Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks – second to the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you’re planning on visiting The Bay, you might be wondering if visiting Alcatraz is really worth half a day of your vacation and the $50 ticket.
I went back and forth before deciding to buy my Alcatraz ticket the morning of my flight. Luckily, my ticket was processed in time to make the 9am tour the following day.
Alcatraz surprised me in a few ways. I was expecting the rock to be interesting, but I had no idea just how complex its history really was.
Staff and their families lived on the island and took ferries into town for school and shopping. They even had beautiful gardens to tend to.
The whole island is covered in greenery and is home to a variety of bird species.
In 1969, Native American activists occupied Alcatraz Island for over a year.
The tour of Alcatraz was quite interesting too! It’s a “go at your own pace” type of thing, which I tend to enjoy more than a guided group tour.
I spent around 2.5 hours on the island and roughly 30 minutes on the ferry (15 minutes each way). In this time, I took the audio tour, watched a 15 minute introduction video in the theater, walked through the garden area and walked some trails.
If you are very into history, you could easily spend more time on the island. For someone who enjoys seeing historical sites but had very limited time in San Francisco, 2.5 hours was the perfect amount of time to visit.
I would recommend wearing walking shoes because some of the trails are uneven, and you will need to do some uphill walking to get to the penitentiary. Wearing a backpack was helpful as well. I was able to store my extra layers and my camera when I wasn’t using them.
If I went back to San Francisco, I would like to try the night tour. I am glad I chose a daytime tour because I was able to see the island and all its glory; however, I think visiting at nighttime would make for a fun experience too.
If you’re on the edge and can’t decide whether to visit Alcatraz or not, I strongly urge you to hop on that ferry and go! Coming from someone who wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth it or not, I am so glad I ended up going.