Alcatraz is a decommissioned island federal penitentiary nestled beautifully in the bay. Before it was a prison it served first as a lighthouse (the West Coast's first lighthouse), then a military outpost, and then a military prison. After this, it served as a federal prison for 29 years between 1934 and 1963. Its location was near perfect due to its isolation and the frigid waters and hazardous currents of the bay, which made escape attempts difficult to say the least. Known by it's nickname "The Rock", this prison was once home to some of the most notorious inmates in U.S. history. Famous inmates included Al Capone, who served four and a half years here, and Robert Stroud — "The Birdman of Alcatraz," — who spent a long 17 years here. The notorious gangster and bootlegger, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, also served time at the Rock. It was claimed (by the penitentiary) that no one ever escaped from the prison alive, despite 29 separate attempts.
Take a tour and listen to an audio tape in English, Japanese, Chinese, or other languages. The most interesting aspect of the tour is that you can go into the prison and see what it was like to be imprisoned. The tour takes you all around the interior of the prison, including into some of the tiny cells, the segregated cells, the old barber shop and mess hall, and then out into the parade grounds and exercise yard. It might be more interesting if you've watched the movie Escape from Alcatraz and seen what happened in Alcatraz when it was operating as a prison. Tickets for the Ferry to Alcatraz are available at the Alcatraz Cruises website, but they sell out fast so buy in advance. Only one company is allowed exclusive access to dock at Alcatraz.
Cruises start at 9AM and continue throughout the day. Ten to 14 daily departures depending on the time of year. Evening tours offered Thursdays-Mondays. Adults from $26, Children from $16, Seniors from $24.50.
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Based on a work at Wikitravel.org & Traveldudes.org.