Angel Island, a large island in the middle of the San Francisco bay, is a landmark and known mostly by locals as a top camping destination. With limited campsites, reservations are required, and require planning months in advance. You can explore this island that once was a prisoner detention center, Nike missile site, and military camp. The views of San Francisco, Oakland, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Oakland-Bay Bridge all make this a unique experience.
When to Go
Go during the September-November when days are warm and there is less fog.
How to Book
Campsites are reserved on reserveamerica.com. Campsites are released in month blocks on the 1st of the month, exactly 7 months ahead at 8am. For example, if you want to book a weekend in October, a great month to go, you need to book on March 1. It will likely get sold out after only a few minutes, so make sure to be reserve right at 8AM. There are only 9 campsites on the island.
How to Get There
Angel Island can be explored on a day trip from several of the Ferry services in the bay (Tiburon, San Francisco, Sausalito). This is a great day trip, but if you can plan out far enough, come for an overnight camping trip.
To loop the entire island, it is around 6 miles total. 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.
Explore Abandoned Buildings
Fort McDowell is a great place to explore the abandoned buildings. Many of which you can enter. The abandoned buildings were unique and offered a very cool perspective to the history of the island.
Note: Be careful when entering and around abandoned buildings, as they can be dangerous to enter.
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.