I was told I am not able to buy tickets in San Fran the day we want to go on a tour? When are the best times to buy tickets?
Alcatraz is a super popular attraction in SF, and what you've heard is true - it's impossible to get tickets day of, and still difficult to get them days in advance!
I highlight suggest buying tickets a month before you intend to visit, if possible. You can get them here: http://www.alcatrazislandtickets.com
The tour itself is pretty awesome, and I recommend listening to the audio. You'll learn a lot!
You can definitely buy tickets in San Francisco (at the ticket office at 33 Pier), however you would be trying your luck and it is not recommended. Tickets can sell out weeks in advance especially during summer months. There are day and night tours that leave at various times during the day. You can also call ( 415-981-ROCK) to reserve tickets, but again the easiest way to see available dates and pay for your tickets is online: https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/website/buy-tickets.aspx
They put tickets on sale 90 days in advance, so if you are looking for sometime later than that, you'll have to wait until the 90 day mark.
Sidenote: if the dates you want are sold out online, try your luck over the phone since they seem to have the most up to date information. Online is an easy way to see all available dates and if they are available then great! However, if they are not, sometimes you can get lucky on the phone.
Best of luck,
You do have to purchase ferry ticket to go to Alcatraz. There's a ticket booth to purchase ticket on site, however, it's not guarantee that it would be available. Yes, the best thing is to purchase ahead of time so that you are guaranteed a spot, since the ferry will only go at certain time in a day, and since San Francisco is a tourist city, most of the time those ferry rides have been fully booked if you don't purchased ticket(s) in advance. Hope this helps.
it is best to purchase them in advance, they are hot tickets and go fast.
Yup, definitely buy in advance if you really want to go, they definitely can sell out. This is particularly true for the night tour.