How accessible is Alcatraz?
Much of Alcatraz is steep and hilly, so be prepared for walking long distances uphill. The distance from the dock to the prison at the top of the Island is about 1/4 mile (.4 km) and the elevation change is 130 feet (40 meters). This is equivalent to climbing a thirteen-story building.
Visitors unable to make the climb up Alcatraz’s roads may take advantage of S.E.A.T. (Sustainable Easy Access Transport) Tram — an electric shuttle that meets each scheduled arrival at the Alcatraz dock and transports visitors requiring mobility assistance from the dock to the prison building. S.E.A.T. returns visitors requiring mobility assistance from the prison building back to the dock at regular intervals throughout the day. Visitors requiring mobility assistance may be accompanied by one attendant in their party if space is available. Families with small children and strollers cannot be accommodated on S.E.A.T. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. The S.E.A.T. schedule is listed on theAccessibilitypage.
The following areas are completely wheelchair accessible:
- Alcatraz dock area
- Prison building main floor
- All bookstores
- Museum displays
- Island theater
- Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing
- All Alcatraz Cruises vessels
How are the tours different?
The Alcatraz Island Day Tour includes round-trip ferry transportation to the Island. If you purchase the Alcatraz Day Tour, you can stay on Alcatraz Island as long as you like up until the last Day Tour return ferry. Allow at least 2 ½ to 3 hours for sailing to the Island, exploring and returning to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. The trip over to Alcatraz Island is 12-15 minutes each way and is factored into the suggested time of 2 ½ to 3 hours. Most guests spend approximately 2-3 hours total for the duration of the trip and tour. Alcatraz Cruises’ return ferries leave Alcatraz Island roughly every half hour from the time of arrival. Please be sure to check the departure scheduleto ensure you are viewing the proper season’s departures and returns.
The Alcatraz Island Night Tour is a unique program limited to a few hundred visitors per evening and includes special programs, tours, and activities not offered during the day. The ticket includes round-trip ferry transportation with on-board narration, a guided tour from Dock to Cellhouse, the Cellhouse audio tour, a keepsake souvenir brochure, recreation use fee and a variety of special programs and presentations offered only at night, are all included.The Night Tour begins with a live narration on the ferry which cruises around Alcatraz Island before docking. Upon arrival, a ranger or a docent will lead a group on a short guided tour from the dock to the Cellhouse.Night Tours are only available Tuesday through Saturday.
The Alcatraz Island Behind The Scenes Tour is the most complete experience that is only available to a maximum of 30 people per departure. This two hour guided tour covers a different route and contains different content than the Alcatraz Cellhouse Audio Tour or the daily guided tours and programs. It explores a variety of “off the beaten path” areas of Alcatraz Island not normally accessible to the public on a regular tour. Destinationsmayinclude the New Industries Building, the Officers’ Row Gardens, the upper levels of D Block, the Hospital, A Block, Citadel and/or the Chapel, Theatre and other areas as they become available. Specific destinations are not guaranteed. The tour route may vary depending on safety and accessibility concerns, weather, construction, bird habitat, group size, etc.You will be guided by a knowledgeable and entertaining Park Ranger who will keep you captivated with stories from the past. You may then choose to stay afterwards to join the regular Night Tour program. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed on the Behind The Scenes Tour. No refunds will be given if Adult or Senior tickets are purchased for children under age 12. For more details visit ourBehind The Scenes Tour FAQs.
How much time should I allow for my visit?
You can stay on Alcatraz Island as long as you like if you choose the Day Tour. Allow at least 2 1/2 – 3 hours for sailing to the Island, exploring the island and returning to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. The trip over to Alcatraz Island is 12-15 minutes each way and is factored into the suggested time of 2 ½ – 3 hours.
If you choose the Night Tour, your total experience is only 2 -3 hours.
If you choose the Behind The Scenes Tour, the guided tour lasts 2 hours. If you choose to stay afterwards for the Night Tour program, the complete experience including round trip boat ride, lasts 4 – 5 hours.
What time do we come back from the island?
The return trips are listed on theDeparture Schedulepage and also posted at the Island dock. You can stay on Alcatraz Island as long as you like if you take the Day Tour because multiple ferries depart the Island each day.
Note: The final ferry to San Francisco is 6:30PM if you choose a Day Tour. The final ferry to San Francisco is 9:25PM if you choose a Behind The Scenes Tour or Night Tour.
