If there’s one place that attracts true crime lovers in larger numbers then anywhere else in the world it has to be the famous (and infamous) prison of Alcatraz. No visit to San Francisco is complete without a trip to this fascinating Island. On my recent trip to California I knew I just had to make the pilgrimage!
A visit to Alcatraz starts with a scenic trip on the ferry over to the Island, the beauty of the sights around you are just one of the first of many things that will surprise you about this Island. If you want some great pictures of the island from afar or of the cityscape and golden gate bridge this is a perfect place to get them! Here is a tip: rather than going to the upstairs open deck on the boat to fight the crowds for those all important shots, stay in the enclosed area downstairs. Once on the water walk towards the front of the ship where there will be a door that leads to the outside area at the front of the ship, you’ll get the amazing views and there will be no one else there to ruin your shot!
Once you get to the Island it’s yours to explore for as long as you like. Alcatraz has a fascinating and ever changing history. Of course there’s the famous prison to visit (each visit includes an audio tour of this building which is a must do!) but there’s so much more to this island beyond it’s most famous draw. The Island is full of rare and endangered animals and plant life which make a contrastngly beautiful backdrop around the harsh biuldings they surround and as infamous as Alcatraz is for it’s time as a prison its use as this function was relatively short. It was first used as a military base and later in the 1970’s it acted as the location for the Native Indian’s Occupy Aloctraz movment. There is evidence of all this to be found throughout the Island.
The audio guide of the main prison complex takes you around the large and intimidating main building which uses interviews with real prison inmates to help bring it to life. You will see the scene of the many infamous riots and attempted breakouts as well as the cell’s of infamous inmates such as The Bird Man of Alcatraz, Al Capone and George “Machine-Gun” Kelly.
I chose to go on the early bird tour at 07.45 which I would highly recommend. Being the first group to set foot on the Island gives you some insight into how lonely and isolating this prison could be, plus you get the run of the Island before the big crowds hit later in the day. It’s definitely worth getting up early for!
Have you ever visited Alcatraz? What did you enjoy?
This post was writtern in return for my ticket to Alcatraz all words and opinons are my own.