America’s independence day celebration is right around the corner, and although I have seen firework shows for over 20+ years in my short life on this memorable day, I feel as if I always seem to forget some of the most basic necessities to enjoy these cold nights and luminescent skies. It may seem easy to plan accordingly in a quick manner just hours before the firework show of your choice, but some things that might be considered ‘must haves’ need a little planning! That’s why I’ve decided to make a list of ten things I find very valuable, necessary or just plain fun to have for the 2015 San Francisco Bay Area fireworks show viewed on Angel Island. I mean, when else can you see panoramic firework views of San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay? This year, the night of the 4th is averaged to be around a crisp 57 degrees when the fireworks are planned to start, meaning the number one most important aspect to our list is…
No matter where you are in the San Francisco Bay, a Saturday night is always going to be a chilly adventure, especially when you are outside for a few hours enjoying a fireworks show. The key is blankets! It’s always a good idea to have a blanket for each person in your family or friend group, as well as a larger blanket for everyone to sit on together. Our July 4th experience at Angel Island includes a round-trip tram ride from Ayala Cove to Battery Ledyard, which overlooks the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge. The Battery Ledyard has plenty of open spots for large blankets to sit on. As long as you have some helping hands, this is your best bet to stay warm throughout the show!
2. Your Appetite
Once you depart from Tiburon and head to Angel Island, you are headed directly for the life of the party: Ayala Cove. Not to mention departure time from Tiburon is 5:00 PM sharp, a perfect time to enjoy a tasty dinner! At the Angel Island Cantina, you can find an awesome meal for every member of the family. And if interested, we have our Way Down South Dinner Buffet on the Cantina Deck for an additional fee (more information here).
3. Your Camera
I mean, how else are you going to capture the memories of the San Francisco firework show at one of the best viewing spots in the bay area?
4. A Reusable Mug for Warm Delights
Did someone say Expresso Menu? That’s right, we’ve got the best espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolates for you to bring to your front row fireworks seats after dark. We’d be glad to fill your reusable mug, or if your hands are already full, we have plenty of disposable cups for your pleasure.
Glowsticks are amusing and some safe fun to bring for the kids. They fit in perfect with the colorful fireworks, and your kids can wear them and be easily spotted by wearing certain colored glowsticks!
6. A Flashlight
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to set up your seating arrangement in the pitch dark while holding your cell phone light to the ground to try to see what’s beneath you. Bring a flashlight along your escapades to easily set up your seating, find things in your bag and more.
There’s no doubt that summer nights spent outside are notorious for finding multiple bug bites on you or your children in the morning. Take the precautionary step so that this doesn’t happen and load up on the bugspray before you get to the island!
Even though you’re already going to be at one of the best places to view fireworks in the bay area, it’s always fun to bring binoculars to see a unique, extremely close up perspective of the fireworks. Take turns sharing them with your whole group, and see the firework’s details like never before!
9. Earplugs (For the little ones!)
You never know if your child will be scared of the noise of fireworks, or if you do, being prepared and bringing earplugs could be one of your best ideas. You might find that you too even want to wear them; Fireworks are loud, so prepare accordingly!
10. Fun Games!
Although the 4th of July is surround by awesome fireworks, live music and the great outdoors, the 4th is a time to come together with family and friends and spend some quality time with eachother. One of the best ways to do this in an outdoor setting is to bring fun games everyone can enjoy: frisbees to throw around, a football or baseball to catch back and forth, a deck of cards for unlimited card games for multiple people, etc. Ayala Cove has plenty of room for all these outdoor activities, and couldn’t be a better place to spend your 4th of July celebrations.
Find out more about our 2015 4th of July Event here.
Being the the middle of the San Francisco Bay on an island is an extraordinary sight,
especially having the opportunity to see a 360° view of the bay on a full island tour via Segway. It’s without a doubt that are Segway tours are the best way to get a one-of-a-kind feel for the island, having the crisp air stroke across your face while zipping up and down the island’s hills. But don’t worry – If you’ve never ridden a Segway, you’ll get a crash course from one of our awesome tour guides to make sure you’re a professional by the start of the tour. And age limits? That’s no worry; As long as you’re over 16 years old, you’re eligible for this awesome ride. Become an Angel Island extraordinare with the help of one of our tour guides; Freda is sure to get you as excited about the island’s history as she is! You won’t leave unsatisfied after seeing the island in a unique and fun way.
On our tours you’ll not only see beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but you will also see unbelievable, picture perfect views of the Oakland Bay Bridge and Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Not to mention you’ll be overlooking the beautiful waterfront cities of San Francisco, Sausalito, Belvedere, Tiburon and as many more as your eyesight allows you. And if you’re lucky, you might run into our family of geese currently residing on the island! Our tour guides will give you a few moments to snap some great photos on the lookouts along the way. Luckily, in the summer days the bay area fog clears up rather early!
