We hit the ground running on our first day in San Francisco. After our long flight, we had about 2.5 hours to get from the airport to a hotel to drop off our luggage for the day, to lunch (we ate at Hog Island and it was amazing!), and then to the dock to head out to Alcatraz. It was a whirlwind, but we are so glad that we did it because it truly was one of the best days in San Francisco. If you are looking for a memorable and educational way to spend a day in San Francisco, I highly recommend doing Alcatraz Tours in San Francisco – you will not regret it!
Overview of Alcatraz Island
You will find out tons of details about Alcatraz on your Alcatraz Tours, but if you are not familiar with it at all, let me give you a brief overview –>
- Alcatraz was first named La Isla de los Alcatraces, or Island of the Pelicans because of the large number of birds that constantly circled the island. Now, it is called Alcatraz, Alcatraz Island, or The Rock.
- About 70 years later, the island was designated for military use, in order to protect San Francisco. There was a working lighthouse, as well as about 100 operating canons that were installed.
- Because of the cold water and windy weather, Alcatraz Island was deemed the perfect spot to have a prison. It started as a military prison before the army relinquished the island to the US Justice Department. This is when Alcatraz became famous for holding inmates that were too difficult or dangerous to be handled by other penitentiaries.
- A few famous inmates of Alcatraz Island were: Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert Stroud, John Anglin (escaped in June 1962), Harvey Bailey, and others.
Booking Alcatraz Tours
There are many different companies that say they offer Alcatraz Tours, but Alcatraz Cruises is your best bet because they are the official concessioner to the National Park Service. If you want the lowest price, I highly recommend visiting their website and booking through them. Another thing that I want to note is that they book up quickly. You are able to walk up and buy tickets, but I suggest purchasing them and reserving your time before visiting San Francisco. This will ensure that you have a ticket – I know quite a few people that tried to go on an Alcatraz Tour and were unable to do so because they were sold out.
- Wear something warm! This was our biggest mistake. We were miserable because it was so insanely cold and windy on “The Rock.” I mean, it felt like it was in the 30’s.
- Bring a camera — you are going to want it!
- There is a trolley that takes you to the bottom and top, but be prepared to walk around a lot even if you do take the trolley.
- You will spend at least 2.5 hours on the island if you do it properly, so make sure you set aside time!
Have you ever done an Alcatraz Island Tour? What did you think?
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