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Cliff House, San Francisco

4.1
#14 of 37 in Historic Sites in San Francisco
Historic Site Tourist Spot
The Cliff House is a restaurant perched on the headland above the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach, on the western side of San Francisco, California. It overlooks the site of the former Sutro Baths and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, operated by the National Park Service. On the terrace of the Cliff House is a room-sized camera obscura.HistoryCliff House has had five major incarnations since its beginnings in 1858. That year, Samuel Brannan, a prosperous ex-Mormon elder from Maine, bought for $1,500 the lumber salvaged from a ship that foundered on the basalt cliffs below. With this material he built the first Cliff House.The second Cliff House was built in 1863, and leased to Captain Junius G. Foster. It was a long trek from the city and hosted mostly horseback riders, small game hunters or picnickers on day outings. With the opening of the Point Lobos toll road a year later, the Cliff House became successful with the Carriage trade for Sunday travel. Later the builders of the toll road constructed a two-mile speedway beside it where well-to-do San Franciscans raced their horses along the way. On weekends, there was little room at the Cliff House hitching racks for tethering the horses for the thousands of rigs. Soon, omnibus, railways and streetcar lines made it to near Lone Mountain where passengers transferred to stagecoach lines to the beach. The growth of Golden Gate Park attracted beach travellers, in search of meals and a look at the sea lions sunning themselves on Seal Rocks just off the cliffs, to visit the area.
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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.
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4.1
  • If I lived in San Francisco this would be my "go to" place. We ate upstairs (not in the formal restaurant) but still found it exceptional. The bar drinks were expertly made. The oysters were enormous ...  more »
  • The current Cliff House, which is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since being purchased by the National Park Service in 1977, is the fourth Cliff House to be built on this site. T...  more »
  • The food was just ok but the view at sunset was spectacular! Reasonably priced for the area. Small servings but that seems to be the same all over San Francisco.  more »
Google
  • Last year, we celebrated my birthday here. They have a beautiful view. The food was not impressive as the sunset or seeing the waves. My daughter enjoyed people watching here. And our waiter was extremely friendly. Bathrooms were not great here. But this place is very popular. Perfect for a romantic date here.
  • There are two restaurants here but we didn't eat at either one. Views are amazing right down onto the Pacific. There is a nearby casual dining place that's cash only and beautiful walking trails, and a coffee shop in the visitor center up the hill.
  • Service, atmosphere and view are exceptional. Food won't disappoint but won't excite. Brought my parents here for an unforgettable evening. Extremely kind and considerate to my mother who at that time was in a wheel chair.
  • About $70/person for their "champagne brunch" in which they highly recommend reservations for. The food is definitely very delicious and of fairly high quality. But I can't see myself eating $70 worth of breakfast/lunch foods. I'm guessing the extra premium was for the view and ambiance. The live harp player in the corner was definitely a great touch. And the service was incredible and all the staff was very friendly. I came here for my birthday and there were 2 other birthdays during our time slot (2pm). I'm guessing it's a popular birthday place. I'd recommend this place for a nice date with a great view or if you're really looking for a nice breakfast and you're STARVING. Otherwise, there are plenty of other places you can go for spectacular brunch for less than $50. Also, this place is great if the weather is nice. If it's gloomy or cloudy, it may not be a good choice.
  • The service and the food where good! But I have to give just one Star because my brother in law who was visiting from Panama and paid the bill of our lunch. Got his credit card cloned!!! And this place was the only one where he used his card! He got to Panama with a bunch of bills from SF. Bad!! We are calling management too! Be careful people!