California Attractions

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Alcatraz Island  San Francisco, CA

Alcatraz Island San Francisco - Golden Gate Park National Recreation Area   

San Francisco , CA --Alcatraz was named for the Spanish word alcatraces, meaning "strange bird" - a reference to pelicans living on the island when it was visited by the Spanish explorers.  Alcatraces was originally the name for what is now Yerba Buena Island in the San Francisco Bay.

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, under the direction of the National Park Service, is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  This deactivated prison that gamed fame for notorious criminals such as Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and the Birdman of Alcatraz (Robert Stroud), who were sentenced to prison terms on the rock, is a tourist attraction allowing the public to explore this once forbidden fortress. It was said that no prisoner could escape and live to talk about it, though many tried.

Some say spirits still reside in this cold, damp decaying structure, and many people go there to experience first-hand encounters. 

In 1775, the name transferred to the current site with the US Coast Guard Survey shortening the name to Alcatraz in 1851.  Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are one of the most popular tours in San Francisco.

Visitors can explore the island for the day, simply cruise around the island on a tour boat without getting off or visit on one of the evening excursions. T  Both Red & White or Blue & Gold Fleets offer tours around Alcatraz Island, Hornblower Dinner Cruises allow guests to dine & bask on a yacht in the bay overlooking the island, and Hornblower also holds the contract as concessionaire to ferry people back and forth from Pier 39 to Alcatraz.


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