Entry to Alcatraz is free, but you’ll have to pay for transportation. It's a long-ish boat ride to get there and requires a bit of advance planning. Buy tickets in advance to avoid standing in line and possible disappointment as Alcatraz tours often sell out.
The line to get on the ferry can be long, but there's a lot to watch while you wait - people, sea lions and other goings-on. For kids on the go, an even better strategy is to wait until a few minutes before sailing time to get into the line. After all, the last person on the boat arrives at the Alcatraz pier at the same time as the one who stood in line for an hour.
Cell house audio tour is included in the price of the ticket; not only is it a great way to keep the kids occupied, but it will help you answer any questions they may ask.
Pros and ConsMaybe it's because of all the movies about it, but children seem to love visiting Alcatraz. Older ones may appreciate the inmates' stories and enjoy the beautiful views.
On the downside, visiting Alcatraz takes up almost half a day, which could not only take up a big part of a short tip, but might be longer than the kids' attention span. If your kids tire easily or are prone to run around without paying attention to where they're going, Alcatraz might not be the best place to take them. The only way to see the place is on foot and obstacles abound. It's best for ages six and up - or maybe older depending your child.
If the kids (or you) are fussy about smells and messes, you should know that the sea gulls can make quite a stink while they're nesting (late June) and drop unwanted "gifts" (aka poop) any time.
More About AlcatrazFind out how to get tickets, what you really need to take along and how to avoid earning a "white badge of courage" in the Alcatraz Visitor Guide.
Take a photo tour of Alcatraz to see what it's like.
See where it is on a map. It's the bright pink marker.