A Trip to Treasure Island
Find a bounty of natural beauty, gourmet eats, and drinking destinations in this largely undiscovered Bay Area gem.
Woods Island Club offers unique brews in a fun, beachy setting.
Photo by Rey Romero
When planning an enticing outing, Treasure Island may not spring immediately to mind. Previously home to an active naval station, the man-made island can seem like a misfit between hipster-cool Oakland and iconic San Francisco—but it’s creating its own buzz these days with gourmet restaurants, urban wineries, and fun outdoor activities. (It even served as the backdrop for part of Grammy Award–winning artist Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” music video.) So the next time you’re looking for a daytime adventure, take a scenic drive across the Bay Bridge—or pedal along its new bicycle path—and discover the often-overlooked Treasure Island.
The views from this panoramic perch in the middle of the San Francisco Bay are nothing short of spectacular. To admire the stunning cityscape, meander along Avenue of the Palms, or rent a beach cruiser from A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop and explore the island on two wheels. You can also opt to take in the scenery from the water. The Treasure Island Sailing Center offers paddleboard, kayak, and sailing lessons from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. tisailing.org.
The last weekend of each month, more than 400 vendors set up shop at TreasureFest (previously Treasure Island Flea), a destination for craft goods, vintage collectibles, and indie art. On April 28–29, the fair celebrates Mother’s Day early, so treat Mom to seasonal cocktails, food-truck fare, live music, and games. treasurefest.com.
Home to multiple urban tasting rooms, Treasure Island offers award-winning wines in unique settings that pay homage to the island’s military past. You’ll find free tastings at Fat Grape Winery, where vintner Patrick Bowen pours sulfite-free vinos in a former Navy prison—complete with cell blocks. At Sottomarino Winery, guests can savor old-world wines inside a submarine training vessel previously known as the USS Buttercup. Afterward, walk next door to sample flights of Rhône and Bordeaux varietals at Sol Rouge Winery, then play a round of bocce on its sun-soaked court.
If a cold brewski is your preference, look no further than Woods Island Club. The beach bar at this hip hangout is the perfect place to kick off your shoes and dig your toes in the sand with a drink in hand. There are plenty of adventurous beers to try—from a sour blonde ale packed with raspberries, to a caffeinated brew laced with yerba maté, to a springtime sipper made with Bay Area honey and lavender. fatgrapewinery.com, sottomarinowinery.com, solrouge.com, woodsbeer.com/island-club.
Cap off the evening with a delicious dinner at Mersea. Cofounded by MeeSun Boice and chef Parke Ulrich (also of San Francisco’s Epic Steak and Waterbar), this casual restaurant—which made its debut in January—serves refreshing cocktails and elevated comfort fare. Try the crispy fish and chips with curry tarter sauce, and the melt-in-your-mouth short rib and spätzle gratin (Ulrich’s take on a family recipe).
Built from recycled shipping containers, Mersea also honors the island’s history with several tables crafted out of lanes from its former bowling alley. Best of all, every seat offers sweeping views of the San Francisco skyline, Bay Bridge, and Golden Gate Bridge. Stay until the sun sets, and watch the sky morph into breathtaking hues of orange, red, and violet. It’s a picture-perfect end to one fine day on Treasure Island. mersea.restaurant.