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Philadelphia is one of the United States’ oldest cities. But with this rich history also comes a dark past, and Philly is known as one of the most haunted cities in America. When we discovered this, we had to learn more! So, we dove into this city’s fascinating history on this Dark Philly Adult Night Tour.
Tours in Philadelphia focus on everything from the city’s history to its food scene, but the Dark Philly Tour was especially unique! Although we loved it, this tour certainly isn’t for everyone. As such, we’re here to break down all the details. Read on to learn more about the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour and decide if it’s right for you!
Don’t have time to read the full article? We think this Dark Philly Adult Night Tour is definitely worth it – especially if you enjoy ghost stories, dark history, and witty humor. Expect to laugh, be spooked, and learn shocking details you won’t find in history books!
- What is the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour?
- Where does the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour go?
- What are the highlights of the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour?
- Will you learn a lot on the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour?
- Are there other night tours if this one isn’t for you?
- Is the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour worth it?
- Other Activities to do While You're in Philadelphia
- Where to Stay in Philadelphia, USA
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
What is the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour?
The Dark Philly Adult Night Tour isn’t your typical sightseeing experience. It’s the raw unabridged version of Philadelphia’s dark and twisted past. Plus, the tour guide is a university history professor – so you know you’re getting a truly unique insight!
Philadelphia was one of the most significant cities in the United States’ early history. But as most people have come to learn, politicians aren’t always above-the-belt characters (as history books would like us to believe). So, on this tour, expect stories you wouldn’t necessarily hear at the Smithsonian.
When we went, the guide took us all around Philadelphia’s well-known historical sights and streets. These places were frequented by George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and other Founding Fathers. And as we strolled around at night, we learned shocking details of their lives and careers.
This tour is certainly an entertaining experience. It’s funny, witty, and downright inappropriate at times – but you’ll be laughing the entire way. Honestly, we consider it one of the best Philadelphia night tours out there – if not THE best!
You’ll hear stories of what certain historical buildings, such as Independence Hall, were really used for. Your guide will also share tales of torture, executions, and even ghost and pirate stories. While most of it is true, it’s up to you whether you choose to believe everything. Regardless, we definitely appreciated our guide’s spin on several of these tales!
This tour begins at 8 pm, and you’ll spend 2 hours walking around Philly after dark. It’s important to note that this tour is adult-only for a reason! Some of the information is R-rated, so it’s not suitable for children. But if you’re a group of adults, we highly recommend it! It’s a unique way to get to know Philadelphia, and you’ll learn things about the historic city that you never would on other tours!
If you build up an appetite walking around, you can always grab a cheesesteak afterward. Some of the best Philly cheesesteak places are open 24/7. We opted for post-tour cocktails instead. Luckily, our guide gave us some great local pub recommendations, which we gladly visited. Over the drinks, we reminisced on all the spooky stories she told us.
If you’re already sold, check availability and book this Dark Philly Adult Night Tour right here!
Where does the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour go?
The Dark Philly Adult Night Tour is a walking tour, and you’ll start and end at different locations. This might be helpful information as you plan your transportation! You’ll meet your group at the Independence Visitor Center. After two hours of walking around the city, you’ll finish the tour near the Merchant Exchange Building.
Throughout the tour, you’ll visit a ton of Philly’s highlights! Your group will make stops at the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and the President’s House (from before the US Capitol was moved to Washington, DC). All of these locations are normal places you might find on other Philadelphia sightseeing tours, but on the Dark Philly Night Tour, you will hear a completely different version of the city’s history.
You will also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the American Revolution. This is the place where traitors were executed by the British. Some other stops include Walnut Street Prison and the City Tavern Restaurant. All of these sites are said to be haunted, and honestly, after hearing the stories, I’m convinced they might be!
My favorite stop was the Library Company of Philadelphia. This fascinating research center was founded by Benjamin Franklin for university medical students. It sounds innocent enough on the surface, but the grave robberies and bizarre medical practices that took place on these grounds are enough to make your skin crawl!
The final stop on this tour is Alexander Hamilton’s home. Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers, and you might also recognize his name from the famous musical. At his old home, the guide will tell you all about the unsavory acts this notable figure engaged in. Believe me, some are quite shocking!
Mind you, this is not an exhaustive list! We had to leave some surprises, after all. But you can expect to pass by a multitude of fascinating places as your guide regales you with stories the whole way! We can assure you that on this tour, we were thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
What are the highlights of the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour?
The tour guide
Without a doubt, the tour guide was the highlight of our tour! Others on our tour agreed that she made the whole thing worth it, and from reading some of the 2,000+ reviews on Viator, everyone else has had a similar experience!
