The Cliff House has been though five major iterations. It was originally a wood Victorian style structure that was a highlight of the beach area.
This entire spot is truly a historic part of San Francisco that’s sadly lost, except for the Cliff House.
Again, as you face the front of the Cliff House, looking to the right (north), you’ll see where Sutra Baths used to be – a wonderful place to swim and relax. My dad told me about his visits there in the 40’s and how fun it was to spend an afternoon in this glorious structure by the water.
Off to the left (south) is where Playland used to be – a “typical of the times” amusement park. I recall going there as a kid, but it was after it was running on fumes at that time.
The Cliff House probably has the most and lasting history. The California Parks Department now owns the property, but it’s operated by an independent group, and I think they’re doing a great job. Some people object to the modern look, but I love it because it’s very opened and more people can enjoy a relaxing cocktail or a meal and watch the sun sink slowly into the Pacific Ocean. The coastal part of San Francisco can often be very foggy, but it’s always a treat whatever the weather.
Skip the upstairs, which is like a zoo. People often skip the downstairs because it seems expensive and more formal, but I’m not a fan of crowds and families scrambling for a place to sit, so I prefer downstairs at the bar. Our bartender mentioned that the upstairs is the filter for downstairs. Ha, ha. Go early, so it’s not so busy, and grab a bite from the bar menu. We loved the tuna tartare and the fois gras.