Visit The Concrete Coastal Ruins of Sutro Baths

Sutro Baths are a lesser known attraction in San Francisco. The three acres baths were opened in 1894 as the world's largest indoor swimming pool establishment. Now it lies in ruins along the Pacific Coastline.

Getting There

The Sutros Baths are easy to access from the parking lot where you can park for free. It’s approximately a half mile walk out and back using a long staircase to reach the site. It’s a spectacular view with tall trees on your right, lush greenery all around, and a rocky coastal view.

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The History

The developer Adolf Sutro’s vision was to create a beautiful recreation area that was affordable for San Franciscans. The pools were filled by the ocean at high tide, and therefore could accommodate 10,000 people at a time (Resource). It’s hard to imagine a pool house being that large! There are some great original images and history of the Baths at Cliff House Project.

The Baths became less popular over time during the Great Depression. The owners converted it into a skating rink for a time but it never made a comeback. The structure burned down in a fire in 1966 and was left to ruins. Now it's remains make up a small inlet off San Francisco's coastline.

Slowly restaurants are being developed around it, as well as a new informational center that you can visit to learn more about its history.

You can also visit The Cliff House restaurant for seaside cuisine. It was also developed by Adolf Sutro and is perched on the cliffs of the Pacific.

Photo by Dianne He.

Sutro Baths

The last time I visited you can walk everywhere to view the concrete ruins. There aren't any restrictions when visiting the site. No ropes, or gates, or signs telling you not to climb on things. I encourage you to spend time exploring the pools and concrete structures.

Sutro Baths.

What remains of the Sutro Baths.

What remains of the Sutro Baths.

Pool reflections at sunset.

The view from the backside of the cave.

Take in the views of the ocean, and wander through the sea caves. Just be sure it’s low tide so you’re not putting yourself in any kind of danger.


Exploring Sutro Baths is a great activity when you you visit San Francisco. San Francisco has a rich history and this is one of those special places with an interesting story to tell.

Are there any other interesting details I left out? Leave them in the comments below.