Alcatraz - what time of day?

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Jun 10th, 2004, 12:20 AM
  #1
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Alcatraz - what time of day?

I am about to book tickets for ferry trip and audio tour to Alcatraz in mid-July (don't want to get into the debate as to whether we should or shouldn't go, it's something we want to do!!!) and was wondering about the best time to visit. My husband is all for booking the first ferry at 9.30 (he figures it could be less crowded) and I was wondering whether later on in the day might be better.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 03:59 AM
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We went at about 2pm and it seemed to be pretty steady as far as volume... The ferrys bring people out and leave them on the island to return at their own convenience... My guess would be that the early trip might work, but after the first hour and three or four ferries, there would be just more arrivals and few departures. Once you have begun the audio tour, the crowds don't matter, you are in your own world. If you want any side tours, take them before your audio tour... later in the day you will be waiting on a long line to return in a full ferry vs a pretty empty one in the am... I vote 9:30...
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Jun 10th, 2004, 04:26 AM
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We just went last Tuesday and took the 9:30am ferry. I would highly suggest taking that time or going at night (which we plan to do next time!)
The island was EMPTY when we got there and we got great pictures of the cellhouse while noone was in there.
Make sure to get the audio tour!
Have fun!
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Jun 10th, 2004, 04:34 AM
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Where did you buy the tickets in advance? We leave in a few wks. and I definately want to do the tour. Thanks!
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Jun 10th, 2004, 05:11 AM
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jtwiss53- I don't have a link, but just type in Alcatraz into a search engine. You can pull up the NP site and it will direct you to the people who do the tours. I just received my tickets, and as I had saw previous suggestions on here, I booked at 9:30. The tickets came in about 4 days and I'm in NC.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 05:25 AM
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I'm booking through www.blue&goldfleet.com or try www.pier41.net
We're coming from the UK so are using the collect at the pier service for the tickets. Hope this helps.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 11:23 AM
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We did the first tour of the day too. It worked out beautifully for us. Make sure you do the audio tour. It is well worth the price. Vacationmom
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Jun 10th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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You have a good chance of fog in the morning, which might be a negative to some because you wouldn't get the crystal clear views of the city. On the otherhand, fog in SF is really interesting - more wispy than solid - so it can create some very cool views and I think fog would add to the ambiance of Alcatraz.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 04:08 PM
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Kal
 
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J_Cor,
You got that right on SF Fog. Could make for some interesting pics of SF during sunrise. Like the Waimea Canyon cloud covering...one minute it's blocked in, next minute a bright beam of sunlight shooting thru and lighting up a corner of the canyon.

I'd pick a later, near sunset time and take a poop load of film.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 05:58 PM
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We went first thing in the morning and liked how empty the building was until later ferries arrived. Actually we were lucky that some sort of ceremony was held there that morning and they restricted the number of passengers on the first trip. The audio tour is fantastic.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 09:46 PM
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Many thanks (what a fantastic forum this is!!). 9.30 it is then! Any suggestions for breakfast? We have to pick tickets up at 9 - so something in the area would be good. Failing that we are staying at the Holiday Inn on Kearny - something enroute?
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Jun 10th, 2004, 10:38 PM
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The previous poster mentioned about encountering fog...comparing it to Waimea Canyon, etc.

BIg difference, though: Our fog here in SF (especially out on the bay) can mean some pretty cold weather...not to mention strong breezes and choppy water on the Bay.

Nothing too romantic about this!!!
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Jun 11th, 2004, 08:06 AM
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I have the same question. We're 2 adults and 2 kids (12&9). Crowds aren't our favorite thing, but neither are early morning or cold-n-clammy. I think that the comment about the audio tour putting us in our own world is probably true. I love the idea of a night kidz tour, but it doesn't look like that's going to work on our dates (prob. 2 or 3 Aug). I'm torn between 9:30 -- first tour, get in and out before there's a crowd -- and 2:15 -- mid afternoon, most likely to be warmer (less cold?) on the water. Which do all you Alcatraz experts think likely to be the lesser evil?

(OK, I'm being melodramatic. It will be fantastic either way. I just want it to be more fantasticker )
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Jun 11th, 2004, 10:09 AM
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I don't know, I guess I have a different idea of romantic I think a chilly, fog drenched morning out on the bay is very romantic - fog horns in the distance, eerie sounds through the fog, a mug of hot chocolate or good coffee. As long as you have a windbreaker and a sweater.
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Jun 11th, 2004, 10:11 AM
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We may have been just extremely lucky, but when we took the 9:30am tour on 6/1, it was sunny with no fog. Due to the many suggestions on this board for wearing layers due to the cold wind, I strongly suggested to my husband that he wear jeans and a long-sleeve shirt (he did of course ) and we both had our North Face fleeces with us. There was no fog, and sun the entire time. We were lightly sweating, with our fleeces tied around our waists.
Again, maybe this was an anomaly, but I would still suggest the morning tour.
Have fun-- it's a great place!
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Jun 27th, 2004, 08:49 AM
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ttt
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Jun 27th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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We also did the 1st tour of the day in August.No fog -it was sunny but very windy. We liked this time of day, as it gave us the whole afternoon to do something else.
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Aug 3rd, 2004, 12:33 AM
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Just to let you know how it all turned out! We did the 9.30 tour on 22nd July and it was absolutely the right choice. It was a foggy few days but not too bad out in the bay and by the time we left on the 11.45 ferry it had burnt off completely and we were sweltering for lunch at Fishermans Wharf. I got some great views of the city and if anything the wisps of fog just added tot he atmosphere.
The tour itself was amazing and the audio tour is an absolute must. We had plenty of time and space to roam at will, being the first group on the island, and as we left the cell blocks were beginning to fill up - in a manner of speaking!
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Aug 3rd, 2004, 05:26 AM
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Thank you, Annethered, for letting us know how it all turned out. I'll be in SF in late February so have been wondering myself when the best time to go would be. Where did you end up eating breakfast? Did you like where you stayed? We're thinking about staying at the Argonaut. If you haven't posted a trip report yet, would love for you to!
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