20 Things To Do In York PA

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With beautifully preserved architecture, York lives up to its ‘architectural museum’ tag. It’s one of the most storied cities in the United States and was a major industrial hub during the 18th century. The city is officially nicknamed the “White Rose City” and is known in pop culture as the place where the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle gets assembled.

Home to a budding performing arts scene and just 35 miles from North America’s candy capital, York is a charming slice of Pennsylvania that’s delightful to explore. Here are the best things to do in York PA. 

York, Pennsylvania

20 Things To Do In York PA

york county courthouse at dusk
Admiring impressive architecture, such as the York County Courthouse, is one of the top things to do in York PA.

1- Go On A Harley-Davidson Factory Tour

One of only a handful of motorcycle manufacturing plants in the United States, the Harley-Davidson Factory is a popular tourist attraction in Pennsylvania due to its excellent guided tours.

The tours take visitors on a guided experience of the entire motorcycle manufacturing process, including trips to the assembly line and a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into crafting an iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Free to join, the tours have been a York staple since the facility opened in 1973 and have grown to include a gift store, designated areas for younger visitors and a whole host of cool displays and exhibits to enjoy.

The Harley-Davidson Factory Tour is at 1425 Eden Road, York, PA 17402.

2- Navigate The Heritage Rail Trail

things to do in york railroad trail flanked by tall trees
Following the York Railroad Trail is one of the interesting things to do in York PA.

Established by the York County Rail Authority in 1999, the Heritage Rail Trail connects York’s historic downtown district with the Torrey C. Brown Trail just across the Maryland state border to create one 21-mile (34 km) navigable cultural experience.

The trail follows the tracks of the old Northern Central Railroad built during the 1800s which was used by President Abraham Lincoln on his way to delivering the famous Gettysburg Address in 1863.

Passing by farmlands, forests and picturesque rural landscapes as it winds its way to the Mason-Dixon Line, the trail is easy to hike or cycle and stops by several historical landmarks. 

3- Explore The Weight Lifting Hall of Fame

About five miles (8 km) north of downtown York is the Weight Lifting Hall of Fame, an 8,000 square feet (743 m2) facility dedicated to showcasing everything there is to know about the world of powerlifting.

The museum occupies the first floor of York Barbell’s head office, a company that’s cemented its reputation as the “Father of World Weightlifting” by popularising the sport of powerlifting at the Olympics between the 1930s and 1970s.

The venue’s collection includes several noteworthy artefacts and memorabilia, including novelty barbells and weights as well as busts of some of the ancient sport’s biggest and brightest stars.

The Weight Lifting Hall of Fame is at 3300 Board Rd, York, PA 17406.

4- Swing By The Nixon Park Nature Center

Nestled inside a secluded valley about 5 miles (8 km) outside the city of York is the Nixon Park Nature Center, a picturesque 187-acre (76 ha) patch of Pennsylvania outdoors that’s chocked full of streams, meadows, forests and ponds.

The centre was first opened in 1972 and features mounted native wildlife from York County as well as a range of exotic species of birds and mammals from Africa, the Arctic and the Northern Rockies.

The Nixon Park Nature Center is at 5922 Nixon Dr, York, PA 17403.

5- Catch A Show At The Appell Center for the Performing Arts

Downtown York’s go-to venue for live entertainment, the Appell Center for the Performing Arts has been a late-night staple in the region for well over a century.

The centre combines two distinct theatres, the Capitol Theatre built in 1906 and the Strand Theatre built in 1925, into one world-class cultural institution which features a combined seating capacity of over 1,700.

Both theatres host productions and live concerts throughout the year as well as special community events, and are within a stone’s throw from some of York’s top eateries and shopping destinations.

The Appell Center for the Performing Arts is at 50 N George St, York, PA 17401.

6- Shop And Dine At York Central Market House

Completed in 1888, the York Central Market House is the one-stop destination in town to experience some of York’s best restaurants, novelty stores and produce stands under one roof.

The eye-catching downtown landmark was designed by well-known local architect John A. Dempwolf and features a Romanesque Revival style design that’s topped off with a hipped roof look and a red brick façade.

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the venue still operates as a public market and is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 6 am until 2 pm.

The York Central Market House is at 34 W Philadelphia St, York, PA 17401.

