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Now the Cliff House is newly renovated with a restaurant, a gift shop and large viewing area of the Pacific Ocean


Cliff House

In 1863, the first Cliff House was built by C.C. Butler and John P. Buckley. The guest register bares the names of three U.S. Presidents. In 1865, James Cooke walked a tightrope from Cliff House to Seal Rocks. The Cliff House was sold to Adolph Sutro in 1881. In 1888, he built a railroad in order to bring the tourists to the area. A fire then destroyed the first Cliff House on December 25, 1894.

In 1896, Adolph Sutro went to work rebuilding the Cliff House. The grandiose style estate cost $50,000 to build and was fashioned after a French Chateau. It boasted 8 stories, spires and an observation tower two hundred feet above sea level. It was a well-designed and graceful site for dining, and dancing. The first floor consisted of a large dining room, parlor, bar, private dining rooms and kitchens. The second floor was made up of 20 private lunchrooms, an art gallery and a gem exhibit. There was a photo gallery, reception room, parlors and large windows with panoramic views located on the third floor. While this most exquisite house survived the 1906 earthquake with only minor damage, it burned to the ground the next year during remodeling.

In 1909, Adolph Sutro’s daughter, Emma, rebuilt Cliff House. The third house was designed in neoclassic fashion and continued with the tradition of splendid dining. The Sutro family sold the Cliff House in 1952 to George Whitney and was remodeled several times before the National Park Service took over in 1977.

Cliff House is an historic building which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It reopened to the public in 2004 after a $19 million restoration. Today the Cliff House is preserved as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

During your San Francisco tour aboard San Francisco Comprehensive Tours we will take to this location and give you ample time to walk around and take pictures.