A Visitors Guide to Alcatraz Island Tours

Alcatraz Facts

  1. During the operation of Alcatraz Prison from 1934 to 1963, Alcatraz Island the last stop to some of America’s most notorious and dangerous felons. Located in the San Francisco Bay, “The Rock” was able to house 450 convicts; however, no more than 250 prisoners ever occupied the Alcatraz Island at one time. Escape attempts were far, and few between but a few inmates did escape from Alcatraz Prison; whether they survived the currents of the bay is unknown. The decision to close Alcatraz Prison was made because it was nearly three times more expensive to operate than any other Federal prison in the Unitied States and as a result was closed in 1963. In 1969, Alcatraz Island made the news when a group of Native American Indians claimed the Island as Native American land. The “Indians of All Tribes” used their act of civil disobedience to illustrate the troubles faced by Native Americans. Although the initial support of the protest was strong, the Native American leadership group could not control the situation, and much damage occurred (graffiti, vandalism, and fires). Federal Marshals in 1971 removed the remaining Native Americans, and in 1972 Alcatraz Island became a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is a popular tourist destination.

Alcatraz Tours

  1. Alcatraz Day Ticket – Take a tour of Alcatraz Prison, the former federal prison which housed notorious and dangerous felons such as Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelley and Robert “The Birdman” Stroud. Enjoy a 3-hour audio tour of the grim and interesting history of “The Rock.”
  2. Alcatraz Night Tour – This unique experience is limited to just a few hundred visitors per evening. Gain access to special programs, tours, and activities not offered during the day time. This tour will include roundtrip ferry transportation, a live boat narration, a Dock to Cellhouse guided tour, an Audio Cellhouse Tour, recreation use fee, a keepsake souvenir brochure and a variety of presentations and programs offered only at night.
  3. Alcatraz Behind the Scenes Tour – Discover clues to Alcatraz Island’s fascinating past while hearing the lesser-known stories of Alcatraz. Experience a personally guided adventure with a group of 30 or fewer people. Once done, you can take the Cellhouse Audio Tour and participate in the full Alcatraz Night Tour experience.
  4. Alcatraz and Angel Island Combination Hop Tour – Experience two of San Francisco Bay’s most famous and historically rich islands. You will depart on the first hybrid ferry in the United States, a working demonstration of alternative energy in operation!

Alcatraz Tour Tickets, Hours of Operation and Information

Alcatraz Tour Address

  1. Alcatraz Island

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

B201 Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123

Alcatraz Tour Tickets and Prices

  1. Alcatraz Day Tour Tickets
    • Adult – $39.91
    • Senior (62+) – $37.66
    • Junior (12-17) – $39.91
    • Child (5-11) – $24.41
  2. Alcatraz Night Tour Tickets
    • Adult – $47.31
    • Senior (62+) – $44.01
    • Junior (12-17) – $46.26
    • Child (5-11) – $28.01
  3. Alcatraz Behind the Scenes Tour
    • Adult – $92.31
    • Senior (62+) – $86.01
    • Junior (12-17) – $88.26
    • Child (5-11) – not permitted for this tour
  4. Alcatraz and Angel Island Combination Hop Tour
    • Adult – $76.26
    • Senior (62+) – $74.01
    • Child (5-11) – $51.01Book Activity Online at Way.co

Alcatraz Hours of operation and days, including special closing dates

  1. Alcatraz Island is open all year round with closures on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Several areas on Alcatraz Island are closed off to the general public during certain times of the year, due to the nesting of various sea birds.

Alcatraz Handicap accessibility and restrictions

  1. Alcatraz Island is not wheelchair accessible and not recommended for those with limited walking abilities.

Alcatraz Parking and Transportation Information

Alcatraz Tour bus, shuttles, public transportation, etc.

–Public Transit

It is highly recommended to use public transportation to arrive at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing.

      • San Francisco City Buses (MUNI) stops with three blocks of Alcatraz Landing.
        • F Line Historic Streetcar – use the Bay Street stop.
        • #8 Bayshore – use Kearny Street and North Point stop
        • #82X Levi Plaza Express – use Levi Plaza, Sansome and Filbert Street stop (runs morning and afternoon only, from CalTrain Station)
      • Historic Streetcars
          • E – Embarcadero streetcar line (Service ends at 7:00 pm) and F – Market Street and Wharves streetcar lines provide direct service to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. Get off at the Bay Street stop.
          • –Taxis and Shared Ride Services

–Taxis and Shared Ride Services

Those opting for a taxi or rideshare services should arrange to be picked up or dropped off at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing.

Alcatraz Parking and Prices

      1. On-street parking usually is difficult to find, especially busy during the peak summer visitation season. Nearly all street parking has a meter and meter hours are also restricted anywhere from 2 – 9 hours, depending on where you park. Meter parking rates vary, but most range between $2.00 and $3.50 per hour.

Other Alcatraz Parking options and prices

      1. Many parking lots and garages are surrounding Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. To reserve a parking for Alcatraz tour ahead of time and ensure the best rates, visit Way.
      2. Visitors with special needs will be dropped off at the “Accessibility Drop Off Zone” located at the entrance to Alcatraz Landing. There is limited accessible parking; it is free of charge, but it is first-come, first-serve and individuals must show a valid disabled parking permit.