The tour guide kept us on our toes. We never really knew what was going to come out of her mouth. She even pulled out some props and interactive elements at times. She made every single stop a ton of fun, and the commentary along the way is both shocking and hilarious. If you don’t like abrasive or raunchy jokes, this might not be the tour guide for you!
The cooler weather
We visited Philadelphia in the summer, so the days were hot and humid! This night tour was a great break from the hot sun while sightseeing, as the temperature drops quite a bit at night. Especially if you’re walking around for 2 hours straight, the cooler weather was very welcomed.
Learning about the dark history
While we were in Philly, we learned a lot about U.S. history, but nothing was quite as real and uncut as what we learned on this tour. There is a dark history to Philadelphia that people don’t often talk about. Plus, this is a tell-all tour, so it’s very different from other history tours in Philadelphia.
This adult-only tour tells of the red light district of Philly, as well as ghost stories, the shady dealings of the Founding Fathers, and what life was actually like in early America – which isn’t as shiny and pretty as the history books like to spin it!
For how fun the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour is, it’s super reasonably priced! It is $38 USD if you go on a weekday, $44 USD for Friday, and $48 USD for Saturday nights. For two hours of sheer entertainment and a unique sightseeing experience, we thought this was a great price.
Plus, we like using Viator because they have free cancellation up to 24 hours before your tour. So, if your travel plans change (as they often do) you won’t be dinged with cancellation or change fees. We always love booking tours through Viator for that reason!
Related Read: If you love trying out unique experiences when you visit a new city, be sure to read our review of the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise.
Will you learn a lot on the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour?
Honestly, we learned so much on this Dark Philly Adult Night Tour! It touches on general history points like the American Revolution, but where it really shines is obviously the dark history. I found all the crazy stories made history come alive – and I remember much more as a result! If you want a sneak peek of what’s in store, I’ve included some of the educational highlights below.
The history behind the female toupée – An interesting story of how the term “beaver” came to describe a female body part.
Famous affairs – Many of these stops focus on the Founding Fathers of America, such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and more. You’ll walk through their homes and places of work, and learn about the deals and exchanges that were perhaps a bit scandalous. I learned loads about the imperfections of these historical figures, which led to interactions fueled by self-interest and lust.
Haunted locations – Many of the old buildings in Philly are haunted. Taverns, the First and Second Bank of Philadelphia, and the Library Company of Philadelphia are just a few of the many haunted locations in Philly! And on this Dark Philly Tour, you’ll learn exactly how and why they came to be this way.
Ghost stories – Of course, a Dark Adult Night Tour isn’t complete without ghost stories, which Philly is full of! The guide will tell these historic tales, and it’s up to you whether you believe them or not. But, I gotta admit, some of these places did have an unsettling chill after hearing these ghost stories!
Philadelphia’s history – This tour paints a picture of Philadelphia’s more sordid past. However, this is still a part of the city’s history and how it came to be! As we’ve said, not all history is pretty, and this dark history tour gives you a broader view of the city’s past. You’ll explore sites like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where mass executions took place, and Benjamin Rush Gardens, where you’ll learn about Philly’s yellow fever outbreak.
Are there other night tours if this one isn’t for you?
Not everyone wants to learn about Philly’s dark past on a raunchy and witty tour – and that’s okay! Philadelphia is known as being one of the most haunted cities in the States, so there are plenty of other tour options that cover a range of Philly’s history. Whether you want a family-friendly and educational tour, a ghost-centered experience, or even a haunted pub crawl, there’s a tour for you!
1. Private 2-hour Walking Tour of Historic Philadelphia
If you’re looking for a more traditional history tour, this private 2-hour guided walk is your best bet! Instead of the dark R-rated version, you’ll get a more textbook and family-friendly look at Philly’s long-standing history.
You’ll cover a lot of ground in just two hours! One of the first stops is the President’s House, where the first two presidents lived before the capitol moved to Washington, DC. You’ll visit Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed and see the Liberty Bell – one of Philly’s main attractions.
This tour also makes its way through a gorgeous colonial neighborhood with houses that date back to 1724! One of these houses belonged to Betsy Ross who sewed the first American flag. You’ll also pass by Benjamin Franklin’s grave, the First Bank of the United States, and Christ Church (one of the oldest churches in the country).
This is a great way to dive into Philadelphia’s rich history, as there is a lot to learn. We found it to be extremely insightful to learn a bit about Philly’s past and how that shaped the United States as a whole. This tour is also an excellent choice if you’re traveling with kids, as 2 hours feels like just the right amount of time.