The ride from Alcatraz Island to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing is approximately 12-15 minutes.Boats are loaded on a first-come first-serve basis.
Where can I park?
Please Note: There is no parking on Pier 33.
On-street parking in the Fisherman’s Wharf area can be hard to find, and nearly every space has a parking meter. Parking meters take nickels, dimes and quarters, and credit cards. Rates range from $.25 to $6.00 per hour.Parking meters in the area operate 7 days a week. Automobile break-ins are frequent in the area so please do not leave any valuables in your car. We recommend takingpublic transportationor being dropped off.
Commercial Parking Lots:
There are fifteen commercial lots within a five-block radius of Pier 33Alcatraz Landing, with a total of more than 3,000 parking spaces. The closest and most convenient lots are located at 55 Francisco Street and 80 Francisco Street. Automobile break-ins are frequent in the area so please do not leave any valuables in your car. Rates can be as high as $40-$60 per day for parking. We recommend takingpublic transportation or being dropped off.
For more information on parking in the Fisherman’s Wharf area visitPlan Your Trip: Parking.
Where do I pick up my tickets?
If you do not have tickets already when you arrive at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing, you can check availability and purchase tickets at the Ticketbooth. If you have already purchased tickets, there is a separate line for visitors to pick up prepaid tickets (Will Call) at the Ticketbooth. Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing is at the foot of Bay Street on the Embarcadero, between the intersections of Embarcadero & Bay Streets and Embarcadero & Sansome Streets. Please arrive one half hour prior to your departure time to check in. You must present valid government-issued photo identification, along with the credit card used to purchase the tickets. A photocopy of a passport suffices as valid photo identification.
What is the best time of year to visit the island?
To avoid crowds, schedule your visit during the first two weeks of November, the first two weeks of December and anytime during the winter months of January through March. Toexperience the nicest weather, plan your Alcatraz visit for April-May or September-October. (Surprisingly, summer actually brings cold and foggy weather to San Francisco and the Island.)
What can I see and do on Alcatraz?
Accessible areas on the Island and Alcatraz Day Tour features include:(Video) History of San Francisco 1: Birth of a City (1999)
- The historic Alcatraz Cellhouse as well as the Cellhouse Audio Tour
- Eagle Plaza, Recreation Yard, Sally Port, Rose Garden
- Iconic views of the Cellhouse, Building 64, Water Tower, Warden’s House, Officer’s Club, and Gardens
- Native American Occupation era political messaging on the exterior of many Island buildings Scenic City and Bay Vistas
- Special access to “Red Poweron Alcatraz: Perspective 50 Years Later” –an extensive exhibit telling the story of the 19-month Native American occupation of the Island on display in the New Industries Building.
What months are best for viewing nesting seabirds?
February through August. Nest building and egg laying occur in April and May, and chicks begin to hatch in mid-June. Visit the National Park Service’sbirds of Alcatraz.
How should I dress when visiting the island?
The weather on Alcatraz is unpredictable and liable to change unexpectedly, so be prepared by bringing along a light jacket or sweater no matter how nice the day starts out. The best advice is always to dress in layers. Wear rain gear during wet winter months. (Rain gear is available for purchase at the Island’s bookstores.) Wear comfortable walking shoes with grip-type soles. Avoid wearing sandals, leather-soled shoes, high heels and open-toe shoes. Visit ourwhat to wearpage.
What waterbirds can I see on the island?
Western gulls are seen all over the Island. Along the West Road, Brandt’s Cormorants can easily be viewed. Snowy Egrets and Black Crowned Night Herons can also be seen from the West Road. Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Canada Geese, Mallards and several species of songbirds are also seen on the Island. Visit the National Park Service’sbirds of Alcatraz.
Are minors under the age of 18 allowed to tour Alcatraz Island without the accompaniment of an adult?
No. Minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to tour Alcatraz Island without the accompaniment of an adult. An adult must be with them at all times while on their tour of Alcatraz Island. Children under the age of 18 who are visiting Alcatraz Island unaccompanied by an adult will be sent back to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing and no refunds will be given.
Can I bring luggage/coolers/oversized backpacks or packages to Alcatraz Island?
