From appearances on “Mythbusters” to a cameo in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game, the spooky cells and windswept vistas of Alcatraz Island are enjoying a renewed moment in the pop-culture spotlight. If you’re considering taking your family to The Rock, these tips will help you get the most out of your trip.
Try the night tour for smaller crowds. While planning our Alcatraz trip, I asked a park ranger — the island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area — how he would recommend seeing the park. (One of the great things about being a travel writer is having an excuse to ask questions like this.) His advice: on a given day, 5,000 visitors or more might stream through the corridors of the prison, but the night tour is limited to about 600, enabling rangers to offer talks and programs not available during the day. Not only are the crowds easier to manage with kids, but the smaller numbers make for a more intimate experience: At one point, my husband, son and I found ourselves all alone in a spooky, lantern-lit room of the hospital ward. We could truly feel the isolation of The Rock, which made for some spine-tingling memories.