Angel Island State Park

Plenty to See and Do and Some of the Best Views in the Bay Area

Located just a short ferry ride from San Francisco, Sausalito or Tiburon, Angel Island State Park is the perfect location for a Bay Area daytrip. Over the years, the island has been a military fortification protecting San Francisco Bay, a quarantine station, an immigration inspection and detention facility, cattle ranch and other uses. Today, it is a California State Park, a National Historic Landmark, and one of the best places to see the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin County headlands and on clear days, even parts of the East Bay and beyond.

Once you arrive on the island, what you see and do is up to you but many people pack a camera, a picnic lunch, energy snacks and hike or bike the perimeter of the island and/or to the top of Mount Caroline Livermore. Whether you hike or bike to the top, it’s not an easy trip but well worth it, as the sightlines are spectacular in every direction, provided the fog hasn’t settled in over the Bay. Even if it has, the views may be limited but can be breathtaking nonetheless, as the bridges and other Bay Area features disappear and reappear from the mist.

Those who wish to see the island and its magnificent views without hiking or biking Mount Livermore have several options, as a fairly gentle walking and biking path runs along the perimeter of the island. Those wishing to spend a day on the path have several options to choose from, including bringing their own bicycle on the ferry or renting a bike, scooter or Segway once they arrive. There is also a tram that departs at regular intervals and tours around the island for those wishing to relax while they take in the sights. If you head to Angel Island State Park, and it is highly recommended, here are some things to consider to get the most out of your experience:

  • Insiders say that if you take the tram, make sure to get a seat on the right side, as it runs counter-clockwise around the island and you’ll have the best views by far.
  • Quarry Beach is a great spot for sunbathing, reading, picnicking and relaxing but remember to pack out what you bring in so others can enjoy its beauty!
  • The fog generally starts burning off around 2 in the afternoon, so if the day starts out foggy, consider taking a ferry over to the island after lunch.
  • Speaking of lunch, there are two dining establishments on the island: Angel Island Café and Angel Island Cantina. The Café offers soups, salads and sandwiches without outdoor seating only, which can be perfect or perfectly miserable, depending on the weather. The Cantina offers a limited menu of decent bar food but a great selection of beers, wines and spirits to enjoy inside or outside on the deck. From June through October, there is often live music on the deck on the weekend.
  • The ferry lines tend to be long on the weekends, so consider heading over on a weekday in season or early on weekend days.

Getting to Angel Island is fairly straightforward. You can hop on a ferry in San Francisco or across the Bay in Tiburon. Ferry schedules, pricing and other information is available from the official site at, which is also the place to go for hours, special events, concert listing, menus from the Café and Cantina and much more. Simply put, this little island in San Francisco Bay is one of the jewels of the Bay Area and is not to be missed. So if you’re visiting the Bay Area, entertaining guests from out-of-town or it has been a while since you treated yourself to an island getaway, take a day and head out to Angel Island. It’s definitely worth the trip!