Back in 2009 I shared a photo here on the blog of the Sutro Baths Ruins, which are located near Ocean Beach here in San Francisco. I rarely go out to this spot but it’s truly one of my favorite places in the city. There’s a magic feeling here. Last weekend a group of us went out there on an amazing, clear, sunny day and got to enjoy the views.
Sutro Baths History
Sutro Baths a historic bathing center that was built at the end of the nineteenth century. It was an extravagant thing that cost over one million dollars to create. People took the train out to the coast to spend the day playing at this glass-encased water wonderland. The baths were 500 feet long, included 6 salt water tanks and 1 fresh water tank and had fun things like swinging rings, a spring board and a 50 foot slide. There were 500 private dressing rooms, amazing striking columns, an amphitheater and a promenade in this building that could hold 25,000 people. Sea water would come in but be about 80 degrees, which was perfect for swimming, and the whole place was considered healing and playful.
Sutro Baths Ruins
The baths changed over time for a number of reasons. In the 1960s they burned down. The ruins remain and they create a striking historic artifact that you can see against the amazing view of the ocean on a clear day.
I went to the baths because I had friends visiting from out of town and we were hitting up some of the touristy highlights that I love. But I also really wanted to go back to see if I could see the otter that has suddenly taken up residence in this beautiful spot. According to SF Gate, this otter (the first one to be spotted near San Francisco in decades) has been dining on the overgrown goldfish that fill the ponds here but nobody knows quite why he ended up in this space. I love the nature of San Francisco and how it can change from time to time like this.
I did get to see the otter. I didn’t get any good pictures of him because he was keeping his head underwater most of the time but he’s there in the pond within the ruins.