Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania, is alongside the Susquehanna River, near Susquehanna Valley. Because it played such a pivotal role in American history, as a backdrop for the Civil War battles, there is much to learn in the area. In addition to educational stops, there is a hub of things to do, from arts and culture to shopping, to outdoors, to family activities.
Pennsylvania State Capitol
You can’t stop in the state capital without seeing the state capitol building, can you? Well, you could. But then you’d miss out on discovering why Teddy Roosevelt declared it to be “the most handsomest building” he ever saw. If you like history, architecture or photography, don’t pass up the opportunity to visit. Take a free tour and walk around the complex.
National Civil War Museum
The museum sits at the top of a hill which overlooks Harrisburg. The Civil War is an infamous four-year-long battle which took place in the United States between the years of 1861-1865, over the moral issue of slavery. It’s the only museum in the entire United States which gives an unbiased look at both sides of the war. Visitors are able to walk around and look at artifacts, waxworks, photographs and more.
State Museum of Pennsylvania
Learn even more about the Civil war at this stop, in addition to the four floors worth of exhibits from the local history, a planetarium, artwork, and paintings. The museum is officially named the State Museum of Pennsylvania, but also known to locals as the William Penn Memorial Museum, since there is a giant statue of William Penn inside; A famous entrepreneur, philosopher, and Quaker who founded the English North American Colony in Pennsylvania.
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park
Keep learning about Pennsylvania’s rich history at this mansion and park. Over time it has served as a war fort, a hub for frontier commerce, and even a private estate. Now, it is preserved and open for public viewing. Throughout the year, they host several events for the community, including Fort Hunter Day, in the fall. It’s a free event where everyone is invited to enjoy celebrating the season with food, crafts, pumpkin baking contests, pony rides and more.
Get outside for fresh air and a hike around Wildwood Park, with 6 miles worth of trails. The park is roughly 229 acres filled with nothing but Pennsylvania’s flora and fauna, centered around 90 acres of freshwater wetland. So, dress comfortably and pack some sneakers. Maybe even a make an entire day out of it and pack your lunch too.
City Island is filled with more outdoor exploring. In addition to walking on the trails, it’s a great place to go biking, and jogging. You can even rent a boat, take a steam train or play miniature golf. For a breathtaking view over the Susquehanna River, take a stroll across the “train bridge,” given its name for all of the trains that cross nearby. You will also have a clear view of all the boats and the parks that line the shores. It’s an excellent spot for picture-taking.
Baseball fans! Take yourself out- to a ball game at the FNB Field; Home to the Harrisburg Senators. Go by yourself, or with a crowd. Make sure to buy yourself some peanuts and cracker jacks, and have so much fun that you never want to come back!
Okay, so this one isn’t in Harrisburg. It’s about 15 miles east. But, chocolate is worth any 30-minute drive; Especially, if you have kids with you. This family theme park is fun for the whole family, with a water park, amusement rides, several restaurants to dine at and again- chocolate! Take a free tour to experience a behind-the-scenes look at candy making in what’s being called the sweetest place on earth, and receive a free sample at the end.