Here's an idea if you're looking for an off beat shopping experience and have a certain sense of the macabre...

San Quentin State Prison in California is a scary place. It houses some of the most menacing criminals in the nation, and it’s home to the largest death row in the United States.  But at least it has a gift shop!  There, you can buy convict-made music boxes, drawings, and paintings. You can even get yourself a greeting card made by one of death row’s own.

Not always recognized for its dark humor, this legendary prison has been home to several nefarious killers-turned-celebrities, including Sirhan Sirhan, Stanley Tookie Williams (executed in 2005), and perhaps the most infamous criminal of our time, Mr. Charles Manson. It is currently the humble abode of quite a collection of villainous characters such as serial killer Richard Ramirez, (recently deceased) mass murderer Richard Farley, and high profile wife slayer Scott Peterson.

In the early 1850s, criminals were held on Angel Island and on a ship anchored in the bay. The prison was built at what was known as Point Quentin. Quentin was an Indian chief taken prisoner by Mexican soldiers here in 1824.

To visit, no affiliation with a resident of the penitentiary is needed – both the gift shop and the handicraft store are open to the public. The gift shop is just outside the east gate of the prison.

Features prisoner-crafted items like boxes, paperweights, and jewelry, as well as souvenir T-shirts and mugs.

The state's only gas chamber and death row for all male condemned inmates are located at San Quentin.

Of the nearly 5,000 men imprisoned here, over 700 are on death row. The condemned, who live in solo cells, are allowed knitting needles. Their baby blankets and stuffed bunnies are sold in the shop. 

Prisoners receive 80% of the sales receipts; regular prison work pays 35 cents to 95 cents an hour.

Sales are cash only.

  • 8-1PM Wednesday through Sunday
  • 415-454-1460
  • 100 Main St.,
  • San Quentin, California, 94964
  •  United States

It will take you about an hour to get to San Quentin from Pillar Point RV Park

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