Angel Island isn’t exactly a hidden gem – it’s the biggest island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay – but it is definitely somewhere that most Bay Area residents “totally want to visit some day.”
And oh my gosh, they should. It’s hard to go anywhere in the Bay Area without running into an amazing view eventually, but Angel Island has a higher-than-average concentration of them.
It’s also balls-deep in cool history. Angel Island has been called the “Ellis Island of the West.” It was a military fort from the Spanish-American war to WW2 (read: awesome fort-exploring). It was a quarantine station (read: creepy-awesome). It was a hunting and fishing hub for the Miwok Indians hundreds and hundreds of years before we got here (read: can we go back in time? Please?).
Angel Island is small enough to cover in a day on foot, and exploring the old bunkers, dorms, and immigration buildings is the coolest part of visiting.
I guess you could also cover the paved areas on rollerblades, but do you really want to be that guy?
Another kind-of-but-not-really secret about Angel Island is that it it home to nine campsites. Can you imagine playing Capture the Flag or Hide-and-Go-Seek at night? In an abandoned army bunker? ON AN ISLAND?
What I’m saying is, pack Walkie Talkies.
Campsites are often reserved up to six months in advance, so don’t invite flakes.
When it comes to getting to Angel Island, you have a few options:
1. Take the ferry from San Francisco
2. Take the ferry from Tiburon
3. Sail in
4. Paddle in
Depending on how hardcore you want to go, of course. The dock in Ayala Cove is first come, first served.