Alcatraz Lookout

San Francisco Bay

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island, infamous for its prison and the pop culture associated with the land mass, is one of the must-see attractions of San Francisco. The only landmark more famous is the Golden Gate Bridge…maybe. But if you aren’t careful on how you plan your time in S.F., you can end up disappointed when it comes to Alcatraz. So get your act together and let’s go.

Discovered by the Spanish and named Alcatraz, meaning “pelican,” for the abundance of the birds populating the island, Alcatraz has gone through many phases over the years. First used as a Civil War lighthouse, it wasn’t until the prison was created in the 1930s that Alcatraz became the well-known name we recognize today.

Did anyone escape from Alcatraz? You be the judge (we think so).

Alcatraz Exercise Yard

Gangsters such as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly were housed in the prison’s cells. And to make the place even more renowned, nobody was said to be able to escape from Alcatraz…until it happened. (And you can learn about it on your tour, too). Unfortunately, over time, though (or fortunately, depending on how you see it), the prison closed due to growing maintenance costs and pollution it caused to the bay. But the name, famous prison cell and history remain.

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Today, the National Park Service runs the park, and you can see the landmark 365 days a year. But you need to plan carefully.

Because of Alcatraz’s limited size, tickets tend to sell out quickly. If you want to guarantee a trip to the island, book your ticket NOW. Otherwise, you’ll only view the attraction from neighborhoods like Fisherman’s Wharf, which is cool, just not the full experience.

Alcatraz Cell

How Can I Find Alcatraz Island?

  • The island of Alcatraz is located in the bay of San Francisco. You can tell it apart from the other islands because of the small, lighthouse-type buildings on it (the prison cell).
  • The only way to see Alcatraz is with a tour ticket. Here’s some tips on how to purchase yours. Once you have your ticket, you’ll hop on a ferry from the Embarcadero to reach the island.
  • To reach Alcatraz from Union Square you need to find your way to Pier 33 on The Embarcadero. The F-Line (25 mins) and Uber (10 mins) are two forms of transportation which can get you there. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND you arrive early! If you miss your ferry you might be out of luck on seeing Alcatraz!

The Rock: Alcatraz

Orange Sky Co. says:

Orange Sky SF Logo

Many people don’t visit Alcatraz because they forget to buy their tickets early. An excuse is then made on how they didn’t want to visit the prison, anyways. But we’re here to tell you those people are fools. Alcatraz is awesome. Here are some tips on how to purchase your tickets today.

Location of Alcatraz Island