20 Things To Do In Harrisburg

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Pennsylvania’s state capital is a vibrant and history-rich city in the Susquehanna River Valley. Although the ninth-largest city in the state has a small-town feel, there are plenty of things to do in Harrisburg. It has a population of just over 50,000 and an abundance of museums, galleries, theatres and performing arts venues. Several notable historical sites include the State Capitol Complex, the Harrisburg City Island Park, and the National Civil War Museum.

Harrisburg is 100 miles (160km) west of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania’s largest city) and is chock full of history and culture dating back to its founding by John Harris in 1719. It’s an excellent destination for travellers looking for a variety of activities and experiences, from visiting museums and historical sites to shopping, dining and outdoor recreation. Here is an overview of the top things to do in Harrisburg, PA.

Harrisburg, PA

20 Things To Do In Harrisburg

1- Join A Tour At The State Capitol Complex

things to do harrisburg pa state aerial view
One of the things to do in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is to explore the State Capitol Building.

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex is one of Harrisburg’s most popular attractions.

The complex includes the Pennsylvania State Capitol, which was built in 1906 and is home to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, as well as the governor’s residence.

Take a self-guided tour of the Capitol or participate in a guided tour led by one of the Capitol Ambassadors.

The complex also houses several museums, including the State Museum of Pennsylvania, which chronicles the state’s history.

The State Capitol Complex is an impressive sight, both inside and out.

Guided tours are offered Monday through Friday and last between 30 minutes to an hour.

The State Capitol Complex is at 501 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA.

2- Explore City Island

orange leaves and bridge in autumn
Wilkes-Barre Market Street Bridge across the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania, in the fall.

City Island is a recreational complex on an actual island in the Susquehanna River.

The 63-acre (25.5 ha) island is home to several Harrisburg Senators minor league baseball games and numerous festivals and events held throughout the year.

Even if there are no planned events, City Island is an excellent place for hiking, biking and picnicking.

For a unique experience, check out City Island’s martial arts school. It’s the only one in North America located on an island.

3- Ride The Candymonium At Hersheypark

Hersheypark is one of Harrisburg’s most popular tourist attractions, featuring more than 70 attractions and rides, including 13 roller coasters, live shows and Hershey’s characters in action.

If you’re an adventure seeker, you must ride Hersheypark’s tallest, fastest, and longest rollercoaster – Candymonium – you can expect to reach speeds of 76 mph (122 kmph)!

Don’t forget to visit Chocolate World while you’re there.

Hersheypark is just out of town at 100 Hersheypark Dr, Hershey (follow the smell of chocolate and screams of joy).

4- Stroll Through Harrisburg’s Historic Neighborhoods

harrisburg pa skyline reflections in water at dusk
Looking for things to do in Harrisburg pa? We’ve suggested 20 you will love.

Harrisburg is home to several historic neighbourhoods that are worth exploring.

Midtown offers visitors a taste of city living with its trendy restaurants and shops, while Downtown Harrisburg is home to numerous historical sites and landmarks like Wildwood Park and the Susquehanna Art Museum.

Uptown boasts beautiful Victorian homes and Harrisburg Hospital, while Shipoke is known for its charming tree-lined streets and river views.

Stop for a bite to eat or marvel at the amazing buildings.

Historic Harrisburg is an organization that offers walking tours and other educational programs about the history of Harrisburg.

They also offer special events throughout the year.

The Historic Harrisburg Resource Center at 1230 N 3rd St, Harrisburg.

5- Learn About The Civil War At The National Civil War Museum

The National Civil War Museum is one of the most educational and one of the top things to do in Harrisburg if you’re a history buff.

This museum tells the Civil War story from both the Union and Confederate perspectives.

It’s home to over 24,000 artifacts from the Civil War era.

A range of exhibits, interactive displays and educational programs share the stories of those who experienced those battles and divided loyalties during this time.

