OK, honestly, I was NOT super excited about going on a tour of Alcatraz Island. Why do I want to spend my money to get on a boat and be herded like cattle on a guided tour? I went……..and let me tell you, I would go over and over again! The horrible “guided tour” was not an amusement park ride that you couldn’t get off of, it was a self-guided audio tour that you could listen to with head phones if you wanted to or you could just wander around and read posters and look at pictures and let your imagination run crazy about what happened on this island, within the walls of the prison and in the family homes of the workers that lived on the island….YES, WORKERS LIVED on the island! The whole entire thing fascinated me. I never knew that the jail held some of the most widely known criminals in American history like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly
When you walk the hallways and see the cells, the thick concrete, the metal bars it really takes you to an interesting place, a place you know you would never want to experience first hand, but is so intriguing.
Alcatraz Island is in the San Francisco Bay and is only a little over a mile offshore. When you visit the island and see how close the skyline of San Francisco looks it becomes surprising that more prisoners didn’t try to escape, yet again I doubt a prison exists with a better view! We took a comfortable and relaxing ferry to the island and it took about 15 minutes, although we were standing in line for the ferry for much longer than that.
We were so lucky, while we were there, William G Baker, one of the only known still living previous inmates was back on the island for the first time since he left as a prisoner to be transferred to another facility! We got to meet him, the boys shook his hand, talked to him and even got books signed by him, I think my Grandma was flirting with him a little!! 😉 Can you imagine how weird it must have been for him to be back in the place of such negativity in his life?! I can’t! He was so nice, he was so “normal”, he was just any old Grandpa! His book is pretty wild! You can purchase it on paperback or kindle. A first hand account of how life really was surviving on Alcatraz. After visiting the island I wanted to know and learn as much as I could! …..I guess I have to admit that the boys started reading the book before me and it’s not exactly child friendly, ACTUALLY, it isn’t child friendly at all…..which of course I realized too late! Oops!!
Ticket prices were around $30. per person, but you can find deals online by purchasing tickets early, they also give discounts for group/family admittance. The price really isn’t that bad, you could easily spend an entire afternoon on the island and not run out of things to do and see. My opinion, if you have the opportunity, don’t miss it!