No. Luggage, coolers, oversized backpacks or packages are not allowed on Alcatraz Island due to safety concerns. The National Park Service and Alcatraz Cruises comply with Department of Homeland Security guidelines. Ferry departure and arrival points receive a great deal of scrutiny from the United States Coast Guard and are regulated as closely as airports. For this reason luggage, coolers and oversized backpacks and large packages are not allowed on Alcatraz Island. The maximum acceptable size for a backpack is 16” x 20”. There are no storage facilities in the Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing area. Alcatraz Cruises does not store luggage for ticketed passengers. There is luggage storage at theCalifornia Welcome Center at PIER 39, located approximately 1/3 of a mile north of Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. Please make arrangements for the storage of luggage and over-sized items prior to arriving at Alcatraz Landing. Ticketed passengers arriving at Alcatraz Landing with luggage, coolers, over-sized backpacks and packages may not be able to visit Alcatraz Island. Please note that we cannot offer refunds to visitors who miss their ferry because of their luggage or any oversized bags. Thank you for your cooperation in this regard.
What is the weapons policy on Alcatraz?
For more information on the park laws and policies please visithttps://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/management/lawsandpolicies.htm
Is Alcatraz behind the scenes worth it? ›
All-in-all, the Behind the Scenes Tour can be a hefty time commitment and a pricey ticket endeavor, but it's undoubtedly the best way to experience the private and closed-off sections of Alcatraz Island that very few people get to see.Is Alcatraz City Cruises legitimate? ›
Alcatraz Cruises is the official National Park Service concessioner serving visitors to Alcatraz Island. Open seven days a week, with several daily departures, Alcatraz is a place to experience for locals and visitors alike. Alcatraz Island is truly an inescapable experience.What time of day is best to visit Alcatraz? ›
Early morning is best if you prefer to go when the island is less crowded. Midday is best if you prefer a warmer day and sunny skies. I took the photo below on the Agave Trail about 1pm in early December. It was a gorgeous sunny day with temperatures in the 60s.Can you bring backpacks to Alcatraz? ›
Luggage & Backpacks
There is no storage space for luggage or oversized bags at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing or on Alcatraz Island. Standard backpacks, measuring 16” x 20” maximum, are allowed on Alcatraz City Cruises vessels and while visiting Alcatraz Island.
The weather on Alcatraz is unpredictable and liable to change unexpectedly, so be prepared by bringing along a light jacket or sweater no matter how nice the day starts out. The best advice is always to dress in layers. Wear rain gear during wet winter months. (Rain gear is available for purchase at the bookstores.)Can you take pictures inside Alcatraz? ›
Pictures Inside Alcatraz
Yes, can take pictures everywhere within Alcatraz. There are no restrictions on taking photographs as long as you are in an area open to the public. Make sure to look out the windows because you can get some great photos of places on the island that are not open to the public.
There is no food service on Alcatraz City Cruises vessels or on Alcatraz Island - only water. There are drinking fountains located by both restrooms - at the dock and near the lighthouse, and bottled water is available in the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy book stores on the island.Where does Alcatraz City Cruises leave from? ›
Alcatraz City Cruises - Pier 33
The only way to get to Alcatraz is by a ferry operated by Alcatraz City Cruises, LLC. They are located on The Embarcadero near the intersection of Bay Street - just a bit south east of Fisherman's Wharf. There is no parking at Pier 33.
If you wonder whether cruise ships have jails, the answer is yes. Jails are called brigs on a cruise ship and tend only to be used in serious circumstances when no other options are available. Cabin arrest is typically used before the brig is needed.Is Alcatraz a lot of walking? ›
To see Alcatraz, you'll walk — a lot. It's easy enough if you're in reasonably good shape. They offer a tram to get you up the hill, but you still have to walk after you get there.
