Sutro Heights Park is named for the extremely wealthy former San Francisco mayor who created it in the 1880s, Adolph Sutro. He filled the land with a variety of plants, wide pathways, hedge mazes, and hundreds of replicas of European statues. When the park first opened, Sutro hired a staff of 17 to work full time to maintain the grounds. He lived in a house located within the park, although it was demolished along with several other structures during the Great Depression, at which point the land became a public park. Today the stone foundation of his former home can still be visited. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area now manages the park and vista point.
Visitors are drawn to the park for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Ocean Beach, making this the perfect place to watch a picturesque sunset. Visitors can also look down toward the Cliff House. The original Cliff House was a building that acquired a rather insidious reputation before Sutro bought it. It was consumed in a fire several years after he acquired it, and its replacement is now an elegant landmark hugged by trees on one side and the ocean on the other.
Point Lobos Avenue snakes along the edge of the park, and visitors can cross it to take a peek at the Sutro Baths. At one point this was the biggest indoor swimming complex in the world, housing seven pools. The pools were filled with ocean water when the tide came in, and 10,000 guests could swim at once. They enjoyed the use of waterslides, springboards, a high dive, and even trapezes. In 1966 the facility burned, although the ruins remain a popular seaside attraction.
Despite the alterations, this park retains the main elements that drew visitors to it more than a century ago: the gorgeous Pacific Ocean views and the family and dog-friendly atmosphere. It is an nice destination for history buffs or those simply looking to catch a spectacular sunset.