Angel Island State Park offers one of the best ways to see San Francisco Bay from sea level. Fortunate local boat owners have long plied its shoreline and picnicked on its grounds, but the boatless can get in on the fun via ferries that stop on the island.
There are good times galore for hikers, bikers and sightseers, but the island has abundant evidence of the bad old days, particularly the Immigration Station, where Asians who came to America seeking freedom were instead held captive, often for months on end.
Though the island gets a bit crowded at peak tourist season, there's plenty of room to stretch across its 740 acres, 13 miles of hiking trails and eight miles of paved road. No matter where you go, you'll have excellent views of the lands surrounding the San Francisco Bay, cooled by Pacific Ocean breezes.
Travel defensively: you'll be sharing the island with tourists on Segways, bicycles and motorized trams; all of them can sneak up on you.
Check the weather forecast before you go: if the Bay is likely to be fogged in, there won't be much to see (though fog often burns off in the afternoon).
Don't miss your ride back to the mainland: make sure you know when your last ferry leaves, and give yourself plenty of time to get there.
8 a.m. to sunset year-round
There is no cheap way to see Angel Island: ferry fares, parking fees and bridge tolls can set you back $20 to $40 (car-pooling and public transportation can ease the sting a bit).
Round-trip fare on Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry includes park entrance fee; go here for rates.
(Fees on other ferry services are considerably higher.)
You'll also have to pay to park in downtown Tiburon. Go here for a map showing where to park.
What to bring:
Sunscreen: there's very little shade on the island.
Layers: The island can be hot one side and cool on another.
Camera and binoculars
Basic hiking gear if you're taking on Mount Livermore.