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What to do at Angel Island


The picturesque Angel Island, located in the San Francisco Bay is known for being a favored travel destination that is perfect for a family vacation. The island offers both rugged yet natural hiking trails as well as a paved road around its perimeter for trekking about the island. Mt. Caroline Livermore, the island’s highest point, standing at 788 feet, provides remarkable panoramic views of much of the Bay Area. Due to its long and storied history, Angel Island is home to six major historical sites to visit:

1. The Endicott Batteries (island fortifications established in the 1880’s)

2. Camp Reynolds (a Civil War era Union fort, fit for a whole garrison)

3. Ayala Cove (an 1890’s quarantining station for those with contagious viruses.

4. US Immigration Station (from 1910-1940, this is where the US government processed incoming immigrants, also known as the Ellis Island of the west)

5. Fort McDowell (during 1898-1905 this fort processed injured veterans returning from the foreign wars of the time)

6. Mt. Livermore (A gorgeous and manageable hike)

On the island there are several different varieties of guided tours available. For the active tourists, there is a guided 13 mile trail that hikes to the summit of Mt. Livermore, taking roughly two and a half hours to complete. On the hiking trail, there are many roads that fork off, allowing for the ability to slow down and enjoy the pretty vegetation. Those who are fine with walking but feel that 13 miles is a bit too much can take the option of the five mile guided walking tour along the Perimeter Road. Those seeking an even more relaxed excursion should consider the tram tour. This is the fastest way to get around the island. A tourist can view all the sites on Angel Island in only one hour via the tram tour. Those interested in alternative modes of transportation would enjoy a guided Segway tour. Segways allow for excellent viewing of sites without all the blind spots one may experience while riding on the tram tour bus.

When wanting to spend private time with family and loved ones without the benefit of a guide, one would be happy to discover the nine camping sites on the island. Unfortunately, the area is so beautiful that these sites tend to fill up rather quickly, so plan ahead. Picnicking is also a popular activity for visitors to Angel Island. Tourists are giving the choice of either bringing their own food or purchasing a meal at the Cove Caf√©  Those  preferring unguided tours are encouraged to rent a bicycle or kayak, a perfectly romantic solution to seeing the sights, while going wherever you wish.

There are some rules and observances to abide by on Angel Island that everyone should know prior to visiting to help avoid disappointments. Dogs are disallowed on the island. Skateboards, roller skates, and roller blades are all prohibited. In planning on eating at the Cove Café, one is best to avoid going shortly after one of the ferries from the mainland comes in as the café quickly becomes overcrowded with long waits. Always keep track of time; ferries run often, but if you miss the last one you will find yourself stuck on the island and forced to pay a stiff fine in order to get back to the mainland. The most favorable time to visit Angel Island is any time from spring until fall; during this time, the café is open and all tours are available.

6 Responses to “What to do at Angel Island”

  1. Colleen Lund says:

    in the spring of 2011 we have a group of about 25 people who would lke to tour the island. They are of advanced age, so they would not be able to walk it. How do you arrange for the tram for that many people? The date would probably be May 11, 2011. Thanks for letting me know ahead of time. C. Lund

  2. Bubi says:

    Stands back from the keyarbod in amazement! Thanks!

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