Five Beautiful Places to See a California Sunset and One Great Place to Run…
Photo via jonathandinh on Flickr.com
Theres a certain wonder from watching a sunset that captures our imaginations. You don’t hear people going around loathing about what an eyesore sunsets are. But as timeless and universal as they are, there are some destinations that just seem to have better sunsets than others. With miles of expansive coastline along the Pacific Coast, the argument could be made that California is one of those places. Today I spotlight five of the most beautiful places to watch the sunset in California.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur. With such a dramatic coastline, its hard to narrow down Big Sur to just one locale to view the sunset. Pfeiffer Beach may be one of the more challenging places to access on this list, but I believe you’ll like the view youre greeted with. Keep your eyes peeled though, as the turnoff for Pfeiffer Beach comes up quickly off the Pacific Coast Highway, and then you have to drive down a narrow road for what seems like miles until you arrive at public parking for the beach. Whats so unique about Pfeiffer Beach is the large rock that sits just beyond the crashing waves. Its no ordinary Pacific Coast rock, but has a large opening at the bottom that the sun shines through before it drops behind the horizon.
Malibu Pier, Malibu. No, not Santa Monica Pier, but Malibu Pier. You’ll have to head just a little further up the coastline to Malibu for this pier. There are tons of popular piers up and down the coastline near L.A., but many of them get busy during the summer months and don’t exactly have the serenity that you’ve probably come to expect from sunsets. While Malibu Pier can in fact get busy during the summer months, its somewhat of a California icon. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk down the pier at sunset or photography lovers can set up on the beach to snap sunset photos with the pier in the foreground.
The Presidio, San Francisco. Its hard to believe that such wilderness and natural beauty is so close to downtown San Francisco. Occupying a large portion of the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, there are several great spots in the Presidio to watch the sunset, including Crissy Field, which provides a view of the sun setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge. However, my favorite is around the bend near Baker Beach along the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. Visitors can find a rock along the trail or sit atop one of the military batteries while watching the sunset straight ahead across the Pacific Ocean. This also provides great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
How to run to The Presidio: A great way to see The Presidio, San Francisco is on a running tour with SF Scenic Running Tours. These runs have grown in popularity as more people find out about the natural beauty that exists in San Francisco. One person on a recent running tour was quoted as saying that she thought it was the most fantastic run she had ever been on and found it hard to believe she was still in San Francisco. “They showed us places we never would have found on our own”, she continued. SF Scenic Running Tours can be found here. Their tours can even be taken in combination with Alcatraz Tours. Many people across the nation have started taking running tours as a way to meet people while keeping fit. “Running was such a solitary activity for me until I started these fantastic tours”, said Lisa, “Now I know lots of people in the city and am more fit than I was in my early 20’s!”
Carmel Beach, Carmel. Carmel Beach is one of California’s most popular beaches and for good reason. Its just blocks from downtown Carmel and features a long, dramatic and rugged coastline that looks out over Carmel Bay. Heres your chance to impress that special someone. On a clear night, arrive early and grab a spot south of 10th Avenue and light a bonfire. Grab a bottle of wine and chocolate and marshmallows for smores, but dont forget a blanket as the chill and wind picks up as the sun starts to set.
Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree. While beach sunsets are a California icon, I couldn’t talk sunsets and not mention at least one destination that is further inland. While you wont see the sun setting over the large expanse of the Pacific Ocean, what you will instead see is a vast sky gleaming with bright colors for as far as the eye can see and no sights or sounds to interrupt it. Sunsets here are expansive and offer a sense of serenity that the other places on this list dont quite produce. For a more perched view above the park, take the turn-off on the northwestern side of the park for Keys View.By Spencer Spellman on May 31, 2012 2:00 PMunder Travel
Rugged Land’s End Lookout Deserves It’s Own Look
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Michael Macor / The Chronicle
The two stone lions that guard the main entrance off Point Lobos Avenue are replicas of relics from Sutro Heights across the way.
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It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate building for aptly named Lands End than the confident outpost of concrete and glass that officially opened Saturday.
