. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world is San Francisco because it offers the perfect blend of scenic beaches, magnificent hills, Victorian architecture and modern architecture. It is one of America’s highest populated cities and is California’s 4th largest city as well. It’s wonderful coastal location guarantees’ lovely weather all year round. San Francisco is known as a tourist delight. It offers everything for a complete vacation including hiking, sightseeing, water sports, theatres, delectable food, and scintillating nightlife. It also has various famous tourist spots that are a must-see during your vacation.
Alcatraz Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in San Francisco. It is located in the center of the San Francisco Bay and is just 2.4 kilometers from the city. Nicknamed “The Rock,” this island served as a lighthouse, military prison and fortification, and a Federal Bureau of prisons till the year 1963. In the year 1972 it became a national recreation area.
As of date, the island is a historical site that is managed by the National Park Service as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. The island is easily accessible by ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf near Pier 33. Alcatraz has some breathtaking bird colonies, a mesmerizing coastline view, glorious gardens and exciting tide pools that attract a large number of visitors every year.
Alcatraz Island has an infamous history dating back to the year 1775. Discovered by Spanish explorer, Juan Manuel de Ayala, it was named after pelicans that nested in large numbers on the island. From the year 1850 to 1933 the island served as a military post for providing protection to the shore line. By the year 1934 it had turned into a maximum security prison. The extremely cold water, perilous cliffs and hazardous currents of the surrounding water had made the prison absolutely “escape-proof”. In the year 1963 there was a lot of press about an escape, but no bodies were recovered. Hereafter the government decided to close down the prison. From the year 1969 to 1971 the island was inhabited by American Indians until its conversion to a national recreation area in 1972.
During the era of the prison the island nearly lost all the wildlife on it, but in recent times there have been signs of life returning to the island. Some birds like seabirds and the black-crested night heron have also returned to the Alcatraz Island.
During your visit to San Francisco you will find there are many tour operators offering Alcatraz Island as a part of a package deal. Some tours go the extra mile of offering a ferry ride to the island and an audio tour of the authentic prison voices of yesteryears. This audio tour includes authentic voices of the inmates and officers that inhabited the island during the Federal Penitentiary era and is available in six languages. Advance booking is advisable, especially during the peak seasons, as they are a huge hit and get sold out quickly.