Let me preface my recommendation by saying that I'm not really a camper, not anymore. When I was a kid, car camping was central to all summer vacations that weren't visiting family (and sometimes even those that were). I'm so glad my parents went to the effort to pack the station wagon with a week's worth of supplies, shove a couple reluctant kids in there too, and head for the national parks. I was probably a total pain about it at the time, whining about it being boring and all, but they are great memories to look back on and so much better than the one time we tried to vacation in a hotel in San Diego (everyone got sick, and I think my dad went to MarineWorld by himself). I fondly recall swimming, and climbing on rocks, and making s'mores, and being all cozy in flannels around the campfire.
Fast forward to adulthood, and I can count the number of times I've gone camping in the last decade on two fingers, with half a digit thrown in for the "glamping" that I did at Costanoa a few times (I HIGHLY recommend this style: tent cabins, but real beds with ELECTRIC BLANKETS! and "comfort stations" with heated floors, sauna, indoor and outdoor showers, and a fire blazing every night with sweet adirondack chairs pulled up to it that are just perfect for reading from with a glass of wine. Bonus: it's just ten miles away from the best artichoke soup ever). So my wus level is pretty high.
Angel Island is not glamping, but it's also not severe. It's harder than car camping, but easier than anything that doesn't also offer a wooden outhouse nearby. It starts with a ferry ride, the most charming form of transportation ever. (Actually, our trip started with the number 5 bus to the 47, neither of which were charming, so I'll gloss over that) The sites are about a two mile hike in, mostly uphill. Wood fires are not allowed, so Dan and I were reunited with another childhood memory: trying to light charcoal briquettes. But if you love hiking around abandoned buildings, this is your spot. The island houses a bunch of old military buildings and an immigration station, so it makes for a beautiful ghost town.
|Post Engineer's Building|
|Used to be a hospital, now it's just layers of awesome|
The huge bonus of camping (rather than just visiting the island), is that by about 4pm, all the ferries of tourists have left and you feel like you have the whole place to yourself until about 10:30am the next day. Bring your very best hiking boots, because the real fun is wandering around and up and down taking in the breathtaking views.
|Golden Gate Bridge from afar|
|I do love a meditative bench|
|Sidebar: do you know they now add caffeine to Sunkist? |
As if all the sugar and artificial coloring weren't enough for the kid in you.
|found this rusty beauty in front of the Post Engineer's building|
|Salmon and grilled veggie dinner! Charcoal ignition a success!|
|But more importantly, morning coffee|
|I love the colors of northern california!|