Our original plan for the day was to go to park our car near the Golden Gate Bridge then find breakfast nearby, then go walk the Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Fields. Instead I made a wrong turn and ended up heading west into the Richmond District. So we decided to go The Sutro Baths Ruins and Lands End Lookout.
This place is definitely not as iconic and well known compared to the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve been seeing some amazing pictures of the Sutro Baths ruins from my friends on Instagram. It was a gloomy (and windy) day.
We followed our GPS and pulled into the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center parking lot. We were amazingly lucky to have found a parking spot immediately especially since I realized people were starting to circle the parking lot for a while.
The view from the parking lot already gave me and my family a nice preview of what to expect when I told them we were going to see some ruins.
And even from the top of the stairs that lead to the Sutro Baths Ruins you can already imagine how stunning the Sutro Baths were like sitting right on the California Coast.
At the bottom of the stairs are ruins and a short walk along the Sutro Ruins Trail we arrive at the Sutro Baths Ruins I was kind of excited to see a run down building that didn’t look too scary to walk into. I climbed into one of the “rooms” and kind of climbed up the wall the see the other rooms and the rest of the Sutro Baths Ruins.
Auntie took one look of what she would be climbing into and turned around and walked away. And I didn’t try to climb into the other “rooms” while I watched other little kids (who looked like they were about 10 years old?) making their way through. Isn’t it interesting to see how fearless kids could be?
But then again, speaking of fearless. We walked into a sea cave to the right of the rest of the ruins. The cave gives you views of the powerful waves coming through which is also what makes this tunnel to be quite dangerous in bad weather.
This sea cave was rather anti-climatic to walk through to the end though. There were just huge rocks and a tiny peak at the ocean in the distance (and even some trash among the rocks). But I wonder if I’m comparing this cave to the sea caves at La Jolla Cove in San Diego.
We continued on with our extra fearlessness by walking along the Sutro Baths Ruin walls.
Mom and Auntie chose to relax near the ruins and just listen to the ocean. Yunti, Dad, BH and I walked along the walks to a point that feels as though we’ve walked into the center of one of the pools (looks to be the biggest one there). We snapped a few pictures, and then Yunti turned around.
The wind was starting to pick up and she felt she could blown away from the heavy winds.
BH continued along the Sutro Baths Ruins walls as I stayed in the center to take pictures. I got a few shots of him on the wall.
And of course by the time I walked over there to join him, there was a continuous stream of people making their way along the ruin walls.
The weather was not great that day, but since it is Memorial Day weekend the city is extra busy.
This section of the wall sits at the top of a cliff that looks like it is held up by more the big boulders found at the end of the sea cave. We had the rocks and ocean on 1 side and a big pool of water that was once a giant Sutro Baths pool (or part of one).
I wonder what it is currently filled with though. High tide water? Rain water? What else? I don’t know, either way I don’t want to fall that water.
The Sutro Baths used to actually be filled with ocean water from high tide or with a powerful turbine water pump during low tide. People who swam at the Sutro Baths would be swimming in natural Pacific Ocean water with out being in the actual ocean.
At the end of the wall is beach access or another trail that leads to the Cliff House (another landmark that sits just south of the Sutro Baths Ruins and also founded by Mr. Sutro).
It was also interesting to see people along the cliffs carving into the the rocks. I really don’t think that’s a good idea.
It really was really hard to imagine that this was built in the late 1800’s as a bath house/swimming pool with a full on glass roof, stadium seating for people watching, and a museum.
This place could accommodate 10,000 people, 1.7 million gallons of water to fill 7 swimming pools, and cost $1 million in 1896.
Although the Sutro Baths survived the 1957 earth quake in San Francisco, it fell down on the bad times of the Great Depression. The Sutro Baths were turned into an ice skating rink but ended up being sold to developers.
This land right here would have been an ‘amazing’ condo complex sitting right along the water. But as you can see here that did not happen. After parts of the building being demolished, a major fire broke out and burned the property down. Developers abandoned the project and today it is part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area.
Today, you can actually still make out the deep diving pool with some blue paint that still remains on the walls. The rest is mostly an outline of what the building once was.
When we walked back to find Yunti, Mom and Auntie we found them hanging out out among some old brick structural things. Maybe they were trying to hide from some of the wind.
Anyways, they also eyed a lookout that they wanted to go checkout. So we headed up on the Sutro Baths Upper Trail to Point Lobos where we could see the Sutro Bath Ruins from another overlook location.
The Sutro Baths Upper Trail eventually leads you to the Lands End Coastal Trail which goes on for about 1.5 miles. Check out what else is on the Lands End trail.
At the Point Lobos Overlook there are even a set of stairs that could lead you directly to the ocean but looks like it has long been closed. And if you take a closer look, you definitely don’t want to walk on those stairs from the disrepair (much like the rest of this place).
At lease everything else at the Point Lobos Overlook looks safe and sturdy.
And there may not be much at the overlook, but there was plenty for us to see and stay entertained as a family.
On one side you can look down at all of the Sutro Baths Ruins and on the other it is the open waters of the Pacific Ocean leading into The Bay.
And in the distance you may find the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course it needs to be a sort of clear day to see it.
We made our way back up to the parking lot but before leaving, we made a stop inside of the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center. There is a little cafe, bathroom, a souvenir shop, and even a few things on display to share some of the history of this area.
My favorite was located right along the glass window facing the Sutro Baths Ruins below. There are placards with old black and white pictures of what the ruins used to look like. Check out how elaborate and beautiful Sutro Baths looked like in 1985.
Other images included what visitors actually wore in 1905, images of the fire that finally destroyed the Sutro Baths etc. Check out The Inside Guide to Sann Francisco Tourism site for more pictures!