Get the most out of this unique tour by booking a reservation with your friends, your loved ones or your special someone; groups of ten or less are permitted at once. Be sure to book early; tours on Saturdays and Sundays in summer fill up fast! And after your tour, the fun doesn’t stop there. Check out what we have to do Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the Angel Island Cantina.
Still have questions or concerns? Click here for more information.
One of the best times to visit the island is when the Angel Island Cantina is open on the sunny weekends of June-October. The Cantina not only pleases your taste buds with its made to order, fresh ingredients and secret sauces, but it also entertains your ears with personally selected solo, duo and trio artists to rock out the Cantina deck from 2-4:30PM every weekend. Sponsored by our good friends and IPA specialists from the Lagunitas Brewing Company, you can enjoy Lagunitas on tap or multiple other bottled beers that we offer. We also have a great selection of notable Pinots, Sauvignons and Chardonnays to fit to everyone’s likings (there’s also assorted sodas and drinks for the kids!). Even though we could talk forever about the experience of our Angel Island Cantina, we’ve nailed it down to 3 reasons why you have to come to the Cantina deck this summer.
1. Hog. Island. Oysters.
We’re not talking just any kind of oysters. These oysters are delivered fresh from Hog Island Oyster Co. in Tomales Bay. The cleanliness of Tomales Bay allows for these oysters to grow to perfection naturally, while our Cantina includes our special touch of cilantro citrus dressing infused inside each oyster. Our staff shucks each oyster plate made to order, ensuring our seafood arrives to you as fresh as possible. These hand-raised, sustainable oysters are certain to knock your taste buds out of the park. In addition to our Hog Island oysters, our wide selection of other Cantina favorites such as shrimp ceviche, tilapia tacos and our grilled “mexi corn” are also great choices when enjoying the next reason you have to join us at the Cantina this year: the live music.
2. The Live Music Experience
Every Saturday and Sunday from June-August, the Cantina hosts live music events from 2-4:30 PM on the deck for entertainment, enjoyment and an overall relaxing afternoon. All music styles are featured throughout summer, with our personally selected artists from surrounding cities rocking the deck with each of their unique styles. Whether it be reggae rock or bluegrass jazz, our artists are bound to throw in some awesome cover songs that you will recognize and love. Pictured above is Todos Santo, an island favorite and a remarkable acoustic trio with a music style recognized as “Cantina Americana”. And if you’re brave enough, our deck is just big enough that in case you get those dancing feet you’re more than welcome to tango! Nothing beats these awesome tunes like some great weather to enjoy them with, which leads us to our last reason why we’ll see you on the island this year…
3. The Best Weather of the Year
It’s without a doubt that summer is the best few months to plan a visit to the island because of the perfect weather, usually sitting in between 65-80 degrees comfortably. The island is blessed with the fact that barely any fog rolls in throughout these summer months (especially in the afternoon), and so the amazing views the island holds are easily seen at almost any time throughout the day. If you’re planning on spending a few hours listening to music at the Cantina deck this summer, we recommend shorts and a t-shirt for the hot summer days. But don’t forget a pair of pants and closed–toes shoes if you are looking into doing one of our Segway tours, and make sure you also remember to bring a jacket if you are taking the ferry from San Francisco!
To see our live music schedule for this summer, click here.
To see a sample menu of a few things on our Cantina menu, click here.
To learn more information about Angel Island and the tours we offer, click here.
The Angel Island Cafe will be offering shuttle transportation to the site starting at noon on October 11th and 12th. The United States Navy Blue Angels flying show is part of an exciting week of events in San Francisco. Click on the link to see the full fleet week schedule of events. Shuttle prices are $5 round trip and tickets can be purchased at The Angel Island Cafe on Angel Island.
In the heart of the San Francisco Bay, immersed in nature and surrounded by idyllic views while offering a long list of daily activities, Angel Island is far from a one trick pony. For the active nature lovers among you, there are biking and hiking trails. For those looking to relax, there are history tours and delicious Hog Island Oysters. For visitors who feel at home in the outdoors, we have a treat: Angel Island has no fewer than eleven camp sites situated on it; one of which is an ADA site accessible to those with disabilities. If you’re planning on spending some time kayaking around the island, Angel Island has designated a kayak campsite just for you.
A simple trek for experienced campers used to driving hours out into the wilds, each of these sites is easily accessible with the farthest being only 2.5 miles from the dock. These sites offer a perfect retreat for those hoping to fit a lot of what Angel Island has to offer in to one day. It is much easier to tire yourself out during the day if you know the commute home can wait until tomorrow. Better still, you have a second chance to get some more of our activities under your belt if you have the next day to enjoy yourself, too!
