Whether you live in San Francisco or you’re just travelling through, a visit to Angel Island should be high on your list. Bex and I had it at the top of on our San Francisco itinerary during her visit and we headed over for a few days of camping last week which we loved. Check out that post for more info about the island and how to get there. I thought I’d share some info on what to do in Angel Island State Park, incase you’re planning a trip!
For a small island there’s a load to keep you busy and you can be as active or relaxed as you like; there’s something for everyone. We were there for 2 nights so had more time than most to explore. It’s definitely going to be somewhere I go to, over and over again and will be sure to take all my visitors. I’m actually signing up as a volunteer to lead guided hikes and bike tours as I loved it so much; just wait until I get my uniform.. HA!
There are 13 miles of hiking trails to explore-you only get to some of the view points on foot as the cycle paths are more limited and the tram just sticks to the road, so if you want to get the most our of the island you’re going to have to lace up your shoes. There are a few options for all fitness levels:
- Perimeter trail- this 5 mile walk takes you around the perimeter of the island (as the name suggests) offering amazing views of the entire Bay Area. It’s relatively undulating but is actually a road rather than a trail which makes it an easier walk.
- North Ridge/ Sunset Trail- this trail takes you up to Mount Livermore which is the highest point of the island and is an absolute must! If you get a clear day you’ll have incredible views of San Francisco, Oakland, the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tamalpais. It’s quite a climb to the top, but most people with a basic level of fitness should be able to do it.
You can either hire a bike on the island (first-come, first served) or bring your own bike. There’s 9 miles of cycle paths, including the perimeter road and some more challenging fire roads. Bex and I stuck to the perimeter road and really enjoyed it. With plenty of stops to take photos and admire the views it took us 1.5 hours.
For $68 you can have a guided segway tour of the island. I think it’s quite pricey considering there are so many other ways to explore but it could make a fun afternoon with a group of friends.
A few times a day there are scheduled tram tours around the perimeter road, which is a great option if you want a more leisurely day. It’s also informative as the guide will give you the history of the island and also point out important landmarks (like Robin Williams’ old house…) Bex and I sneakily kept up with the tram tour on our cycle so we got the commentary and the exercise 🙂
Explore the Immigration Station
Angel Island is often called the Ellis Island of the West, as million of immigrants passed through this station. Apparently it was actually quite a grim place and people were often held for long periods in dire conditions. We ambled around the Immigration Station but unfortunately the museum was closed. I’ll check out when I come back with my parents next month.
Look for Wildlife
I saw so many deer while on the island. They’re obviously used to people as they don’t tend to run away as soon as you see them which means you can try and get the perfect snap! I was also excited to see a raccoon but I’ve since learned these are as unexciting as seeing fox in the UK…
Eat & Drink
Either have lunch at the cafe with a glass of wine (the list looked surprisingly good) or bring a picnic. There are so many cute picnic tables dotted around the island, some of which have BBQs too. There are loads of tables at Ayala Cove, which is where the boat arrives, so you could just come over for a picnic and go home again.
Have you been to Angel Island? Did you love it as much as we did??