7- Enjoy The Scenic Surroundings Of Samuel S. Lewis State Park

Covering a total land area of approximately 85 acres (34 ha), the Samuel S. Lewis State Park is a popular outdoor recreational space that can accommodate a wide variety of summertime and wintertime sports and activities.

The park is home to the unmissable 885-foot-tall (270 m) Mount Pisgah and is best known throughout York and the neighbouring region thanks to its truly unrivalled views over the Susquehanna River Valley.

Kite festivals, sledging, hiking and cycling are just some activities you can expect, with the outdoor venue also a popular stargazing spot after sunset due to its high elevation.

Samuel S. Lewis State Park is at 6000 Mt Pisgah Rd, York, PA 17406.

8- Discover The York County History Center

First opening its doors to the Pennsylvania public in 1989, the York County History Center is the go-to place in town to learn about York and the surrounding region’s storied past.

The centre boasts an impressive collection of artwork, artefacts and period pieces totalling some 90,000 individual items which focuses on telling the story of the region’s noteworthy figures and important landmarks.

Situated right on the eastern edge of downtown York, the centre is within a short walk from the city’s top shopping destinations and restaurants, and is ideal for a quick afternoon visit.

The York County History Center is at 250 E Market St, York, PA 17403.

9- See The Quirky Haines Shoe House

The unmissable Haines Shoe House is a shoe-shaped home situated about 8 miles (12 km) east of downtown York that was initially built in 1948 by Mahlon Haines.

Haines, a local shoe salesman at the time, decided to build the home to promote his shoe stores and features a five-story layout with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and living room in the tip, and an ice cream shop in the heel section.

The house proved to be such a major hit that it was converted into a guest house which visitors can now rent when stopping by York.

The Haines Shoe House is at 197 Shoe House Rd, York, PA 17406.

10- Tour The Agricultural & Industrial Museum

The Agricultural & Industrial Museum in downtown York is a world-class museum and cultural institution which proudly showcases the region’s 300+ years of agricultural, transportation and industrial history.

Featuring a range of interesting displays and exhibits, not to mention a fairly large collection of artefacts and historic items, the museum spans three levels and even has a few hands-on exhibits where visitors are encouraged to look and touch.

Housed within a repurposed factory, the venue boasts several key displays including a trolley car dating back to 1916, a train switcher engine from 1940 and an interactive rotary phone operated through a 1930s switchboard.

The Agricultural & Industrial Museum is at 217 W Princess St, York, PA 17401.

11- Spend An Afternoon At The Perrydell Farm and Dairy

Calf At Dairy Farm Cow Pennsylvania Holstein Cute Baby Animal
Visiting a farm is one of the fun things to do in York, PA.

The family-owned and operated Perrydell Farm and Dairy has been on a mission to supply the local community with the freshest dairy treats and produce since the farm first began in 1963.

Situated about a 4-mile (6 km) journey south of downtown York, the farm is as much a tourist destination as it is a fully functioning business, hosting guided tours of the 170-acre (68 ha) property as well as the ability to build your own sundae treat.

The Perrydell Farm and Dairy is at 90 Indian Rock Dam Rd, York, PA 17403.

12- Experience The Old Town Historic District

Looking for things to do in York? Check out our top 20 list.

Situated right in the heart of downtown York is the Old Town Historic District, a 722-acre (292 ha) block of the city that’s home to 309 important historic buildings and structures.

The district can trace its origins back to 1741 when York was just starting to make a name for itself as an economic hub in southern Pennsylvania, with the entire district added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Among the district’s most popular attractions are York landmarks such as the Pennsylvania Central Railroad Station, the Capitol and Strand Theatres, the Pullman Factory Building and the Odd Fellows Hall.

13- Get Your Thrill On At AvalancheXpress

AvalancheXpress is a unique outdoor attraction that thrills visitors with year-round snow sledging fun less than 4 miles (6 km) outside downtown York.

The adventure park has six seven-story tubing runs, each stretching some 900 feet (274 m) in length and can keep the fun times rolling even when it’s not snowing thanks to on-site snow machines.

Be sure to get your adrenaline fix by flying downhill in a tube at AvalancheXpress, one of York’s newest and most exciting outdoor attractions.

AvalancheXpress is at 2700 Mt Rose Ave, York, PA 17402.

