In the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District in western San Francisco, California, Sutro Baths was a large, privately owned public saltwater swimming pool complex. It was built in 1896 and is close to Cliff House, Seal Rocks, and Sutro Heights Park. In June 1966, the facility burned down and is now in ruins within the National Recreation Area of the Golden Gate and the Historic District of Sutro.

 

The Sutro Baths' coastal ruins are impressive, overlooking the Seal Rocks and in near proximity to San Francisco's cityscape. On two higher cliffs, there is ample public parking, a dining viewing point from the adjacent Cliff House, and ramps and stairs descending down to the collapsing walls and sea cave.

 

Adolph Sutro, an entrepreneur and millionaire silver mine, built his huge recreational facility in 1894 and opened it in 1896, with a pool of salt water and an aquarium. He soon added a 3-acre public bathhouse in order to enjoy the safe benefits of swimming for the residents of San Francisco.

 

The Baths continued for centuries after Sutro 's death in 1898, but ultimately failed as a business. Sutro 's grandson attempted, forty years later, to turn the Baths into an ice skating rink, but it also succumbed. In 1966, the entire thing went up in flames.

What's left is something that looks like an archaeological excavation in an ancient city that is half-sunken. The public has wide access, and on the rocks and walls, leisure adventurers clamber about. The sea cave can be reached, but listen to the erratic "sneaker waves" of the Pacific Ocean, which can roll over lower areas. A pair of unwary / unlucky tourists drowned. There are risk advisory signs everywhere.

 

There are historical exhibits and items from the Baths, Sutro Heights, and the similarly ill-fated Cliff Building, which burned down a number of times, in a National Park Service visitor center near the parking lot. The gift shop is there.

This amazing landmark is perfect for kids and is located near the following must-see sights in Lafayette, California:

  • Tilden Regional Park

  • Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park

  • Joaquin Miller Park

  • Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

  • Briones Regional Park 

  • Regional Parks Botanic Garden

  • Las Trampas Regional Wilderness Park 

  • Roberts Regional Recreation Area
     

All of these wonderful attractions are located just a short drive from our location near Downtown Walnut Creek, California on Locust Street. Stop by for a visit anytime!