Sutro Baths: One of San Francisco’s Most Unique Spots

One of the most popular spots for sunset in San Francisco is not the Golden Gate Bridge, but the Sutro Baths. These unique ocean fed baths were once a popular area for the public to play while in San Francisco. Today they have been preserved so that you can explore them, but I doubt you would want to do any bathing in them. Here is all the information so you can check it out yourself.

Sutro Baths-7

Details

  • .5 mile hike
  • 100 feet of elevation
  • Free to park

Getting There

Sutro Baths-14

The Sutro baths are located below the parking lot at the west end of Geary St. You literally drive to the end, and you will see the parking lot. There are a lot of spaces but they can fill up fast, especially during the weekends.

History

The below history is taken from here:

Adolph Sutro, the self-made millionaire who designed Sutro Heights and later the second Cliff House, developed the amazing Sutro Baths in 1894. The massive public bathhouse covered three acres at one time. Sutro’s dream for the Baths was to provide a healthy, recreational and inexpensive swimming facility for thousands of San Franciscans. There were slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive. The power of the Pacific Ocean during high tide could fill the 1.7 million gallons of water required for all the pools in just one hour. The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time and offered 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.

Overtime, the Baths became less popular, due to the Great Depression, reduction in available public transportation and new public health codes. In attempts to make the facility profitable, the owners converted the baths into an ice-skating rink but Sutro Baths never regained its popularity and the ice-skating revenue was not enough to maintain the enormous building. In 1964, developers with plans to replace the Baths with high-rise apartments bought the site and began demolition of the once great structure. In 1966, a fire destroyed what was left of the Baths; the city did not pursue the high-rise apartment plans. The concrete ruins just north of the Cliff House are the remains of the grand Sutro Baths and have been part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1973.

The Hike

Sutro Baths-2

After parking you can make your way to the lookout and see the baths from above. If you chose to continue on (why wouldn’t you?), there is a dirt path and stairs to the right of the parking lot. You won’t miss it as I gaurentee there will be a lot of other people there exploring.

Sutro Baths-3

The dirt path takes you down to both the baths and Point Lobos Lookout.

Sutro Baths-4

I went to Point Lobos Lookout first which is to the right at the split.

Point Lobos Lookout

Sutro Baths-5

The Point Lobos Lookout provides a great 180 degree view of the area. You can even see the Golden Gate Bridge sticking out on the right side, but just barely.

Sutro Baths-6

The best view is looking out at the rocks in the water, as from this angle you can see the heart shaped rock way out in the water (this is the only angle you can see the heart from). You can also get a good view of the baths to the left of you from this vantage point as well. When you are done head back to the split and down to the baths.

Sutro Baths

Sutro Baths-11

The baths themselves are a variable playground for the explorer. There is so much climb on and look around at while you are down there.

Sutro Baths-10

I spent a good 45 minutes just walking around, going out on the cement paths and just trying to find the best angles.

Sutro Baths-12

Sutro Baths-8

Sutro Baths-9

After looking around for a while I headed back up the dirt path on the other side where there are some more ruins.

Sutro Baths-13

After that I climbed back out and made my way to the car. I can say that this is a fantastic spot to explore in San Francisco. It is not often that you can find an old abandoned spot like this that you can freely walk around at. I can’t wait to come back and spend some more time here at a later date. Let me know if you have been in the comments and if there are other spots down there I missed. Also, while you are there consider doing the Lands End coastal trail.

Interested in supporting this blog?

This blog is simply a hobby and labor of love for me. If you have enjoyed the posts consider sharing it with your friends. I want as many people as possible to explore this state and you can help by letting them know about all of the great spots!

Subscribe to the mailing list for a weekly posts recap!

About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.