Alcatraz island has served as a harbour fortification, military detention facility and maximum-security federal penitentiary. It once held behind bars the likes of gangster Al Capone. The West Coast’s first and oldest operating lighthouse is also located on Alcatraz. Gardens, tidepools, nesting birds, and bay views beyond compare are also among its attractions. In addition to scenic and historic walks and the cellhouse audio tour, Alcatraz provides staff-led programs, an orientation video, and an award-winning video exhibit, We Hold the Rock, which examines the island’s occupation by “Indians of All Tribes.”
|photo John A. Martini, www.alcatrazcruises.com|
Today Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s top tour attractions that often sells out. Over one million people visit Alcatraz each year. Only 1.25 miles from downtown San Francisco, yet isolated by harsh weather and rough waters, Alcatraz Island's unique geography has made it prized real estate throughout its long history.
There is no entrance fee to visit Alcatraz Island. However there is a charge for the ferry service to and from the island which is supplied by a private company under contract with the National Park Service. The hours of operation vary with the season - departures are available about every half hour throughout the day beginning at 9:00am. Night tours and combined Angel Island - Alcatraz Island tours are also available depending on the season. For additional information on schedules, prices, and to purchase tickets in advance (tickets are made available about 60 days in advance) please visit the Alcatraz Cruises website.
Cellhouse Audio Tour
|No one can tell the Alcatraz tale like the men who actually lived it. The award-winning Alcatraz Cellhouse Audio Tour brings history alive through the actual voices of the correctional officers and inmates who lived on the island during the infamous Federal Penitentiary era.
Hear both sides of life in the island prison including such famous events as escape attempts, "The Battle of '46", food riots, and surviving solitary confinement. The new Cellhouse Audio Tour is an expanded version of the original award-winning tour and includes new stories, new narrators, and explores new areas of the Cellhouse.
The cellhouse audio tour is included in the price, and it is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Japanese Dutch and Mandarin. If you do not wish to do the audio tour you can receive a refund by contacting a supervisor in the cellhouse bookstore. Here you can listen to samples of the Cellhouse Audio Tour.
Alcatraz tourists lose track of time, thanks to an award winning audio tour.
photo John A. Martini, www.alcatrazcruises.com
A self-guide Alcatraz Island Tour brochure (printed in English, Italian, Spanish, German or Japanese) is available at the dock for a fee.