After giving a milkshake demo at my Mixbook and Milkshakes event in Palo Alto earlier this month, the Mister and I spent the weekend in San Francisco, exploring some areas we hadn’t visited before including the Camera Obscura at the Cliff House, and the Sutro Bath Ruins. I don’t remember how I learned about the Camera Obscura in San Francisco … but it was probably back in my high school or college days when I was obsessed with antique and toy film cameras and when I learned about Abelardo Morell‘s camera obscure art photography. Anyhow, couple my love of camera obscura photographs with a love of seaside amusement parks and you have the Giant Camera in San Francisco which is the last remaining building from Playland, a seaside amusement park from 1913(ish) to 1972. A camera obscura is an optical phenomenon made when a pinhole projects the light from outside the room into the room as an image. The image is reversed and inverted, so mirrors can be used to correct it. If you really want to learn about the technology and history of a camera obscura, here’s the Wiki link. But basically, the Giant Camera in San Francisco uses a camera obscura to project an image of the rocks just offshore into the dark room and uses mirrors and a convex canvas to correct the image for you to see. After walking through the Camera Obscura, we had breakfast at the Cliff House. Actually, since they serve breakfast all day, we had breakfast for lunch at the Cliff House. It was a little bit of a wait for a window seat, but while we waited, we explored the old ads for the Sutro Baths and old menus for the Cliff House hanging as artwork in the other restaurant and near the restrooms. The food was great! They serve their famous and traditional popovers as an appetizer (here’s the recipe) and they were SO good! (Sorry, I didn’t get a photo.) And the food was cooked exactly like I wanted (bacon = CRISPY!) so no complaints, just a bit pricey, but it’s owned by the National Park Service, so I consider it a donation in my mind. The Cliff House is located right next to the Sutro Bath Ruins, so after breakfast lunch, we went on a walk over to the ruins to explore. You can walk right out on the ruins! I was wearing terrible shoes, but managed just fine. Thank god I didn’t fall into that gross water! We pretty much explored everything, except the cave which where the sand was too wet and deep. Maybe there is something cool in there, but I wasn’t about to plow through ankle deep, gross sand to see it. And there’s a great view of part of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of the ruins, just peaking out over the hill. We stood there for a bit and watched a couple of the large cargo ships roll in from sea. And the beach on the other side of the Cliff House is amazingly wide and beautiful. This is where Playland was located. I don’t know what it is about Northern California beaches, but I love them! Ok, it’s probably the lack of crowds, the cold, and the grey. I love Los Angeles, but I don’t love L.A. beaches. I guess I’m a Santa Cruz type beach girl – warm in the summer with a boardwalk, but grey and cold in the winter. What’s your favorite part of San Francisco? The Mister and I keep saying that we need to go to San Francisco for like a week just to really explore all of the different areas like Fisherman’s Wharf, the Presidio, Alcatraz, the Marina, Haight-Ashbury, Union Square, etc. But I am so glad that we spent some time exploring the Cliff House, the Camera Obscura, and the Sutro Baths on this last trip – so much awesome history!