February 19, 2013

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Penitentiary Sign
Alcatraz Island as a penitentiary shut down in 1963.  Now it is a National Monument and a throbbing hub of tourism attracting over one million visitors per year.  It has been a main stay in the top attractions in the San Francisco area.  Before visiting Alcatraz, there are some preparations you can make.  And once you are on the island, there is much to do, see, and learn.

How to Prepare:

Properly preparing for a trip to Alcatraz Island can make your visit much more enjoyable.

First, know what day and time you want to visit Alcatraz and then reserve your tickets with Alcatraz Cruises.  There are several different tours and prices to choose.  These reservations can fill up weeks in advance

Give yourself plenty of time to arrive before your departure time due to traffic or any other unforeseen problems.  The boats leave from Pier 33.  Parking in the area is expensive ($40 for the day).  A few blocks
away from Pier 33 is a $10 flat rate all dayparking area between Kearny Street. and Montgomery Street.

Bring food.  There is no food sold on Alcatraz Island.

Bring a hat and good walking shoes.  The sun is bright and there is a lot of standing and walking involved in a tour of this island.  Wear layers of clothing.  It will be chilly early and in some of the deeper parts of the prison, but being in the sun will warm things up even in the winter.

Educate yourself.  There are some excellent books and movies about Alcatraz.

What to do on the Island:

Immediately after being dropped off, a National Parks staff member will welcome the guests descending from the boat and explain the do's and don'ts.  At this point you will be able to get a brochure type map.  From the map, you can plot your path.

There will be some walking and a lot of standing.

There is an audio tour in the main prison that lasts about 45 minutes.  Don't miss this part of your visit.

Throughout the island there are plagues, short videos, and tutorials to visit.

Also, if you have a smartphone, there are some geocaches on Alcatraz Island.  Finding this role play cache could be fun.

Take pictures.  Have fun and be happy you are visiting as a tourist.

Alcatraz Island Early Morning Fog

Alcatraz Prison Recreation Area
Alcatraz Prison Jail Cell

Alcatraz Prison Guard/Tourist
Alcatraz Prison Mess Hall

Golden Gate Bridge from Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island Dock

Alcatraz Island Departure