Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

4.7
#1 of 3,749 in Nature in United States
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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Alcatraz Island Reviews
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  • The uniqueness of Alcatraz cann be described by words. Tour guides are extremely helpful and the audio offers a smooth pacing through the main house. Budget a few hours for your visit, including tryin...  more »
  • I've resisted Alcatraz for years as a potentially tacky tourist trap, but I was wrong. It's a must-do on any trip to San Francisco. Just being out on the island is an experience worth the ferry ride, ...  more »
  • I visited on my own in October. Having read reviews I’d expected to stay for 2 hours but ended up staying almost 3 hours. What a fantastic place to leisurely wander around. The views towards San Franc...  more »
Google
  • This is a classic tourist spot for visitors of San Francisco but it is worth the trip. We got tickets for the ferry ahead of time. It's a beautiful view of the island and the city from the ferry. The island itself has some beautiful gardens. The audio tour is really well done. Everyone doesn't get the same order so people aren't all crammed together which could be hard considering it is a tour of some pretty tight spaces. Great way to spend a beautiful day in San Francisco.
  • This place is a must if you are in the city. Buy your tickets in advance. They only have limited space. The audio tour is excellent. It takes you back in time and brings the prison to life. While it is a prison and not meant to be nice, it is actually a very nice building. The style and attention to detail is excellent. I will go back and I highly recommend.
  • Very impressive! Take the audio tour. Normally I am not a fan of the audio tours because they are mostly a bit odd. But the one at Alcatraz was really good and took you through the famous stories of this impressive prison. It's definitely worth the visit. You have to book in advance. I visited in low season, and even at that time they were fully booked on much times during the day. It also comes with great views of San Francisco.
  • So it's not about what is there to see. It's about the presentation. The audio tour at the cell block is theatrical. It carries the one listening back into the time when this place was a Federal penitentiary. Kudos to the national park service for there effort. Keep up the great job.
  • Great history! It's great seeing the historic Alcatraz Penitentiary in person. Recommend buying tickets early because I think they sell out quickly. A must see if you're visiting San Francisco! Will definitely be back. Also has a great bookstore / gift shop at the end of the tour.

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From inexpensive hostels in quiet residential areas to high-end hotels near the city center, San Francisco has accommodations for every budget. Key consideration is what kind of neighborhood you want to stay in. You'll find luxury hotels in Union Square, which has prime shopping, is near theaters, and is on the cable car line. Many hotels are in the northeastern portion of the city, near the tourist-driven neighborhoods of Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, both easily explored on foot. To get away from the tourist crowds, consider the smaller inns and family-run bed and breakfasts in some of the city's more charming neighborhoods, such as Noe Valley or Pacific Heights. There are also boutique hotels scattered around town. Avoid staying in the Tenderloin. If you plan to have a car with you, ask about parking availability and fees. Parking is often difficult and expensive.
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