Can you bring water into Alcatraz? ›
Food, drinks (including candy and gum) are only allowed on the dock. (An exception is bottled water, which is available in the bookstore on the dock on Alcatraz.)What is the best company to book Alcatraz tour? ›
If you are looking to book tickets to only Alcatraz Island, the best website to buy tickets is Alcatraz City Cruises. If you want to book a combo tour with a tour company, I personally like to use Viator, Get Your Guide, or Trip Advisor.Are there public toilets on Alcatraz? ›
Are there bathrooms on Alcatraz? There are bathrooms on most of the ferries on the way over and back. There are also restrooms in two locations on the island. One is right near the ferry terminal.Is it cold on Alcatraz Island? ›
Temperatures on Alcatraz Island seldom rise above 75°F (24°C) or fall below 38°F (3°C). It almost never snows on the Island, but winters can be wet and cold. Afternoon winds are common during every season.What time do Alcatraz tours start? ›
Departures are available about every half hour throughout the day beginning at 8:45am. Evening tours, Behind the Scenes Tours, and combined Angel Island-Alcatraz Island tours are also available on a set schedule. Alcatraz is open every day except Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's day.Does Alcatraz have good food? ›
Alcatraz's warden believed, “Most trouble in prison is caused by bad food.” Dinner may not have been on the level of Henry, Vinnie, Johnny, and Paulie's beautifully orchestrated Italian feasts in Goodfellas, but meals in the Alcatraz mess hall were definitely worthy of praise.How cold is Alcatraz water? ›
Water temperatures for Alcatraz swims are usually in the mid-50's to mid-60's.How many drinks do you get in Alcatraz? ›
How many cocktails do we get during our time in the prison? Our working inmates will smuggle you approximately 4 rounds of cocktails for your gang within your time in the prison.Do they check bags at Alcatraz? ›
Bags larger than a standard backpack, 16" x 20", are not allowed on Alcatraz Island. Small packs and bags are permitted. Each visitor is required to go through extensive security prior to boarding the ferry to Alcatraz. There is no storage available at Pier 33 or Alcatraz Island.Can you sleep at Alcatraz? ›
You'll then have a 'not-so-comfortable night's sleep' in the 'Ghosts of Alcatraz' suite that can be booked through booking.com. You'll be provided with Dungeon-themed PJs and will of course be treated to a midnight feast and breakfast in your cell. how long have you been a guide?
How many hours do you need at Alcatraz? ›
On average, it's recommended that you set aside a minimum of 2.5 hours for your visit to Alcatraz Island. That time includes taking the round-trip ferry, which is about 15 minutes each way, touring the prison, and walking around the island to explore the gardens and displays.What movie is filmed about Alcatraz Island? ›
After the prison closed in 1963, a new era began. "Point Blank" (1967) was the first to film there, followed by such memorable titles as "The Enforcer" (1974) "Escape from Alcatraz" (1979), "The Rock" (1996) and "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006).How long does Alcatraz Swim take? ›
Odyssey Alcatraz swims are approximately 2 miles long and can take anywhere between 20 minutes to over an hour based on your level of experience and the conditions. Swimmers are encouraged to wear a wetsuit due to the low temperatures, which can range anywhere from the high 40's to 65 degrees.Can you go to Alcatraz Island without a tour? ›
Is Alcatraz open to the public? Alcatraz is open to public tours. However, the Alcatraz docks are exclusively available to one ferry line, Alcatraz Cruises. So, the only way the public can visit this famous jail in San Francisco is to buy a tour and take one of the official Alcatraz ferries.How long does the Alcatraz cruise take? ›
Allow at least 2 ½ to 3 hours for sailing to the Island, exploring and returning to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. The trip over to Alcatraz Island is 12-15 minutes each way and is factored into the suggested time of 2 ½ to 3 hours. Most guests spend approximately 2-3 hours total for the duration of the trip and tour.How long is Alcatraz City cruise? ›
Each ferry ride, the departure to Alcatraz Island from San Francisco and the return ferry to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing from the Island, takes about fifteen (15) minutes.Do cruise ships carry guns? ›
Cruise Ship Travel
All weapons are prohibited on cruises due to cruise ship security regulations. Guns are not allowed, with or without a concealed carry permit. Mace, pepper sprays and knives of any type are prohibited. The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc.
But there was bad news for those feeling frisky but failing to pack that essential for safe sex – 70% of cruise liners don't sell condoms.Can you survive falling overboard a cruise ship? ›
What are the chances of surviving a cruise ship fall? Sadly, most cases—an estimated 85 to 90 percent—end in death.What are 4 facts about Alcatraz? ›
- Al Capone played banjo in the inmate band. ...
- There were no confirmed prisoner escapes from Alcatraz. ...
- Alcatraz is named for sea birds. ...
- In spite of his nickname, the “Birdman of Alcatraz” had no birds in the prison.
What kind of prisoners go to Alcatraz? ›
While several well-known criminals, such as Al Capone, George "Machine-Gun" Kelly, Alvin Karpis (the first "Public Enemy #1"), and Arthur "Doc" Barker did time on Alcatraz, most of the prisoners incarcerated there were not well-known gangsters, but prisoners who refused to conform to the rules and regulations at other ...What did a meal look like at Alcatraz? ›
Dinner contained bean soup, roast beef, gravy, string-less beans, mashed potatoes, and coffee. Supper was a meal that had pork and beans, cornbread, potato salad, apricots, bread, oleomargarine, and coffee.Where should I buy my Alcatraz tickets? ›
- Online: www.alcatrazcitycruises.com.
