Guide to Exploring Angel Island in San Francisco, California

Guide to Exploring Angel Island: San Francisco, California

Angel Island, a large island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay in California, is a landmark and known as a top camping destination. With limited campsites, reservations are required months in advance.

You can explore this island that once was a prisoner detention center, a Nike missile site, and a military camp. The views of San Francisco, Oakland, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Oakland-Bay Bridge all make this a unique experience.

Read on to learn everything you need to know to explore this island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

Angel Island San Francisco, California
Abandoned Building

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).


Exploring Angel Island

Best Time to Visit

You can visit Angel Island between September and November when the days are warm and there is less fog. These are the best months for outdoor activities in the Bay Area.


How to Book a Campsite on Angel Island

You can reserve a campsite on reserveamerica.com. Campsites are released in month blocks on the 1st of the month, exactly seven months ahead at 8 am.

For example, if you want to book a weekend in October, a great month to go, you need to book on March 1. Make sure to be online and reserve spots right at 8 am, as they likely will get sold out after only a few minutes. There are only nine campsites on the island.


Getting There

Best Things to do on Angel Island, California

Angel Island is a common day trip. Ferry services depart from different areas around the bay. There are ferries throughout the day. Go to one of the ferry terminals, either in San Francisco, Tiburon, or Sausalito, and wait for the next ferry going to Angel Island.


Top Activities on Angel Island

Go For a Hike

Highlights of Angel Island, San Francisco

It is around 6 miles total to loop the entire island. Also, you can take the trail near the Nike missile site which leads to the top of Mt Livermore, the highest point on the island. Hiking is very easy on Angel Island, with views from nearly every vantage point.


Explore Abandoned Buildings

Guide to Angel Island

Fort McDowell is a great place to explore abandoned buildings. Many of the buildings have no doors or broken windows which you can enter through. The abandoned buildings are unique and offer a very cool perspective on the history of the island.


Watch Sunset Behind the Golden Gate Bridge

Highlights of Angel Island, San Francisco: Sunset

From the southern part of the island, you get great views of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. Sit on one of the benches to enjoy a spectacular sunset.


That’s it! – We hope you have a great time exploring Angel Island!


Planning a trip to California? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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