In addition to the convenience, the campsites at Angel island have a wide array of benefits to offer for visiting photographers. The island is the perfect spot from which to get a unique sunset shot from the heart of the San Francisco Bay. At night, the sky will be lit by the urban attractions that surround the island, making for some breathtaking night shots.
The Angel Island campsites accommodate up to eight people each and have tables, running water, toilets, food lockers and a barbeque. Please only bring charcoal or a stove, as no wood fires are allowed on the island. Additionally, we recommend that you use some method of securing your food just in case the local wildlife decide to have a midnight snack. Finally, please remember that Angel Island is a state park and as such it would be appreciated if the campsites were to be left as you would like to find them, ready for the next weary traveler.
Camping on Angel Island offers a rare chance to make a little piece of nature feel like home and to see the spectacular Bay area from the inside at night. We hope to see you traipsing along the trails with your tents sometime very soon. Enjoy your stay!
To reserve a campsite please visit: www.reserveamerica.com
Situated in the center of the San Francisco Bay lies the beautiful wildlife preserve and state park that is Angel Island. In many ways, the unparalleled views and rich history put Angel Island at the Bay’s heart in more than just location. From the very top of Mount Livermore to the dock at Ayala Cove, Angel Island offers hours of fun and a number of different activities that will no doubt have you coming back to finish it all off. Whether you are feeling active, musical, in need of relaxation or just want to brush up on your history, it is easy to find what you are looking for.
“Sounds great, but how do we get there?”
Access to Angel Island is by ferry from the mainland. There are a number of different ferries available to you which set off at different times throughout the day and throughout the year. The ferry services run seasonally and from October to April service is limited to weekends only.
The Tiburon Ferry takes 12 minutes and runs four weekday trips daily to and from Angel Island during peak season (May to September). The weekend ferries during this season run hourly from 10am. Last trips to the mainland are at 3:30 pm on weekdays and 5 pm on weekends, so be sure not to miss them!
If you see Captain Maggie on board be sure to give her a wave, as she is not only an experienced Captain and regular sunny face in the area, but is also heavily invested in voluntary and charity work. You can find her website and Captain’s (B)log here.
Blue & Gold Fleet offer ferry rides directly from Pier 41 in San Francisco. That in itself is a great way to snap some iconic pictures while out on the water! The Fleet run a number of ferries, seven days a week during their peak season (end of April to October). The last ferries returning to the city are at 3:20pm on weekdays and 4:30 at weekends. These trips can take between twenty minutes to an hour to reach the island, depending on which time you decide to return.
Whichever company works out best for your trip, and however many activities you have managed to fit in, your trip to beautiful Angel Island is sure to be a memorable one. We hope to see you skimming across the fresh open water back to us again very soon.
In the late nineteenth century, the entirety of Angel Island was known as Fort McDowell — a name now used exclusively for the East Garrison buildings on the island. From1898 to 1901, the garrison was used as a detention center for American troops returning from the Spanish-American war. The first Army to be detained here was the 31st Volunteer Infantry, whose ranks had contracted smallpox whilst serving overseas in the war and the Philippine Insurrection. This caused the military presence on the Angel Island to increase significantly.
From 1901 to 1905 the East Garrison became a discharge camp for all American personnel returning from the Philippines. Here servicemen were processed, given their final pay and mustered out of service. In eight months over ten thousand troops had passed through the camp. By 1905, that number had risen to over 87,000.
In the summer of 1909, military prisoners from Alcatraz were used to increase the site of the discharge camp into a large recruit depot which was complete with a hospital, a ,400 man mess hall and 600 man barracks. This meant that the island’s headquarters had to be moved to a new eastern garrison. This continued to be used during the first and second world wars as a hub for western American military operations. In fact, more than 300,000 American troops passed through Fort McDowell on their way to the Pacific Theater of Operations in the second world war alone.
These days, Fort McDowell is put to much more peaceful uses; Situated just one and a half miles for Ayala Cove and taking under one hour to walk there. The Fort is a perfect spot to wander along to with a picnic. In addition to the picnic tables and restrooms, Fort McDowell also boasts a baseball diamond and a volleyball court. So grab your kids, invite your friends and take ’em out to the ball park for a fun, enjoyable and historic day out on Angel Island!
So you’ve hiked the trails, biked the roads and taken the tram on a magical history tour. No doubt a long day of nature, pictures, and the great outdoors has left you in need of a drink and a well deserved sit down. Sounds like the perfect time to take yourself along to the Angel Island Cantina for same refreshment and relaxation.
Situated next to the ferry terminal at Ayala Cove, the Angel Island Cantina is a great spot where you can wait for your ferry back across the Bay. It offers a Latin American style menu, draft beer, and wine by the glass or bottle. In the mood for something a little fancier? Let us help you to a platter of Hog Island Oysters and a glass of sangria. Better still, with pitchers of mimosas on offer, why not try out Angel Island as a fun and unique new spot for brunch?
