From 1910 to 1940, hundreds of thousands of immigrants—mostly from Asia and Mexico-- were processed at the US Immigration Station on Angel Island; many were also detained and interrogated. The restored station is now a museum dedicated to the education and interpretation of this period of American history.
The Immigration Station is located on the northern shore of Angel Island, which sits in San Francisco Bay, on the other side of Alcatraz Island from San Francisco. Visitors arrive via ferry, and then explore the museum independently or with a guided tour. The re-created bunk rooms and barracks show a little of what life was like for immigrants on Angel Island as they waited and hoped for a new life in the United States.
Many travelers to Angel Island extend their visit with a hike or bike ride around the island. Another unique view of the Immigration Station and island as a whole can be had on a San Francisco Bay helicopter tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Angel Island Immigration Station is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, but parts of the grounds are steep.
- There is a small fee to enter the museum.
- No matter the weather or the season, bring layers to shield yourself from the wind.
- Bikes are permitted on the island, but skateboards, scooters, roller skates, and Rollerblades are prohibited. Those under 18 years of age are required to wear a helmet while biking.
How to Get There
Angel Island is accessible only by boat to Ayala Cove; then you’ll need to hike, bike, or take the shuttle that runs from the ferry landing to the museum. The Blue & Gold Fleet operates ferries from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco (25-minute ride); the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry operates from the Marin County town of Tiburon (10-minute ride).
When to Get There
The Immigration Station museum is open 11am to 3pm, and is closed Monday and Tuesday. Ferry service varies daily and seasonally, so check schedules ahead of your visit. It’s hard to predict weather on the bay, but September and October are typically the sunniest months to enjoy the island’s outdoor activities.
Angel Island State Park
The Immigration Station occupies a small part of Angel Island, the largest natural island in San Francisco Bay. This California state park also offers hiking, biking, and picnicking, all with views of the bay, city skyline, and Golden Gate Bridge. Bring or rent a bike, or consider a Segway tour or open-air tram tour.