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Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

4.6
#3 of 204 in Things to do in Philadelphia
History Museum Museum
Admire the impressive architecture and haunting atmosphere of one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world, Eastern State Penitentiary. Once a thriving site of discipline and order, the prison has long since closed, and now you can take a tour of the building’s unique wagon-wheel design that inspired thousands of penitentiaries worldwide. Follow your guide through the cellblock rows, solitary confinement cells, and execution chambers. Don’t miss the chance to visit the original cell of Al Capone. If you’re interested in haunting tales, ask about the prison’s long history of paranormal activity and ghost sightings. Plan your Eastern State Penitentiary visit and explore what else you can see and do in Philadelphia using our Philadelphia trip itinerary planner.
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4,729 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Took the family as a surprise to the ESP because I had read a lot about the attraction and I thought that one my kids would absolutely love it. It was worth the trip for sure. The Penitentiary was rea...  more »
  • We loved this tour. It was a fascinating look at early methods of incarceration. It sounds weird for a tour, but it was really cool.  more »
  • My family and I were visiting PA for the first time and had some extra time on Tuesday afternoon. We decided to check the penitentiary out. We were not disappointed. We had 3 teenagers with us and it ...  more »
Google
  • It's a great, eye-opening experience. Looking at how people lived when in prison makes you want to do good all the time. The prison's condition shows its age but I like it quite a lot. It's amazing that it has been functioning for such a long time and I can't imagine what it was like for the prisoners to live there. I enjoyed walking there at my own pace and taking as much time to see various places as possible.
  • Very disappointing experience! My husband and I walked from the 15th Street El stop. We arrived at 7:45. The website stated the hours were 5-8. We were told they weren't accepting any more people for the tour. The website should have stated that. I work 8-4:30 and can't make it 10a-5p. Such a disappointing night!!
  • Eastern State is one of the modern wonders of Philadelphia. You may think a prison can't be a nice place to visit. But for those who are history fanatics, this is an amazing thing to do while in Philly. The corridors are creepy, everything is so old. To imagine being held here gives me goosebumps. The price is fair, and you get the audio guide with your entrance. You can even visit Al Capone's cell, pretty fancy spot. The Penitentiary also offers a Halloween special where you can enter here during nightame for an extreme experience. Its supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America, though I couldn't capture a ghost among hundreds of pictures. Totally recommend it!
  • While I was very pleased with the self guiding tour, we were under the impression it was a free event for the made in America celebration. When I arrived at the entrance there was a small notice saying the tour was free only between the hours of 5-8 pm. So I ended up paying half price for my group of 5. Upon leaving I noticed that no one was being informed of the price descrepency... I myself informed a young woman. Kudos for the tour... Shame on the price.
  • Do the audio tour for the most information. Creepy place, but really cool to learn what it was like during operation. Al Capone's cell is also preserved how it was set up for him. Note that the building does not have climate control so dress warmly on the winter.

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Where to stay in Philadelphia

Most of Philadelphia's hotels cluster around the compact city center, ensuring quick and easy access to major tourist sights and activities. The only drawback to staying in this area is the lack of free parking, so if you're exploring by car, considering booking into a bed and breakfast in one of the city's residential blocks. Visitors planning on longer stays can also consider several apartment hotels, offering spacious furnished units with complimentary Wi-Fi, free bike rentals, and access to rooftop terraces.
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