If you’re itching for an island adventure in San Francisco, go out and explore Angel Island!
Angel Island is a beautiful historic landmark offering unbelievable views of the Golden Gate, Marin County, and San Francisco. A former campsite and “holding area” for immigrants, people from all over the world now enjoy the island for the many activities it offers – picnic, boating, hiking and bicycling, tours, and even overnight camping.
It’s perfect as a day trip destination. To get there, you could get on a San Francisco Ferry, Oakland/Alameda Ferry, or the Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry, of course, depending on where you are, at less than $20 round-trip.
Aside from the ice cream cookies at the Angel Island cafe, what else could get you spell-bound in Angel Island? Here are our top five:
1. Learning about History.
Personally, I feel that the best thing about our Angel Island trip is signing up for the “history” tour. After being greeted by our very friendly and knowledgeable guide near the Immigration Station, we headed near the shore for a bit of information about how the island was “discovered”, then went to the Immigration Station building where he shared with us, in detail, how extremely significant the island is (and should be) for almost everyone in the US. During this tour, I learned that Angel Island was a “holding station” for nearly a million immigrants from all over the world in the early 1900s. People who had dreams of coming to the US had to be screened and “segregated” here, and have their lives scrutinized before being “permitted” to the US.
2. Poetry from the Heart.
Part of the history tour is learning about the pain and anguish the immigrants at that time felt, which have been immortalized through their writings on the walls. Of all the writings, this one’s the most clear. A transcription, which you can also see in the house, reveals the soul of the poem.
“Detained in this wooden house for several tens of days,
It is all because of the Mexican exclusion law which implicates me.
It’s a pity heroes have no way of exercising their prowess.
I can only await the word so that I can snap Zu’s whip.
From now on, I am departing far from this building.
All of my fellow villagers are rejoicing with me.
Don’t say that everything within is Western styled.
Even if it is built of jade, it has turned into a cage.”
3. Getting to the Top of Mt. Livermore
After our “history” tour, we went trekking and hiked our way to the top of Mt. Livermore. Truly, nothing beats the joy of hiking and with the picturesque view and cool breeze embracing us as we go up, I felt high as we spent time just chilling on top of the mountain. Oh, when you get to the top, make sure to look for a mini-trail that goes to this view deck with an even more awesome view. You might not even think it’s a trail – more like a ten-second path walk to an almost hidden viewing area.
4. Awesome views of Urban San Francisco (and Marin County).
You wouldn’t be able to stop yourself from taking photos of the (many) picturesque view that’s right in front of you. As you hike up the mountain top, there’s just too many breath-taking sites — the Golden Gate bridge, the city landscape, the boats in Marin County, random trees, clouds and skies, even power plants (so yes, everything)!
5. Relaxing Nature.
I have read that Angel Island is the largest natural island in the area. If you live in San Francisco, this is the closest to nature you could ever be — on a beautiful island, with thousands of trees, trails to traverse, waters to sail boats on or just swim, birds to see, grounds to camp on, and skies to stare at (especially at night).
Have you been to Angel Island? Tell us about it below!