Alcatraz Island: An Inescapable Experience

Alcatraz Island: An Inescapable Experience

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N had taken the night tour on a previous trip to Northern Cali, and must have loved it so much, that he insisted on taking me there.  Some idea of a date night, right?  Guess we can’t always play by my rules 😉 We booked the tickets way in advance to ensure availability.

A little background info:

Alcatraz and history go hand in hand. Once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, the federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963 brought a dark mystique to the Rock. The presence of infamous inmates like Al “Scarface” Capone, and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud helped to establish the island’s notoriety. To this day, Alcatraz is best known as one of the world’s most legendary prisons.Many people, though, are unaware of the wealth of other stories to be learned on the island. Alcatraz is now home to rare flowers and plants, marine wildlife, and thousands of roosting and nesting sea birds. Civil War-era buildings dotting the island give insight into the 19th century when the island served as both a harbor defense fort and a military prison. You can also see visible reminders of the American Indian Occupation that started in 1969 after the prison closed, highlighting an important milestone in the American Indian rights movement.Come experience the beauty, history and infamy of Alcatraz on the San Francisco Bay. You’ll be astounded by what you learn and see.”Alcatraz Cruises

Now for our time on Alcatraz:

We took a ferry to the island, where America’s worst prisoners were once locked away.  Arrival was a bit intimidating, considering the tall, dark watch tower contained armed guards back in the day.  We went on a rainy and chilly night, and this just added to the experience.  Upon entrance to the actual prison cell house, it was extremely dreary and dark [hence the night tour].  We picked up our audio tour headsets, which was extremely informative.  You really walk away with a feel for what the prisoners went through, listening to true tales of the island and it’s inmates.

I’ve read that you are only allowed into the hospital and recreation yard during the Night Tour, so if these tickle your fancy, the night tour is the way to go.  In my opinion, it’s worth the extra money.  Less crowded.  Better photo ops [think being alone in a jail cell].  And a beautiful, illuminated downtown San Francisco before heading back on the ferry.


Look out for Creepy Karpis, one of the inmates.  It’s all in the name, obviously.

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