Skip to Main Content

Sutro Baths ruins.

Sutro Baths Ruins and Cave

Field review by the editors.

San Francisco, California

The coastal ruins of the Sutro Baths are impressive, overlooking Seal Rocks and in close proximity to the cityscape of San Francisco. There's ample public parking on two higher cliffs, a dining vantage point from the adjacent Cliff House, and ramps and stairs descending down to the crumbling walls and sea cave.

Sutro Baths ruins.

Entrepreneur and silver mine millionaire Adolph Sutro built his huge recreational facility in 1894 and opened in 1896, with a salt water pool and an aquarium. He soon added a 3 acre public bathhouse so that the people of San Francisco could enjoy the healthful benefits of swimming. After Sutro's death in 1898, the Baths continued for decades, but eventually failed as a business. Sutro's grandson tried to turn the Baths into an ice skating rink forty years later, but that also succumbed. The whole thing went up in flames in 1966.

What's left is something that feels like an archaeological dig at a half-sunken ancient city. The public has broad access, and leisure explorers clamber around on the rocks and walls. The sea cave can be entered, but heed the Pacific ocean's unpredictable "sneaker waves," which can roll across lower areas. A few incautious/unlucky visitors have drowned. Danger advisory signs are everywhere.

A National Park Service visitor center near the parking lot features historical displays about and artifacts from the Baths, Sutro Heights, and the equally ill-fated Cliff House, which burned down a number of times. There's a gift shop.

Sutro Baths Ruins and Cave

Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA
Point Lobos Ave.
Daytime. Watch for dangerous conditions. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Cliff House Totem PoleCliff House Totem Pole, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
Camera Obscura - Giant Pinhole CameraCamera Obscura - Giant Pinhole Camera, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
Beach Chalet: WPA Frescos, Undersea StairsBeach Chalet: WPA Frescos, Undersea Stairs, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Hoppers Hands - Runner Turning Point, San Francisco, CA - 3 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in California

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in California.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Save Cool Vacation Destinations! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

California Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Daredevil Graves of Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls, New York (Jun 17-23, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings