While in San Francisco area, why not explore the entire bay by traveling to its center, the island of Alcatraz. Alcatraz Island is one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular destinations, offering a close-up look at a historic and infamous federal prison long off-limits to the public. Isolation, one of the constants of island life for any inhabitant - soldier, guard, prisoner, bird or plant - is a recurrent theme in the unfolding history of Alcatraz. Visitors to the island can not only explore the remnants of the prison, but learn about the American Indian occupation of 1969 - 1971, early military fortifications and the West Coast's first (and oldest operating) lighthouse. The island features many natural features as well - gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay-views beyond compare.
The only way to reach Alcatraz is by ferry. Ferries depart from Pier 33 and are managed by Alcatraz Cruises company. For more information, call 415-981-ROCK (7625) or visit http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/.
Seasonality / Weather
The weather on Alcatraz can be somewhat unpredictable and can change quickly. It may be warm and sunny in the city and very windy and cool on the island. Summer days can sometimes be as cool as winter due to thick fog and strong winds. Be prepared by dressing in layers.
Driving from the South
To reach Hornblower Alcatraz Landing from the south, take Highway 101 North and follow the signs towards the Bay Bridge. Take the 4th Street exit, then turn left onto Bryant Street. Follow Bryant St. to The Embarcadero. Turn left onto The Embarcadero and continue north approximately 1.7 miles (2.8 km) to the Hornblower Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33.
Driving from the North
To reach Hornblower Alcatraz Landing from the north, take Highway 101 South across the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the Marina exit onto Marina Boulevard. Follow Marina Blvd. to Bay Street. Turn left onto Bay Street and stay on Bay all the way to The Embarcadero. Hornblower Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33 is located at the intersection of Bay Street and The Embarcadero.
Driving from the East
To reach Hornblower Alcatraz Landing from the east, cross the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. Take the Fremont Street exit, and turn left onto Fremont. Follow Fremont St. to Howard, and then turn right on Howard Street. Follow Howard to The Embarcadero. Turn left onto the Embarcadero and continue north approximately 1.7 miles (2.8 km) to the Hornblower Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33.
On-street parking in the Fisherman's Wharf area can be difficult to find, especially during peak summer visitation season, and nearly every street space has a parking meter. An "Accessibility Drop Off Zone" is located at the entrance to Hornblower Alcatraz Landing for visitors with special needs arriving by automobile. There are fifteen commercial lots within a five-block radius of the Alcatraz Cruises - Pier 33, with a total of more than 3,000 parking spaces.
When in San Francisco public transportation is the best way to get around. The Muni F Line runs along Market Street (east) then turns north on The Embarcadero, and runs right past the ferry terminal (on your right) and then on through Fisherman's Wharf. From there, make your way to Pier 33 and board Alcatraz Cruises to take a ferry to the island.