Best time to visit San Francisco

Alcatraz

Visit the most sinister attraction in San Francisco Bay

Alcatraz in San Francisco - Best Time
Photo by

Xiquinho Silva

Alcatraz Prison, located on the same name island in San Francisco Bay, is America's most notorious prison and San Francisco's top tourist attraction. The federal penitentiary operated there between 1934 and 1963 and housed some of the worst criminals in the US history. Its most infamous inmates were Al Capone or “Scarface”, Robert Franklin Stroud or the “Birdman of Alcatraz”, and James "Whitey" Bulger. Later on, during the American Indian Occupation that occurred from 1969 to 1971, the legendary island served as the harbour defence fort as well as a military prison.

A-Block at Alcatraz
A-Block at Alcatraz

The only possible way to get to the island is by a ferry. The most popular tour options are Early Bird and Day Tours. Night Tour available on a few nights a week offers a more personalized experience. Behind the Scenes Tour runs only once a day between Thursday and Monday. While most tours are year-round, Alcatraz & Angel Island Tour is seasonal and runs on weekends between mid-March and October, and daily from June to early October.

Peaking into a prison cell in the infamous Alcatraz prison
Peaking into a prison cell in the infamous Alcatraz prison

Although one can visit Alcatraz Prison all year round, the best time is either late spring or early autumn months. Summer months tend to be too foggy to enjoy the views, while winter is uncomfortably cool and rainy. However, January and February are the best choice for those who want to be there with thinner crowds. The most popular season on Alcatraz Island is September–October, the warmest months and without fogs. We recommend coming early to hop on the first ferry while there are only a few other people on the island.

Alcatraz in San Francisco - Best Season

One more landmark featured on the tours to Alcatraz Island is the oldest lighthouse on the West Coast.

Best time for Alcatraz in San Francisco
San Francisco
Check best times to visit
San Francisco