The Golden Gate from Angel Island's Perimeter Trail.
  • The Golden Gate from Angel Island's Perimeter Trail.
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On a recent visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, we decided to escape the congestion of the inner city.

If you’ve never visited Angel Island, it should be on your priority list when visiting the Bay Area. From downtown San Francisco, board the Blue & Gold Fleet ferry at Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 41, to Angel Island ($17/person and bikes free). The state park entrance fee is included in the ferry ticket.

Angel Island is encircled by a five-mile route called Perimeter Trail, which is paved except for a portion of hard-packed gravel road good for mountain bikes. The trail offers stunning views of the San Francisco skyline and both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges as well as Raccoon Strait, Sausalito, Tiburon and China Cove. All of the island's historical spots, including Camp Reynolds, the Immigration Station and Nike Missile site, are on the Perimeter Trail.

The south side of Angel Island offers stunning views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito as well as the natural beauty of the island. For the ultimate 360-degree view of the bay, be sure to visit the top of the island at Mt. Livermore.

The gateway to the state park is the Ayala Cove dock and beach against a backdrop of forest where you’ll find a café, locker and bicycle rentals. From there you can hike or bike to the Perimeter Trail – or be adventurous and take a Segway or electric motor scooter.

Quarry Beach, one of the best-kept secrets on the island, is a 25-minute walk from the ferry landing (or take the shuttle bus to the immigration station and walk another 10 minutes until you see the sign for the beach). It’s almost always sunny and is secluded and protected from the wind.

Mountain bikes are available for rent for $40 a day. There are two-hour guided Segway tour ($68/person) reservations available online; reserve at least one week in advance. You can also rent an electric mountain scooter for two hours ($68/person) through Angel Island Company. And for those less adventurous, there’s a one-hour tram tour around the island ($15/person).

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