Treasure Island

San Francisco Bay’s Treasure Island

A long and checkered history of sociopaths and other ne’er-do-wells may have put Alcatraz Island at the top of the list for almost everyone, but there are other San Francisco Bay islands that are definitely worth checking out. If you’re visiting the area or are a resident looking for authentic San Francisco experiences for guests from out of town, a day (or perhaps an evening) spent on Treasure Island is a great way to see the city and have a great time.

First, a bit of the history of the place: Treasure Island was created in the mid-1930s from fill dredged from the bottom of the Bay. Initially, the island was an airport for flying boats operated by Pan American World Airways, which were the expeditious way to get across the Pacific for the well-heeled. Pan Am’s headquarters were supposed to be built on the island, but those plans were scrapped when the project was underway. Organizers of the 1939 World’s Fair, Golden Gate International Exposition needed a location for their event, and, since construction had already begun, the island was repurposed and hosted citizens from all over the world for the next two years. In 1942, the U.S. Navy needed a naval base to protect the city and the harbor and swung a deal with city and county officials. The Navy continued to use the island until it was sold back to the city.

Today, Treasure Island offers one of the best views of the city and the Bay Area during the day and perhaps the best view of the San Francisco skyline at night. It’s a major hub for film and television production, and it’s not at all uncommon to see film and TV crews shooting at various locations with the city and bridges as backdrops. Bargain hunters will want to visit the Treasure Island Flea open-air marketplace on the last weekend of each month for antiquing, eating, drinking and people-watching. Each October, the island becomes one of the hottest places in the city for music lovers to get their groove on with a consistently fine list of headliners and supporting acts.

To get to the island, you can drive from San Francisco or Oakland via the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge or hop on a MUNI 108 bus and enjoy the scenery along the way. Whether you choose car, bicycle, boat or flying boat to get there, Treasure Island is an authentic San Francisco experience that offers something for everyone to see and do.