Leave the city behind and take a boat ride with your children to a ‘deserted’ island to explore. Angel Island. You can see it from the bridge. With a bit of planning you could go for a vigorous hike or a peaceful picnic on a beach. Explore the historically significant sites while you bike around the island. There are tram tours as well as bicycle and Segway rentals. The Cafe serves mac-n-cheese and the Cantina serves oysters on the half shell.

When to go: On a sunny day. With our ‘Indian Summer’ upon us September and October are good times to go. As we all know the weather can be a significant factor on a beach trip. But don’t let the fog stop you from visiting this gem in the bay.

How to get there: Getting there is half the fun.  If you want to feel an ocean breeze on your face but don’t want to spend a whole day to do it, a ferry ride is your solution. In fact, it is your only solution. The ferries leave from all over the bay so you can choose how long of a trip you want to make. The ferry trip from Tiburon is 20 minutes and costs $13.50 for adults, $11.50 for kids 6-11, $3.50 for kids 3-5, and free for kids two and under. From San Francisco, take the Blue & Gold Fleet from the Ferry Building or Pier 41. It is $17 for adults (two one-way tickets are required – $34 total), $9.50 for kids 6-11, and free for kids under five. Tickets may be purchased online or at terminal. From Alameda/Oakland (weekends only), take the ferry from the Jack London Square Ferry Building. It costs $14.50 for adults, $8.50 for kids 5-12, and free for kids four and under. Tickets must be purchased onboard the ferry. If you’re coming from Vallejo, take the ferry (weekends only) from the Vallejo Ferry Building, where it will cost $30.50 for adults, $21.00 for kids 6-12, and free for kids 5 and under. Make sure to check the ferry website for up-to-date prices and times.

Parking:  In San Francisco, there are several paid lots for the Ferry Building and Pier 41.  In Tiburon, there are several paid lots and a map here. From Jack London, there is available parking at Jack London Square. In Vallejo, parking is available at the ferry terminal.

What to bring: You can bring your bikes on the ferry or you can rent one on the island. But they do NOT rent child carrier seats or bikes smaller than Junior – ages 9-12 (24” wheels). Also dogs, skates, skateboards, and scooters are NOT allowed on the island. However sand toys would be a good idea.

What to wear: Layers and a good pair of shoes, sunscreen, and hats for a day at the beach.

What to do: Once you arrive you see the picnic areas and the visitor center. The café and the rental shop are also here. If you want explore a bit there are eight miles of paved roads to bike on (children must wear helmets) and more if you want to hike to the top of Mount Livermore (788ft). There is overnight camping available by reservation.

Insider Tip: Sites 4, 5, and 6 have the best view of the city for the Blue Angels or Fourth of July. For the sailors, kayak trips are available around the island.

If your ancestors didn’t come from Europe they came through the ‘Ellis Island’ of the West. The Immigration station has been renovated and is open for guided and self-guided tours: About 1.5 miles from the Ayala Cove terminal. Estimated hiking time is 30 minutes. The shuttle departs from the Cove Café at 10:20 am, 12:10 pm, and 1:40 pm. The shuttle prices are $5.00 for those 6 and up and free for kids 5 and under (if sitting on paying adults lap). The Immigration Station costs adults $5.00, youths (6-17) $3.00, and kids five and under are free.

Lunch spots: The main picnic area is near the ferry terminal and is available for group reservations. Cove Café offers a kid friendly menu and Cove Cantina is good for an adult palette. Both are also clustered near the ferry terminal. There are picnic tables at various locations on the island on a first come basis.

Cost: All ferry fares include admission to the state park.

Bon Voyage — Timothy Wang