14- Spend An Afternoon Exploring Rocky Ridge County Park

Acquired by the county in 1968 and turned into a public park soon after, the Rocky Ridge County Park is the oldest of its kind in York County and covers an area of about 750 acres (303 ha).

The park is 6 miles (10 km) northeast of downtown York and has well-maintained hiking trails and picnic spots as well as uninterrupted vantage points of the Susquehanna Valley.

Among the most popular times of the year to swing by Rocky Ridge County Park is during December when the entire park gets lit up in colourful festive lights to celebrate Christmas.

Rocky Ridge County Park is at 3699 Deininger Rd, York, PA 17406.

15- Sample Award-Winning Wines Along The Mason-Dixon Wine Trail

Toasting With Two Glasses Of White Wine In The Vineyard
Going wine tasting is one of the things to do in York county PA

The Mason-Dixon Wine Trail links together a series of unique and award-winning wineries throughout the south-central region of Pennsylvania and near the Mason-Dixon Line, the historic divide between the North and the South.

The trail came about in 2011 and includes wineries from across Pennsylvania and Maryland, which travellers can seamlessly explore any time of the year.

Featuring an ever-expanding list of wineries to choose from, the trail currently includes the Cassel Vineyards of Hershey, CrossWinds Winery, Thunder Ridge Vineyards and Mount Hope Winery, just to name a few.

16- Plan A Visit To Alpacas Of York

Alpacas In A Fenced Yard
Meeting some alpacas is one of the things to do with kids in York, PA.

The 21-acre Alpacas Of York farm is a petting zoo and active alpaca farm that’s the ideal destination in Pennsylvania for seeing alpacas up close.

Guided tours and feeding sessions are among the most popular activities on offer on the alpaca farm, with an on-site shop available if you’re in the mood to pick up a gift or a handmade accessory.

Situated about 6 miles (10 km) outside downtown York, the farm is ideal for a quick afternoon stop and is a popular tourist trap among families travelling with kids.

Alpacas Of York is at 3841 Trout Run Rd, York, PA 17406.

17- Swing By William Kain Park

Created back in 1977, William Kain Park, or the William H. Kain County Park as it is officially called, is a stunning 1,637-acre (662 ha) public park that’s home to 2 freshwater lakes each spanning more than 200 acres (81 ha).

The park is on the southern edge of York about 7 miles (11 km) outside the downtown district and was formed thanks to a 50-year lease agreement between the York Water Company and the County of York.

Unsurprisingly, Fishing is the park’s most popular activity, however, it’s far from its only activity, as boating, kayaking, volleyball, hunting and horseback riding are all regularly partaken in throughout the park and its 2 lakes.

William Kain Park is at 274 Hess Farm Rd, York, PA 17407.

18- Catch A Game At WellSpan Park

WellSpan Park is York’s official sporting hub, serving as the home arena of the York Revolution, the city’s only professional baseball franchise.

The 7,500-seat stadium was designed by architectural firm Tetra Tech and officially opened its doors in 2007, hosting the Revolution’s first home game of the season that same year.

The stadium is also regularly used for concerts and events in addition to hosting ALPB games.

WellSpan Park is at 5 Brooks Robinson Way, York, PA 17401.

19- Plan A Day Trip To Hershey

The “Sweetest Place on Earth”, Hershey is a Pennsylvania destination like no other and is without a doubt the candy capital of North America.

The town is best known as the home of the Hershey Company, one of the world’s largest chocolatiers, and is a whimsical destination complete with amusement rides, factory tours and world-class resorts.

Hershey lies just 35 miles (56 km) northeast of York and is exactly the kind of place to plan a road trip to if you’re looking to satiate your sweet tooth cravings.

20- Stop By The Ridge Meadow Horse Farm

Regarded as one of the premier equestrian facilities in all of Pennsylvania, York County’s Ridge Meadow Horse Farm is a one-of-a-kind attraction in the region that specialises in pampering both rider and horse with a range of amenities and professional care.

The farm is on more than 200 acres (80 ha) and boasts Olympic-sized jumping areas and horseback trails to give your four-legged partner a proper workout.

If you’re a beginner rider with little to no training, swing on by anyway, as the farm specialises in teaching riders of all ages to master the saddle like a pro, with picnic areas available where riders can catch a breather afterwards.

Ridge Meadow Horse Farm is at 19757 Ridge Meadow Rd, Stewartstown, PA 17363.

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.