Few prisons have captured our collective imagination quite like Alcatraz. Home to some of the most notorious criminals in our country’s history, including Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly, “The Rock” has also inspired a number of classic films such as The Birdman of Alcatraz, and Escape From Alcatraz starring the legendary Clint Eastwood.
Located in the San Francisco Bay about a mile and a half out from Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island was originally home to the first lighthouse in the Western United States, and later became home to the infamous federal penitentiary that housed some of America’s most wanted during the years 1934 to 1963. Today the island is part of the Bay Area’s 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco.
After a beautiful ferry ride to the island, visitors can tour the cell house where prisoners lived. Although the prison hasn’t functioned as such since 1963, the tiny cells, library, mess hall, and solitary confinement “dark holes,” have all been kept intact, and while wandering the cold halls, it’s easy to imagine Alcatraz in its heyday.
Visitors are free to explore the prison at their own pace, but for those who want to absorb a bit more historical information, an award-winning audio tour is available for purchase in many languages including English, Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Mandarin.
Ferries to the island run every half hour beginning at 9:30am. More information about schedules and pricing can be found on the Alcatraz Cruise website.
How to Get There
Getting to Alcatraz from The Payne Mansion Hotel is as easy as calling a car through our convenient on-demand iCar service, or hopping on public transportation – located just a block from the hotel.
If traveling by car, it takes just 10 minutes to reach Fisherman’s Wharf. Once at the Wharf, you can take in the beautiful views, grab a bite to eat or do a bit of shopping at the wonderful restaurants and shops that line the Bay, and then hop on a ferry at Pier 33 – located on The Embarcadero near the Bay Street Intersection.
If you prefer to take public transit, head out of the hotel and walk just a block east to Van Ness Avenue where you can grab the #47 bus towards Fisherman’s Wharf. A 15 minute trip will take you to the corner of Powell and Beach Streets. After getting off the bus, you’ll be just a short walk from Pier 33. Follow Beach Street until you reach the Bay and then take a right to arrive at Pier 33 where you can purchase tickets and hop on a ferry to Alcatraz!
Note: Parking at Pier 33 is extremely limited and can be very expensive.