Tips for Visiting Alcatraz

The first thing I thought of when I decided to travel to San Francisco was Alcatraz. Why, you ask?

  1. I love history.
  2. I love shows like Ghost Hunters.
  3. I’ve always had a fascination with The Rock.

I booked my ticket for Alcatraz weeks prior to my visit, and I advise you do the same. Tours fill up fast. If you want to do a night tour, book your ticket months in advance so you can secure your time. I chose to do the day tour at 9:30 a.m. Here’s my advice for the process.

  • Arrive at Pier 39 at least 30 minutes prior to your boarding time. That’s when they’ll start lining you up. The sooner you’re in line, the sooner you can board the boat.
  • Take a seat that is in the open area of the boat. You’ll get some great views of Alcatraz and the city.
  • If you can, choose an early time. You decide when you head back to the city. If you go early, you can stay as long as you want. I explored for three hours and got back to San Francisco in time for lunch, leaving the rest of my day free. I’ve heard that during the night tours, they rush you to make sure they close on time.
  • Take the time to do the audio tour! This was my favorite part of the tour. You’ll hear from guards and inmates first hand on their experience at the prison. While the stories are being told you’ll be standing near where everything took place. It’s amazing to hear about what occurred in those walls while standing inside.
  • If park ranges are giving live presentations, join them. I listened to a park range share the story of the Escape of 1962. I won’t spoil the story for you if you haven’t heard it, but it’ll blow your mind!
  • Take your time. Explore. Enjoy the history that’s there. It’s truly an amazing place. If you’re lucky, an actual inmate will be there. William Baker was a prisoner on Alcatraz and now has a book about his experience – and was promoting it on the island. Former prisoner or not, he seemed like a cool dude.

Have you visited Alcatraz before? I want to hear all about it in the comments! It was one of my favorite experiences while out in San Fran.


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