Thing I Love #48: Angel Island

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.”

mill valley

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.

golden gate bridgeIt’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?).

dormThere are a few ways to explore the island: by foot, on the many trails that wind up and around; by bike (easy to bring them over on the ferry); by guided tram. Don’t do the last one.

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?

inside dorm

battery drew

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.

flowerAngel Island: you want to go here.

  1. I remember going on a field trip to Angel Island in elementary school and taking the tour. The history is amazing!

    • Lexi said:

      It totally is. I learn something new each time I visit.

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