Activities & Resources
Alcatraz Island050in San Francisco, CA 94133
about Alcatraz Island:
The island was discovered by a Spanish explorer in 1775 and named after the flocks of pelicans who nested there. From 1850 to 1933 it served as a military outpost.
Alcatraz earned its acclaim when it reopened in 1934 as a maximum security prison, and the stories of the prisoners it housed for almost 30 years will resonate with you and your children as you walk the old prison floors.
The sheer cliffs and treacherous tides just outside the prison walls created what many believed would be an escape-proof prison. Among the famous gangsters locked in here were Al Capone, Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz because he was an expert on ornithological diseases), Machine Gun Kelly, and Alvin Karpis. The prison was closed in 1963 after a botched prison escape and became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1972.
Older children will benefit from the audio tour that's included in the price of admission. For younger children, the audio tour may prove more baffling than enlightening, though the headgear's certainly cool. Stop by the Discovery Channel movie which also outlines the island's past. There are also frequent live Ranger programs throughout both the day and evening tours.
There are no steps on the tour, so it is stroller-friendly. Pack snacks; there's no restaurant on the island. And take fleece jackets - it's cool and windy out there even when warm in the city.
Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended since the tours sell out up to a week in advance, particularly in the summer.