An interactive timeline allows visitors to trace major battles from 1861 to 1865 and view images from the first battlefield photographs taken during this time.

National Civil War Museum is off Interstate 83 at 1 Lincoln Cir, Harrisburg, PA.

6- Walk Or Bike Susquehanna River Trail

welcome to harrisburg sign
Welcome to Harrisburg sign.

It may be a tongue twister, but don’t let that scare you away from the great Susquehanna River Trail.

Pronounced Sus-qwe-hanna, it’s a beautiful 28-mile (45-km) long trail that runs along the Susquehanna River.

It’s a great place to exercise and take in the scenery.

Like most of Harrisburg, it has an interesting story – it was once home to Native Americans before European settlers arrived centuries ago and was used for many purposes, including early transportation routes and as a hub for iron ore mining.

Today it serves primarily as an outdoor recreation area providing solace from urban life while allowing visitors to appreciate our natural resources just minutes away from bustling downtown Harrisburg.

7- See A Show At The Whitaker Center

The Susquehanna River is in the foreground,the Market Street Bridge on right side and Walnut Street Bridge on left.
Check out our suggestions of things to do in Harrisburg at night.

The Whitaker Center is a performing arts centre with Broadway shows, concerts and educational programs.

It’s also home to an IMAX theatre, making it entertaining to spend an afternoon or evening.

There are shows and performances for all ages, so everyone in the family can lose themselves in a hilarious, dramatic or educational show.

The main event venue is the Sunoco Performance Theater, which seats up to 1,350 guests over two tiers of seating.

It has hosted the biggest names in music and entertainment – from Emmylou Harris to Weird Al Yankovic – making it one of the premier performance spaces in Central Pennsylvania.

The Whitaker Center is conveniently located at 222 Market St, Harrisburg, PA.

8- Shop Till You Drop At Strawberry Square

This vibrant shopping district brings together dozens of unique stores, boutiques, and restaurants, making it the perfect destination for a day out on the town.

From small specialty shops like The Art Pantry to larger retailers such as Macy’s, there truly is something for everyone here.

Located downtown, Strawberry Square is within walking distance of many popular attractions, such as the State Capitol Complex and the Susquehanna River.

With its inviting outdoor plazas and comfortable seating areas, it’s easy to spend an afternoon wandering around this bustling shopping centre.

Start your shopping spree at 320 Market St, Harrisburg, PA.

9- Learn About U.S. History At Fort Hunter Mansion

With a history that stretches back to the early 18th century, this site offers a glimpse into the past with several preserved structures, artifacts, and other features.

The mansion is a two-story stone building built in 1740 by John Harris Jr., son of the founder of Harrisburg.

It originally served as his family’s home until 1814, when it was acquired by Robert and Anne Hunter, who added Greek Revival additions to the structure.

The 19th century saw several other alterations to the building, giving it its current appearance.

Fort Hunter Mansion & Park is at 5300 N Front St, Harrisburg, PA.

10- Make Friends With An Otter At ZooAmerica

Closeup portrait of a black tailed prairie dog standing, funny animal behavior, tropical rodent specie from America.
Visiting the zoo is one of the things to do in Harrisburg with kids.

ZooAmerica is home to over 200 animals from five continents, and the otters are among the cheekiest and cutest.

You’ll be captivated by the playful antics of these charming creatures as they frolic around their rocky pools.

Located just steps from Hersheypark, this 11-acre (4.45 ha) wildlife park has over 200 animals representing more than 75 species native to North America.

Get up close with mountain lions, bald eagles, Canada lynx, river otters and many other creatures in the range of habitats they call home.

As you explore the zoo’s winding pathways, you’ll also find a variety of interactive animal exhibits and educational programs.

11- Go On A Brewery Tour

things to do in harrisburg this weekend glass of beer
Tasting local beer is one of the things to do in Harrisburg.

