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Alcatraz and Hearst Castle tours

(48 Posts)
Dancergirl Thu 21-Jul-16 18:36:46

We are off to California in 3 weeks and want to pre-book tours for Alcatraz and Hearst Castle.

Both offer evening tours which might be nice (and a bit cooler), what are the pros and cons of daytime versus evening?

At HC there seem to be a number of different tours, any recommendations please?

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Dancergirl Thu 21-Jul-16 18:46:21

Actually I'm worrying about Alcatraz availability, have we left it too late??

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ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 21-Jul-16 18:46:26

We did this last year, you lucky thing, I'd love to be planning it all again.

Alcatraz is fantastic, surprised there are tickets left this close. As so much is inside it doesn't need to be in the evening.

Hearst Castle was a bit of a disappointment. It has to be done though. We had heard such brilliant things about it. We did the state rooms tour which didn't take long. I wish we had booked the bedroom tour as well.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 21-Jul-16 18:47:21

X post - check the alcatraz website - you cannot just turn up on the day. Good luck!

charleybarley Thu 21-Jul-16 18:49:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 21-Jul-16 18:54:12

Wow,,we all loved Alcatraz! I'd recommend listening to the audio guide though.

GeorgeTheThird Thu 21-Jul-16 18:56:50

We went on the first boat out to Alcatraz, we were up anyway because of the time difference. We were definitely at our best in the mornings.

FlowerOfTheWest Thu 21-Jul-16 18:57:35

I really enjoyed both tours. We were at Hearst Castle on a lovely day, views were amazing. We just did the most basic tour, wish we'd seen more of the rooms but I love places like that anyway. Went to both places during the day, we got the first boat out to Alcatraz in the morning which was worth it as it made it marginally less crowded.

Dancergirl Thu 21-Jul-16 19:27:17

Thanks. through do you have to pre-book to do the audio tour?

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ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 21-Jul-16 19:37:49

Dancer - you just pick up the head sets when you go in. I thought listening to it gives you a real sense of what it was like to be an inmate. Bleak! The self tour is done really well with easy instructions and great information. I'm so envious, I'd go back and do everything again tomorrow. Including Hearst.

barkingfly Thu 21-Jul-16 19:43:39

You need to prebook as soon as possible. No need to do eve evening tours, as you will freeze your butt off on Alcatraz, and San Simeon will run around 80 F in August.

mouldycheesefan Fri 22-Jul-16 08:21:35

Done both,
Agree that the audio tour at Alcatraz is a must.
We went during day was fine for both and it was August.
Book in advance.

BigGreenOlives Fri 22-Jul-16 08:23:43

We really enjoyed the Alcatraz tour (family with 3 teens). The prisoners real words & voices added extra meaning to it.

BendydickCuminsnatch Fri 22-Jul-16 08:27:31

Are you going with kids? I went to Hearst castle when I was 10 and it was the absolute worst worst WORST! I wasn't into houses, or history, and all I remember was it was soooooo bloody hot and really really miserably boring. Pics of it do look beautiful now though, with my adult eyes!

Went to Alcatraz when I was 14 and it was awesome.

NattyGolfJerkin Fri 22-Jul-16 08:31:46

Alcatraz was amazing, the audio tour is incredibly well done and they don't let loads of people on at once so you still have a sense of eeriness. We went last summer and it was boiling! Apparently unusually hot for August in SF.

Dancergirl Fri 22-Jul-16 09:40:57

Bendy yes 3 dds aged 15, 13 and 9. Think the older two may be interested, younger one will probably be bored but dh really wants to see it so she'll have to put up with it!

Sorry to be thick, but just to clarify, for the self guided tour do you have to book? I am confused that everyone says you need to pre-book but charley just turned up on the day....

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Dancergirl Fri 22-Jul-16 09:52:30

For Alcatraz it's not showing any availability in August on the official site sad

Is there anywhere else we can buy tickets or have we left it too late?

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JapanNextYear Fri 22-Jul-16 09:56:22

There is a v slight possibility that if you turn up early on the day there'll be some no shows. But its really slight - have something else up your sleeve to to.

There are other boats that go out in the Bay but don't land on Alcatraz.

Hiring bikes and riding over the bridge and getting the ferry back is brilliant to do.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Fri 22-Jul-16 10:15:25

I've never heard of anyone turning up in the summer and being able to go like charley everyone has always pre booked.

But why don't you email them and check out the situation? There may be a way round it.

I think Hearst is worth a visit, but just don't expect too much. I think most of our National Trust large houses/stately homes in the UK are more interesting quite honestly.,

CMOTDibbler Fri 22-Jul-16 10:19:33

I was in SF a couple of weeks ago, and it was proper chilly in the evening. In the day you def needed a cardigan at least on, so I wouldn't worry about the heat. Totally different matter in Silicon Valley on the same day!

Dancergirl Fri 22-Jul-16 10:19:44

For Alcatraz I have done a bit of research. Apparently there are a small number of day tickets available, booking office opens at 8am BUT to be in with a good chance you have to start queuing around 5am shock

Or we can buy a combined ticket (e.g. with a bus tour) but it's much more expensive sad

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Dancergirl Fri 22-Jul-16 10:20:08

Hearst there is good availability so not worried about that.

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BigGreenOlives Fri 22-Jul-16 10:22:40

We hired bikes & found it incredibly frustrating as lots of tourists had no bike sense & could hardly cycle in a straight line. The bridge was very busy and not knowing which ferry we'd get on, due to the number of bikes, was quite stressful.

mouldycheesefan Fri 22-Jul-16 11:08:24

I think people book months in advance for Alcatraz as they are limited in that it's the number of people that can be accommodated via the ferries.

Dancergirl Fri 22-Jul-16 11:12:47

Bugger bugger bugger

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