For an outdoorsy adventure, consider a day at this island northwest of Alcatraz. Discovered by Spaniards in 1775 and declared a U.S. military reserve 75 years later, the island was used as a screening ground for Asian, mostly Chinese, immigrants—who were often held for months, even years, before being granted entry—from 1910 until 1940. You can visit the restored Immigration Station, from the dock where detainees landed to the barracks where you can see the poems in Chinese script they etched onto the walls. In 1963 the government designated Angel Island a state park. Today people come for picnics, hikes along the scenic 5-mile path that winds around the island's perimeter, and tram tours that explain the park's history; venture inland and you'll likely see evidence of the 2008 fire that burned away more than a third of the island's 740 acres. Twenty-five bicycles are permitted on the ferry on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can rent mountain bikes for $10 an hour or $35 a day at the landing (daily April through October; call during other times). There are also a dozen primitive campsites. Blue & Gold Fleet is the only Angel Island ferry service with departures from San Francisco. Boats leave from Pier 41 and the Ferry Building.
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Things You Can't Miss
A bike ride on the island's five-mile paved loop combines great exercise and views. Bring your wheels on the ferry or rent them there.
Tour Camp Reynolds, established on the island in 1863 in response to growing concerns that Confederate ships that might try to slip into the bay.
Hop on a tram for a one-hour tour of the island. Get a history lesson along with views of the Golden Gate, Sausalito and the San Francisco skyline.
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