Visiting Alcatraz: Scenes From the Infamous San Francisco Bay Island

Alcatraz had been teasing me for years. Every time I visited San Francisco, I would see the island sitting out there in the bay, showing off its history and grandeur, but I was unable to visit. To be safe, you have to book your visit in advance, which I finally did this time so I wouldn’t miss out.

Alcatraz, of course, is the infamous prison where the country’s most notorious convicts were locked away from 1933 to 1963. Now a tourist attraction, it provides the opportunity to see what an old-time high-security facility looked like.

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One of the best things about Alcatraz is that, unlike most historic sites, it starts off with a ride. The ferry trip over to the island only takes a few minutes and it offers great views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Alcatraz hours and prices vary – I booked one of the earliest tours in the morning. It was reasonably crowded, but not to an uncomfortably degree.

LINK: Check out these Alcatraz tours below to get your tickets for this attraction.

My first visit to Alcatraz came during my road trip a few years back. San Francisco is a great place to start a California road trip – see this article for a suggested itinerary.

TIP: If you’re visiting San Francisco, don’t forget to check out Coit Tower and the California Academy of Sciences as well.

Visiting Alcatraz: Pictures from the Island

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Alcatraz looks like a fortress as the ferry approaches.

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After a brief speech from the NPS ranger, you’re on your own, and you can walk around and explore the island.

nps-ranger

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You can see why this was a scary place back in the day. Even now, there are still plenty of hidden, isolated corners that give off an eerie feeling.

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locked-door

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And then there’s the morgue. Yeesh.

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Inside the buildings is where things get interesting, as you can visit some of the cell blocks.

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alcatraz cell block

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cell-block-hall

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inside alcatraz cell

Photos From Inside Alcatraz Island in San Francisco

Inside, you can see the dining facility and the visitation windows. There’s also a door leading to what was the recreational courtyard for inmates who were allowed some outdoor time.

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recreation-yard

And back outside, some of the abandoned buildings and skeleton structures give more of a sense of just how bleak this place would have been to live in.

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family housing

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Once I finally soaked in all the history and intensity of the island, I took pictures of the San Francisco skyline until the return ferry to the mainland arrived. Alcatraz was worth the time and effort, and now I feel silly for waiting so long to check it out.

san-francisco-skyline


Have you been to the infamous San Francisco Bay island before? Do you have any tips for visiting Alcatraz?

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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