Among the best ways to enjoy a summer cool-down? Surround yourself with water. We’re talking the 360-degree experience! Get it by visiting the state park that’s right out in the bay, Angel Island. Just getting there requires a boat (fortunately, ferries from San Francisco and Tiburon travel to the island). Many visitors stick to the Ayala Cove barbecue area near the docks, where the sprawling lawn and picnic tables provide a nice spot for a barbecue feast. An alternate option is Camp Reynolds on the western side of the island and a 20-minute walk from Ayala Cove.
This spot’s got everything you need for a picnic: huge bay views, lots of space, a tiny beach, and far fewer people. For those who prefer to relax as close to the Pacific as possible, venture to Perles Beach (pictured), a 1.5-mile (one-way) walk or bike ride southwest along Perimeter Road (leaving from Ayala Cove). This south-facing slice of sun and sand sees only a handful of visitors. Spread a picnic and then soak in an impressive backdrop: San Francisco and the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. Alcatraz is right there, too. There’s no signed trail down to the beach, just a worn path found by folks who know where to go. See below!
Get Angel Island ferry information. Barbecuing is allowed on the island. Ayala Cove has picnic tables, barbecues, and water. Camp Reynolds has picnic tables and barbecues, but no water. Bikes are available to rent on the island. To reach Perles Beach, walk or bicycle the Perimeter Road counterclockwise (past Camp Reynolds) for 1.5 miles from Ayala Cove. When you reach the first view of San Francisco you’ll see stationary binoculars. Just down the road is a wooden fence, and just past the fence is an unsigned trail to Perles Beach. Walk down it a few minutes to the beach. No dogs.