On the outskirts of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco, is one of my favorite spots in America: the Sutro Baths at Land’s End. The site (which is free and open to the public year-round) also includes restaurants, beach access, spectacular views, and hiking trails!
Sutro Baths: A site of San Francisco history
The site of the Sutro Baths was once home to the world’s largest indoor public swimming pool. The pool was opened to the public in the late 19th Century for recreational use. The pool included diving boards, slides, and even a trapeze. It was a spectacular structure. To imagine the size, the pools could hold over 10,000 swimmers. The structure later housed an ice skating rink, and in its formidable years, a 2,700 seat amphitheater. The building dramatically reached its faith after burning down in the 1960’s. Since, it has been accumulated by the State Park system, and the ruins have once again become open to the public. Visitors can walk along the concrete slabs, left behind by the fire, to enjoy one of the most striking views of the Pacific Ocean.
Hiking by the ocean
Beyond the ruins are hiking trails that lead along the edge of the ocean toward the Golden Gate Bridge. The trails are great for inexperienced hikers, children and pets. The trails offer subtle views of the Golden Gate Bridge, access to the coast, and during certain seasons, amazing views of the Bay’s fog. There are four easy trails to follow that offer views of the coast:
Overlooks - 0.3 mi. Eagle’s Points -1.4 mi. USS SF Memorial - 0.2 mi. Mile rock Beach - 0.8 mi., end of bike route
Grab dinner just before sunset
I highly recommend dinner at Louis’ Restaurant. It is a small diner that sits atop the hill of Sutro Baths. It offers a spectacular view of the waves coming in from the West. The menu is complete with affordable, classic American food, and also includes beer and wine. Louis’ is one of few non-pretentious dining spots in the city and has a pretty laid-back staff where you can grab a cheeseburger or tuna melt, making sure to add a side of fries!
Finer dining can be found next door at the Cliff House. The Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet starts at 55 USD for adults. Children under 12 enjoy half price. Sunday brunch will run you 50 USD plus, and reservations are recommended.
There is no bad time to visit
Because of San Francisco’s year-round mild weather, and because the park is open everyday of the week, there is really no bad time to visit. (Though you should check the restaurant’s website for holiday hours).
During the summer months, it may be a little foggy and chilly, but this only adds an even more serene look at the coast. For the best views of the sunset and for quick, easy access to Louis’, I recommend visiting anytime from Monday to Thursday in order to beat the crowds and get a quick seat for lunch or dinner. There is a parking lot across the street from the restaurant. It is easily accessible to guests coming from both the North and South of the Great Highway.
Land’s End is more than just ocean views. It is a breath of fresh air, a dreamy outdoors, and refreshing experience away from the city life. I highly recommend this location for the nature lovers everywhere.
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