The capital of the US state of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg is a charming town that is packed with historical sites, museums, galleries and parks and offers a range of outdoor activities as well.
For starters, there are plenty of museums to see. Head to the National Civil War Museum, the Fire Museum or take a cruise on the historic Pride of the Susquehanna riverboat. Art is covered by a range of galleries, the largest being the excellent Susquehanna Art Museum, while Harrisburg also hosts an internationally renowned Shakespeare Festival in June.
The State Capitol building is another huge attraction, and is one of America’s most elegant public buildings, as are the city’s many well laid out parks, which make Harrisburg one of the most walkable destinations in the United States.
The city is also at the heart of a rich agricultural region, meaning that it offers some superb opportunities for food and drink lovers. Visit the Pennsylvania Farm Show held in January to sample foodstuffs and see unique events like horse-pulling contests and square dances. Or head to Broad Street Market to stock up on meats and cheeses.
There are many chances to enjoy outdoor activities in the area as well. Fish at Arrowhead Springs, enjoy a relaxing round of golf, head to the races at the Penn National course or ski during the winter in Colonel Denning State Park. There are even some more off-beat family attractions like Pennsylvania’s “corn mazes” to explore.
Harrisburg is also not far from Philadelphia where visitors can re-enact the movie Rocky, see some fabulous art galleries and the location where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The city also offers some mean craft brews and dazzling dining options.
So for access to history, outdoor pursuits and big city attractions, Harrisburg is tough to beat.
Festival season generally gets into full swing around June, and lasts until September, so theater, music and art lovers will enjoy a summer break in the city. Golf and fishing will be at their best at that time too, although a slightly out of season break in May will be just as good and offer some travel bargains.
Driving is the easiest way to see the city, and be aware that parking is generally metered. There is also a good bus service across the city (and to cities like Philadelphia) but the best way to see the inner city is by walking. Harrisburg lends itself to walking, with its compact layout and tree lined streets.