San Francisco’s Sutro Baths was once a public bathhouse with seven indoor swimming pools. Perched atop granite bluffs at the city’s western tip, it symbolized the great wealth brought by the Gold Rush.
Sutro Baths, north of the Cliff House, are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Dazzling visitors when it opened in 1896, Sutro Baths was an impressive engineering feat: swimming pools filled with water from the Pacific Ocean and a series of concrete walls at high tide. Its aquariums, restaurants, art galleries, and exhibits made it a must-visit for San Franciscans.
Many city tours stop at Sutro Baths to explore the ruins and snap a few pictures. Walking tours of Lands End generally include time at Sutro Baths and finish with a drink at the Cliff House.
Things to Know Before You Go
- With weather changing quickly from warm and sunny to foggy and chilly, layers are recommended.
- Sturdy walking shoes are needed to safely explore Sutro Baths and Lands End.
- Bring your camera to capture views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Cliff House, and San Francisco skyline.
- Sutro Baths is not wheelchair accessible but nearby Lands End Visitor Center and Cliff House are.
- Beware of wave break and slippery stairs and paths on the cliffs.
- There is a small café and restroom facilities at Lands End Lookout.
How to Get There
Ride San Francisco Muni’s 38 Geary bus line, exit at 48th Avenue and Point Lobos Avenue, and walk 0.33 mile (0.53 kilometer) to the Sutro Bath ruins, at the intersection of Point Lobos Avenue and Merrie Way. Or, hike from the Golden Gate Bridge to Lands Ends. A parking lot behind Lands End Lookout is impossibly busy on sunny days and summer weekends.
When to Get There
Sutro Baths can be accessed from sunrise to sunset, but Lands End Lookout is open daily from 9am to 5pm and closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Most visitors come in the summer, which makes the baths, lookout, Cliff House, and trails crowded. Visit early in the morning or on a rainy day to have the place to yourself.
Adolph Sutro, San Francisco's 24th mayor (1895–1897), made his fortune removing gas and water from the Comstock Lode, a major silver mine in Nevada. Using his wealth to benefit others, he also built Sutro Heights Park, a 20-acre (8-hectare) formal public garden; revitalized the Cliff House as a family-friendly venue; and opened his family estate to the public.