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10 Fun Things to Do When Alcatraz Tickets are Sold Out

Don't despair if you can't get tickets to Alcatraz—San Francisco has more than enough alternative tours and attractions to keep you busy.

Hi, I'm Madigan!

Madigan Talmage-Bowers is a writer based in Denver, Colorado. She has also lived in Italy, San Francisco, and New York City, where she studied media theory at the New School. She loves introducing her kids to ancient history, local art, hiking trails, and new foods on adventures around the globe.

A trip to Alcatraz Island tops many travelers’ must-do lists in San Francisco, but tickets to the infamous prison often get snapped up weeks or even months in advance. So, if you find yourself staring wistfully across the bay at “The Rock” on a sold-out date, here are 10 other ways to enjoy a day on and around San Francisco's waterfront.

5. Rub shoulders with the stars at Madame Tussauds

At the San Francisco outpost of the world-famous wax museum, you can fill your Instagram story with photo ops alongside dozens of lifelike figures, from local sports hero Steph Curry to pop icons including Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. Score a discount at Madame Tussauds with attraction passes such as the Go San Francisco Pass or grab a general admission ticket on the day.

7. Fly high above the city

If you can’t get tickets to Alcatraz, splurge on a helicopter flightseeing tour and marvel over the island from above instead. Not only will you get a new perspective on the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll also be able to spot Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marin Headlands, and Angel Island.

8. Explore historic ships at Hyde Street Pier

Bordering Aquatic Park to the east, Hyde Street Pier is the permanent home of five vintage vessels with ties to San Francisco. It's free to admire the ships from the pier, although you can also buy tickets to step on board three of them, including the 1886 square-rigger Balclutha. Ranger-led tours offer a wealth of detail on the ships’ history, while many segway excursions also include a stop at the pier.

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