There is so much to see in the Bay Area that it's easy to miss Land's End on the northwest corner of the city. But the Land's End area is so unique, beautiful and historical..not to mention very easy to get to, that you should not miss it.
From Pillar Point you just go north on Highway 1 to the 35 turnoff...then travel north to the Great Highway and you will run on to the Land's End area...
A new Lands End Lookout Visitors Center
just opened last year..the center has a large parking lot as well as a restaurant, museum store and other exhibits..most of all it has extended trails, down to the ocean and across to incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
You will also be able to view and even walk the ruins of Sutro's Bath House
. Former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro built this incredible attraction in 1896..it had one fresh water pool and 6 sea water pools, each 10 degrees warmer than the other. The pools had swings, trampolines, diving boards, and a myriad of toys to play around the pools...The bath house also had an ice skating rink and many other games and features. And, there was a museum and a large concert hall. The baths closed for good in 1966 after being unprofitable for years and a couple of years later the bath house burned down.
Then, right next door, is the famous Cliff House...originally built in 1858 by Samuel Brannan, an ex-Morman elder from Maine. A ship carrying lumber had crashed on the rocks below and Samuel bought the lumber for $1500 and built the Cliff House
. There have been at least five major incarnations of the Cliff House since. The Point Lobos toll road was built with private funds in the later 19th century and a 2 mile race track was built alongside it...wealthy San Franciscans took their carriages and horses out for a Sunday race and a trip to the beach. A stagecoach also ran along the road.
In 1883 Sutro bought the Cliff House and he built a railway to the area from downtown, so more people could come and enjoy the Cliff House and ultimately, the baths. Around the mid 1890's the schooner, Parallel, which was carrying dynamite, hit the rocks and blew up, severely damaging the Cliff House.
In 1896 Sutro built the Victorian Cliff House, which became the home of at least three U.S. Presidential dinners and many other famous events. The Victorian Cliff House, known as the Gingerbread House survived the 1906 earthquake, but, burned to the ground in 1907.
Sutro's daughter, Dr. Emmit Merritt rebuilt the Cliff House two years later and that structure has been standing ever since, although it has been remodeled and added to several times since. Some 30 ships have crashed on the rocks below over the years.
At one time, a large amusement park, Playland by the Beach
was across from Ocean beach..built by George and Leo Whitney in 1928...This 10 acre amusement park evolved out of a collection of rides known as Chutes at the Beach which began in 1913... Playland by the Beach closed in 1977, but, the Carousel from Playland is still operating at Yerba Buena Gardens
downtown...and the Playland 1914 Wurlitzer 165 band organ can be seen and heard at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
The Whitney's purchased the Cliff House in 1937....The National Park Service bought the Cliff House in 1977 and made it part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area...they have leased out the restaurants to private parties.
Today, the Cliff House has a gift shop, the Bistro restaurant upstairs and the more exclusive Sutros restaurant downstairs..Sunday brunch is a major event at the Cliff House...They also have the Camera Obscura
which has stood here since 1946.
While you are in the area you don't want to miss the U.S.S. San Francisco Memorial
. This beautiful setting honors one of World War II's most decorated ships...17 battle stars for victories in Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and many other critical moments in American history. The bridge wings from the San Francisco are mounted on the promontory.
Whether you are there for breakfast, lunch of dinner, or just a leisurely hike around the place, you will certainly enjoy your visit to Lands End and the Cliff House..a beautiful 40 minute drive from Pillar Point RV Park.