Alcatraz N.P., San Francisco
Alcatraz is definitely a trap, though luckily they do let you go after a few hours (otherwise the crowds would suffocate you). Expensive, but interesting. Anyway if you’re there in high season I’d suggest that you head down to Pier 39 and book your ferry tickets over there a good few days before you intend to go because each sailing is absolutely packed during the summer!
Well we had not booked and went and stood in line. Those who had booked still had to queue for their tickets BUT they had a special "carpet". Do not laugh. You have to be very good, stand in line on your "not booked " section and be patient and do not complain and there could be a vacancy. We got 2 places.
Now where the 2 carpets meet it becomes one line AND when all the booked folk have crossed the line to the main queue you may be allowed to take a large step forward( across a gap in the carpets) and you will be in line for a ticket. Attention! But if you are not good you may not be allowed into the line proper! You think it is time to cross but another booked person comes...but smile...keep smiling..you are next.
Well it was like that on our day. I was so good I got 2 tickets on the very next cruise out and did not have to wait the 4 hours.This was 1n 2008.
Good luck. It was worth it. Just marvelous to see and experience Alcatraz
Unique Suggestions: Well you would prebook if you could.
Fun Alternatives: The alternative is to miss Alcatraz and I would not suggest that. But there is a ferry trip : you only view ...you do not go ashore
Well, this is a tourist trap, although one of the better tourist traps in the City. There really is not much to do once you're on the island, yet it is very crowded and will take a good chunk of your time. And you'll most likely have to spend your time in Pier 39 while you wait for your ferry departure time (which is waaayyy worse than Alcatraz).
Unique Suggestions: Despite the fact that Alcatraz is a tourist trap, I enjoyed my time there and I'm glad I visited (after living in SF for 22 years; still haven't walked the Golden Gate Bridge though!). The prison gave me the creeps (in a good way - not that I believe in ghosts ! well maybe ...), and the stories about prisoners escaping the island were pretty interesting. Come with a little bit of an imagination and you'll be ok. If not, you'll just be staring at one prison cell after another, which can get boring.
Fun Alternatives: San Quentin. This is a max security prison with prisoners who are the real-deal. I believe they give tours, although it's a little drive out of the City.
Whenever you're thinking about visiting Alcatraz, be aware that you have registered for tickets in advance. We were NOT able to go to Alcatraz because every single ticket was sold out.
We made a circle around the island when we made a boattrip through the entire bay. It gave us a good impression about the island anyway.
Still we were sorry to learn that you need at least 3 weeks in advance to get ticket. Massive tourist trap!!!
If you read stories about Alcatraz and its prisoners, or saw some movies about it, then the visit is very interesting for the revival of your memories. If as it happened to Fernanda, you never paid to much attention to its references and go there expecting something really appealing, then you will be disappointed.
Of course, the audio tour creates a good ambiance, of course the trip in the bay is positive, but thinking on the price you pay and the long lines to take the boat, maybe you'd try something else
Everyone I meet in different parts of the US and overseas has heard about Alcatraz and wants to go there. I don't see the attraction. It's an old prison, you can see it from the shore at San Francisco. The boat ride there and back is usually rough and cold. To each his or her own, I guess.
Unique Suggestions: Bring money. Wear warm clothing and take a seasick pill. Don't eat a heavy meal before you leave.
geez...its sooo nice to see it from pier but when u actually take the ferry there (10 usd) u find out its actually prety boring to walk there...not so nice to see from the inside...:-)
plus when u buy ticket to ferry at the morning u leave at 3 -4 pm- just 2 much...
Unique Suggestions: dont go
Fun Alternatives: walk that area, see the prison from far ...say to yourself "wow....lovely" and continue to walk around there its a really nice area...spend the money in one of the restaurants there or buy winney the pooh underwear at the disney shop...lol...costs the same
Alcatraz is the prison-island in the San Francisco-Bay. It's very famous because famous gangsters like Al Capone were there and nobody has ever escaped from it.
But in my opinion the touristic island nowadays is not as fascinating as it's history is.
You have to wait on a ferry taking you over (which is full of tourists). Most of the time you have to book this trip, because the ferries are always full. And what you see on the island is very disappointing...
Old buildings, dark and cold....
Impressing first, but gets boring very quickly...
Fun Alternatives: do not spend too much time on it
I understand that the tour of this prison is fairly well done, but to go on it would mean devoting at least half of your day and a significant chunk of change. Unless you're really enthusiastic about seeing an old prison, skip this one.
Ok, its a trap, but in a good way. If you go, try to make it earlier in the day rather than later. Take the time to really get a feeling of what it must have been like to be so close, but yet so far.......
I am not disabled myself but if you are you will here about this shuttle system well its extreemley cheesy as you may have to wait HOURS to get aboard because of the schedual.. otherwise its great and very educational with the audio tour aswell
Unique Suggestions: disabled people should find out the time table so that when they arrive they won't have to wait to long.
Most tickets are bought up by ticket touts, who then sell them nearby for more than what they are originally from the ferry franchises.
Which means if you turn up on the day to do the trip you will either be disappointed or have to pay extra.
Try to book up the trip either by phone or the internet before you get there.
One of the many tourist traps would be Alcatraz island. Yet, no San Francisco trip seems complete without a mandatory visit to Alcatraz. After all, it has captured our imagination in the movies such as 'The Rock', or in the story, 'Papillon'.
You can get tickets on-line now by checking out the website: www.blueandgoldfleet.com -- they offer comprehensive details on the schedules and prices of tours. The ferry departs from Pier 41, latest at 4.15pm in Summer. If you book on-line, there is a service charge of US$2.25 per ticket.
I found that if you go to the pier at about 3.45pm, there isn't much of a queue. We were there on 5th June, a Wednesday afternoon. Otherwise, it's been advised to get your tickets early due to the long queues. I'm glad that we took the late afternoon ferry as Alcatraz wasn't very crowded at that time of the day.
the ferry to alcatraz is supposed to be worth every penny, but you have to book it a few days in advance (at least). If you try to get tickets the day you want to go, there will be lots of people offering bay cruises in that general area. they range from $20-$40, and most are not worth it. if you want a good view of the bridge, go down the pier to ghiradelli square (and get some chocolate while you are there) and walk out on the long fishing piers. it's just as good as the boat tour, without the motion sickness.
Due to lack of time I did not take the boat and go to visit this historical place but I did buy a book and read the history.
There have been many films made here too: Papillon and The Rock come to my mind as I've seen them!