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

Camera Obscura, San Francisco

4.3
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
26 reviews
Google
4.3
TripAdvisor
  • September 7, 2017
    For a few dollars, you can be transported to a place you've never been. An apparition of the surrounding landscape and ocean appears magically on a 5-foot flattened bowl in the middle of the circular ...  more »
  • April 23, 2017
    What a blast from the past! A great time to literally look around the cliffs. A classic treasure behind the cliff house right over the sea.  more »
  • February 20, 2017
    We had made the trip to the Cliff House for lunch and came across the Camera Obscura while taken in the views. It only costs a couple dollars but is well worth a quick visit to get some nice views of ...  more »
Google
  • March 21, 2017
    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!!
  • June 11, 2017
    👍 Overpowering view! 👍 👍 Great landscape. 👍 Do you feel so small and unimportant...... 🔝🔝🔝🔝🔝
  • May 5, 2017
    3 dollars is a bargain when you get to watch a completely analog panoramic view of the entire Cliff House/Sutro coastline.
  • June 16, 2017
    It's special because you feel like stuck in time! (Try to go on a sunny day)
  • December 29, 2016
    A bit pricey, but worth going inside to check out if you're a photographer!

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

15 days in West Coast BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA April, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: April, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 34 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA October, culture, relaxing, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: October, culture, relaxing, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 13 days in California BY A USER FROM NORWAY November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in San Francisco BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 19 days in United States BY A USER FROM UZBEKISTAN December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 13 days in California BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 21 days in United States BY A USER FROM UZBEKISTAN December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 15 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES March, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: March, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 1 day in San Francisco BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES October, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: October, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 14 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, culture, relaxing, beaches, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July, culture, relaxing, beaches, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 7 days in United States BY A USER FROM PHILIPPINES December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans