Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island showing a coastal town and island images

Alcatraz Island

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Escape to “The Rock,” home of the infamous and abandoned island prison, and discover how it earned a reputation as a cold and unforgiving place.

For decades (between 1934 and 1963) the name Alcatraz uttered in a courtroom brought up fear, terror and visions of being sent to this austere island fortress. Even from the mainland the rocky island, now a National Park, still evokes powerful images of bleak isolation. It is a foreboding place that once held some of the country’s most dangerous criminals, including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis.

Alcatraz Island, located in San Francisco Bay, is accessible by a 15-minute ferry ride operated by Alcatraz Cruises from Pier 33 at the Embarcadero. The round trip ticket price includes an informative cell house audio tour. On the island, take a free tour with one of the National Park volunteers or guides, or pick up a brochure at the ferry landing for a self-guided tour.

Unlike the former inmates, you’re free to roam the island. Discover the site of the first lighthouse on the U.S. West Coast, which was originally erected in 1854 and rebuilt in 1909. Your tour within the walls of the notorious penal colony passes through cellblocks that once held the worst of the worst, and into the walled exercise yard where you’ll see just how tantalizingly close San Francisco appears to be.

During Alcatraz’s 29 years of operation as a maximum security prison, 36 people attempted to escape. Six were killed, 23 caught and the rest are presumed to have drowned, victims of the icy waters and treacherous currents.

The most famous escape attempt occurred in 1962 after three inmates managed to dig through their cell walls with crude materials including spoons. They left lifelike dummies of themselves in their beds to act as decoys. Presumably they made a swim for the mainland and their bodies were never found. A year after the escape the prison closed.

You can stay on the Rock until the last ferry of the day departs at 4:25 p.m., and most people spend two to three hours here. In summer, a night tour is also available. It’s a popular sightseeing destination, so be sure to buy your ferry tickets in advance.

Top Hotels Close to Alcatraz Island

Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
4 out of 5
2500 Mason St, San Francisco, CA, 94133
The price is $189 per night from May 24 to May 25
Stay at this 4-star business-friendly hotel in San Francisco. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and a 24-hour fitness center. Our guests praise the helpful staff ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (3,849 reviews)
"The hotel is located in Fisherman’s Wharf which is a touristy area, but it’s off the main drag. The property is well kept, the room was spacious and clean, and the bed was super comfortable. The Rui also offers a full buffet breakfast to guests until 10:30. There were lots of options to eat and the ..."

Reviewed on May 15, 2022

Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
4 out of 5
1300 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94133
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $199 per night from May 30 to May 31
Stay at this 4-star family-friendly hotel in San Francisco. Enjoy breakfast, WiFi, and a 24-hour fitness center. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (1,390 reviews)
"Wonderful accommodations - thank you Mayra for helping us find great places to eat at short notice."

Reviewed on May 14, 2022

Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
4 out of 5
250 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA, 94133
Fully refundable
The price is $197 per night from May 30 to May 31
Stay at this 4-star boutique hotel in San Francisco. Enjoy WiFi, valet parking, and a 24-hour front desk. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the family ...
4/5 Very Good! (1,511 reviews)
"Lonely location, professional staff and clean room! Perfect weekend away!"

Reviewed on May 14, 2022

Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Alcatraz Island

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel
3 out of 5
550 N Point St, San Francisco, CA, 94133
The price is $161 per night from May 31 to Jun 1
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
4 out of 5
1300 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94133
The price is $199 per night from May 30 to May 31
Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
4 out of 5
2500 Mason St, San Francisco, CA, 94133
The price is $189 per night from May 24 to May 25
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
4 out of 5
250 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA, 94133
The price is $197 per night from May 30 to May 31
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco
Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, an IHG Hotel
Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, an IHG Hotel
3.5 out of 5
1500 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA, 94109
The price is $170 per night from May 22 to May 23
Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, an IHG Hotel
The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square
The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square
4.5 out of 5
335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA, 94102
The price is $199 per night from May 30 to May 31
The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA
4 out of 5
50 3rd St, San Francisco, CA, 94103
The price is $171 per night from May 30 to May 31
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
4 out of 5
5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA, 94111
The price is $199 per night from Jun 3 to Jun 4
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Francisco
Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Francisco
3 out of 5
2620 Jones St, San Francisco, CA, 94133
The price is $209 per night from May 30 to May 31
Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Francisco
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.