Explore The Amazing History Of Alcatraz
San Francisco is a place that holds a number of fantastic tourist attractions within its city limits, but one of the most fascinating spots you can visit isn’t found on the mainland. Sitting a few miles off the shore, yet somehow always within sight where you go, is Alcatraz. The Rock, as it is often more commonly known, is a place that is as famous for the people that have resided there as it is for the location itself. For a period of three decades, Alcatraz served as a penitentiary that housed some of America’s most famous criminals, including Al Capone.
As interesting as the criminal history of the penitentiary is, it’s not the only reason to catch a ferry over to The Rock. The island where Alcatraz is house is also home to a wide variety of birds, making it a must see for lovers of our feather friends. Interestingly enough, the Alcatraz Island name is actually a derivative of the Spanish “Isla de los Alcatraces,” which translates to Island of the Pelicans. The first Spaniards to arrive in San Francisco Bay gave it that name after seeing so many birds gathered on the barren rock.
That is just one of the many interesting facts that you will learn when you pay a visit to Alcatraz, especially if you opt to follow the audio tour. Pick up a pair of headphones and you can hear tales told by former prisoners and guards, with each story bringing the penitentiary to life around you. A visit to the gift shop will also provide you with much more than just souvenir t-shirts and hats. There have been literally hundreds of books written about the history and inmates of Alcatraz, with each of them offering different insights into life of the island.
There are guided tours around the island and facilities, but it’s also well worth striking out on your own, making sure to stay in the areas open to the public, of course. You will find little gems like bullet holes in the walls that will tell you more about the violent history of the penitentiary than you are likely to hear on any guided tour. Part of the beauty of an Alcatraz visit is being able to imagine how it would have been to be incarcerated in such a bleak place, especially with the blinking light of San Francisco beckoning you across the bay.
Admission to Alcatraz is free, but since it’s an island, you are going to have to pay for a ferry to take you there. A round trip averages out to about $26 for adults and $16 for the kids. It may seem a little steep, but you can spend as much time as you like on the island, although you need to make sure to catch the past ferry back. Alcatraz is a place that still feels very much alive, with the history of the place almost palpable. It’s definitely not a spot where you want to spend the night alone, so get back on that ferry.