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Chicago and Movies in Prison



1.25 mi.

2 hrs


Explore a suburban Chicago prison used in movies and TV shows

Step into an extraordinary cinematic expedition like no other: Chicago and Movies in Prison, a riveting 2-hour guided walking tour led by a Ph.D. expert in film and the knowledgable staff of the Joliet Area Historical Museum. 

Venture just 30 miles outside the bustling city of Chicago to the historic Old Joliet Prison, where the echoes of both Illinois' penitentiary past and Hollywood's cinematic magic intertwine.

Join us on a captivating 1.25-mile exploration, mostly outdoors, as we traverse the formidable fortress-like walls and barbed-wire gates of this iconic correctional center. Here, you'll step through history, immersing yourself in the very heart of Old Joliet Prison's double narrative.

Inside the prison's hallowed halls, you'll encounter the raw reality of its sally ports, imposing cellblocks, solemn chapel, once-bustling cafeteria, expansive yard, and haunting solitary confinement cells. 

But this isn't just any tour—our guests gain access to areas typically off-limits to the public, offering a rare glimpse into the hidden corners of this historic landmark.

As Chicago and Movies in Prison reaches its climax, settle into our makeshift movie theater inside the dimly lit gymnasium, where the story of Hollywood's century-long fascination with Old Joliet Prison unfolds. Delve into the captivating tales of cinematic history, from iconic movie sets to the profound impact of cinema on Illinois prison reform.

This tour promises to be an energetic and inviting exploration of suburban Chicago's rich movie history. So get ready for an unforgettable and educational adventure with Chicago and Movies in Prison!

Movies/TV Highlighted
  • Ghost Adventures (2019)

  • Empire (2015-20)

  • Public Enemies (2009)

  • Let's Go to Prison (2006)

  • Prison Break (2005-09)

  • The Blues Brothers (1980)

  • White Heat (1949)

Tour Specifics

Start/End Points

1125 Collins St, Joliet, IL 60432. Tours meet in the Welcome Center. View aerial map.

Low Attendance Policy

This tour needs at least 10 guests to run. In the event we must cancel because of low ticket sales, we will notify you via email and then refund you in full.


Guests must initial a digital general waiver of liability with Chicago Movie Tours when they book. Guests must also sign a waiver with Joliet Area Historical Museum when they arrive at the Welcome Center. Guardians must sign waivers for children under the age of 18. 


Plenty of free parking is available.


This tour is not ADA-approved, but 70% of it is accessible for all guests.

What to Bring

Please wear closed-toe shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. Tours run rain or shine. You might also wish to bring sunscreen and a bottle of water. Note: the property has little shade, which can make summer tours rather warm.


Flushable toilets are available in the Welcome Center. Portable toilets are available throughout the tour.


Guests ages 10 and up can attend.


No video or audio recording of the tour, but take as many pictures as you'd like!

Cancellations and Refunds

You may cancel or amend your reservation 48 hours or more before the tour departs. Read more Tour Terms and Conditions.

Private Tours

Yes, you may book this tour as a private or group tour!

Our private tour prices are flat fees for up to 10 guests. If you plan to have more than 10 in your party, please contact us so we can accommodate you. 

This tour can accommodate up to 25 guests.

What's Included

  • Expert tour guide commentary

  • Special access to buildings/areas used by Hollywood crews and casts

  • Demonstration featuring old and new media to bring the prison's history and stories to life

  • Plenty of Instagram opportunities

  • Free parking

  • Mini goodie bag!



average rating is 5 out of 5

September 2, 2023

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On this tour we gain access to areas of the prison not open to the public including the cafeteria, chapel, death row and the west building prison cells. We were accompanied by an experienced prison tour guide who provided historical details and anecdotal information in addition to Kelli’s movie related details. Kelli’s presentation at the end was extremely well researched and added a richness to the tour that made the entire experience educational as well as entertaining! Would recommend highly!!
average rating is 5 out of 5

October 10, 2022

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Great tour. I took my 10 year old son after watching the Blues Brothers for the first time. He loved it.
Jeff Linton
average rating is 5 out of 5

October 11, 2022

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I was [on] the Joliet Prison tour this past Sunday. I really enjoyed your videos on the history of the movies associated with the prison. They were very informative, easy to understand and excellent graphics and charts! You have a warm, bubbly personality that nicely presents your content. Keep up the great work! Jeff
average rating is 5 out of 5

October 10, 2022

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Great program. I did have a little problem hearing the program inside the building because it echos so much.
average rating is 5 out of 5

October 11, 2022

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This was another excellent tour experience with Kelli from Chicago Movie Tours! We learned about a prison that is over 150 years old AND how it has appeared in movies and TV shows over the decades. Lots of great information, plus access to spaces not usually open to the public. The ad hoc "movie theater" and presentation was especially interesting for this history and movie buff. Highly recommend!
average rating is 5 out of 5

July 9, 2022

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I've actually done two walking tours so far - this one and the prison one, but this one surprised me by teaching me so much about the area and the people and events that had such an impact on Chicago.

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Chicago Movie Tours gift cards are valid for any listed walking tours, virtual tours, courses, or merchandise.

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