If you read my Exploring San Francisco post, you’ll know how much I loved our time at Alcatraz….so much that it deserved it’s own story!
Kelly and I were in town for a workshop but always make the most of our trips away and find all the touristy things to do in different cities. Neither of us had been to Alcatraz and both had it on our travel to-do list. Let me just say, it did NOT disappoint!
As I mentioned in the San Francisco post, if you want to visit Alcatraz, I highly recommend getting your tickets well in advance. They sell out quickly and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to go. I waited too long to get ours and had to buy them on a re-sale site that charged double the standard ticket price. But still highly worth it!
If you plan to visit Alcatraz, DRESS WARM. It is a very windy ride and we were freezing and wind blown to say the least. If you go in the summer, it may be warmer, but I’d still suggest a hat or pony tail holder to keep your hair from blowing all over the place!
The tour begins as you leave the landing and enjoy a guided tour around Alcatraz Island by ferry, pointing out the hidden spots used for attempted escapes and prison structures unreachable by foot. Once docked, a ranger-led walk up the hill to the Cellhouse stops to highlight the layers of history from pre-Civil War to military cannon and family life on the Island.
Don’t forget your camera or make sure your phone is fully charged. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to capture the beauty. Kelly’s photos are so gorgeous that I want to frame them and put them in my home!
As we approached the island, you could see the toll the weather and years of abandonment have had on the buildings and structures. I am such a sucker for vintage though that I loved all of the moss, rust and signs of age. It may have been run down but rich in textures and colors.
When you arrive at the dock at Alcatraz, you walk up a long hill to enter the prison building. The views are stunning along the way.
Once inside the prison building, you’ll see where the prisoners were first brought and given their clothing, blanket and shoes. In the same area you’ll see the shower area. It is really neat to see how much of it is still in its original state and also a tad bit eery!
As you pass through the shower area, you’re given a headset that will give you an audio tour through the rest of the visit.
With the audio tour, you’re able to tour the Cellhouse at your own pace. There are photos along the way to give you a visual of the real prisoners (some of which tell stories in the audio).
The dark solitary confinement cell could be considered creepy as you listen to the stories of life inside from real prisoners but I really enjoyed learning about it. I also appreciated the color palette and chippy paint, lol.
The night we toured was a gorgeous day, so the light shining through the windows added to the beauty and mystery of the now museum.
The lighthouse on Alcatraz is the first one built on the U.S. West Coast in 1854.
I don’t want to give away too many details from the tour because I highly recommend visiting Alcatraz and exploring the island for yourself. It’s fascinating to hear the stories and history of the island.
There are several tour options you can purchase but since we chose late, we took the only option available which was the Night Tour. I loved it! The night tour guarantees you are the only visitors on the island, so we were thrilled to take advantage of special Park Programs during the course of the evening and enjoy breathtaking views of San Francisco as the sun went down.
Have you been to Alcatraz? If so, what did you think? Creepy or amazing??
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Photos by Kelly Clare