From May through to October the Angel Island Cantina also offers live music featuring some of the San Francisco Bay’s most dynamic music groups. This year’s line up features styles ranging from bluegrass to reggae. A full list of available on the main Angel Island site. All of the live music at the Angel Island Cantina is sponsored by the Lagunitas Brewing company and Lagunitas IPA is available on draft at the bar. Simply jump on a ferry and let your ears carry you across the Bay.
And speaking of live music and beer…have you figured out your Labor Day plans? Come on down! We’ll be rocking with a live band everyday, along with some great deals on beer and oysters. It’s a definite can’t miss!
Whether using it as a launching point for a day of adventure or taking a load off at the end of a long walk, you are always welcome at the Angel Island Cantina. Who knows, after some great food, cold beer and live music, you might be ready for one last zip round the island before heading home. Especially if it’s on one of our Segway Tours – because your feet work hard enough already.
Whether a new arrival or a returning visitor to Angel Island, it is worth thinking about buying a ticket for one of the Angel Island Tram Tours. These tours offer a scenic and informative way to get a first glimpse of the island. If you’ve been here before, you’ll find your experience more enjoyable as you’re treated to a historical account of significant areas around Angel Island. Open sided and thus exposed to the open air, the trams are perfect for allowing yourself a lungful of nature and a gentle ride as you relax and let your inner shutter bug loose.
The Tram Tour follows the Perimeter Road, a five mile paved route that makes a complete circuit of Angel Island. Your adventure will take approximately one hour and has a professionally produced audio history of the island, which plays over the tram’s audio system while the tour is in progress. You’ll make a brief stop at Battery Ledyard, which was built on the site of an earlier Civil War battery. A military coastal defense was maintained at this site until the final gun was deactivated in 1915 and has since then been a significant point of interest for visitors, not least due to the outstanding views afforded by Battery’s location.
As the tram pulls up to Battery Ledyard, be sure to grab your camera as you step off to stretch your legs. From this point you can see fantastic and unique views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco and Alcatraz from an entirely original angle – the middle of the San Francisco Bay! Don’t hang around too long though as there is still much more to see as the Perimeter Road swings around to give you coastal views of Oakland and Berkley, before starting the final stretch back towards Ayala Cove.
You can find out more about our fun and informative Tram Tours here. They run twice a day from Ayala Cove and are a part of the quirk and appeal of the Bay area. This one is definitely a tour to bump up your list if you want to be treated to unique nature, history and a relaxing day out for everyone in your party. We look forward to seeing you aboard the tram on Angel Island!
It’s the dream of any biking enthusiast living in a city: the opportunity to get away and ride freely without the bustle of cars or the slalom of pedestrians around you. Angel Island offers clean air, leisurely trails and breathtaking scenery; All nestled in the San Francisco Bay! Just a short way from the city, you can find yourself in idyllic surroundings with the wind in your hair as you tackle the trails of Angel Island’s cycle routes, which have been described as “easily number one in the whole Bay Area” by Bay Area Rides.
The main trail is the Perimeter Road, a five mile, partially paved route that loops around the island’s outer edge. This route is a perfect casual trail for families and those looking to feel the freedom of the open air without building up too much of a sweat. The circuitous road offers a 360 degree sweep of the entire San Francisco Bay from a unique location at its heart, allowing you a rolling panorama of one of America’s most iconic areas.
The second of Angel Island’s trails is the Fire Road, an elevated biking trail that puts you in a commanding raised position from which to view the island and its surroundings. Being a more difficult trail, this might not be one to take the younger ones along on but if you are willing to put in the hard work on those peddles, the rewards are well worth it.
The Fire Road is linked to the Perimeter Trail by a dirt road, which is around a half mile long. This takes you 250 feet above the perimeter. Of all the sections of biking trail on the island, this is definitely the toughest climb. If that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, however, the Fire Road is easily bypassed by simply staying on the Perimeter Road when the turn off appears (and don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone!). If, however, you feel that your legs deserve a little ache then you will be met with what has been called number one in terms of “scenery per unit amount of effort” (Bay Area Rides). The Fire Road Trail is around three miles in length and is the more difficult trail of the two. If the hills are a bit too much after biking up the dirt trail, taking the Fire Road counter-clockwise will turn those climbs into a nice, coasting decline and a much easier ride. Be aware that as you reach the Point Blunt section, there will be a asking you to dismount and walk your bike.
The Angel Island Company offers a fleet of bicycles that can be rented by the hour or for a full day. You can find out more about renting a bike here.
Whether coasting along the Perimeter or scaling the Fire Road, Angel island offers a fantastic day’s of worth biking fun that is sure to impress, de-stress and hopefully bring you back for round two.