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“I always wondered what was behind those walls”

Eastern State Penitentiary
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Philadelphia 3-Combo Tour: Hop-on Hop-off, Eastern State Penitentiary, and...
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Philadelphia Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour
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Hop-on Hop-off and Philly By Night Tour Combo
Ranked #3 of 457 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone’s Cell, and Death Row.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed November 16, 2012

My grandparents lived 4 blocks from there, and my dad drove me past there every Sunday in the '50s. He told me about Willie Sutton and the 1945 escape, told me about Capone being there. I always wondered what was behind those walls. This is a great tour. The prison was a landmark of its time, and influenced penal philosophy worldwide. The tour price includes a very detailed audio guide resource narrated by Steve Busceme. If you're a photographer, bring a tripod.

Thank Charles043
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 16, 2012

I've lived in Philadelphia for over 14 years and its the first time I've visited. Definately give yourself a couple hours. I think my sister and i spent over 3. The audio tour is very cool especially if you arent one who likes to read. The price was 12$ for adults and there was a parking lot next door that was very reasonable for Philly parking. Great way to spend an afternoon. It can be a bit chilly depending on when you are there. But heaters are placed in certain areas for you to warm up. (we went when it was in the low 50's)

Thank ecklcat
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Reviewed November 15, 2012

We went with another couple and two teenage girls. It started out to be somewhat lame while we were still outside. However, once we got inside, it was the best that I had ever experienced. The strobe lights, three D, mist, many moving "monsters", props and the unique feel of being in a prison overwhelmed the senses. We really had a lot of fun. We got the VIP passes which were expensive and not really needed the night that we went. If the line was long, perhaps they would have been. The one caution that I have for everyone is that if you struggle with asthma, bring your inhaler. The fog is intense and my daughter had a hard time breathing. Also, if you are incredibly claustrophobic, you may want to reconsider. If the last two don't apply, then go. The monsters do love screaming ladies so bring a few if you want extra laughs.

Thank Steven P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 15, 2012

This place is seriously spooky - middle of the day or <shiver> middle of the night! Volunteers keep it going - very well done! A must visit in Philly!

Thank Maureen D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 14, 2012

Visited here while at a conference in Philly. What a cool place! We went on a rainy day where is was cold and damp which really lent to the atmosphere. I should have budgeted way more than the two hours I allotted myself. This is at least a four hour venue. Included in the price of admission are headsets so you can take a narrated tour. There are also guided tours given at fixed times that I latched on to. In addition, there are mini-activities that are repeated multiple times during the day. For example, you could visit what used to be a hospital there in a locked part of the building or try your hand at unlocking a door. I did not do the night time "Haunted" activity so I cannot speak to that.
The best part, for me, was the history. The Eastern State Penitentiary was started by Quakers who felt that by being "Penitent" (get it? Penitentiary?) criminals could rehabilitate themselves. The facility started out as isolated cells where no one would ever see each other but be allowed a window and exercise daily for crimes such as stealing apples or going on a joy ride with a horse and carried maximum sentences of two years to housing some of the most dangerous criminals on death row, including Al Capone. Who knew, he had his tonsils removed here! They have a really neat gift shop where you can buy books on the history of prisons and even a copy of the guidebook they gave prisoners when they first arrived here. Very easy to get here using the bus--check out website septa.org.

Thank sazoram
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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