It’s funny how you move to a new place, and for awhile every day is an exciting discovery, but then eventually, that new place becomes just the place where you live. When we first moved to California, we were exploring new places all the time, but after awhile we settled down to regular life, and most of our travels were to SoCal, or out of state.
Angel Island has been on my list since I first found out we were moving and started creeping for fun things to do, but somehow it never happened. The nice thing is that we still have friends and family in the area and we go back to the Bay pretty often, so just because we haven’t done something yet (I’m looking at you Alcatraz) doesn’t mean we won’t.
We ended up going to Angel Island this summer, finally, with Derek’s brother, his girlfriend, and their daughter. We left from Sausalito (one of my favourite places) and took the ferry across on a beautiful sunny Sunday in July.
The ferry ride was $15/person, plus $1 per bike. If you are thinking of visiting and you have a bike, definitely bring it. Rentals are pretty expensive, so $1 to bring your own bike on the ferry is a steal.
When you land at Angel Island there is a little pier area with a couple little restaurants (some of them look really good, and the prices weren’t terrible either) and a place to rent bikes. They also sell wine, which is a useful tip for after the bike ride is over.
When you first start riding up you are on a narrow little dirt path that is very steep, and you last about 15 seconds before you get off and start pushing your bike, and wondering when the next ferry back leaves.
But once you get to the top of that little area, the path widens out, and is paved, and is generally not very steep. There were lots of families doing the bike ride together, so it’s not super difficult but there were definitely a couple of times when I was exhausted but had to peddle really hard to beat a little girl up a hill. Not today, Pigtails.
The only part of the ride that is really hard is when you are around the opposite side, with the best view of San Francisco. In order to get to the magnificent view of the Golden Gate Bridge, you have to ride up the side of a hill that recently made a cameo in Everest. It feels impossible, but the view once you make it to the top is worth it.
After the hill, it’s mostly flat or downhill. It’s really the last place where you need to put in any effort, so keep telling yourself that as you struggle for breath and turn the colour of a cherry tomato.
Angel Island used to be an old military base, so there are some really neat old buildings to look at as you pedal, and we had a rare hot day in San Francisco, so we stopped and hung out on one of the beaches while we ate lunch.
If you are planning on checking out Angel Island, especially in the summer, make sure you bring sunscreen, there isn’t a lot of shade, and lots of water. Once you leave the pier area, there isn’t anywhere to get more water, although there are some picnic tables at the top of the aforementioned mammoth hill.
The BEST thing about our Angel Island trip is that my brother-in-law proposed to his girlfriend while we were there! So not only was it a beautiful fun day, but now I get a new sister, and I get to wear this dress to a wedding in the Spring. Wins all around.
And speaking of things I haven’t gotten to do in California yet, we are still deciding whether or not to spend Christmas there (I’m 28 and I’ve never not been with my family. Yes, I’m a baby.) but if we do, I am slightly cheered at the prospect of spending a few days camping in Big Sur between Christmas and New Years. We may die of exposure in our tents, but live dangerously or not at all.