Day Trip: Exploring Alcatraz and Forbes Island

View of Alcatraz from Forbes Island

It’s officially hit: The combination of holiday hangover and New Year vows always leads to some major dialing back for January. But that doesn’t mean you have to hibernate the winter through, especially when we’ve got so many great (and too often overlooked) treasures right in our own back, um, Bay.

A Visit to Alcatraz
Remember that rock out there? That craggy, ominous, yet oddly beautiful rock? Alcatraz attracts around 5,000 visitors a day, but San Franciscans tend to forget they have a national treasure right at their fingertips. So whether you haven’t been since you were a child or have never made it there at all, now’s the time to hop over and see (or remember) what all the fuss is about. Avoid the crowds by taking the Early Bird (9 a.m.) ferry, or spring for the Night Tour, which departs at 4:20 p.m. and includes guided tours and incredible sunset views of the city. Learn more about Alcatraz and its gardens.

Directions The ferry to Alcatraz departs from Pier 33, at regular intervals between 9:30 a.m. and 1:55 p.m. (get a head start on the crowds by taking the Early Bird ferry at 9 a.m.)

Dinner on Forbes Island
After returning from one overlooked island, get in on the secret. On Dock “H,” just off of Pier 39, there is a simple, unobtrusive courtesy phone. On the other end of that phone awaits one of the most unique dining experiences of your life. It all feels so clandestine and exclusive that you may be inclined to murmur some cryptic spy saying (we like, “the eagle has landed”) into the phone, but even something as mundane as, “I have dinner reservations” will call up a boat to shuttle you to Forbes Island, where you’ll feast in an underwater dining room, stroll a sandy beach, and climb a small lighthouse to gaze back at a twinkling San Francisco.

Directions Pick up the courtesy phone at “H” dock (left of Pier 39, below the pedestrian overpass) and the free shuttle will pick you up (after 5 p.m. nightly)

Photos: Suzanne Russo

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