No question, the great outdoors soothes the soul and enlivens the spirit. But to really put things in perspective, ferry just 1 mile offshore from Tiburon or San Francisco's Pier 41 to Angel Island, where you can admire 360° views of the Bay Area ― and its daily grind ― from a distance.
Now's the time to go, with the wildflowers in full swing, the boats back on schedule, the tourists held at bay, and the best campsites (numbers 4, 5, and 6, with city-skyline panoramas) not yet booked by the summer rush.
Pack a picnic lunch ― or an overnight sack ― and wander 12 miles of mission bell- and buttercup-lined trails. Bid hello to the roughly 60 mule deer who live here, and point your binocs at the hummingbirds, red-tailed hawks, sea lions, and harbor seals.
Stroll the mellow, 5-mile Perimeter Road that circles the island, or huff and puff up the moderate 2.1-mile Sunset and Northridge Trails to the 788-foot summit of Mt. Livermore. From there, on a clear day, you can see all five Bay Area bridges. Sure beats sitting in traffic on one of 'em.
Info: Angel Island State Park (11 campsites from $20; 415/435-3522 or 415/435-5390 for general info; www.reserveamerica.com or 800/444-7275 for camping permits). Visit www.angelislandferry.com or www.blueandgoldfleet.com for ferry schedules and fares.