What is it about an island that we find so alluring? Is it their lush vegetation and fresh zephyr sea breezes? Or is it nature luring us away from our bustling cities for a brief tranquil respite from the hectic pace of our everyday lives?
Angel Island, nestling quietly in the San Francisco Bay, ticks all these boxes. Riding the ferry from San Francisco or Tiburon to the Angel Island State Park is your invitation to experience fine food, fun and outdoor adventure on this lush green gem. Be sure to check the links on the bottom of the page to find more information.
One of the most beautiful islands in the San Francisco Bay, Angel Island is a pleasant interlude for a walk along its five-mile perimeter trail or for the more ambitious a hike to the summit of 781-foot Mt Livermore. You might be able to book a three-mile guided hike with an Angel Island naturalist to learn the fascinating history of the former United States Immigration Station. The hike includes 114 trail stairs beginning and ending in Ayala Cove. Once at the site of the United States Immigration Station you explore the grounds and visit the USIS museum with its restored detention areas and Chinese poetry engraved on the walls. Enjoy lunch on the beach before heading back to the cove.
A bicycle is another perfect way to explore Angel Island. Just moments out of Ayala Cove you experience the peace and quiet of pedaling along on roads bordered by tall trees with glimpses of blue water and the coastlines of Tiburon, San Francisco, and the East Bay. Take a detour into Camp Reynolds to look at the oldest remaining group of Civil War buildings. On the island's east side enjoy an idyllic ride to Quarry Beach, a beautiful expanse of brilliant white sand.
As you cycle along the six-mile bike trail circling the island you will enjoy some of the most amazing views of San Francisco and the bay area. Bike hire is available on the island and the bike shed is a short walk from the ferry landing in Ayala Cove.
For an even more leisurely day, explore the island's history. The Angel Island State Park was once a hunting and fishing ground for the Miwok people. In the intervening years, Angel Island has served as an immigration station, a military base, a WWII Japanese internment camp and a Nike missile site. Today the remnants of these old forts and bunkers can be seen dotted around the island. Recover from your exploring with a tranquil picnic in a protected cove nestling on the coast.
For the more active traveler, experience the challenge of an open-water crossing from Sausalito to Angel Island. Paddlers cross Raccoon Strait to Angel Island, in an exhilarating open-water expedition. Enjoy the sights on San Francisco Bay, with fabulous views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge together with local wildlife. Once on Angel Island, relax on the beach, take a short hike and explore or simply eat lunch before returning in the afternoon.
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Zip effortlessly around Angel Island on the coolest machine on the planet on an awesome Segway tour. Riding a Segway is intuitive and easy to learn and you will soon be on your way. Your Segway tour guides offer engaging insights about Angel Island's fascinating history as you roam. Some of Angel Island's many stories include; the detention of WWII prisoners, the processing of 57,000 men through the East Garrison at the end of WWII, the decommissioning of the Nike Missile site at the end of the Cold War.
There are amazing photo opportunities as you glide around the six-mile paved perimeter road, starting with views of The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Tiburon, the beautiful San Francisco skyline, and ending with views of the San Rafael Bridge.
One of the most popular ways to see the Angel Island State Park is via an open-air tram. Sit back, relax, and soak up the island's beauty, history and the gorgeous views it offers. The Angel Island tram stops at Battery Ledyard, one of the best photo opportunities in the bay area. The backdrop is an epic skyline sweep encompassing San Francisco, Alcatraz, and The Golden Gate Bridge.
Angel Island, was known as the Ellis Island of the West Coast. To get a feel for how past generations approached Pacific Coast immigration, visit Angel Island's United States Immigration Station Museum. Now beautifully restored, the museum offers a window into a very important time. The Station, operating from 1910-1940, served as the main immigration processing center for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from all over the world looking to start a new life in America.
Following the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the U.S. Immigration Station detained immigrants while they endured interrogations and medical exams. Many hopeful immigrants were detained at the Station for long periods before ultimately being returned home. One of the most unusual sights on the island is the poignant Chinese poetry etched into the barrack walls.
Today, the United States Immigration Station serves as a museum dedicated to interpreting its historic links and making connections between the experiences of those who made the journey to America over 100 years ago and the continuing story of immigration in America today.
If all that hiking, cycling and history leaves you feeling famished (as it does us), the Angel Island Café offers delicious food made to order. The house specialty sandwich is The Way Down South, a BBQ pork sandwich made with all-natural Snake River pork shoulder and a heavenly secret sauce, some say the sandwich alone is worth the ferry ride!
Whether you are picking up a box lunch or lazing on the cafe deck enjoying the day, Angel Island's food is simply delicious. To complete the ambiance, you'll find live music features every weekend on the deck of the Cantina. This is yet another excellent reason to make the time to visit Angel Island State Park.
The best way to get to Angel Island from San Francisco is top hop on the ferry that leaves from Fishermans Wharf. Along the way you get great views of the bridges, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco skyline.
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