Founded in 1996 by the Trögner brothers, Chris and John, Tröegs Independent Brewing Company is one of the well-known craft breweries in the region.

It offers an inside look at brewing while providing samples of some of their delicious beers.

The tour begins with a walk through their fermentation cellar, where guests can observe the brewing tanks that give Tröegs beer its unique flavour.

Along with gaining insight into how craft beer is made, you will also have a chance to sample some of their award-winning varieties, such as Tröegenator Double Bock, HopBack Amber Ale, and Perpetual IPA.

Tours typically last about an hour, and reservations are required, so plan ahead.

Of course, if you aren’t interested in a guided tour, you can still come for the beer and food (all made from local ingredients).

The brewery is at 200 Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA.

12- Visit The State Museum of Pennsylvania

things to do in harrisburg pa brown brick building
Admiring the architecture is one of the things to do in Harrisburg. Here’s a historic school in downtown.

Visiting the State Museum of Pennsylvania is a great way to discover the history and culture of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Visitors will find a wonderful environment with plenty of exhibits and displays that offer tremendous insight into Pennsylvania’s rich heritage.

The museum contains more than three million artifacts ranging from archaeological objects to zoological specimens.

It also houses eight galleries featuring natural history, fine art, and military and industrial collections.

Visitors can explore artifacts relating to Native American cultures, colonial Pennsylvania, Pennsylvanians who fought in the Civil War, industrial advances from the 19th century, and much more.

Education programs for children and adults are offered throughout the year and family activities during certain holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania is downtown at 300 North St, Harrisburg, PA.

13- Get Closer to Nature at Wildwood Park

Spanning over 229 acres (12 ha) of rolling hills and lush forests, Wildwood Park is teeming with wildlife and offers abundant outdoor activities for all ages.

Embark on a self-guided tour of the park’s trails and observe the unique ecosystem that includes over 340 species of birds and mammals.

Nature enthusiasts will delight in spotting wildflowers such as black-eyed Susan’s, trilliums, and mountain laurel that spring up among the trees.

Those looking to take some time out can enjoy fishing in one of the two onsite ponds or relax by one of the scenic streams.

Wildwood Park is also home to an outdoor amphitheatre, where you can enjoy live music and theatre in the summer months.

Wildwood Park is at 100 Wildwood Way, Harrisburg, PA.

14-Learn To Make Chocolate At The Hershey Story Museum

Lovers of history and chocolate rejoice – the Hershey Story Museum is one of the area’s most popular destinations.

Focused on the life and work of Milton S. Hershey, this interactive museum celebrates the man who brought chocolate to America.

Visitors to the museum can explore a variety of interactive exhibits that take them through Milton Hershey’s life story and his journey from the founder of The Hershey Company to an international businessperson.

In addition to learning about Milton Hershey’s life, visitors can design (and eat) their own candy bar.

Learn about how chocolate is made, see Hershey’s original equipment, and taste some of the chocolate that made him famous.

The Hershey Story Museum is at 63 W Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA.

15- Watch A Baseball Game

If you’re a baseball fan, catch the Harrisburg Senators, Harrisburg’s minor league baseball team, in action.

The Senators play their home games at Metro Bank Park on City Island in the Susquehanna River.

Tickets start at just $8, making this a great activity for families or budget-minded travellers.

Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s worth going just for the atmosphere – they say no one does Baseball like Americans.

You might be lucky enough to see a home run or a historic win.

The stadium is at 245 Championship Way, Harrisburg, PA.

16- Ride The Pride Of The Susquehanna Riverboat

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, illuminated by evening sunlight as viewed from City Island across the frozen Susquehanna River.
If you’re looking for things to do in Harrisburg pa in winter, just head to the Susquehanna River and check out the ice!

Ride the Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat, one of America’s remaining paddle-wheel riverboats.

Since her construction and launch in 1988, this historic riverboat has carried almost a million passengers.

Cruising is a fantastic way to relax and appreciate the beauty of Harrisburg from the river.