The Walking Tour of Philadelphia starts and ends at the Independence Visitor Center at 10 am or 2 pm. It costs $245 USD for a group of 10, so if you’re traveling with a big party, this is a great price! There’s also an early-bird option for $250 USD that leaves at 8:30 am and can accommodate 12 people. Lastly, you can combine it with a city tour that includes additional spots (like Rocky’s Steps!) for $330 USD.
Check out all available tour options and book your favorite one online here!
2. Haunted Philadelphia: Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour
Deep dive into Philly’s creepiest locations on this Haunted Philadelphia: Spirits of ‘76 Ghost Tour! This tour focuses on Philadelphia’s ghosts and haunted buildings, but unlike the Dark Philly Tour, this tour is family-friendly. So if you’re little ones can handle some ghost stories, they’ll love the spirit of it all!
I especially like this tour because it’s a small group of only 9 people, so you can really get into the stories your guide is telling. You’ll visit 20 attractions in just 75 minutes, leaving plenty of time to explore other parts of Philly throughout your day! This is ideal if you only have one or two days to spend in Philadelphia.
Tours begin and end at the corner of 4th and Chestnut Street. The great thing about Philly is that there are so many notable sights right next to each other, so you truly can see a lot in just 75 minutes. We’d still wear comfy shoes, but the walk is manageable.
One of your first stops is Carpenters’ Hall, where the first Continental Congress met. From there, the tour passes by so many different buildings, homes, and sights. I won’t name them ALL… it’s fun to have a few surprises. However, one of the most notable stops is the United States Custom House (aka the Ghostbusters Building). By that name, you know Philly must be haunted!
You will also see some haunted churches like Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church. This church was featured in the movie, National Treasure. I watched the movie beforehand just to get a little sneak peek!
As you walk from place to place, your guide explains how each location is haunted. Hopefully, you can catch a ghost sighting on this tour too. I didn’t see any while in Philly, but the tours were memorable enough for me!
This tour takes off Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm but is only available from April through November. Tours might not be posted on Viator months in advance, so check closer to the date. Also, this isn’t as scary as other tours out there, so kids tend to enjoy it. It costs $23 USD for adults, which is great for such a comprehensive ghost tour.
3. Haunted Pub Crawl
Who said sightseeing tours had to be boring? This Haunted Pub Crawl is anything but, as you’ll experience Philly’s underground haunted scene. Visit historic pubs, cemeteries, and disturbing destinations in addition to more traditional landmarks! And of course, you’ll enjoy some beers along the way.
This small-group tour is an intimate way to discover Philadelphia. I love the smaller feel of this tour because it provides a camaraderie that larger walking tours don’t.
After meeting at the Independent Visitor Center, you’ll pass by haunted sights in between visits to three pubs (all with their own eerie history). As you sip on beer, your history-teacher guide will tell you all of the spooky tales of the area! You can all discuss these ghost stories to decide if they are real or not! Our group was pretty divided, but it made for some fun debates!
Some of the highlights of this 3-hour tour include visiting Benjamin Franklin’s and Betsy Ross’s graves, witch-trial sites, and burial grounds. Of course, you’ll hear loads of ghost stories along the way. Honestly, this tour sounds like the spookiest one out there! You will also visit some of the typical Philly landmarks, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Square.
Ghosts, history, and beer make quite the fun combo in my opinion! This is a super enjoyable evening tour and a very different experience than other Philadelphia sightseeing tours!
Tours end at City Tavern Restaurant, which was frequented by Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers. Since drinking is involved, this experience is only for those 21 years and older. It costs $50 USD per person on Thursday and Friday or $55 USD on Saturday. Prices include drink samples, snacks, and prize giveaways, but if you love beer (like me!), you might spend more on some extra pints.
Tours are only offered in October and November, so spots are very limited! You’ll want to reserve this Haunted Pub Crawl well in advance!
4. Philly Ghosts: Phantoms of Philadelphia Tour
Here we have another epic after-dark ghost tour! This Philly Ghosts: Phantoms of Philadelphia Tour covers the Old City, where most of the spooky history took place! At first glance, every stop is just another historic site. But after you learn about each location’s eerie past, you’ll see everything in a different light.
This walking tour takes you to the most iconic landmarks in Philadelphia, from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall to the American Philosophical Society Museum. All of these hold historical significance. However, there are also reports of visits by the ghosts of Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and others who tragically lost their lives during Philadelphia’s tumultuous past.
Your guide is well-versed in Philadelphia’s history, so you will be learning a lot about the city in addition to getting a little spooked! This tour begins and ends at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square. Expect to start at either 7 pm or 8 pm, depending on the season.
