Harrisburg is the state capital of Pennsylvania and is full of rich history. There are many great things to do in Harrisburg that is sure to keep the whole family entertained.
Many Harrisburg attractions will connect you with the great history of Pennsylvania and the United States in general. There are forts, mansions, and a gorgeous cathedral to explore.
In addition to historical attractions, you will find yourself enjoying beer, art, and beautiful landscapes.
Harrisburg is a lovely city to "take a walk in the park". We guarantee you will have an excellent time, especially if you visit in spring or fall. The weather is just gorgeous at that time of year in Pennsylvania.
Be sure to check out these top tourist attractions in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
|Table of Contents [Show]|
Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use my affiliate link.
A visit to the Capitol is a trip to an art and history museum rolled into a beautiful package.
The Pennsylvania State Capitol is known as one of the most treasured in the nation for the architectural and interior design, various attractions around the complex, statues, and foliage that change color throughout the year.
Though you are welcome to tour the grounds at your own leisure, scheduling a tour is highly recommended so you can learn all about the incredible history surrounding this incredible State Capitol.
Address: 501 N 3rd St. Harrisburg, PA 17120
Also Read: Most Beautiful State Capitol Buildings in the USA
With the Civil War becoming a much talked about topic of late, why not go study up on the war to learn more?
The exhibits of the National Civil War Museum tell an in-depth story about the American Civil War with no bias towards either the Union or the Confederacy.
The timeline represented here runs from 1850 to 1876 with the main emphasis being on 1861-1865.
There are over 24,000 artifacts, photographs, manuscripts, and other printed documentation to show what life was like throughout America during the Civil War. A must-see attraction in Harrisburg for any and all!
Address: 1 Lincoln Circle, Harrisburg, PA 17103
Also Read: The Best US Civil War Sites to Visit
Looking for a wonderful location where you can relax and play and spend the day surrounded by water? Then you should head to City Island, a 63-acre recreational park in the middle of the Susquehanna River.
You can watch baseball at the Metro Bank Park, then hop aboard the Pride of the Susquehanna.
If you would rather stay on dry land, then there is a steam train to ride or horse-drawn carriages that can take you to the miniature golf course, the arcade, batting cages, an observation deck at RiverSide Village Park, or the small beach.
Address: City Island, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Do you love the idea of touring the Susquehanna River via boat and watching the sunset? Then the Pride of the Susquehanna is going to make that dream come true.
The Pride was built as a community service project by the Harrisburg Area Riverboat Society and has been a popular attraction ever since.
The public sightseeing tours are just one of the ways that this authentic paddlewheel riverboat is used.
Enjoy a 45-minute long cruise on a boat with climate controlled rooms and handicapped accessibility. It's perfect for a date, friends or a family!
Address: 11 Championship Way, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Cinema, science, and the arts don't usually come together as perfectly as they do at the Whitaker Center.
The cinema is great for rainy and cold days, as you can go with friends, family, or with your significant other to discover more about the world through 3D glasses.
Science exhibits come and go, but they are usually seasonal, so you never know what fun you will find.
Lastly, the arts involve musical performances from well-known bands to comedy, theatre, and dance. All tickets can be reserved in advance, making it easy to fit a show or two into your schedule.
Address: 222 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
The State Museum of Pennsylvania is a history museum offering a myriad of experiences. One such experience is the Planetarium, where you can see shows on science and the state's history.
It is a very family-friendly institution. They have many great permanent exhibits, including an exhibit on the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn.
They also have an archaeology and anthropology exhibit, a transportation exhibit, and the “Village Square” exhibit, which is super cool.
It is a life-size streetscape where you can learn about a typical 19th century Pennsylvania town. It is pretty popular on the list of places to visit in Harrisburg.
Address: 300 North St, Harrisburg, PA 17120
The Fort Hunter Mansion and Park is a historical estate featuring multiple buildings and even a historic covered bridge. Covered bridges are just so aesthetically pleasing.
The estate was built in 1725, so it is the perfect place to learn about colonial Pennsylvania. It has seen slavery and war, making it rich in important American history.
Additionally, it overlooks the beautiful Susquehanna River, making this a great place to visit or host an event. They offer tours daily and have live colonial actors.
Address: 5300 N Front St, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Susquehanna Art Museum, or SAM, is a community-focused art museum. They have volunteer opportunities and offer art classes.
Their exhibits feature incredible art. Plus, they have a program geared to educating children about art. This is their VanGo! Museum on wheels.
