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Group Tour FAQs

Below you'll find answers to frequently asked questions about group tours. Don't see what you're looking for? Contact us at [email protected].

For answers to FAQs about our virtual group tours, please visit our Virtual Group Tours page.

Yes! Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are temporarily closed to the public until further notice; however, we are accepting group tour reservations for future dates.

We are currently accepting reservations for self-guided audio tours for groups who wish to tour the site when we reopen (discounts for groups of 15+). We are also accepting reservations for guide-led group tours of the site for June 2021 and beyond with the understanding they can be cancelled by either party, at any time.

In addition, Eastern State Penitentiary’s award-winning tour program is now available to virtual groups everywhere at a flat rate!

Visit our Group Tours page for more information.

Health and safety are our top priority. Here are some important changes to note:

  • Staff and visitors (ages 2+) are required to wear a face mask over their nose and mouth at all times
  • Hand sanitizer is available, and visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands before entering the site.
  • Physical distancing of at least 6 feet is required.
  • Group visitors may not congregate together and may only explore the site in groups of no more than 6 people at a time.

Before you visit, please review our Reopening Information page for details on other changes.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are temporarily closed to the public until further notice; however, we are accepting group tour reservations for future dates.

When we reopen, self-guided audio tours will be available during all daytime historic tour hours, tentatively Wednesday - Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Last entry is 3:30 pm.

While guide-led tours are temporarily unavailable, we are accepting future reservations (June 2021 and beyond) with the understanding they can be cancelled by either party, at any time. Typically, guide-led group tours are available from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. A minimum of two weeks’ notice is required to book guide-led tours; however, capacity is limited, and tours are subject to availability. Morning tours sell out quickly. Please book early for best availability.

Virtual group tours are available Monday - Thursday from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (Early mornings and evenings available for an additional fee.)

We’re flexible! Guided group tours may be scheduled after 5:00 pm; however, there is a $50 surcharge for these tours. These tours must begin at least 90 minutes prior to sunset.

You can obtain the time of sunset for a particular date here.

For our standard hour-long tours, we recommend that groups plan on being at Eastern State for an hour and a half. If the site is open to the public, and operating with no restrictions, the group is welcome to stay longer to explore the site on their own, visit our artist installations and prison history exhibits or have lunch on the penitentiary’s baseball field. If a group has limited time, we can also provide shorter tours.

Yes! Private group tours must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. Our morning time slots fill up very quickly, especially during the school year, so we recommend scheduling your tour as soon as you chose the date and time you would like to visit.

Payment is due at the time of arrival, but prepayments can be arranged upon request. If your tour is before 10:00am or after 5:00pm your payment must be arranged in advance of your visit. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Checks (made out to “Eastern State Penitentiary”) and cash. If you need to make special payment arrangements please call our Group Sales Department at (215) 236-5111 x240.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc.’s taxpayer identification number is 31-1627155. A copy of our Form W-9 is also available for download.

No. You know your group best. Please plan on bringing an appropriate number of responsible chaperones. We provide one complimentary admission per fifteen paying visitors.

Eastern State Penitentiary provides one complimentary admission per fifteen paying visitors (every 16th visitor is free). You may use this free admission pass for any member of your party.

The maximum number of people we can accommodate at one time is 150 (the larger group will be broken up into several smaller groups). For groups with more than 150 people, we recommend that half of the group tour ESP while the other half of the group visit a nearby attraction. The two groups can then switch locations.

Maximum tour group size is subject to change due to ongoing COVID-19 precautions.

Directions and public transportation options are available on our Directions & Parking page.

There is only one entrance to the Eastern State Penitentiary. The entrance is located on Fairmount Avenue between 21st and 22nd Street. One of our educators will meet the group here. If a member of our team is not waiting at the entrance when you arrive, please send one person to the ticket office (located in the entrance to your right) to announce your group’s arrival.

There is ample free on-street parking and a parking lot right next door. Parking costs generally range from $3.00 to $10.00 depending on the length of your stay. For exact pricing, please call Parkway Corporation at 267-765-3665.

Eastern State Penitentiary has no designated bus parking on site and the parking lot at 22nd Street & Fairmount Avenue does not permit bus parking. Bus parking is not permitted on the streets surrounding the Penitentiary.

Callowhill Bus Center

As part of the City of Philadelphia's continuing efforts to improve Center City traffic and parking, all buses, motor coaches and tour buses are prohibited from parking on city streets, including the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority has identified the Callowhill Bus Center (CBC) at 2nd & Callowhill Streets as the designated bus parking location for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway attractions.

The CBC has accommodations for bus drivers including a lounge, television, vending and other amenities. The facility is also secured and monitored 24 hours a day. There is a fee of $20.00 per bus that covers parking all day with unlimited re-entry. For more information call (215) 829-3330.

Bus drivers in need of short term parking may consider Sedgely Avenue as an alternative to the CBC. Although this is not an official bus parking location, as long as the driver remains with the vehicle, buses parking along Sedgely Avenue for a short amount of time usually have no problems. Sedgely Avenue is located about 5 blocks from Eastern State Penitentiary just off of Kelly Drive behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Please see our bus parking map for more information.

Several wonderful Fairmount restaurants, only steps from Eastern State Penitentiary, can accommodate groups. Please note that groups are not permitted to eat lunch on site at this time.

At this time, groups are not permitted to eat lunch on site.

Yes. The museum store carries a unique array of items, including a wide variety of books, clothing, mugs, magnets, posters and postcards. You are sure to find the perfect gift or a keepsake to remind you of your trip to Eastern State. While our main museum store is currently closed, your group can get their merch at our pop-up shop on the baseball field, or you can shop online for a bigger selection.

We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover. No cash will be accepted at this time.

Groups may pre-order souvenirs and packages that come in $3, $5 and $10 options. All orders must be received at least one week prior to your visit.

Absolutely! Eastern State may be the most photogenic place you see in years! We ask that you honor our photography policies while visiting.

No, waivers are no longer required for daytime tours. However, keep in mind that Eastern State Penitentiary remains in a state of semi-ruin. Visitors should exercise caution, and stay within the clearly marked public areas.

No. Alcohol and weapons of any kind are not permitted in the penitentiary complex; however, there are no special security requirements at this time. ID is not required for entry. Backpacks are permitted, but you must keep them with you at all times.

Yes. Many visitors in wheelchairs visit Eastern State Penitentiary every year. That said, the Penitentiary complex is not fully ADA compliant. The building is over 180 years old, and is a National Historic Landmark. Sections of it may never be fully accessible.

There is a small museum and gift shop which is only accessible by a set of 3 steps. This section of the Penitentiary can easily be bypassed. The rest of the tour route is equipped with ADA compliant ramps and meets most ADA guidelines.

Guide dogs, service animals, or service animals in training are welcome. All other animals are prohibited.

The digital equipment used for "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour includes special features for those with sight, hearing and mobility impairments. Special features include raised dots that indicate the number five on the keypad, color-coded and shaped control buttons, compatibility with hearing aid T-switch, lightweight design with comfortable carrying strap and telephone-style keypads with backlit buttons.

Large print scripts of "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour are also available free of charge.

For more information, please visit our Accessibility page.

Please complete and submit this online form or contact Francine Schiffman, Manager of Group Sales and Guest Support at [email protected].

2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner