Results 21-30of 54 Reviews
New Hartford, New York
March 26, 2006
From journal Week in San Francisco
January 23, 2006
From journal San Francisco in July
San Francisco, California
January 22, 2006
There is a great Alcatraz Island tour that leaves multiple times a day from Fisherman's Wharf. I recommend that you call ahead or book tickets online in advance because these tours fill up very fast. You usually have to book at least a day or two before you want to go (although that is less true in the off-season).
The boat takes you over to Alcatraz Island. It is a beautiful trip over and you can see the island and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background (if it is not too foggy). You can walk around the island and prison and stay for as long as you'd like--you don't have to go back on a specific boat.
I would recommend doing the guided audio tour of the prison. You just get a cassette that tells you where to go, the history of the prison, and some first-hand accounts from guards and inmates, but it makes it much more interesting. Its really neat to see and understand this piece of history.
From journal San Francisco Livin'
January 12, 2006
Alcatraz Island has much more history than just the infamous prison that once operated there. In the 1800s, it became the West Coast's first US military fort. It is also home to the West Coast's oldest lighthouse.
Before the federal penitentiary took hold of the island, Alcatraz was also known for its gardens and nature. Today, the flora and fauna that flourish there isolated from the mainland are protected and researched intently by the National Park Service. Though the gardens are no longer curated, they serve as a reminder of the people who once thought of the island as a home.
Visitors board cruises that periodically make the trip out to Alcatraz from piers 39 and 41 on the mainland. There are several different type of cruises to suit different groups well, some historically minded, some more focused on nature. Tourists can pick and choose whatever trip would interest them the most.
Visitors of the island are welcome to tour the old buildings of the prison and the other parts of the island as well. It is open from 9am to 4:30pm and guided tours are available for those who wish to become more informed. There is also a very nice self-guided tour package that consists of a map and written guide that can be obtained for a $1 at the bookshop. By far the most interesting is the "cellhouse recorded tour," a taped 35 minutes in the words of former inmates and prison guards. You can put yourself in their shoes!
Perhaps the most underrated thing about Alcatraz is its impeccable view of the San Francisco Bay and city. You can see everything from here (fog permitting), and it offers a unique, unobstructed viewpoint.
It is recommended to make tour reservations a week in advance, especially during busier tourist times, like the summer months. Tickets are available at www.blueandgoldfleet.com
From journal San Francisco, CA
September 26, 2005
From journal Getaway to San Francisco
June 28, 2005
The boat trip to the island offers great (weather permitting) views of the city, Golden Gate Bridge, and the pelicans.
The audio tour narrates your walk around the prison, with interviews from ex-prisoners and staff. It points out many things you would not otherwise notice, like bullet marks. You can stop and start it when you want, so you are free to take photos and go inside the cells. The trip would be pointless without the audio tour.
From journal Short Break in SF
Charlotte, North Carolina
May 5, 2005
The audio tour is part storytelling and part tour guide. There is lots of good info and stories to keep you entertained.
You can explore most of the island on your own, with a few places off limits (but not that many).
This isn't a tour you will do every time you are in San Fran, but it is a must at least once!
From journal San Francisco - Valentine's Day Weekend
January 26, 2005
From journal "City” of San Francisco
Durham, United Kingdom
August 29, 2004
The tour has won awards and deservedly so. It starts with the short (I reckon I could swim it) boat ride across the bay. On disembarking you are efficiently ushered towards the tour start point and distributed with your audio equipment - this narrates your tour. Now I can mess most things up quite easily and I thought that after about a minute I'd be in the wrong place looking at the wrong thing while the narrative on my head-set told me about something else. That didn't happen. The pathways are well way-marked and your instructions very clear "follow the yellow line along to the end of the row, now turn left and look at cell 29 ... see the bullet holes in the wall? They were caused by ... etc etc "
The feature that makes the tour, however, is the way that the narrative is interspersed with first hand testimonies from ex-guards and guests. People who have actually been in "the hole". The sound affects really bring the stories to life as well, telling you how and when the bullet holes in the walls were made, who occupied the cell you are looking at and so on. You also get the ins and outs about the most famous and mysterious escape attempts and the often grizzly truth (rather than the romance) about its most famous guests like the bird-man.
In addition to the main tour there are also short film shows in an auditorium to the side at no extra cost. These fill you in with the historical detail of the facility and the island. There's also plenty of opportunity to purchase the sort of paraphernalia you'd expect. Much of it is available and cheaper in the city, but the range of literature about the island and prison is very good. When you've had enough, you simply hop on the next boat back. They come and go more-or-less on a continual loop so you won't ever have too long to wait.
Top marks. Thoroughly recommended. $15 well spent.
To avoid disappointment you are advised to buy your ticket at least a day in advance, especially during the summer season.
From journal A Pedestrian's View (or not another hill)
August 17, 2004
From journal San Francisco is gorgeous!!!