It is an RV trailer with a hands-on activity and galleries geared towards kiddos.
They also feature artwork from high school students in the Artistic Expressions exhibitions. So, this is a great option in Harrisburg attractions if you are looking to support the local art community.
Address: 1401 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA
This mansion is another excellent way to connect with history. John Harris was the original owner of the home, which was built in the early 1700s.
He was the first European to settle the area, and hence the name Harrisburg.
He is buried across the street. Throughout the years, the estate had many owners, including Simon Cameron, a businessman and state senator (he served for 20 years).
His children were the last to own the home before it was donated to the historical society.
The house was renovated quite a few times by the time the home was donated, so there are some really interesting additions and decor throughout the mansion- from Victorian to art deco.
You will appreciate the history and architecture if you make a stop at the mansion.
Address: 219 S Front St, Harrisburg, PA 17104
Wildwood Park looks so beautiful, and it is free! The park has a lot of history and was once a thriving part of the community, hosting boating, horse riding, and even a zoo.
After falling into shambles, the National Audubon Society began to take interest and the land was once again cared for.
You can visit this park and enjoy the many walking trails, the lake, and the nature center.
It is a great place for birdwatching and wildlife viewing. It is also home to the endangered tree species, the American locust. You won’t regret a visit to Wildwood Park.
Address: 100 Wildwood Way, Harrisburg, PA 17110
The PNFM is seriously so cool! Especially if you like the Victorian Era. The museum itself is a Victorian-era firehouse.
As volunteer fire stations were invented in the United States, you will get an incredible look into how the volunteers fought fires in the early days of firefighting.
You can see a handpump and old alarm systems. There is a memorial wall, historic fire engines, and a look into the role volunteer firefighters played in parade ceremonies. It's a fun spot and super affordable.
Address: 1820 N 4th St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
The Broad Street Market is the spot to go for locally sourced goods. You can connect with farmers of the area to purchase locally grown fruit, veggies, poultry, meat, eggs, and more.
Additionally, you can get baked goods and some seriously delicious prepared meals. It also must be said that you have to try the ice cream. It is so fresh and delicious- it is locally sourced, after all.
Get pierogies, charcuterie, or falafel. There is even a winery here. There’s also the option for jewelry and artisan gifts. In short, they have it all to please all your senses, especially your palate.
Address: 1233 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
If you like beer, this is where you want to be. It is the first and only brewery in the state capital since 1951.
The brewery is located in a historical building that boasts "antique brick walls, massive wooden beams, hardwood floors and ceilings."
You can take a brewery tour or simply just enjoy the brewpub. The food menu at the brewpub is extensive.
There is something for everyone- soups, salads, burgers, flatbreads, sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, lovely classic entrees, and a wide variety of appetizers.
Address: 50 N Cameron St, Harrisburg, PA 17101
The stunning Cathedral of Saint Patrick is often a high priority for visitors when it comes to the best things to see in Harrisburg.
The architecture is just stunning in its "Baroque Revival style with Renaissance Revival influences and capped with a classically influenced dome.”
There are 45 stained glass windows imported from Germany throughout the church. There are also fresco paintings, just like in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
There are multiple shrines for the past bishops of the diocese. This is a great spot to learn about Catholicism or just simply admire the artistic styles of the cathedral.
It should be mentioned that they are one of the only places left in the state that still say Latin mass.
Address: 212 State St, Harrisburg, PA 17101
When you visit any state’s capital, you’ve got to hit the capital area. It’s a 20-mile loop around the city of Harrisburg.
It is bike-friendly and connects to many parts of the city beyond the capital, including the previously mentioned Wildwood Park.
One of the unique features of the Capital Area Greenbelt is the Five Senses Garden. It is well cared for and designed to engage all the senses.
You can see wildflowers, butterflies and more if you stop at this spot along the Greenbelt. It also features multiple arboretums, access to museums, and multiple Harrisburg landmarks. It is definitely one of the top things to do in Harrisburg.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of things to do in Harrisburg. If you follow along with this list, you will not be disappointed in the experience you will have.
There is something for everyone. You can enjoy history, art, and architecture. You can enjoy many delicious eats or take a lovely stroll amongst the beauty of the area.
It is hard to deny that Harrisburg is a wonderful destination. Hitting a smaller city allows you to see the majority of the city you are visiting without feeling overwhelmed by a huge city. Sometimes the small cities are the best cities to visit.