Home SF Bay Area Angel Island State Park, San Francisco Bay

Angel Island State Park, San Francisco Bay

by TerriAnn

Angel Island, Tiburon, CA

Good for: Everyone
Price: $12-17 for ferry which includes park admission, $50 for tram tour
Features: Scenic views, local history

For a different kind of day trip, you might want to hop on the ferry from Oakland/Alameda, Tiburon, or San Francisco to Angel Island. This state park sits in the middle of the San Francisco Bay and is rich with history from many different time periods.

Angel Island State Park in the San Francisco Bay
The open tram ride, though a bit expensive, is very informative and gives you a good overview of the whole island. This is a great way to give substance to the history accounts you may have only read about. The driver is also your docent so feel free to ask questions. If you have middle to high school-aged children, this is a great subject for their next history report. There are plenty of stops but younger ones may need extra attention to keep them busy. Be sure to bring a camera along as there are some amazing views as you climb up the island.

What this area is most known for is the part it played with the immigration of many Asian foreigners, mostly Chinese. It is called the “Ellis Island of the West”. A specific tour is available to see the areas where the immigrants were detained and the the conditions in which they were forced to live. I couldn’t stomach going on that tour, especially when I think that my relatives of years ago may have suffered there, but others in our party did. They generously allowed me to share the below pictures with you.

Angel Island State Park in the San Francisco Bay Angel Island State Park in the San Francisco Bay Angel Island State Park in the San Francisco Bay
Angel Island State Park in the San Francisco BayAngel Island State Park in the San Francisco Bay

On a lighter note, the grassy area near the visitor center is a great picnic spot. Feel free to grab a bench and have a bite to eat as you enjoy the views of the bay. The kids will enjoy playing around here, chasing the birds, or running away from the gentle waves at the shore. Bike rentals and segway tours are also available for those wanting to explore the island a bit more (check the Angel Island site for availability). The gift shop is kind of dinky but at least it’s something to keep you busy as you await the ferry back.

Angel Island is not the type of place I’d like to visit for a recurring family day. Still, it’s definitely worth a trip and understanding the events that took place here can be both powerful and sobering.

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Allie February 3, 2012 - 12:45 pm


I have been wanting to visit Angel Island since we moved here 8 years ago. My son has camped there overnight and really enjoyed his visit. I had forgotten that is was the location of many Asian immigrants coming the west. I know the history is sad and it is heartbreaking how people treat each other.

I have a few questions, if that is ok?

Did you take the ferry over? If so, was it expensive for your family?
If you took the ferry, can you take your own bikes over?

Thanks for the info. I need to stop by more often, I love reading about how much there is to do in the Bay Area.


Cookies & Clogs February 3, 2012 - 2:06 pm

Whoo – your comment prompted me to do a bit more research – thank you! We took the ferry from Alameda and it was about $15 per person. It was not cheap but reasonable for a day excursion. That line only runs seasonally though. You are allowed bring bikes, which is better since the rental company seems to close in the winter. I edited the article to reflect that pricing and included a link to the Angel Island Company site as well (http://www.angelisland.com/index.php).

Allie February 3, 2012 - 2:17 pm

Thanks for the info. I always try to find the information inline but I think it is way better getting from my own “inhouse” bay area blogger-you. Hee hee.

I did have one more question that I forgot. Do you bring your own food, should you? Is there food on the island?

Thanks so much! I’m glad I “refound you”. I finally decided to go through my RSS and there you were. Yah!

Cookies & Clogs February 3, 2012 - 2:34 pm

You’re so cute! So glad to have you by again! Yes, bring your own food especially since the Cafe is closed until March or so – hey, the main site says you can even bring a small barbecue as long as it’s not wood-burning! You can also buy food on the ferry if you want and is nice to warm up before/after your trip.

Heather February 4, 2012 - 12:13 pm

The last time I visited the ferry was closed, it was off season. I am going to try again with the family in the early summer though – it sounds like an awesome trip.

Cookies & Clogs February 6, 2012 - 4:57 pm

It’s definitely something different. I think we might try to bring our bikes next time. Oh, don’t forget to check those ferry and island schedules before you go!

Lisa February 4, 2012 - 6:47 pm

Thank for sharing this. I have lived in the Bay Area my whole life and have not been…yet!

Cookies & Clogs February 6, 2012 - 4:58 pm

You’re welcome. I’ve only been twice and the first time was only a few years ago. Funny, it seems like locals see less of their area than tourist do 😛

Lisa February 7, 2012 - 6:00 pm

Do true!

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