The Cliff House, a San Francisco landmark since 1863, hangs over the Pacific Ocean off of the Great Highway. The original Cliff House hosted three presidents, the Hearst’s, the Stanford’s, and other well-to-do members of society. But on Christmas Day of 1894, the Cliff House burnt down.
Millionaire Adolph Sutro rebuilt the Cliff House in the style of an eight-story French chateau in 1896. Sutro’s Cliff House had 20 private dining rooms, an observation tower, an art gallery, a photo gallery and a gem exhibit. This incarnation of the Cliff House survived the 1906 earthquake, but was destroyed by fire a year later.
A third version of the Cliff House was built in 1909 by Sutro’s daughter, and seems to have survived the bad luck of its predecessors. The Cliff House is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Two restaurants inside the Cliff House offer grand ocean views on fog-free days. Sutro’s was added on to the Cliff House and serves lunch and dinner in an upscale environment. The Bistro, inside the white Cliff House building serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a more casual atmosphere.