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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! We are currently accepting reservations for self-guided audio tours (discounts for groups of 15+). In addition, Eastern State Penitentiary’s award-winning tour program is now available to virtual groups everywhere at a flat rate. Additional tour options, including guide-led group tours, will be made available again soon when COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Visit our Group Tours page for more information.

Want to visit during the evening? Discounted rates are also available for groups of 15+ who wish to attend special event Night Tours: Summer Twilight, which runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from May 7 through September 4, 2021. Learn more here.

Health and safety are our top priority, and we've made some changes with that in mind.

In accordance with guidelines issued by the City of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all staff and visitors (ages 2+) are required to wear a mask in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

In addition, at the moment, all group visits are self-guided. When you arrive, you'll get an mp3 player and headphones that will guide you through the site. You'll be asked to stay on a linear, one-way route as you listen to our main audio tour (audio stops 1-10). The main audio tour ends at The Big Graph and its climate-controlled companion exhibit Prisons TodayFrom there, you can choose to follow our suggested routes or explore any open areas of the penitentiary freely.

Before you visit, please review our Health & Safety page for more information on changes to your visit.

Self-guided audio tours are available during all daytime historic tour hours, Wednesday - Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Last entry is 3:30 pm.

While guide-led tours are temporarily unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions, we hope to offer them again soon. 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.)

Plus, want to visit during the evening? Discounted rates are also available for groups of 15+ who wish to attend special event Night Tours: Summer Twilight, which runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from May 7 through September 4, 2021. Learn more here.

We’re flexible! When guide-led group tours become available again, they 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.

Want to visit during the evening now? Discounted rates are available for groups of 15+ who wish to attend special event Night Tours: Summer Twilight, which runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from May 7 through September 7, 2021. Learn more 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! Group visits must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. For private, guide-led tours, 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 must be arranged in advance of your visit. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and checks (made out to “Eastern State Penitentiary”).

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 restrictions.

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.

While we do not have our own parking lot, there is a parking lot neighboring us at 22nd St & Fairmount Ave. Parking costs vary. For exact pricing, please call Parkway Corporation at (267) 765-3665.

Additionally, you can find parallel parking bordering the penitentiary. Eastern State is so large that it occupies one full city block. Bordering Eastern State on the west (to the left if you are facing the entrance) is 22nd Street. On the Eastern State side of 22nd Street, parallel parking is free and unlimited. The same is true of Brown Street, which borders our back wall. Again, parking is free and unlimited only on the Eastern State side of the street. If you choose to park anywhere else in the neighborhood, just exercise caution and read all signs.

Eastern State Penitentiary is also accessible by public transit.

Visit our Directions and Parking page for information about alternate transportation options.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: As of August 10, 2021, the Callowhill Bus Center is temporarily inaccessible. Buses in need of short term parking should utilize Sedgely Avenue, located about 5 blocks from Eastern State Penitentiary just off of Kelly Drive behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art, until further notice.

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. Our museum store is currently located in our Dialogue Space, adjacent to the Prisons Today exhibit, or you can shop online for a bigger selection. We accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

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.

The majority of our tour route is equipped with ADA compliant ramps and meets most ADA guidelines.

Service animals and service animals in training are welcome at Eastern State. Emotional support animals, pets, or any other animals are not permitted.

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