The eerie Alcatraz Island looms from the mists on the shore from our perch in the boat. “The weather may be mild right now”, warns our tour guide, “But on the rock it’s a whole different story. It’s colder there.”
We were incredibly lucky to be able to nab a seat on the infamous Alcatraz Night Tour ($37). It actually sells out weeks in advance. When we were lining up, I noticed a sign saying that tours were sold out until July 25th. (It was only July 2!)
This night tour includes a live narrated boat tour around the island; guided tours from the dock to the main prison building; and special programs and presentations that are offered only at night.
Alcatraz is eerie, that’s for sure. The tiny island has been home to a military fortification, a military and federal prison as well as a light house.
The abandoned prison has become a tourist attraction, even though the last inmates were here over 50 years ago. This is due to its infamous inmates (The Birdman of Alcatraz and Al Capone, to name a few) and being the set of many popular movies.
The island is maintained today by the National Park Service. It has become a bird habitat. When we were there, lots of adorable baby Western Gulls were there. Look how fluffy they are!
We walked up a hill while the sun was setting and heard stories about the history of the island. When we got inside, everyone was given a self guided Alcatraz Cellhouse audio tour. This award-winning audio tour is voiced by correctional officers and inmates who lived on the island.
The tour led us all around the facility. It was creepy, fascinating and a little heartbreaking all at once. Listening to all of the stories while standing in the places that they actually happened- shivers!
After the audio tour, the special programming began. That night, the hospital/infirmary was open to visit. It was super creepy but very interesting to see! After wandering around there, I joined the talk about past inmates that have successfully escaped from Alcatraz.
Of course, this really depends on what you define, “escape” as. Did they get out of the prison? Yes. Did they make it to freedom? That’s debatable. I like to think that they did.
The Alcatraz Night Tour is a very unique, can’t miss experience. If you’ll be in the San Francisco area, go and book your tour! The earlier the better. Not into seeing it at night? They have day tours as well! Thank you to San Francisco Travel.