Assertive and inviting at once, the compact structure commands one of San Francisco’s best sites – a cliff above the ruins of Sutro Baths, up from the Cliff House with a forested backdrop on three sides. The architectural response is tough rather than meek, and it enriches a location that already is one-of-a-kind.
Lands End has been a destination since the 1860s, when the first of several predecessors to today’s Cliff House restaurant could be reached by a toll road that is now Geary Boulevard, 50 cents a ride on a horse-drawn omnibus from Portsmouth Square. Tycoon Adolph Sutro opened his Sutro Baths in 1896 with seven indoor pools as well as an amphitheater and later an ice skating rink.
The crowds kept coming after fire destroyed the Baths in 1966. What greeted them for the next 30 years were stunning views of the Pacific Ocean – and threadbare trails, a dirt parking lot and the tangle of tour buses outside a Cliff House that included a cramped visitors center.
The new building designed by San Francisco’s EHDD is the latest in a series of upgrades that follow the 1993 master plan for the Sutro Historic District done by the National Park Service and implemented in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
Another key player has been the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, which has donated $8.6 million to the Lands End efforts up to and including the Lookout.
As with other improvements, which include a rebuilt Cliff House and paved trails accessible to people in wheelchairs, the offering here is aimed at both one-time tourists and devoted regulars.
There are bathrooms for the public, and storage areas for conservation programs. A small food counter offers to-go items. The centerpiece of the 4,100-square-foot structure, though, is a central space with educational exhibits amid merchandising kiosks, learning and commerce both geared to the locale.
The flat-topped modern building hunkers down on an exposed perch where the salty fog and winds “will beat a building to death if you’re not prepared,” says Jennifer Devlin of EHDD. Four thick walls of concrete run east to west, separating the building’s functions and extending into an inland plaza. The long bars tie the buildings into the landscape of low freshly planted dunes; they should also help deflect the often-brutal gusts.
On the side that faces the Pacific, the emphasis is exactly where it ought to be – the shop and cafe are lined by 14-foot-high panels of floor-to-ceiling glass. The public rooms angle slightly northwest, making the Marin Headlands part of the show. Clerestory windows above the concrete walls reduce the glare within the handsome space with its exhibit and sales areas designed by the small local firm Macchiatto.
Other touches make the connection to place without making a fuss.
Some are obvious, such as the two stone lions that guard the entrance off Point Lobos Avenue and are replicas of relics from Sutro Heights across the way. Some are subtle: The reclaimed redwood siding on the building’s east side has the raw simplicity of what critic Lewis Mumford dubbed the “Bay Region Style” in 1947.
It all comes together
The final cultural overlay is a quest for sustainability that extends beyond the solar panels on the roof. The structure is naturally ventilated, restrooms included. Recycled materials are used throughout, including oyster shells for mulch along the dunes.
Inevitably, the Lookout’s presence has stirred a reaction. It’s snug against the paved esplanade along the cliff; it pops into the view of drivers as Geary Boulevard becomes Point Lobos Avenue. The architecture doesn’t try to echo the long-gone Victoriana of the Cliff House that existed from 1896 to 1907.
But that’s part of what makes the experience so special. The siting, the materials, the design philosophy – all are attuned to a remarkable urban encounter with the natural forces that still shape this region.
Lands End is not a timid location. How fitting that the final building likely to rise here isn’t timid, either.
King is the San Francisco Chronicle‘s urban design critic. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared on page C – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
About Old S.F. (One our favorite sites here at ExploreSF)
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the San Francisco Public Library in any way.
This site provides an alternative way of browsing the SFPL‘s incredible San Francisco Historical
Photograph Collection. Its goal is to help you discover the history
behind the places you see every day.
And, if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even discover something about San Francisco’s rich past that you never knew before!
Where did these images come from?
The images all come from the San Francisco Public Library’s San Francisco Historical
Photograph Collection. They were culled from many sources, including the
Francisco News-Call Bulletin.
