Tips on Visiting Independence Hall
We have all had a “Griswolds at Wally World” moment when on vacation. We have planned, prepared, and then planned again; seemingly every detail is laid out for a much anticipated and dreamed of vacation. All the stress and distance is worth it for the perfect family moments and memories. The anticipation builds and then you find out the highlight of your trip is closed or sold out! All of us have been there! Do not worry, we will give you helpful tips and walk you through the process.
Independence Hall Tickets
We advise reserving tickets in advance. Tickets are required for all guests entering Independence Hall from March to December. During January, and February you do not need tickets.
- Tickets are for specific time slots. This is very important, if you miss your time you may not be able to get inside.
- There are 80 tickets for every time slot. If the perfect time slot for your travel plans is sold out do not worry we have tips for that.
- To reserve in advance at the National Park Services (NPS) website recreation.gov. Tickets are free but there is a $1.50 web procession fee.
- You cannot reserve more than 10 per person. If you have a large family you can contact group sales at 1-877-559-6777.
- All reserved tickets MUST be picked up a minimum of 45 minutes before the time of the ticket. For example if your ticket is for a 1pm entrance then you need to pick up your tickets no later than 12:15pm.
- Tickets are picked up at the NPS desk inside the Independence Visitor Center (IVC) at the corner of 6th and Market Street. The desk is half way down the building.
Spur of the moment trip?
- If you are not a plan ahead kind of traveler do not worry, each day NPS holds aside tickets.
- You can only get same day tickets at the NPS desk. Even if you have a reservation you can only pick them up the same day as your tour.
- Same day tickets are FREE!
- If choose same day tickets you may not get your first choice of time slots. If you need a specific time or have more than two in your group, here is a hint, wake up early! The IVC opens at 8:30am during peak season. You can line up outside at 8am and wait until the building opens and chances are you will be in line with only a handful of people.
Yes, you need to go through security checkpoints to enter Independence Hall. This often shocks guests since it is Philly not New York or DC, but you are entering the birth place of our nation. We take its and your safety seriously!
What to expect?
- You need to be in line for security 20 to 30 minutes before your time slot. For example, if you have a 1pm ticket you must be in line no later then 12:40.
- You enter the line for the security checkpoint at the Southwest corner of 5th and Chestnut Street. It is between two brick buildings inside the tent.
- GO TO THE BATHROOM FIRST! There are no bathrooms inside the secured area.
- There are no metal detectors and you can keep your shoes on. This is not the TSA.
- All bags need to be searched. So a smaller bag or one without a lot of pockets is best to get through quickly.
- If you are wearing a jacket you will need to unzip and lift. They will ask you to twirl so they can see you have nothing concealed. If you carry your cell phone, camera, or wallet in your pockets it may be wise to remove them and place on the security table before the twirl.
- NO GUM! They are very strict about this so do not try to hide it in your mouth, you will get caught.
- Water bottles, sealed beverages and sealed food are ok. You are not allowed any open food but if it is sealed and you do not take it out during the tour you, are fine.
- Cameras and video records are welcome. Click away it is beautiful inside.
Independence Hall Tour
- All tours are guided through the building by NPS staff. You cannot wonder around on your own. Do not get any ideas of searching for any glasses like Nicholas Cage in National Treasure.
- From beginning to end the tour is about 30 to 40 minutes.
- All guests lead into a small building for an introduction by your Park Ranger Guide. Good news, you get to sit down and its air conditioned!
- After the intro, the Ranger will lead you back outside to the next building. If you like to be up front for stuff you want to sit on the opposite side of the intro room since that is the side of the exit.
- You will be lead into the main building and once everyone is gathered into the first room the Ranger will begin to speak about that room. If you have trouble hearing with background noise go to the front. The second room is across the way and the sound spell can be challenging for some guests to hear.
- You will then be taken to the next room across the hall. This is the really important one, I will not give anything away. I do not want to ruin the fun.
What else is there to see?
Since you went to all the trouble of getting searched you want to get the most from your time. Also inside the secured area is the Great Essentials Exhibit, original printed versions of our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Articles of Confederation. You can also enter Congress Hall for another guided Ranger tour of that building.
Woo! That was a lot of information but this is all to help you enjoy tour time while in Philadelphia and not have a tragic vacation fail. Also, to learn more about Philly, take one of our famous name-your-own-price walking tours.
Written/edited by Jennifer Hensell