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Sutro Baths

Step back in time at the Sutro Baths
While hiking through the Lands End area of San Francisco I came across this gem. Built in the late 19th century as the world's largest indoor swimming pool complex, visitors could take a dip in one of the seven pools or take a stroll through a museum containing the eclectic artifacts collected by the Bath's owner and former mayor of San Francisco, Adolph Sutro. The building burned down in a fire in 1966 and the area was abandoned, but it is still a very unique and photograph-worthy spot. I felt like I had been transported to some European ruin of an ancient bath house, momentarily forgetting that I was actually in California!
Lunch with a view
Dining at a Sutro's is an amazing treat. You get to look out at the bay and enjoy decent quality food.

We started off with a brut, and then proceeded with the english pea soup as our appetizer. I got the mint and english pea ravioli dish topped with crab, and my dining companion had the mussels.

Was this the best meal we ever had? No. But the food is good enough and the view is breathtaking. After the meal, we hiked along the Sutro baths and this made for a great experience.

Highly recommended.

Tip: Try to get the first reservation and arrive early to secure a table by the window.
Lunch with a view San Francisco California United StatesLunch with a view San Francisco California United StatesLunch with a view San Francisco California United StatesLunch with a view San Francisco California United States

Sunset at Sutro Baths
September and October are the months for warmer days and beautiful evenings in San Francisco. This comes from Sutro Baths, looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Just west of the city and a short bus ride down Geary, this is also the trailhead for Lands End, which is a short hike that winds along the Pacific Coast cliffs with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sunset at Sutro Baths  San Francisco California United States

Baths. No Salt.
On a particularly chilly SF night a teacher led a photo class to the Sutro Baths. Sounds romantic, but it was close to 30 degrees outside. Flashlights in hand, the class of 10 amateur photographers, myself included, slid down the dirt path on the north side of the Cliff House.

We wandered around the ruins as the teacher shouted at us the history of the place where we were standing. "The Sutro family rebuilt these ruins 4 times, because of fires." She shouted into the night. Her voice barely fell on the ears of the mob of students combing the area, crouching down, standing on tippy-toe, eyes in their viewfinders.

We walked all over. Through the tunnel, over the cliff, through the main pool area, spending 10 or more minutes in each place trying to get just one great shot. When there is very little available light these photos take a very long time for the film to capture. This was before digital cameras were as popular as they are now.

Joints growing stiff from the cold wind we did our best not to disturb the ground our tripods rested upon. We spoke softly as if the film could hear us, and watched the clouds dance with the wind, hearing nothing, but waves rolling and camera shutters clicking.

Cars drove by and the Muni too, but the beach/valley that was once a bath house protected us from the sounds of the city and for an hour or two were transported to a nighttime oasis that is always there, where the ocean meets the mouth of the bay.
Baths. No Salt. San Francisco California United States

Brunch Overlooking the Pacfic
The airy dining room windows serve two purposes: allow the light in and frame the dramatic Pacific Coast. Brunch at the Cliff House is delicious, but you'll be lifting your eyes from the plate often to watch waves crash, ships pass, and gulls dive.
Brunch Overlooking the Pacfic San Francisco California United States

Sunny Beach...A Rare Treat!
San Francisco is not known for her warm sunny beaches, but when we are blessed with a clear blue sky, warm breeze and sunshine, wow is it fantastic!! Typically Ocean Beach is pretty empty with the exception of surfers armed with wetsuits and dedicated beach-goers bundled up with long pants, jackets and scarves playing ball with their dog. So, when the temperatures rise, the crowds come a running!
Sunny Beach...A Rare Treat! San Francisco California United States

Sutro Baths
This is a fun part of the city to explore, ruins to climb across, caves to explore, cliffs to ascend and trails leading out to Land's End for some great hikes with killer views. I highly recommend getting out to the Sea Cliff area of the city if you have time, there is so much to explore here!
Sutro Baths San Francisco California United States

Historic Ruins in San Francisco
I enjoyed a lovely lunch in the midst of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area while sitting on location of the former Sutro Baths and Cliff House.
Historic Ruins in San Francisco San Francisco California United States

Wandering the Sutro Baths Ruins
Even though I have spent nearly my entire life in San Francisco, I had never checked out the Sutro Baths until a couple years ago. Growing up in the city, I had always heard of the area near the Cliff House but I had not actually seen it. I'd have to ask my parents why they never took me there.
When I finally drove out there to visit, I saw why people had been recommending it for years. It was clear that this would be a great place to take any friends from out of town. Visiting these ruins is a unique experience that I cannot really imagine in any other part of the world. You can climb the ruins of the Victorian-era bathhouse, enjoy the ocean air, or just admire the view. The scenery is especially beautiful at sunset and it is almost haunting at dusk.
Wandering the Sutro Baths Ruins San Francisco California United States

Taking in the Ocean View at the Sutro Baths
The ruins at the Sutro Baths allows for some of the best views of the Pacific within the city limits. Go during sunset and then stop in the Outer Richmond for dinner afterwards.
Taking in the Ocean View at the Sutro Baths San Francisco California United States

Urban Exploring at the Sutro Baths
The Sutro Baths ruin is at the very western edge of the Presidio. They were originally built in 1894 by an eccentric self-made millionaire who had a dream to provide healthy, inexpensive swimming for the masses. The site fell to ruin in the early 1900's but they are still a great place to visit.

If you are into urban exploring, you can crawl around the ruins, check out the graffiti and wander in the tunnel.

And if you are into ocean views (and who isn't), go at dusk for the perfect sunset.

You can visit Sutro baths as part of an afternoon exploring the Presidio and all of the trails along the western edge of San Francisco
Urban Exploring at the Sutro Baths San Francisco California United States

1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
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