The creators of this site did not collect or digitize any of these images
— credit for that massive undertaking belongs entirely to the
Who built this site?
What did this site do?
The creators of this site associated latitudes and longitudes to the images in
the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection at the San Francisco Public Library, located in the Main Branch on the 6th floor. This process is known as geocoding. Doing this
allows the images to be placed at points on a map, which enables new ways of
exploring this collection.
How were they geocoded?
The geocodes are based on two sources:
- Photo Subjects. All photographs in the “City Hall (old)”
series presumably belong in the same place. We manually geocoded several
- Addresses and Cross-Streets. The photo descriptions often contain
either an address, block number or set of cross-streets. These were
converted to coordinates using the Google
What’s the story of this project?
Several years ago, I searched for my cross-streets
on the Library’s San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection and found the
photo on the right. The image was mislabeled — the intersection in the
foreground is actually Waller and Fillmore, not Waller and Webster. Which
meant that this photo from 1945 was taken from my roof!
I put together a now-and-then
shot, but it always bothered me that the mislabeling of the image was so
crucial to my finding it. This led to the idea of putting the images on a
And now, years later, we have that map!
What fraction of the images have been geocoded?
The library’s collection contains about 40,000 images. Many of these
photographs have little geographic context (e.g. they’re portraits) and
cannot be located. In all, about 20,000 of the images could be placed on a
map. We’ve geocoded about 65% of the possible images: 13,000.
How can you help?
If you’re technically minded, here’s a JSON file containing all the image
descriptions, as well as geocodes for the records on the map (including the
reason I thought they were at that location): records.js.zip (2MB download).
If you improve on my geocoding or do something else interesting with the data,
please share your results!
via About Old S.F..
To see this collection in person or to order reprints please come to The San Francisco Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Telephone (415) 557-4567, email: email@example.com
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, located in the San Francisco History Center on the 6th floor, contains photographs and works on paper of San Francisco and California views from 1850 to the present. The Collection is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 and Saturdays 10-12 & 1-5
Explore the Library’s Geocoded Images On Old S.F.!
- View Digital Images
- Browse Digital Images
- Order Images
- Featured Galleries
- Photo Collection Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s New Online
- September 18, 1935
- Photo ID#
About the Photo Collection
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection contains photographs and works on papers of San Francisco and California scenes ranging from 1850 to the present. This collection includes views of San Francisco street scenes, buildings, and neighborhoods, as well as photographs of famous San Francisco personalities. The collection consists mostly of the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper, ranging from 1920s to 1965. The collection also contains albums, slides, postcards, cabinet cards, stereoviews, and lantern slides of San Francisco and California subjects.
Copies of images may be ordered with the Reproduction of Images Form (PDF 31K). Many of the photographs are available for commercial use when a Permission to Publish Form (PDF 40K) has been submitted.
The collection may be viewed in two ways: through the online database on the San Francisco Public Library website, which contains 40,000 digitized images from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, or in person during photo desk open hours.
When viewing the collection in person, only a limited number of photographs may be examined at one time. Library users will be provided with gloves to wear while examining the photographs. The photographs are to be handled by the edges only and held securely on two sides. The following items are not to be used in contact with the photographs: pressure sensitive tapes, all types of glues, paper clips, elastic bands, staples, pins, pens or pencils. Photocopying of photographs is harmful to the image and is not allowed. Photographs may be reproduced through a photo lab of the Library’s choice, through the Library scanning service or through a scheduled photo shoot. See Order Images for details.
For further information about the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection please call 415-557-4567 during open hours.
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When the SF fog lifts, the recently restored Cliff House comes into view. Overlooking the ruins of Sutro Baths, you will enjoy stunning views of Ocean Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands.
We offer more than just running tours. Are you in San Francisco for business or pleasure yet still need to get in a training run for an upcoming event. Our seasoned running staff can step in as your guide, coach, training partner or personal trainer to work with you during your stay in an unfamiliar city, or to explore the wonderful city you call home. We’ll eliminate the guesswork and show you the best locations to run.
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