Alcatraz Cruises – Spend Time Out On The Bay + Visit The Prison

Once home to America's most notorious criminals, Alcatraz has captured the imaginations of travelers like no other former prison ever has. These days, a visit to Alcatraz doesn't involve a jail term, but an exciting cruise on the famous bay that surrounds it. We particularly like activities that combine a visit to Alcatraz with a boat cruise around one of the prettiest bays in the world.

The solitary life of an Alcatraz prison inmate was brought to the public with the success of 1962 film, The Birdman of Alcatraz. Just a year later Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered the prison closed.

On all of these recommended activities you'll get a glorious tour of San Francisco Bay and its bridges, a detailed look at Alcatraz island from the water, as well as going deep into the famous former federal penitentiary with a 45-minute audio tour of the cells, towers and gardens of Alcatraz. Check out our faves, below. Remember, though, that Alcatraz tours and tickets sell out well in advance, so be sure to book early.

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Alcatraz Jail & Sail – Sunset Cruise

Alcatraz Jail & Sail

The fun begins at Pier 33 with a short ferry ride to Alcatraz. Everything is included — the ferry ride, tickets to the prison and an interesting 45-minute audio guide. Best part — you're free to explore the island for as long as you want since there are returning ferries back to mainland every thirty minutes.

Once you return to Pier 33 it's a short walk to the departure point at Fisherman's Wharf for the sunset cruise of the bay. Listen to live music, have a cocktail or two while you glide under two of the world's most famous spans — the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.

SF in One Day – The City, The Bay, The Prison

SF in One Day

We like small-group tours like this, where size is limited to no more than 13 people. It feels exclusive and you receive individual attention.

It all begins with your driver picking you up at your downtown hotel for a 4-hour city sightseeing tour. In addition to the big attractions, you're taken to hidden spots that you just don't get to see on the large tours. You'll feel like a San Francisco Insider.

All Alcatraz tours include the scenic ferry ride to the island, admission to the prison, and an informative 45-minute audio guide.

Following this comprehensive tour of SF you get out of town — across the Golden Gate Bridge to the cute bayside town of Sausalito. Explore, eat lunch, then jump on the ferry for a sight-filled ride across the bay back to San Francisco.

Ater saying goodbye to your boat and crew, catch the ferry to Alcatraz, where you can stay as long as you like (twenty-five to life?). In winter the Alcatraz tour takes place the next morning.

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Explore Alcatraz – Then Explore the Bay

Explore Alcatraz Then Explore the Bay

This activity is really two tours in one. It starts off with you taking the ferry to Alcatraz to explore the prison and the island itself.

After that, things are just a little bit different from the other tours. You hop in the Bay Voyager for an amazing, up-close tour of the Bay. Because of the boat's size and speed, you see a lot of sights from a lot closer up. There's the Ferry Building, the Presidio, the navy ships docked in the bay; you motor past Alcatraz, and cruise under the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. You even get up close to the famous Pier 39 seals, bay-side!

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