Since I was staying over the weekend in San Francisco I decided to visit Alcatraz island. It’s only about a mile and a half off shore and is easy to reach via a ferry. Just in case you’re thinking of going, make sure to follow the link from the National Park Service site since it’s the only company which has permission to land at the island. The others will circle around but can’t land.

The island and prison are really interesting. There’s a good audio tour to go along with the site with insights from both former guards and former inmates. The prison and grounds aren’t in pristine condition, but were left more or less in the shape they’ve decayed to over the last 40 or so years, including the graffiti left during the Native American occupation in the late 1960s.

Overall the tour was great, and the gift shop has a lot of cool stuff. I even got a copy of Alcatraz: A Definitive History of the Penitentiary Years and got it signed by the author, who was there for the day.