Alcatraz Directions

      1. Driving from the South
        1. To reach Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing from the south, take Highway 101 North and follow the signs towards the Bay Bridge. Take the 4th Street exit, then merge onto Bryant Street from the right lane. Follow Bryant St. to The Embarcadero. Turn left onto The Embarcadero and continue north approximately 1.7 miles (2.8 km).
      2. Driving from the North
        1. To reach Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing from the north, take Highway 101 South across the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the Marina Boulevard exit and follow the signs onto Marina Blvd. Follow Marina Blvd. to Bay Street. Turn left onto Bay St. and stay on Bay St. to The Embarcadero. Turn left on The Embarcadero. Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing is on your right.
      3. Driving from the East
        1. To reach Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing from the east, cross the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. Take the Fremont Street exit, and turn left onto Fremont St. Follow Fremont to Howard Street, and then turn right on Howard St. Follow Howard to The Embarcadero. Turn left onto The Embarcadero and continue north approximately 1.7 miles (2.8 km).

Top Recommendations for Alcatraz Tours and Activities

      1. San Francisco City Tour with Alcatraz Tours: Start your experience off with the Official Alcatraz Tour by the Alcatraz Cruises, then see many of San Francisco’s highlights and neighborhoods. The 90 minute San Francisco City Tour includes seeing, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, Fort Point National Historic Site and Pacific Heights with live commentary with a professional guide!
      2. Alcatraz Island Tours – Package Deal: This includes a 3-hour long audio tour of Alcatraz Prison and a Full-Day Bike Rental to cruise around San Francisco. Once you are done touring the famous Alcatraz Island, pick up your bike and helmet from Alcatraz Bikes and Tours to check out all of San Francisco.
      3. Alcatraz Island Ticket with Chinatown and Cable Car Ticket: For this activity, you will be starting with the audio tour of Alcatraz Prison, and you will also receive a cable car ticket. An expert local guide will give you tips on visiting Alcatraz Island and using your cable car tickets. You will then follow the guide through the heart of the largest Chinese community in the Western World – Chinatown in San Francisco – where you will be given the history and the best places to visit.Book Activity Online at Way.com

Extra Alcatraz Island Tips and Information

      1. Alcatraz Island Tips

        1. Weather in the San Francisco Bay can be unpredictable and is subject to change immediately. It is recommended that all visitors wear sunblock and have sunglasses ready since sunlight reflecting off the bay’s surface can be dangerously bright, even on cold and windy days.
        2. The roads on Alcatraz Island are steep, and your exploration can include many stairways and gravel walkways. It is encouraged to wear comfortable shoes with grip-type soles since you will be walking on uneven surfaces with minimal amounts of traction.
        3. Bringing a light raincoat is highly recommended since about half of the Alcatraz Island Tour route is along outside roadways without shelter from the rain.

Alcatraz Prison and Famous Alcatraz Inmates

      1. Al Capone Prisoner #85
        1. Al Capone was inmate #85 at Alcatraz Federal Prison. Before arriving at Alcatraz Prison, he was very famous in New York, and was making $60 million a year selling illegal liquor. Many people saw him as a Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Capone was finally arrested for tax evasion because government officials were unable to prove more serious crimes. He was first sent to Atlanta Penitentiary where he successfully bribed guards and public officials to receive special treatment. Because of this, he was moved to Alcatraz Prison where he received no special treatment. At Alcatraz, he played banjo in the Rock Islands Band and worked in the laundry room and the library.
      2. Machine Gun Kelly Prisoner #117
        1. George “Machine Gun” Kelly came from a wealthy family in Tennessee and attended college. It is believed that his wife introduced him to the crime life by introducing him to notorious gangsters. Kelly became famous from robbing banks and was described as an expert machine gunner in the FBI’s wanted posters. After kidnapping a wealthy oil tycoon, he was arrested and sent to Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. There he boasted about being able to break out of prison, so authorities took him seriously, and he was sent to Alcatraz Prison. Kelly never attempted an Alcatraz Prison escape and was said to be a model inmate who served his time without conflicts or time in solitary.
      3. Robert Stroud Prisoner #594
        1. Robert Stroud brutally murdered a bartender in 1909 who allegedly failed to pay a prostitute for whom Stroud was pimping. In 1911 Stroud was convicted of manslaughter and sent to McNeil Island, a Federal penitentiary in Washington State. At McNeil Island, Stroud was violent and viciously assaulted prison staff and fellow inmates. Stroud was transferred to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas due to overcrowing at McNeil Island. Stroud was made famous when Hollywood made a movie called “Birdman of Alcatraz.” The film portrayed Stroud as a kind and gentle soul who raised birds in his cell at Alcatraz Prison. While he did not have any birds in his cell at Alcatraz Prison – he only studied them; he did discover a bird’s nest with baby canaries while at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. Stroud was granted permission to raise birds in his cell and at one point at Leavenworth, had 300 living in cigar boxes. Stroud was able to make scientific observations that would later benefit research on canary species. However, it was later discovered by prison officials that some of the equipment that Stroud had requested was actually used to make alcohol, and was transferred to Alcatraz Prison in 1942 as a result. When “Birdman of Alcatraz” came out, the public begged for Stroud’s release. When an prison officer asked Stroud what he would do if he got released, Stroud replied that he had a list of people to kill.Book Activity Online at Way.com

 

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