Sutro Heights Park – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

Sutro Heights Park

A hidden gem, named after a San Franciscan icon, offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. 


The name Adolph Sutro might not mean much to a visitor to San Francisco, but to locales, it is synonymous with the city itself. Not only was he the 24th mayor of San Francisco, but he also established himself as a great engineer and philanthropist. Among his many fascinating enterprises, he is most well-known for designing and creating Sutro Baths.

What some residents might not be aware of is the location of the remains of a park he also created, just across the street from the fragments of this once elaborate 19th-century bathing institution. Currently, under the auspice of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area organization, this green space covers an area of 18 acres and offers stunning vistas of the city’s coastline.

Besides some of the best unobstructed panoramic outlooks of Ocean Beach, there are several enduring artifacts that prevail. Giving modern visitors a slight hint at the grandiose and opulent structures that once stood in this tranquil setting. Dotted throughout are several Roman and Greek statuary imported from Belgium. Along with the remains of a balustrade referred to as the “Dolce far Niente Balcony,” that towers over The Cliff House below.

With Sutro’s passing, the multi-million gardens slowly fell into disrepair. Over time, the enormous house, with a parapet and glass conservatory, was eventually demolished. Of the over 200 statues that adorned the premises, only a handful still exist today. Some were pilfered, while others were buried by the head gardener during World War II. They remain submerged as their whereabouts are unknown.

Know Before You Go

Parking is available near Land's End Lookout Visitors Center, where there are toilets and other facilities. Dogs are allowed within the grounds. Certain areas, especially towards the cliff, are not fully handicap-accessible. The park is open 24 hours.

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May 9, 2023

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