Saturday, May 30, 2015

Touring Alcatraz

I think the prisoners at Alcatraz would be amazed that over one million people pay good money to go to jail each year.  But they do!  If you want to visit Alcatraz this summer, plan ahead.  Last year, tickets sold out six weeks in advance for the busiest days.  Tickets to the popular Night Tours seem to sell out almost as soon as they go on sale.

Alcatraz Cruises is the National Park Service's official concessionaire for "The Rock."  Anyone else selling tickets to Alcatraz gets them from Alcatraz Cruises and packages them with another tour, often with a steep mark-up.  Alcatraz Cruises starts selling tickets 90 days in advance of the date of the tour.  Tickets to the day tours cost $18.25 for children age 5 to 11, $28.25 for seniors age 62 and over, and $30 for all others.  Family tickets for two adults and two children are available for $90.25.  Night Tour tickets cost a few dollars more.  Family tickets are not available for the Night Tours.

Tickets include an audio tour of the cell block, which is available in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Plan on spending around 2.5 hours visiting Alcatraz.  While you must depart on your scheduled boat, you can return on any ferry.  Boats leave Alcatraz approximately every 30 minutes.  

Consuming food is not allowed on the island except in the dock area.  Visitors may take bottled water with them.  

The walk from the dock to the cell block climbs 130 feet.  A shuttle is available for those with mobility challenges.

If you find that you are too late to get tickets from Alcatraz Cruises, you can try to purchase tickets from one of the resellers.  Dylan's Tours offers one of the better tour packages that includes a visit to Alcatraz.

For a nice day in San Francisco, you can spend the morning touring San Francisco with Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel and the afternoon touring Alcatraz.  I can pick you up at your hotel, take you on the tour, and drop you at Pier 39 when we finish.  Pier 39 has many restaurants and is a five-minute walk from the Alcatraz ferry terminal at Pier 33.  You can also flip the tours and tour Alcatraz in the morning and the city in the afternoon.  I would then pick you up at Pier 39 and drop you at your hotel.  For more information, e-mail me at or phone me on (866) 326-4237 (toll free).