Last year I had the incredible opportunity to visit Angel Island. It’s a beautiful, woods-covered island in the San Francisco Bay, located pretty close to Alcatraz. Angel Island is bigger than Alcatraz, and has the added distinction of never being home to a prison. However, it used to be home to a military site, as well as an immigration entrance into the United States. It is sometimes called the Ellis Island of the West, but that lofty title glosses over some of its darker history. Many of the immigrants were held here on this island for a time, in less than great conditions. Angel Island does still have many of the buildings and pays tribute to the people that spent time here under distressing circumstances.
Now, you can visit this island to hike, bike ride, and camp. Take the ferry over from a pier in San Francisco (I forgot which one but it’s the most touristy one) for a day trip. Or stay overnight in what is a truly spooky experience. Being out on this island all alone with no lights was pretty scary for me, but at the same time a magical experience. It is truly a beautiful place and the views of the Bay Area, from Oakland to San Francisco, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to Sausalito are absolutely breathtaking.