James and I had put off going to Alcatraz for ages. I’d read that the night tour was much better than the regular tour but you had to book months ahead and, well, we’re just not that organised. But when Luke and Madeleine told us they were visiting for Memorial Weekend it was the perfect opportunity to go. We checked with Michelle and Eliot who also wanted to come, tickets were booked, and we were all set.
The ferry ride there was quite windy but had great views of San Francisco and Alcatraz.
When we landed we walked uphill from the dock to the main building. Inside, we lined up (at the prison showers!) to get headphones for the audio tour.
We paused our tapes to explore the rec yard, which was one of the areas that they had opened just for the night tour. Here are James and Luke playing imaginary baseball with an indifferent seagull.
The audio tour was top-notch. It navigated you through the space really well and went into a lot of detail about prison life and various escape attempts.
The only bummer was that there were a lot of people, so the portions of the audio tour where you had to stop and look at stuff you were always in a crowd. I had to be a bit strategic to get this photo.
The tour guided you through the prison library,solitary confinement cells, visiting area, guards’ offices, dining hall and hospital, giving you information about each location. It was all woven together really well.
I feel like we got the best of both worlds because it was nice and light for photos for most of the tour, we got to see the beautiful sunset, and then it was all dark and atmospheric for the last hour. James went back in the prison after most people had left and said it was much spookier empty.
We spent maybe an hour and a half touring the prison and the rest of the time listening to talks. The talks were held outside and it got quite chilly after the sun set so definitely bring a warm jacket.
It was super touristy but I think it’s one of those touristy things that’s popular because it’s really worth doing (other things on that list for me: cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and a cycling tour of Napa, both of which I keep meaning to blog about).
But yeah, the Alcatraz tour was really interesting and informative, and if you’re visiting San Francisco I would highly recommend going!