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Alcatraz review 1 Users say 5/5 Rate it

'Alcatraz' is Spanish for pelican, but to its inmates it was simply known as 'the Rock'. The West Coast's first lighthouse was built here in 1854, but it was soon decided that the island's isolated setting made it perfect for a prison. It became a military jail in the 1870s, but it wasn't until it was converted into a high-security federal penitentiary in 1934 that the name Alcatraz became an international symbol of punishment. Despite being in operation for less than 30 years, Alcatraz remains fixed in the popular imagination as the ultimate penal colony. Today, its ominous prison buildings are no longer used (its last inmates left in 1963), but the craggy outcrop, now a National Park, lures over a million visitors each year.

Despite what you might expect, Alcatraz is far from being from a tourist trap. The audio tour of the facility, which features actual interviews from a variety of former prisoners and guards, is powerful, chilling and evocative, and the buildings retain an eerie and fascinating appeal. Departure times for both the day tours and the far less frequent (and wildly oversubscribed) evening jaunts vary by season: check the website for details. One word of warning: capacity on the tours is limited, and those who don't book ahead of time may find the only views they get of the island are from the shore.

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Alcatraz details

Alcatraz Island,
San Francisco Bay

Area San Francisco

Transport Alcatraz Cruises ferry from Pier 33, Embarcadero ( Streetcar F/bus 9X, 10, 39, 47.

Telephone 981 7625

Alcatraz website

Tickets (incl audio guide) $24.50-$31.50; $15.75-$29.25 reductions.

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Comments & ratings 5/5 (Average of 1 rating)

By mario - Aug 10 2014

I had 3 adults. And 4year old and 10year old whats the prices $ for Alcatraz

By mario - Aug 10 2014

I had 3 adults. And 4year old and 10year old whats the prices $ for Alcatraz

By Destination360 - Sep 9 2011

This is a terrific attraction, and it's well worth a visit, and it's something that we always recommend that visitors to San Francisco try. On a clear day, it's almost worth it just for the views of the island as you approach on the boat, and for the sight of San Francisco back across the water. The historical information on the tour of the island, which includes facts about it as a military outpost, prison, and during the Native American occupation from 1969 to 1971.

The prison is the real star of the show though. (We have a virtual tour of it here: They do have an option to get a portion of your ticket refunded if you don't want to take the audio tour, but having visited Alcatraz both with and without the audio tour, it's well worth the extra money. This isn't the kind of attraction that has plaques that cover most of what you'll hear on audio. It's still fascinating to see, but you do miss out on a lot of information if you opt to go the cheaper route.