Eastern State Penitentiary - Prison Visit - Philadelphia

A prison may not be a typical place on your "must see" list, but Eastern State Penitentiary is the exception.

It's a lot easier to be lost than found. It's the reason we're always searching and rarely discovered - - so many locks not enough keys. ~Sarah Dessen.

We stopped at a lot of historic sites while in Philadelphia, but when I noticed Eastern State Penitentiary on a top attractions list and saw the pics, I knew we'd have to visit.  While we did buy our tickets online (there is a $2 discount online), the facility did not appear busy when we arrived on a Saturday morning.  It is open 7 days a week, year round; be sure to check online for hours in advance.

Eastern State Penitentiary is located about 5 blocks from the art museum and the surrounding area seems well-maintained.  We took a taxi simply because it would have taken about 30 minutes to walk there from where we were staying.  Worth noting, don't be embarrassed to say you are visiting the penitentiary, this is a well-known and respected attraction in the area.  

You'll want to allow at least 2 hours to visit, but if you love photography and architecture as much as I do, you may want to stay longer.  We did the self-guided tour with headphones, although only listened to a portion of the audio options.  There are placards throughout as well in case you'd like to read the material available.

When visiting, plan your outerwear accordingly.  The site does not have climate control, although we visited in the late fall and there were a few areas with heaters as we walked around.  If you are hoping to snap some great pics, you may want to visit on a sunny day.  There are skylights throughout the cells and beautiful windows that allow light to stream into the dark spaces.  You will want to try to take your pictures without a flash simply to capture the mood of the facility.  Check out my Instagram feed before you go for inspiration.

After you arrive and enter the cell block area, don't waste your time waiting behind others to see those initial cells.  There are so many cell blocks and exhibits and you can always come back to the area where you entered to look at anything you may have missed.

This tourist attraction is not recommended for children under 7.  Of course, nothing is baby-proofed, it's dusty / dirty (not crawler-friendly) and the structure is what I like to refer to as delightfully deteriorating.  Some areas are blocked off for safety, but there is still lots that young children could get into that wouldn't likely enhance your visit.  There are a few placards and audio segments with adult content that is noted, so if you have a young reader, you may not be comfortable when they show off their reading skills in these areas.  In my opinion, young children would likely get bored quickly when visiting.  There's a lot of walking and stopping to really experience your surroundings and there aren't interactive kid-friendly exhibits.

Around Halloween the penitentiary hosts a haunted house called Terror Behind the Walls.  If you are a fan of haunted houses, I imagine the experience is fantastic.  Check out their site for more information.

Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA.

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