If you haven't noticed, I love places that have a dark, or mysterious history. Alcatraz is one of those places. Alcatraz is one of those places that is an iconic part of San Francisco's history. I had the opportunity to go on a night tour of Alcatraz (talk about really feeding into my curiosity for paranormal) and would highly recommend it!
Once a federal penitentiary for America's most notorious criminals, Alcatraz operated from 1934 to 1963. Criminals like Al "Scarface" Capone and the "Birdman" Robert Stroud were held here.
Did you know that the island also served another purpose? These Civil War-era buildings, cannons and subterranean rooms helped the island to serve as both a harbor defense fort and a military prison. As you dock at the island, you can also see reminders of the American Indian Occupation which began in 1969 and ended in 1971.
There are several options for getting to the island:
Behind the Scenes Tour (I would do this one next time I visit!)
Alcatraz and Angel Island Combo Tour
Night Tour "Circle the Island. Hear the Echo's":
The tour begins with a trip out to Alcatraz Island. The tour guide pointed out hidden spots that were used for attempted escapes and prison structures that you can't get to by foot.
When we arrived on the island, we made our way up the hill to the cell house. Our tour guide told us all about what life was like living on the island as well.
From here, we were able to do a self-guided tour (free audio tour offered) through the cell house. With a night tour, the cell house was dimly lit and felt very eerie being there. We were even able to go into one of the cells. There are old toilets, old bed frames, and even some personal belongings that have been there for many years.
Once you make it to the main offices, you can step outside where there are amazing views of the San Francisco skyline!
A bonus of the evening was when they opened up the hospital wing which is not open during the day. This is where you could feel the hair stand on the back of your neck. It suddenly felt colder and more eerie than even exploring the prison. There were hospital gurneys and chipped wall paint. You could walk into some of the hospital rooms and each one felt creepier than the last.
I highly recommend booking a night tour to Alcatraz, even if this is your first time. In my opinion, it is the best way to experience how it might have actually been to be on this island.
Tickets for this tour are available Thursday - Monday:
Adult (18-61): $44.25 | Junior (12-17): $43.25 | Senior (62+): $41.25 | Child (5-11): $26.50 | Children 4 and under: Free