Trip Planner:   USA  /  California  /  San Francisco  /  Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura, San Francisco

4.1
The Camera Obscura is a large-scale camera obscura, in the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District in western San Francisco, California.It is located near the Cliff House restaurant, perched on the headlands on the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach. The Camera and restaurant are currently owned by the National Park Service and are within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Camera Obscura was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, and is within the NPS Sutro Historic District. It is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, since being acquired by the National Park Service in 1977.HistoryCameras obscura, devices which project an image of the surroundings onto a surface using only existing exterior light sources, usually sunlight, have a long history in San Francisco. The first recorded reference to one in the city is from the 1860s in an attraction called Woodward's Gardens. A previous incarnation of the Cliff House was noted to have had a camera obscura on its fourth floor in 1896. This camera obscura was destroyed when the restaurant burned down in 1907.When the third Cliff House reopened in 1937, the owner was approached by businessman Floyd Jennings with the idea of adding a camera obscura to the cliffs beside the restaurant. It was installed on the site in 1946 and has been in continuous operation since then.
Put Camera Obscura on your schedule, and learn what else deserves a visit by using our San Francisco road trip planning app .
Source
Create an itinerary including Camera Obscura
map
Camera Obscura Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
29 reviews
Google
4.3
TripAdvisor
  • Closed when I visited (Dec 27th). Called the number and it says open daily, weather permitting. It's sunny and clear. Second time I have tried to come here and it's closed Again! in perfect weather. A...  more »
  • I heard about the Camera Obscura on the site 'Atlas Obscura' otherwise I might not have seen it, but it's rather interesting and if you're here during the day and it's open you can have a look, but I ...  more »
  • The Camera Obscura is tucked away behind the Cliff House and next to the ocean. Once inside it is an odd little place but well worth exploring. There are holograms on the wall that are incredible and ...  more »
Google
  • AVOID THIS PLACE! This is the ghetto of SF. Our car was broken into as well as many other rentals that were parked in plain sight right off the highway with surfers all over the damn place. Just skip this destination! We didn't see 1 cop car the entire time. Crooks must know the cops don't care about this part of town. Tax dollars being used really well over here... AVOID AT ALL COSTS!
  • An amazing display of holographic projection. Sadly it was rather foggy on the day of my visit, but it was still worth it. I hope they can keep this quirky site going for many more years - go visit and see how cool cleverly placed mirrors and a dark room really can be!
  • Excellent view of the ocean :O big waves breaking on the rocks next to the beach is awesome
  • On a clear day this place is beautiful.
  • This is magical...the beauty of the ocean's shimmering---unparalleled. I love this place! Every visitor I have goes here with me...and they are all entranced. And the history behind it---I just love Camera Obscura!!

Plan your trip to San Francisco

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in San Francisco

From inexpensive hostels in quiet residential areas to high-end hotels near the city center, San Francisco has accommodations for every budget. Key consideration is what kind of neighborhood you want to stay in. You'll find luxury hotels in Union Square, which has prime shopping, is near theaters, and is on the cable car line. Many hotels are in the northeastern portion of the city, near the tourist-driven neighborhoods of Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, both easily explored on foot. To get away from the tourist crowds, consider the smaller inns and family-run bed and breakfasts in some of the city's more charming neighborhoods, such as Noe Valley or Pacific Heights. There are also boutique hotels scattered around town. Avoid staying in the Tenderloin. If you plan to have a car with you, ask about parking availability and fees. Parking is often difficult and expensive.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor

Plans in San Francisco by other users

13 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA September, teens, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, wildlife, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: September, teens, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced 18 days in United States BY A USER FROM HONG KONG May, teens, kids, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: May, teens, kids, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in California BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA September, teens, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: September, teens, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in San Francisco BY A USER FROM MEXICO February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 30 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 28 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA May, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 9 days in California BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 49 days in United States & Niagara Falls BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA November, teens, popular PREFERENCES: November, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in California BY A USER FROM PHILIPPINES March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 24 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in United States BY A USER FROM MEXICO March, teens, kids, popular PREFERENCES: March, teens, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 23 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans