If you’re planning a visit to San Francisco, then Alcatraz should be on your itinerary. As arguably the best-known prison in the world, Alcatraz housed some of America’s most notorious criminals such as Al Capone and Bumpy Johnson!
The island, now a National Historic Landmark and visited by 1.4 million visitors annually, is in many ways a juxtaposition. A high-security prison, with a scenic view… Previous home of criminals to the current home of sea creatures… Where the conditions in crime movies are overexaggerated, the history behind Alcatraz is still fascinating and it’s well worth the visit.
If you’re thinking of visiting ‘the rock’ and making your own ‘Escape From Alcatraz’, here are tripsology’s top tips.
Book Tickets in Advance
Like any criminal mastermind, you’ll need to plan ahead…
Tickets to this ominous island can sell out very quickly, so you’ll need to make sure you book before you go. The rest of these tips won’t matter if you don’t get on the tour!
While many companies advertise tours, Alcatraz Cruises, authorised by the National Parks Service, is the only one that will let you on the island. Make sure you allow a contingency time to get to Pier 33. The area is a tourist hotspot and the boats are punctual… you don’t want to be swimming!
Bring Your ID
Just as Alcatraz’s prisoners had identification numbers, make sure you have your ID to pick up your tickets. This will also be checked against the ticket again when you board the ferry. No ID. No Alcatraz.
San Francisco Bay is known for being chilly, it’s not called The Windy City for nothing! Even if you’re visiting in the summer months make sure you bring layers; the 10-15 minute ferry journey is enough time for you to get very cold.
One thing to note before going is that the entire tour is an audio guide. Unlike stereotypical audio tours with a number system, Alcatraz’s audio tour is presented within a narrative. Narrated by past criminals and guards who tell you where to walk it offers some interesting perspectives- if you’re a fan of podcasts then you’ll enjoy it! However, if you’re visiting with children they may find it tedious depending on how well they take in facts via audio.
During the tour or at the end I would recommend taking some time to take in the scenery surrounding the island. Alcatraz offers some seriously cool views of San Francisco- a perfect insta opportunity!
Visit the Gift Shop!
Most tours finish in the gift shop, and Alcatraz is no exception. Profits go towards the National Park Service and with a variety of products, from history books to postcards and magnets, there is something for every price range!
Have you been to Alcatraz? Was it as ominous as you were expecting? Do you understand the dark tourism hype?