Alcatraz is an amazing thing to see on your visit to San Francisco and the self-guided Audio Tour will is a great way to see the infamous prison. However, if you are looking for a more immersive experience, try one of the specialty tours.
The Behind-The-Scenes Tour: If you want to see all of the ins and outs of the prison that you won’t see on a standard tour. The 4.5 hour tour is offered in the evenings and will give you access to some private areas that are only accessible with a guide. The private tour will take about 2 hours, where you will walk with a small group to see the upper levels of D Block, the Chapel, The Officer’s Row Gardens, The Citadel, Hospital and more! After the guided tour, take an audio tour through the cellblock where Al Capone and other infamous prisoners spent their days.
The tour leaves from San Francisco around 4PM and will return around 9:30PM. No food is available on the island, so make sure to bring some snakcs and water.
The Alcatraz Garden Tour: Besides the prison buildings, the island also has beautiful plants and flowers. Before the prison was shut down, the prison guards and their families created a gardening association to make the island more beautiful. With plants from around the world and topsoil brought over from Angel Island, the families introduced over 230 species of plants in seven major garden sites. The nonprofit Garden Conservancy (in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Golden Gate National Park) has set up guided tours to see the roses, agaves, Succulents, Fig Trees and other diverse species on the Island.
The tours are free and take place starting at 9:45AM on Fridays and Sundays. Just meet the guides at the ferry dock and you will be on your way.
The Alcatraz Night Tour: The Alcatraz Penitentiary takes on a whole new feel at night. The Alcatraz Night Tour includes a narrated ferry ride around the island and the self-guided audio tour. This is a great way to get some sunset photos of the city skyline and the golden Gate Bridge.
The 2.5 hour Night tours depart from San Francisco at 6PM. Make sure to bring a jacket, it can get cold and windy at night.