Alcatraz Island – Visitors’ Guide

Alcatraz Island – Visitors’ Guide

Visiting Alcatraz : 

Alcatraz…. Alcatraz Island… Alcatraz prison…  Whatever you call it, whatever keyword search you use, Alcatraz is one of the most amazingly cool tourist attractions you may visit in your lifetime.  Let’s be honest, many of the historical places we visit are pretty fun while some are actually kind of boring.  Lots are totally forgettable.  

But Alcatraz… Alcatraz is fantastic.  Everything about it is so cool.  The physical presence which is equal parts menacing and eerie, the pop culture associations, the dramatic and recent historical events, the fantastic approach by ferry boat that builds anticipation.  All of this sets the table for a unique and unforgettable travel experience.  

So yes, I recommend you visit Alcatraz if you are going to be in the Bay area.  That’s an understatement by the way.

Bookings start 90 days in advance so don’t leave purchasing tickets until the last minute!

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Alcatraz Island

How to get to Alcatraz

There are many ways to visit Alcatraz Island, but only one way for the general public to get there. And its not swimming! Access to the island is managed by Alcatraz Cruises. It is private company under contract to the National Park Service.

All of Alcatraz Cruises’ boats depart from Pier 33 which is located along The Embarcadero Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco is a big and busy city so parking is generally challenging.  However, there are many options to get to Pier 33, including by public transport and by walking.  

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Alcatraz Island ferry

Alcatraz Tour Options

Early Bird

The Early Bird is the first tour of the day and departs at 8:45AM. Beat the crowds right? The Early Bird Tour is the same as the Day Tour, so don’t worry if that’s too early for you while on vacation.

Fees:

Adult (18-61): $37.25; Junior (12-17): $37.25; Senior (62+): $35.25; Child (5-11): $23.00; Children 4 and under: free

Family Pack: $112.75 – includes 2 Adult and 2 Children (ages 5-11)

Day Tour

The day tour allows you to visit the island and the jail at your own pace. It comes with an audio tour, and an optional orientation video by Discovery Channel.  This is the trip most visitors to Alcatraz take and does provide a pretty amazing experience and access to the cell blocks and the yard, etc.

Fees:

Adult (18-61): $37.25; Junior (12-17): $37.25; Senior (62+): $35.25; Child (5-11): $23.00; Children 4 and under: Free

Family Pack: $112.75 – includes 2 Adult and 2 Children (ages 5-11)

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Alcatraz Island

Night Tour

This fantastic tour includes a guided trip around the island while still on board the ferry, as well as a guided walk to the Cellhouse. Once you’re at the Cellhouse you’re free to explore at your own pace with the audio tour.  

Apparently the views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are (more) impressive in the evening. Sadly, I have only done the day tour, but this is the one I do next. And if you do it before me, I’m going to be jealous. 

Also, for any of you out there who read this I would love to hear any feedback on their impressions of the night tour over the day tour.

Tip: Thursday to Monday only

Fees:

Adult (18-61): $44.25; Junior (12-17): $43.25; Senior (62+): $41.25; Child (5-11): $26.50; Children 4 and under: free

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Alcatraz Island
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Alcatraz Island

Behind the Scenes Tour

Groups of 30 people or less are able to take a guided and behind the scenes tours of the island and the jail, including tunnels, underground facilities, and hidden doorways. You’re also able to tour the Cellhouse at your own pace using the audio tour as well as enjoy the island at night.  If you are a big fan of Alcatraz Island than this is the tour for you. No question about it.

Tip: (1) There are no children allowed on this tour due to the fact that it can be challenging’ (ii) Thursday to Monday only

Adult (18-61): $89.25; Junior (12-17): $85.25; Senior (62+): $83.25; Alcatraz & Angel Island Combo Tour

Alcatraz & Angel Island Combo Tour

Alcatraz not enough?  Visit both of San Francisco Bay’s most famous islands: Alcatraz and Angel Island. Tour includes ferry ride to and from Alcatraz and Angel Island, a narrated tram tour of Angel Island and the Alcatraz audio tour.

Fees:

Adult (18-61): $71.50 ; Junior: (12-17): $71.50; Senior (62+): $69.50; Child (5-11): $48.25; Children 4 and under: Free

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Alcatraz Island
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Alcatraz Island
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Alcatraz Island

Happy Holiday Shooting!

2 thoughts on “Alcatraz Island – Visitors’ Guide

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