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Independence Hall is the crown jewel of Philadelphia. One of the most important sites in the history of the United States, both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were signed there. Delegates to the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention shaped the future of the country while meeting in its rooms. It’s a must-see for visitors, and a place for locals to appreciate the history of the city. We’ve outlined our best advice for visiting Independence Hall and what to expect when you get there.
When to visit
Spring (March or April) or fall (September or October) are typically the best times to visit Independence Hall and Philadelphia as a whole. The weather is generally pleasant, and crowds are fewer.
The summer months of June, July, and August are the most crowded times to visit Philadelphia attractions due to school breaks.
If a winter trip is on your agenda, make a beeline here because there is often no wait, and no tickets are required in January or February.
It is free to visit Independence Hall, and admission is by guided tour only.
Ticketing procedures have changed recently, and there are now two ways to visit–go at a time when tickets are not required or reserve advanced tickets. They can be booked up to four months in advance.
Tickets are not required in the low season months of January and February (except holiday weekends) or after 5pm.
If you’re visiting during a busy time, reserving an advanced ticket for a specific day and time is required. There is a $1 reservation fee per ticket. You can print your tickets or display them on your mobile device. If the tour is not sold out, tickets can be booked up until the scheduled time of the tour.
Tickets can also be reserved by calling 1-877-444-6777 from 10am to midnight.
What to see inside
Originally the Pennsylvania State House, Independence Hall was completed in 1753. During the years surrounding the American Revolution, the events that took place inside its walls make it one of the most historically important buildings in the country, and it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors have the chance to walk in the footsteps of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and the other founders.
After an introduction and overview from a park ranger, the tour makes its first stop in the Supreme Court Chamber. In the 18th century, it hosted the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The guide provides information about the legal system of the time and how trials took place before continuing.
The second room—the Assembly Room—is the most important room of the tour. This is the room where the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted in 1776. Most of the furnishings in this room are reproductions, but it is set up in the same way it was during the debates. The one piece of original furniture is Washington’s “Rising Sun” chair, which he used during the Constitutional Convention.
Depending on staffing, three other spaces in Independence National Historical Park may be available for visiting. The first is the Great Essentials Exhibit, which showcases copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. Visitors can also see the inkstand that was used to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Next door (but still within the secure zone) is Congress Hall. During the time that Philadelphia was the capital of the United States from 1790-1800, this building was the meeting place of both the House of Representative and the US Senate. Significantly, it is also the room where George Washington and—eight years later—John Adams were sworn in as president, completing the nation’s first peaceful transfer of power.
Outside the secure zone but in the same building complex is Old City Hall. This building was the meeting location for the nation’s first Supreme Court from 1791 to 1800.
Planning your visit
The National Park Service provides a free app with information about all the National Parks. You will find information about the 28 buildings and sites that are part of the Independence National Historical Park in Old City, including the Liberty Bell, Christ Church Burial Ground, Carpenters’ Hall, and more. It also provides a map and useful information about amenities such as nearby food and restrooms.
If you are traveling with children, they may enjoy the Junior Ranger program. The Junior Ranger iPhone and iPad app includes interactive activities related to the park and allows kids to earn a certificate. A Junior Ranger Activity Booklet available at the Independence Visitor Center also allows participants to earn a certificate and badge.
Plan to arrive 30 minutes early for your Independence Hall tour to allow enough time to go through security.
On-street parking is possible near the National Park, but duration is usually capped at 2 or 3 hours. The Philadelphia Parking Authority is known for being aggressive with ticketing, so we do not recommend letting your meter expire. If you plan to spend longer exploring the historic sites, convenient parking is available at the Bourse food hall or the Visitor Center.
Where to Stay
Marriott Old City – An 8-minute walk from Independence Hall, this 4-star hotel is noted for its comfortable beds and helpful staff.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco – Known for its views of Independence Mall, this modern hotel offers a rooftop lounge and top-notch service.