Alcatraz
Geoff Livingston/Getty Images

Key Info

Alcatraz Landing, Pier 33

Price & Hours

$37.25 (day tour)-$44.25 (night tour); need to book extremely in advance
Thurs-Mon 8:45 a.m.-8:30 p.m. | Tues-Weds 8:45 a.m.-6:15 p.m.

Details

Sightseeing, Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.2scorecard
  • 3.5Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

While riding a cable car and getting a snap of the Golden Gate is a must when visiting San Francisco, both visitors and travel experts tend to argue the same for Alcatraz. This is because Alcatraz is rich with history. Sitting on a small, rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is most known as being a former federal prison that housed some of society's biggest offenders, the most famous of which was Prohibition-era mob boss Al Capone. Before that, it was a military prison that housed prisoners from the Spanish-American War and Civil War, as well as the site of the West Coast's first operating lighthouse. The prison closed down both times due to high operating costs and was handed over to the National Park Service in 1972 after the island experienced a short occupation from Native American activists. Today, the attraction sees about one million visitors per year. 

Recent visitors said Alcatraz is truly a can't-miss attraction. Travelers enjoyed being able to get up close to cells and said the audio tour (complimentary with ferry tickets) voiced by inmates and prison guards made the visit that much more fun and informative. What's more, travelers say the view of the bay from The Rock (the nickname given to Alcatraz) is breathtaking. 

Entrance to Alcatraz is free; however, you will need to purchase a ferry ticket to get to the island. Tickets are not cheap (starting at $37.25 for adults), but most travelers say the price offers great value. Tickets include a scenic boat trip to the island and the audio guide. Night tours, which cost $44.25, include onboard narration and a guided site tour. Tours depart starting at 8:45 a.m. and return throughout the day until 6:40 p.m. Due to the popularity of the attraction, the park service strongly suggests booking tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines. You can book up to 90 days in advance for your trip via Alcatraz Cruises.

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The Golden Gate Bridge's vaulting, orange arches amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay have made it one of the West Coast's most enduring symbols and the city's most popular tourist attraction. The bridge's name, "Golden Gate," actually refers to the body of water it spans (the Golden Gate Strait that connects the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay), and was built to make travel between San Francisco and Marin County an easier feat. 

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