Sitting within the boundaries of the one of the world’s largest urban national parks—the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA)—the Cliff House boasts one of the most spectacular restaurant locations in California. Look to the south, and there are lines of waves rolling onto Ocean Beach, defining the western boundary of San Francisco. To the north, the vista takes in rugged headlands and the ruins of the historic Sutro Baths. And west, it’s nothing but water—a vantage point so “out there” that you can actually whale watch while you dine. It’s no wonder this place has drawn locals and visitors for more than 150 years.
Cliff House has two dining choices. In a renovated 1909 building, the casual Bistro Restaurant serves classic San Francisco cuisine, including a cioppino brimming with Dungeness crab. More formal (though still relaxed), Sutro’s offers seasonal specialities prepared with organic produce. Try ravioli filled with a decidedly Northern Californian combination: Dungeness crab and artichokes. For handcrafted cocktails, stop in at Zinc Bar, which has an 1889-vintage back bar that was carved in Paris. Or watch sunset from the Balcony Lounge overlooking Sutro’s.
Insider’s tip: Take a little extra time to visit the excellent visitor center at nearby Lands End Lookout, with details on natural and cultural history, and a nice gift shop.