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Eastern State Penitentiary
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Day Trip from New Haven CT to Philadelphia by Rail
Ranked #3 of 463 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
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 March 21, 2013

As a local that walks past this building nearly everyday, I am still amazed. If ever in Philly you should take the day time tour. Not only is the structure itself sitting in the middle of Philadelphia impressive, the information they provide and rehabilitation of the building is incredible. If you do the day tour you can make it as short or long as you want. Splurge on the $9 headset and you can get the audio tour more interesting than the guided tour and you can go at your own pace. There are so many great restaurants and museums in the area that you could spend the whole day walking around here and its only half mile walk from the subway or take the flash bus which I hear is only $2. The ghost tour at night in October is also amazing although I'm not much of a fan of scary things. Be advised though definitely try to book night tour tickets in advanced and they are time specific due to the long lines and crowds but don't worry....there are plenty of scary things while you wait in line too. All in all day or night you should visit here. They also have group night tours of the jail but never done that. Probably not good for kids under 10 as the building is very old and probably shouldn't be touching much but probably 7 or 8 could handle it

Thank MaryKateD14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,841 - 3,845 of 5,004 reviews

Reviewed March 19, 2013

Go for the ghost tour. This place is just too cool to miss. The pure scale is incredible, and looking into the cells is just eerie. If you're a tourist, don't miss this. It's got to be our neatest attraction

Thank Christen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

I did this tour in March 2012 when in Philadelphia.
I had a minute issue when arriving the tour was fully booked, and got told there was another tour in an hour, so i went and sat in the coffee shop over the road. When i returned to the premises i was told that the next tour was also booked. However as they had told me i need'nt book andto return before the hour was up, they allowed me to join the tour.
The tour was a brilliant experience and enabled me to get an insight into the past of Philadelphia. The place is very old fashioned and hasnt seen much rennovation, which adds to the experience and makes the trip even better. The tour guide made it very special and interesting. Was good to see Al Capone's old cell and see how hes was different to everyone else's
I would strongly reccommend anyone in philly to do the trip.

Thank NickSFCB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

My husband and I enjoy going into old locations such as this for the history. This specific prison has an amazing layout and is very true to the setup while still in operation. I love going into the old cells as well as seeing the luxury that was stowed upon Al Capone as he was imprisoned here for a few months. It, like much of Philadelphia, is rich in history and so interesting to spend a few hours out of your day touring!

1  Thank Danielle B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2013

We visited the eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia on a cold, snowy March day and were amazed to see that hundreds of others were there to see it then too. This is a very popular attraction and has historical significance. The tour guide did a good job explaining the thought process behind this reformed method of penitence for crimes committed in the 1800s. Most of the penitentiary is in serious disrepair but what do you expect? It hasn't been used in this way for many, many years. The Al Capone cell was interesting. One of the television reality shows which investigates ghosts featured this attraction, so it might be profitable if this facility could offer flashlight tours after dark.

Thank imtom55711
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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