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Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

4.7
#1 of 6,141 in Nature in United States
Must see · Island · Historic Site
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Tour the infamous former maximum-security penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. Nicknamed The Rock, this small island in the San Francisco Bay is now a national park. After taking a ferry to the island, follow the audio guide, available in ten languages. You'll go through the inside of the old prison's facilities, which include a lighthouse, military fortifications, and cellblocks. Though long considered escape-proof, the prison suffered an irreparable blow to its reputation in 1962, when three inmates mysteriously disappeared using a makeshift raft. Explore the protected recreation area with a park ranger, who can enhance your visit with little-known information about the island's current inhabitants: the black-crested night herons and western gulls. Using our custom trip planner, San Francisco attractions like Alcatraz Island can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
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  • This place is a must to visit when you are in San Francisco, book well in advance, we done the tour at night. It’s a very eerie, the place smells of fear, it has a ghostly feel about it The tour is... 
    This place is a must to visit when you are in San Francisco, book well in advance, we done the tour at night. It’s a very eerie, the place smells of fear, it has a ghostly feel about it The tour is...  more »
  • One of those things you must do when visiting San Francisco. Book in advance to ensure you get the day / time that you want. Fascinating to tour the island and imagine it how it was when in use as a.....  more
    One of those things you must do when visiting San Francisco. Book in advance to ensure you get the day / time that you want. Fascinating to tour the island and imagine it how it was when in use as a.....  more »
Google
  • I did the tour 20 years ago. Has changed and lot more independent exploring with audio tapes. Gorgeous grounds
  • Obviously, when in San Francisco, visiting Alcatraz Island is something on most everyone's must to do list - and with good reason! It's amazing! Firstly, I booked with Alcatraz City Cruises, which maintains they are the official concessioner to the National Park Service. And they offer three different tours - "Day Tour", "Night Tour", and the "Behind the Scenes Tour" - I went on the "Night Tour" and it was exceptional! One of the best things about it was to see the sunset over the Golden Gate bridge from the island, simply beautiful and a one-of-a-kind experience. Now be aware, that the tour is a somewhat physically demanding experience, on foot, but they do make every possible concession to accomidate mobility, they have ramps and even a tram that will take you up the steep incline road up to the prison. And there is also an elevator inside the prison as well, but there are stairs here and there too. Some really steep, specifically in the prision recreation area. A person in a wheelchair might be in for a tough time, as you would have to go up and down a boat ramp, not to mention the steep road to the prison. Once inside the prison, you are given a handheld device in a plastic pouch that is held to your ear that gives an audio tour that details every aspect of the prison as told from an ex-inmates point of view. It was highly informative and a very singular private tour experience, as despite everyone having one, you could only hear your own device. They also have sign language interpreters (with advance notice). The tour was really exciting, and you are fully immersed by the surroundings with the tour giving exacting details about prison life as well as the attempted escapes and successful escapes by the three men as depicted in the film "Escape From Alcatraz" with Clint Eastwood. The cells also have the mock ups of prison life with bedding, magazines, board games, and painted pictures. On some tours you are allowed to go upstairs, where hydrotherapy was performed on some of the inmates as well as the prison hospital. Overall, any area that is open, it seems you are allowed to look around and photograph. And the guards are very friendly, accessible, as well as really knowledgeable about all aspects of the prison. There is even a point in the tour where you are allowed to experience being put in "The Hole" a cell inside a dark room for really bad prisoners, that is a very sensory deprivational punishment. Although, it lasts only a minute, it's hard to imagine being in there for any lengthy amount of time. Pfhwew! Lastly, there is a bit of history about the island, prior to its use as a prison, as it was originally set up as a military fortification. Then later occupied by Native American protesters in the late 1960s. There is also a bookstore/giftshop, a tiny film watching area and a modern area display with information about prison effectiveness in society versus rehabilatation. A must, must, must see if you are ever in San Francisco, and that sunset! An opportunity not to be missed.

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