San Francisco's Lands End Gets A Visitor Center Worthy Of Its World Class Views

April 28, 2012


Parks Conservancy and National Park Service Unveil New Lookout as Part of Ongoing Revitalization Project

San Francisco, CA: The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service, today unveiled the Lands End Lookout, the newest visitor center within the 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Parks. Located along San Francisco’s rugged Pacific coast, the new 4,150 square foot “green” visitor center sits directly above the former Sutro Baths at the northwest edge of the City, and features a museum store, café, and educational and interpretive exhibits highlighting the natural landscape and cultural history of this remarkable site. 

Work began on the improvements to the site in 2011, through a generous lead gift from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, with major support from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and additional funding from California Coastal Conservancy. In addition to the new Lookout visitor center, the Lands End improvement project includes upgrades to the USS San Francisco Memorial overlook and parking area, a new wheel chair accessible trailhead and overlook at Merrie Way, renovations and extension of the Coastal Trail, expanded bicycle and vehicle parking, and restoration of coastal views and natural habitat largely driven by Parks Conservancy and NPS volunteers.

Long before Europeans arrived in North America, Lands End was a seasonal home to the Yelamu Ohlone tribe. In the late 1800s, Adolph Sutro, a San Francisco entrepreneur, supported the building of the Cliff House Railroad to bring the general public to his ocean side amusements—the Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights Gardens. In 1887, at Sutro's urging, Seal Rocks became a designated marine preserve one of the nation's first. In its many reincarnations, the site has served as a Playland amusement park and a 1960s ice rink, but these early visitor amenities were destroyed by fire in 1966. In the 1980s, the land was purchased by the National Park Service and the recent improvements are the latest in a long line of innovative and sustainable projects made possible through their partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

“The new Lookout showcases Lands End as an amazing piece of San Francisco history,” said Greg Moore, President & CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. “With these improvements, visitors will be able to truly appreciate its fascinating natural and cultural legacy. Through our partnership with the National Park Service, we are delighted to reinvigorate one of the top visitor destinations in the Bay Area.”

Open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, the new Lookout presents visitors with stunning 30-mile views of the California coast, and provides the opportunity to explore the natural and cultural history of this beloved park site. The new Lands End visitor experience includes: 

  • Interactive Displays and Panels: Visitors will learn about the coast’s geology, the original inhabitants of Lands End, the Yelamu (Ohlone) tribe, Adolph Sutro’s role in developing this part of the City in the 1880s, the many animals and plants that call the area home—and why native plants and habitat restoration are key to the endurance of wildlife, and the archeological remnants of an early amusement park.
  • Interpretative Items and the Lookout Café: Visitors can take a peek into the future thanks to a fortune-telling machine from the Musée Mécanique, an old-fashioned “arcade” at the nearby Cliff House, and choose from a selection of unique interpretative items for purchase. The new Lookout café features a selection of fresh, locally sourced grab and go fare, including the It’s It, which was originally developed by George Whitney for sale at Playland At the Beach.
  • Sustainability and Design: Designed with the surrounding natural landscape in mind, the Lookout’s architecture is the work of award-winning firm EHDD Architecture, and includes reclaimed Redwood siding, natural ventilation and lighting, low flow fixtures, native plant landscaping and photovoltaic systems, and windows that showcase the panoramic view of Sutro Baths and the California coastline. The new Lookout also offers storage space for the ongoing volunteer-driven stewardship efforts that will help sustain the maintenance and preservation of Lands End as well as the nearby California Coastal Trail.

For more information, please visit: improvements/current projects/sanfrancisco/lands end lookout.html


About the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is the nonprofit membership organization created to preserve the Golden Gate National Parks, enhance the experiences of park visitors, and build a community dedicated to conserving the parks for the future. The Parks Conservancy is an authorized “cooperating association” of the National Park Service, and is one of more than 70 such nonprofit organizations working with national parks around the country. To learn more, please visit or call (415) 561 3000.

About the National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior charged with managing the preservation and public use of America’s most significant natural, scenic, historic, and cultural treasures. The NPS manages the Golden Gate National Parks, as well as 394 other park sites across the U.S. For more information, visit or call (415) 561 4700.