San Francisco, California: Sutro Bath Ruins and Cave

Not much to see now except craggy ruins, but San Franciscans long for the old landmark first opened in 1896 -- a giant public bath and swimming facility -- before it burned down in 1966.
Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA
Point Lobos Ave.
Dangerous conditions.
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Sutro Baths ruins. Sutro Bath Ruins and Cave

It looks like an archaeology site! All sorts of things to climb on and take pictures of.

[Devon, 07/20/2010]

Built by silver king Adolph Sutro in 1896 (who also masterminded the crazy tunnel under Nevada's Comstock Lode), the public baths were huge. The remains are like ancient ruins, fun to explore. You can see a large photo of the structure, filled with bathers, in Sutro's restaurant in the adjacent Cliff House.

Sutro Bath Ruins and Cave

At the north west corner of San Francisco off Point Lobos Ave. lies the ruins of the Sutro Bathhouse. It was built by Adolf Sutro and opened in 1896 but went belly up. Later Sutro's grandson turned it into an ice skating rink in 1937, but that too was unsuccessful. Like most famous sites on San Francisco's Ocean Beach (Play Land at the Beach and the older Cliff House) the Sutro Bathhouse burned down in 1966. The ruins are still there to this day.

People are free to explore the ruins and the cave below. It's the best place to view Seal Rock and there's a lookout area on the north side around the cliff. There's also small cafe before you enter the trail (I believe they sell a poster of what the bath house used to look like).

Caution is advised when exploring the ruins since the ocean around SF can be dangerous. Tourists have died around the area, falling victim to the undertow. There seems to be a second cave by the beach close to the first, but I would advise against exploring it.

The Sutro Bathhouse was also a location in the movie Harold and Maude.

[Brendan, 07/28/2009]

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