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Angel Island: How and Why to Visit

Are you planning to visit the San Francisco/Sacramento area? Taking a trip solo or with the family can mean a lot of planning, especially with Covid restrictions in place. Yet Angel Island is a must for any tourist. Here's a little more about how and why to visit.

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.

Why Visit

Angel Island has a fascinating and rich history. It is beautiful and a great place to explore with the family. According to the California Parks website it's the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay. The island has some of the best views of San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge.

It is not only beautiful, but also drenched in history. From the Coast Miwok using it for a hunting and gathering location to the United States using it as a military location. Notably, the United States Immigration Station was used by hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were mainly coming from China. The island is also known for detaining Japanese and German POWs during World War 2. It was last used by the United States Military in the 1960s when it housed a Nike missile base. It is now a California State Park, preserved for future generations to appreciate the beauty and history of the island.


Angel Island has activities for everyone to enjoy. The United States Immigration Station is currently a museum “dedicated to interpreting 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” according to their website. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday for group or individual visits. Call ahead for large group tours. While the station is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, they plan to reopen in the future.

Those who wish to take in the scenic views can opt to hike either on their own or with a guided tour. The perimeter trail is a 5.5-mile trail around the entire island. On this trail, one can see the Golden Gate bridge, Bay bridge, and Alcatraz if weather permits. The immigration station trail is approximately 2 miles roundtrip and includes a visit to the United States Immigration Station. While at the station, visitors can see the displays, grounds, and restored detention areas. There are a few other trails throughout the island for hikers to explore.

For those wishing to see the sites of the island without hiking, the island offers both Segway and tram tours. Throughout the tours, you will experience recordings with historical and current information about the island while taking in the scenic views. Also offered are both traditional bikes and e-bikes to explore the island at your own pace.

There are only ten camping locations throughout the island. Make sure to reserve your ticket well in advance if you wish to plan a camping trip to the island.

Tourists to Angel Island can visit the Angel Island Café to enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the views from the outdoor dining area. The Café also features drink selections of craft beers and wines. Those who are heading out on a picnic can purchase a boxed meal to go from the café. The Angel Island Cantina is another option for dining that features live festive music from June through September. As of the time of publication, both of these locations are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions but plan to reopen in the future.

How to Visit

From Tiburon: Since 1959, the Angel Island – Tiburon Ferry Company has been transporting visitors to and from the island. Specific directions to the ferry from various locations can be found on their site.

From San Francisco: The Blue and Gold Fleet departs from Pier 41 in San Francisco.

Please note that due to COVID-19, there could be restrictions in ferry accommodations. Keep an eye on their websites for up-to-date information.

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For more on traveling to California, check out these other posts from A Wild Lass:

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.

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