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“Alcatraz Night Tour - Bring a tripod”
Reviewed April 1, 2015
I had the chance to visit Alcatraz during my last trip to San Francisco. I purchased the tickets in advanced via online (alcatraz bay cruises, the official website). You can buy the tickets up to 3 months in advanced. I bought the night tour ones, I think they are the BEST. They're a little more expensive but definitely worth.
The night tours are at 5:55 or 6:30, and the last boat leaves Alcatraz around 9:20pm. I definitely recommend the night one, since you can visit the whole prison, and after a little while when the sun sets you have the most amazing view of the sunset and the city. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND BRINGING A TRIPOD!! That way you can take the most beautiful pictures without movement.
About the tour, first they let you off the boat and start a mini tour guide around the premises, while going up a big ramp (it's kind of steep, you'll walk a lot here). Then they give you the audiotour, you have to line up in the shower room, it's very well kept, it starts your Alcatraz sensation right there. The audiotour is very good, since it merges narration and actual voices from inmates and guards. I specially liked the part where they tell you the story of the night some inmates tried to escape, since they guide you exactly the way it was, you actually believe you are at that moment.
Finally, when the audiotour ends, you return the device and you can continue around the area, i strongly recommend going upstairs where the psych ward and the hospital wing were, It's very desolated and it definitely gives you the creeps!
Overall, this is a must see experience."
Advice on what to bring:
What to Bring
• Warm Layered Clothing, hat, gloves It is a lot colder and windier on Alcatraz than SF, and in summer months a dense cold fog often comes in thru the Golden Gate...dress in layers. Did I say, "Dress in layers!"
• Comfortable Shoes (13 story uphill walk to the cell-block from the dock)
• A wide-angle lens is indispensable in the tight cell-blocks.
• A fish-eye lens will give you even more field of view to photograph inside a cell or create grossly distorted views.
• A telephoto lens is necessary to shoot San Francisco. Image stabilization will be useful.
• Charge your batteries and bring extra one or two, and an extra memory card.
• Remote release (or you could use self timer delay)
Outside Lands is the music event, occuring in Golden Gate Park (about 1/3 of the way down in North/South directions in SF) near GG Park western end (see blue pin on map), it is not at the Presidio (which is at the NW tip of SF adjacent to GG Bridge)
BTW, it can be deceptively slow to get across SF, which is about 7 mi. square. What appears to be a 20 min trip can be closer to 40 min. in reality. Your hotel location is near the green area on Geary (2 blocks west of Kearny) on the map, at the eastern side of SF (in the NE corner). Taxis to/from airport are OK, but other destinations within SF other than between Fisherman's Wharf and downtown are not so dependable to find. Caution depending upon taxis in SF...they are horrid for NOT coming even in response to phone requests if you are in the western half of SF trying to get back downtown...better luck using Uber or Lyft than using SF Yellow or Luxor if your origin/destination is outside the NE quarter of the city!
You can use www.511.org
to plan trips across city using bus/trolley/cable car/BART even to Marin County and Alameda County...enter origin intersection and destination landmark/intersection and timeframe, and it suggests bus routes to catch at what intersection.
Ferry trips to Sausalito (Golden Gate Ferry) or to Tiburon (Blue & Gold Fleet) are nice scenic trips across the Bay from Fisherman's Wharf area, and both places are themselves nice small communities to spend some time in before returning to San Francisco. You can even easily travel by boat in one direction, and take mass transit for the other direction (about 1.25 - 1.5 hours).
Route 66F in Marin connects Muir Woods to the Sausalito Ferry Pier. From early June to early August the shuttle runs seven days a week, and the rest of the warm months it runs only on weekends.