san francisco, ca

If you’re making a trip to the San Francisco Bay area, I recommend booking an Alcatraz Island tour. We booked in advance online and our tickets were around $30 each. Since there are different tour times throughout the day, including early bird and night tours, you can pick the time that’s most convenient for you and your group. Just remember that the boat ride to and from the island is around 15-20 minutes long.

The tours depart from Pier 33, to the right of a large building that says “Alcatraz Landing”. Once you’ve boarded the hybrid ferry, there are drinks and snacks you may purchase. We enjoyed the boat ride because the weather was nice and we were able to see both the Bay and Golden Gate bridge.
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
The tickets include a short film, audio tour and different scheduled story times. We bought coffee at the Alcatraz gift shop {we’re not morning people}, watched the entire film and then walked around the island. The best thing about the audio tour is that you could explore at your own pace. B and I try to take group tours wherever we travel to, but it’s always a drag when you can’t hear the guide because the group is too large. With audio tours, this is never an issue.

Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour

The first thing you’ll notice once inside, is that the prison is dark and cold — so bring a light jacket! We strolled around, listening to all of the interesting facts on the audio tour, and then went into the cafeteria to listen to a guide speak about life on the rock. We found that the mess hall was a little creepy. Since so many inmates were together at one time, the prison workers worried about riots. If you look up at the ceiling you can see mounted canisters of tear gas throughout.

Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour
Alcatraz Island Tour

I was surprised at how beautiful and peaceful the island really is. There are a few nature trails you can take if you’re interested in viewing plants, flowers, birds and other wildlife, or you can just enjoy the view of the city.

What a tease it must have been to be locked away and just a short boat ride from civilization. 

Filed Under: California, San Francisco, Travel19 Comments
  • Jay

    We quite enjoyed Alcatraz too. When we visited, it was grey skies and totally made the prison look much darker and gloomier. It was a bit creepy but I loved the stories.

  • Kym

    AWESOME photos, Rachel!! I’ve never visited Alcatraz (or California…or the west coast for that matter, lol) so thanks for sharing the pics! And I love your polka dot top! xo

  • Brittney D

    Beautiful photos!

  • Catalyn H

    You take such amazing photos!! And I love your polka dot sweater :)

  • M and L

    How much fun! Alcatraz looks sooo creepy. The only part of California I’ve been to is L.A. (which was for business, not pleasure). I hope I can visit Cali again. Looks like you had a good time!

  • Claire Kiefer

    Awwww that’s where I live!! (SF not Alcatraz, haha). I haven’t done an Alcatraz tour in ages, though. I should look into it–it’s fun to be a tourist in your own town! Glad you had great weather. :)

  • Meg {henninglove}

    ahh i love visiting SF whenever I can. I have never taken a tour of Alcatraz though it seems like a very interesting tour. i love your outfit by the way that polka dot sweater is so cute on you

  • Jane

    I’m ogling all your pictures! I was born in SF and it’s one of my favorite cities but I haven’t been in years. I love seeing your trip.

  • Julie Lynn

    I love your pictures. We are moving to California in a month and I can’t wait to visit Alcatraz among many many other things!!!

  • Dara

    I love visiting alcatraz. it was hard to get a tour ticket and someone ended up giving me his spot on the tour, which was awesome! I had always been interested in alcatraz. I would like to go back to san fran some day!

  • Lindsay

    Love the photos! I sadly didn’t visit Alcatraz when we were in San Francisco. Now I’m regretting it!

  • Meryl & Russell McLendon

    Hi Rachel! Beautiful, beautiful pictures. I really liked Alcatraz. Something really spooky about it. And great views. You captured it all. Love your blog. Meryl

  • Helene

    so gorgeous! so funny about the coffee in the gift shop- good to know!

  • Jamie

    Great pictures. San Francisco is a gorgeous city.

  • Lauren

    I’ve never been to Alcatraz, but I’ve always wanted to go. My mom has been and said it was very interesting. Thanks for sharing these photos! xo

  • Stephanie F

    Nice photos :) Thanks for sharing! I would love to visit that city one day.


  • Lisa Landers

    Hello! Thanks for sharing, I live just above Sacramento Ca. Never toured Alcatraz before.

    Hope you don’t mind if I follow you….


  • Kristin Dawn

    Hey, new follower from the Friday Chaos linkup. Great photos, they look amazing! :) Can’t wait to check out your blog some more.


  • themosbysinchina

    Awesome photos!