The 18 acre historic Sutro Heights Park is situated above the Cliff House on the ocean side of San Francisco and it has a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean, Ocean Beach, the entrance to San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Seal Rocks. The entrance to Sutro Heights Park is between the two lion statues on Point Lobos Avenue near 48th Avenue where there’s a gravel path leading into the park. The amazing ocean and beach views make this a great place for picnicking, relaxing on the benches, or simply enjoying the peaceful park gardens. The park is located on land that was originally owned by Adolph Sutro who earned his fortune mining silver at the Comstock Lode and became a famous land developer. He was also the 24th mayor of San Francisco from 1895 until 1897.
Adolph Sutro bought the 22 acres of undeveloped land where Sutro Heights Park now exists in 1881 and built his mansion on the rocky ledge overlooking the ocean. In 1883 he opened his estate’s private gardens to the public and allowed people to enjoy it for only 10 cents. In those days, 10 cents from each visitor amounted to enough money to pay the costs for 17 gardeners and the other workers he employed to maintain the grounds. In 1938 the Sutro family donated the Sutro estate to the City of San Francisco and in 1939 the Works Progress Administration demolished the Sutro mansion. Of all Sutro’s statues, only the statue of the Greek goddess Artemis and the two lion statues remain standing.
While strolling along the main park path, you will see eucalyptus trees, cypress trees, Canary Island date palms and Norfolk Island pine trees. When you turn right on the main path, you can walk to a promontory area overlooking the ocean, Seal Rocks and the Cliff House. If you look over the fence at the cliff, you can see the remains of some old steps that led down the cliff to the beach. This is where Adolph Sutro built his “Dolce Far Niente” balcony, a 250 ft. long wood deck that extended out from the stone face of the cliff. If you climb up the stone steps to the top of the hill where Sutro built an observatory, you’ll find a flat area with a juniper tree that’s a good place for children to explore and play.
Sutro Heights Park isn’t a city park anymore. It’s part of the much larger Golden Gate National Recreation Area that’s maintained by Friends of the GGNRA and neighborhood volunteers. Parking is available in two parking lots located near the entrance to the park on Point Lobos Drive. Parking is also available along 48th Avenue on the east side of the park.
Peter Cross is an accomplished article writer and creative writer who has produced hundreds of articles for many different clients since 2006 when he retired from his consulting business.