The standard 1.5-hour tour runs daily and costs $30 USD per person. For an additional $5 USD, you can upgrade to the 3-hour version, which gives you an even more detailed look into Philly’s past.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Is the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour worth it?
Yes! The Dark Philly Adult Night Tour was such a fun experience and even more entertaining than I thought it would be. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you can handle some creepy stories and witty comments, we think you’ll love it.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of Philly’s dark past. You’ll also leave a bit shocked and with a huge smile on your face because it’s so funny. Those with a great sense of humor will really appreciate this tour. It’s unlike any I’ve ever taken before!
While there are certainly other great ghost tours of Philly, we think that this one stands out among the rest! If you’re traveling without kids and looking for an entertaining way to learn about Philadelphia’s history, this tour won’t disappoint.
You don’t just have to take our word for it. either. You can read the reviews for yourself and book the tour online here!
Related Read: Another one of our favorite destinations on the East Coast is NYC. We have an entire guide to all the best things to do in New York City.
Other Activities to do While You’re in Philadelphia
The Dark Philly Tour is great and all, but it’s not the only thing you should do in the City of Brotherly Love! There are plenty of fun activities in Philadelphia. So, if you’re looking to fill that itinerary, check out some of my favorite options below.
- Go for cocktails – Philly is home to awesome cocktail bars like the Ranstead Room, which is a candlelit speakeasy serving craft cocktails. Andra Hem is a Swedish-style cocktail bar with super unique ingredients, and South 2nd Street is good for bar hopping (head to Sassafras!). Or, join this small group cocktail tour which takes you to 4-5 bars that you’d probably never find by yourself.
- See Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is, indeed, magical! This open-air gallery on South Street is known for its mosaics, which remind me a bit of Gaudi. It’s a great example of local art and the perfect destination to snap Instagram-worthy photos. You can also book this art tour that visits the Magic Gardens along with the city’s top murals.
- Ride on a hop-on, hop-off bus – To see all the city’s top sights, check out this hop-on, hop-off bus. It has a super comprehensive route and takes you to a ton of places, including Reading Terminal Market, City Hall, Rittenhouse Square, Love Park, Chinatown, and tons more! You get guided commentary but can still explore at your own pace.
- Go up the City Hall Tower – Not everyone knows you can go up to the very top of the City Hall Tower, where you’ll get epic 360-degree views! You do need to book this tour well in advance as there are only a few spaces available per day. It only costs $15 USD per person and lasts for about 30 minutes, so it’s easy to fit into a busy sightseeing itinerary.
- Eat a Philly cheesesteak – You can’t visit Philadelphia without trying this iconic sandwich! We ate several and discovered the best places to find a Philly cheesesteak. Some of our favorites were Sonny’s and Geno’s, and you can also sample one on a Philadelphia food tour.
Where to Stay in Philadelphia, USA
Philadelphia is a big city, and deciding where to stay can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve narrowed it down to our top choices for each budget range. So keep reading to find the best accommodations for you!
The Rittenhouse Hotel – $$$
The Rittenhouse Hotel is a centrally located, award-winning accommodation. It has that old-school Philadelphia feel with modern amenities. They offer a gym, an indoor heated pool, a sun terrace, and a fabulous restaurant. You can also enjoy British tea and cocktails in their tea room, which is connected to a gorgeous garden.
Prices range from $350 – $1,000 USD depending on the type of room and your dates. You can check prices and availability online here.
Element Philadelphia Downtown – $$
The Element Philadelphia Downtown is just a block from City Hall. It has a fitness center, an on-site restaurant, a shared lounge, and free bikes. The place has modern, well-equipped rooms, friendly staff, and a decent continental breakfast. Request a room higher up for an awesome city view.
This place is a great value for money, with prices starting as low as $160 USD when you book in advance.
Apple Hostels of Philadelphia – $
Apple Hostels of Philadelphia is my favorite budget accommodation in Philadelphia. It’s located in the Old City. This hostel has it all, including a shared kitchen, laundry, pool table, foosball, Xbox, computers/iPads, guitars, and a TV area. You won’t have any trouble socializing, and they even offer free drinks and dinner sometimes. It’s clean, comfortable, and has a great vibe.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
We hope our review of the Dark Philly Adult Night Tour has helped you decide whether it’s right for you. While some people enjoy sticking to traditional sightseeing tours, this one is perfect for visitors looking for something a bit more unconventional. It’s fascinating, witty, and just the right amount of spooky. We absolutely loved it and highly recommend it!
If this review was helpful, be sure to read more of our blogs all about traveling in the United States. We’ve also got guides for other destinations across the world. You can click on one of the blogs below to get started.