8 miles N of San Francisco
A California State Park, Angel Island is the largest of San Francisco Bay’s three islets (the others are Alcatraz and Yerba Buena). The island has been, at various times, a prison, a quarantine station for immigrants, a missile base, and even a favorite site for duels. Nowadays, its dark past exists only in the ghosts rumored to haunt the former military buildings. The island is now the domain of visitors who are looking for 360-degree views of the bay, sunshine, trails, grassy picnic grounds, and a scenic beach. Hike, bike, take a tour, or just relax on this picturesque, car-free island.
Uberwealthy Tiburon, situated on a peninsula of the same name, is a living postcard, almost too beautiful to be real. It looks like a cross between a seacoast town and a Hollywood Western set, as Main Street has been preserved to reflect its roots as a Gold Rush train town. The boutiques, souvenir stores, art galleries, and dockside restaurants flanking its one tiny main shopping street at the water’s edge are housed in color-splashed, turn-of-the-century converted boathouses. Despite its historic facade, Tiburon is, in reality, a sleepy, luxurious stretch of yacht-club suburbia. Palatial, multimillion-dollar homes perch on the hills, overlooking the proud yachts and sailboats below. The view from the waterfront of San Francisco’s skyline and the islands in the bay explain why residents happily pay the precious price to live here.