Friday, May 27, 2011

Alcatraz Tour

Alcatraz guard tower

There are some tours that even though they are a little pricey, they are one-of-a-kind that you really shouldn't miss...We feel that if it's connected to our country's history in a significant way, that makes it even more worthwhile. Alcatraz is a national park and one not to be missed! The Alcatraz Tour is a great tour to find out about what prison life was like back in the day.....we chose to take the boat tour that lets you off the island, and gives you an audio guided tour for 24.00 a person if you are 62 and older, and 26.00 if you are under 62. The audio portion is included in the cost. If you DON"T want it, you can get about 8.00 of your ticket refunded. You can spend as long as you want on Alcatraz inside the prison, and outside on the grounds. There's a ferry running every 30 minutes so you can hop back on and get back to San Francisco. It's about a 15 minute ride from the ferry dock (Pier 33?) to the prison which is on an island just outside San Francisco.
Some of the famous inmates
There is a significant climb to the top of the prison to get the audio tour...we got our workout for the day!  A tram is available for those who have difficulty climbing a steep hill or managing uneven pavement. Once you are inside the prison, you pop on the headphones and away you go! You can stop the audio commentary any time you want, or stop to listen to volunteers or park rangers who work at the prison national park, offering unique insights and stories into prison life. They give alternate tours different from the audio tape. The audio tape was really cool--lots of sound effects of what a prisoner riot sounded like, gunshots, and verbatim accounts of the attempted escapes. Exciting events unfold as the audio tour tells you what you are looking at and where to go next. There are real people who lived and worked at the prison who give some of the commentary. Photographic panels on the tour tell you intimate details of prison life and accompany the audio....The audio portion is about an hour and a half.

typical cell
Here's one of the informational panels we saw...
And, another one.....We found out all about the attempted escapes and the ingenuity of the prisoners in faking out their guards. But very few ever got away from Alcatraz....

It was a great tour and we highly recommend it! Tomorrow's blog is a farewell to San Francisco, Sonoma County and the orchards and vineyards of sunny California...makes me sad to say we're leaving, but-----WE'LL BE BACK SOME DAY....We loved this part of California.....
External guard tower at Alcatraz


  1. I can still remember when all you can hear on the audio is the foot steps of a prisoner and you're standing in the middle of what they call 'broadway' or the central corridor. Chilling. I'd do that tour again.

    A Arizona Holiday

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. I've been out there twice with different "company." and would go again.