Alcatraz, a former prison, is now a National Park and one of the city's most popular attractions. Learn how to get there, the surrounding neighborhoods, fun facts and famous movies they make a cameo in.
A mile and a half from Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse built on the Pacific Coast, then a federal prison for such notorious convicts as Al Capone. Now it is one of the city's most popular attractions.
Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse in the Western United States but became a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963, housing famous convicts such as Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Now, this once infamous prison island is part of the Bay Area’s 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Located one-and-a-half miles from Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz is one of the city's most popular attractions. A visit to the island includes a tour of the cell house where visitors can see where the prisoners lived. Although the last inmates were transferred off the island in 1963, the main prison block with its steel bars, claustrophobic (9 x 5-foot) cells, mess hall, library and "dark holes," where recalcitrant languished in inky blackness, is still structurally intact.
For additional information, contact the National Park Service at www.nps.gov/alcatraz/.
General Visitor Info
Alcatraz Cruises is the official ferry provider to Alcatraz and back. Departures start at 9:30 AM and are available every half an hour throughout the day. However, please note that these cruises frequently sell out, so as much as possible, plan and book your cruise in advance, especially in the summer and on holidays.
To purchase tickets, view the schedule and/or for more information, visit the Alcatraz Cruises web site at www.alcatrazcruises.com.
Touring the island will be at your own pace. There is no formal tour but an audio tour is available for the cell house portion of your visit. This award winning audio tour is available in many languages including English, Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Dutch and Mandarin and can be purchased upon your arrival on the island or with your ferry ticket. Evening tours of Alcatraz are also available. Visit the Alcatraz Cruises web site for additional information.
The weather on Alcatraz varies every day on the island, sometimes even on the same day. It can be warm,windy and wet any day of the year. The best way to prepare yourself is to dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes as well.
How to Get There
The following SF Municipal Railway (MUNI) bus lines stop within three blocks of THE Hornblower Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33:
#8X Third Street bus
#82X Presidio & Wharves Express bus
F Line streetcar. The most direct route. Use the Bay Street stop
#10 Townsend bus (Weekdays only, ending at 7 p.m.)
For additional information, routes and schedules, please visit the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency or call 415.673.6864.
Did You Know?
Movies that included Alcatraz:
The Rock (1996)
Murder in the First (1995)
Escape From Alcatraz(1979)
Birdman of Alcatraz (1963)