What do you get when you combine a boat ride, a day on an island, a game of catch on an ancient field, a bike ride and a killer lunch? Well, we’re betting you get the Mom of the Year Award, but you also get to experience one of the Bay Area’s best family adventures: Angel Island.
Considering the only way in or out is by boat, getting there is surprisingly simple. There are a handful of companies based at different harbors, so you can board from Oakland, San Francisco, Tiburon, or even Vallejo. Some ferries will take you on a cruise to both of the Bay’s famous islands—Alcatraz and Angel Island—in oneday. You can also charter your own tour to experience the trip with fewer crowds. Find schedules and fares here.
Photo by Eugene Kim via Flickr
Baseball, Bait and A Balancing Act
Many people know you can take a tour, bike, hike, camp, and bird watch on this sacred space of nature, but did you know you can also legally fish (regular gaming laws apply) and play baseball on the field the World War II vets erected?
You can find a guided tour for whatever interests you. From California’s Civil War involvement and immigration to the earliest inhabitants, the Miwoks, you will uncover things you never knew about the island in the bay.
Hop an hour-long tram ride to take a tour around the perimeter of the island. Rides cost $15 for adults and $10 for children (or FREE, if they’re on your lap).
Segway tours led by trained tour guides are another option if you’re traveling with teens. Each rider must be at least 16 and the price per person is $68, but the group is smaller and the experience is more customized to the participants.
Photo by Todd Fahrner via Flickr
Explore on Two Wheels
Bring along your family’s fleet of bikes aboard the ferry for an easy and scenic (and FREE) way to get around on your own. There are plenty of paved paths for every experience level. If you don’t feel like lugging your bike into the city and aboard the ferry, you can always rent bicycles for the family from Angel Island Company once you’ve landed ($12.50/hour or $40 for the day).
You cannot reserve the bikes ahead of time, and it’s first-come-first-serve, so don’t dillydally to the rental station! Also, this company does not have bike carriers for children available and you cannot add your own to the rental bikes. Children’s bikes are available, but none of them have training wheels. If you need accommodations for smaller children, it may be worthwhile to rent from a company near the ferry harbor and bring the gear onto the boat. Check out Bay Area Bike Rentals list of hourly and daily rates. This company is on Oakland’s waterfront, so if you rent baby cycling gear from here, plan to take the Oakland ferry.
Photo courtesy of the Angel Island Company
Don’t Forget About Lunch
Pack a picnic and stake out the perfect perch to enjoy your feast, or take advantage of the three different options for food already on the island. The Angel Island Café offers casual (but really delicious) bites such as soups, sandwiches and salads, and features a healthy kids menu as well. This is also where you can score some espresso. The Angel Island Cantina is open during the summer months (June–October) and serves up tacos, oysters, burgers and salads, along with beer, wine and sangria. On weekends live bands play on the Cantina deck—check out the schedule of events here. You can also order simple but satisfying box lunches in advance, and have your sandwiches waiting for you upon arrival—ensuring that while you will definitely have a day full of island adventure, you won’t be searching for sustenance Survivor-style.
Have you been to Angel Island recently? What’s your favorite way to get around the island?
—Alythia Brown & Drea Lester