, but a bistro restaurant for tourists. It does, however, still offer amazing views of the coast.
Photo Credit, the Cliff House circa 1900.
Photo Credit, The Cliff House present day
The Sutro Baths are surrounded by walking trails that lead you through twisting trees, grassy areas ready for picnics, and to steep look out points that provide incredible views. The height combined with the strong, cold wind from the water makes it difficult to stay still too long, but I had trouble taking my eyes off the beautiful water.
The trails seem like they were designed for anyone looking to write poetry, contemplate life, or just escape reality. If I wasn’t freezing and my hair wasn’t tangled into an unworkable knot due to the wind, I might have stayed all day.
How to find it
You can find the Sutro Baths and The Cliff House at Land’s End, check their website for visitor’s information.
Bundle up and bring a book and some snacks. Trust me, you’ll want to hang out all day. I also recommend the gift shop, as it has a lot of really beautiful before and after photos as well as more history of this surreal place.