During the summer, The Pride launches 45-minute sightseeing cruises at 12 noon, 1.30 pm and 3 pm; no reservations are required.

Boarding begins 20 minutes before departure at Dock Street Dam West Side, Harrisburg, PA.

17- Check Out The Harrisburg Section Of The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only footpath in the world at over 2,000 miles (3,220 km) long, passes straight through Harrisburg.

The Harrisburg part of the trail spans 8 miles (13km) through the area before heading north towards Lehigh Gorge State Park.

It’s a scenic section steeped in natural beauty and history.

During this stretch, hikers can expect to experience breathtaking views of rolling hills.

There are markers pointing out historical sites along the trail that provide insights into the area’s rich cultural heritage.

Trekking along the Harrisburg section of The Appalachian Trail is an excellent way to enjoy nature while experiencing local culture and history.

Head northwest from Harrisburg and you will find the trail.

18- Shop For Fresh Produce At Broad Street Market

Beautiful, colorful tropical vegetables as background. Fresh and organic vegetables at farmers market. Farmers' food market stall with a variety of organic vegetables.
Wandering around the farmer’s market is one of the fun things to do in Harrisburg pa.

Broad Street Market is a marketplace with a rich history and vibrant culture.

Founded in 1860, this market is one of the USA’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ markets.

This two-story brick market offers a variety of food vendors selling fresh produce, meats, pastries, ethnic foods and more.

Alongside those vendors are small boutiques offering locally crafted items like jewellery, handmade soaps and candles, arts & crafts supplies, and unique gifts.

Open year-round on Thursdays to Saturdays (7 am to 6 pm/4 pm on Saturdays), Broad Street Market is at 1233 n. 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA.

19- Be Inspired At Susquehanna Art Museum

things to do in harrisburg pa today
The waters in the Capitol East Wing fountain dyed pink.

Susquehanna Art Museum is a nonprofit organisation showcasing local and international artists.

The museum houses over 4,000 works of art, from centuries-old styles to cutting-edge trends, from modern works to traditional pieces.

Numerous interactive features throughout the space make it a truly engaging experience as visitors explore the various galleries.

The art museum features three floors of galleries housing editions from diverse cultures and disciplines, including painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media installations, fibre arts and other mediums.

Susquehanna Art Museum is in Midtown Harrisburg at 1401 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA.

20- Go Fruit Or Pumpkin Picking At Strite’s Orchard

A fabulous thing to do in Harrisburg on a chilly autumn afternoon is to walk through a pumpkin patch and choose the perfect pumpkin, ready to be carved.

The Strite family has owned Strite’s Orchardily since 1928 when founder George Strite purchased the land and began planting apple trees.

Today you can pick apples straight from their trees, and during certain times of the year, other fruit such as peaches, pears, blueberries and plums are also available for picking.

September and October are excellent months to go fruit picking.

There’s an expansive pumpkin patch for those looking for their perfect jack-o’-lantern, as well as hayrides, playgrounds and a farm market with homemade apple cider doughnuts and ice cream.

The corn mazes (open in October only) is a must-do.

Strite’s Orchard is at 1000 Strites Rd, Harrisburg, PA.

Harrisburg may be a small city, but it packs a punch when it comes to things to do. From touring the state capitol complex to riding rollercoasters at Hersheypark to exploring one of Harrisburg’s many historic neighbourhoods, there’s something for everyone.

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emma denning
Emma is an Aussie writer and travel enthusiast. Born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia, she has lived in Philadelphia, USA for the past three years and is preparing for her next big move to The UK in 2023. A University graduate in Supply Chain Management, she decided to break away from the corporate 9-5 after only a couple of years to pursue freelance writing. Emma has travelled to over 30 countries and hopes to visit at least 30 more in the next 10 years. Her favourite travel destination is Southeast Asia (Thailand in particular), and hopes to live there one day near an elephant sanctuary.