- Telephone: 1-415-981-ROCK (415-981-7625)
- In Person: At the ferry departure point at Pier 33.
Current night tour prices:
Adults: $52.70. Ages 12-17: $51.55. Kids (5-11): 31.00. Seniors (62+): $49.00.
- Pier 39.Is there cell service in Alcatraz? ›
Cell phone coverage exists throughout most of Alcatraz. Please always use handrails that are provided.Are there snakes on Alcatraz Island? ›
The showers at Alcatraz were always supplied with moderately hot water, in order to hinder inmates from becoming acclimated to the freezing Bay waters. Personal items carried by the inmates were found floating in the Bay the following day. Also found was a life preserver with heavy teeth marks on the valve.How much is the boat ride to Alcatraz? ›
|Bay Discovery Cruise||Price|
|Adult 18-61 years old||$40.00|
|Junior 12-17 years old||$40.00|
|Children 5-11 years old||$25.00|
|Senior 62+ years old||$35.00|
In a nutshell, the Behind the Scenes tour is a two-part tour of Alcatraz: A 2-hour, guided tour given by a Park Ranger that takes a small group of 20 or less into areas normally off-limits to visitors.
What is the behind the scenes at Alcatraz? ›
The Behind the Scenes Tour is a unique and extremely popular program limited to a maximum of only 30 guests per tour, with ample opportunities to engage in-depth with your tour leader and fellow tour participants, capture unusual photos, and discover off-the-beaten track areas of Alcatraz that are closed to regular ...How long does it take to go through the Alcatraz crime museum? ›
How long should I plan to spend at the museum? 2 to 3 hours is a good amount of time. If you love “all things crime” you could spend all day there!Is Alcatraz tour a lot of walking? ›
As a state park, this was fantastic. Quite a bit of climbing, though for people who have any mobility concerns, there is a tram.How hard is it to swim to Alcatraz? ›
Crossing from Alcatraz to San Francisco is not as challenging as one may think based on popular lore about sharks and freezing waters. In fact, sharks in San Francisco Bay are exceedingly rare, and wetsuits minimize the physical impact of the frigid waters.Is the Alcatraz tour cold? ›
Temperatures on Alcatraz Island seldom rise above 75°F (24°C) or fall below 38°F (3°C). It almost never snows on the Island, but winters can be wet and cold. Afternoon winds are common during every season.What serial killer was in Alcatraz? ›
Robert Stroud, in full Robert Franklin Stroud, byname Birdman of Alcatraz, (born 1890, Seattle, Washington, U.S.—died November 21, 1963, Springfield, Missouri), American criminal, a convicted murderer who became a self-taught ornithologist during his 54 years in prison, 42 of them in solitary confinement, and made ...Did prisoners swim from Alcatraz? ›
Yes, youngsters have made the more than mile-long swim from Alcatraz to Angel Island. But with the strong currents and frigid Bay water, the odds were clearly against these men. Three if by land.What did they feed prisoners in Alcatraz? ›
A rotating schedule of menus authorized by Public Health Service nutritionists ensured that meals met nutritional standards, and were varied. A typical supper menu included soup, a green salad or vegetable, starches [bread or rolls, and potatoes, rice, or pasta], a meat entree, and dessert [pie, cake, or ice cream].Can I bring a water bottle to Alcatraz? ›
Eating, drinking and smoking is only permitted on the dock.
Beyond the dock only bottled water in non-glass bottles is allowed to be consumed.
Return boats leave Alcatraz at 6:40 pm. It varies with the seasons; winter has only one night tour sailing, and summer season has two.
Do you need to book Alcatraz tours in advance? ›
The National Park Service strongly recommends making advanced ticket reservations. Reservations secured far enough in advance allow visitors to visit and also eliminate the need to wait in line to purchase tickets. Alcatraz tickets are all inclusive.
Is Alcatraz open to the public? Alcatraz is open to public tours. However, the Alcatraz docks are exclusively available to one ferry line, Alcatraz Cruises. So, the only way the public can visit this famous jail in San Francisco is to buy a tour and take one of the official Alcatraz ferries.Are the items in Alcatraz museum real? ›
The museum is loaded with real crime-related artifacts that are in display. Some of the most notorious artifacts include Ted Bundy's VW Beetle, John Dillinger's death mask, and John Wayne Gacy's paint box.