A Creative Community and Baseball on an Unexpected Island? Welcome to 3 Days in Harrisburg, PennsylvaniaBy Sydney Wingfield
One of the best things about Harrisburg is its energy: You can feel the camaraderie between locals and visitors no matter where you go and what you do. While it’s on the smaller side for a capital city, the number of things to do and sights to see is impressive.
From speakeasies and saloons to handmade pretzels and doughnuts, you’ll experience plenty of memorable bites. Plus, there are walking trails, mini-golf courses and Minor League Baseball games when you need some fresh air.
And the best part about Harrisburg? You can pretty much walk to every destination. So tighten those shoelaces and get ready to see the unexpected sights this city has to throw your way.
As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.
Friday: Spend a Day at the Museums
Your weekend begins in Downtown Harrisburg and the Capitol District neighborhood, playgrounds for lovers of history and architecture. Before diving in, sit down for breakfast at Home 231. The avocado toast and deviled eggs will provide the fuel you need for a packed morning.
The Capitol Building — a stunning example of Beaux Arts Renaissance revival architecture completed in 1906 — was the tallest building between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for 80 years. While it’s not anymore, it still serves as the government seat. Book a tour so you can get the full story and learn all about the architectural wonders.
You might also want to try a tour on wheels with Harrisburg Pedal Tours. Your guide will continue the architecture immersion (the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex is far from the only jewel in the city) while pointing out murals from local artists. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, dig into authentic Italian cuisine at Aleco’s Cafe Restaurant — a slice (or two) of pizza will put a smile on your face.
There are two choices for afternoon activities, starting with the Planetarium at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, which offers indoor stargazing and a handful of short films tackling topics like space exploration. The Whitaker Center is another family-friendly stop, with tons to entertain the littles, including hands-on exhibits at the science center, a STEM design studio, immersive movies at the digital cinema and e-sports.
Greet the evening at the Susquehanna Scenic Overlook, the best place to see the sunset. Once the last rays have dipped below the horizon, grab a table and some pasta at Cork & Fork — and top it off with tiramisu. If Italian food isn’t on your mind, the bold Mexican flavors at El Sol Mexican Restaurant are a local favorite; there are 14 taco options alone.
Saturday: Escape from the City
Saturdays in Harrisburg are best spent at the Broad Street Market. Whether you’re craving barbecue, homemade breads, desserts, cold-pressed juices or coffee, you’ll find vendors serving up hyperlocal eats for breakfast and brunch. Try the gourmet cake doughnuts from Evanilla, a smoothie from Honeybush Raw Smoothie Bar or a handmade soft pretzel from Lil’s Pretzels (which will be a great sidekick for your walk to your next stop). You can also find fresh-cut flowers, all-natural skincare and custom-made jewelry.
Next, cross the Walnut Street Bridge and enter City Island, a 63-acre island turned city park in the middle of the Susquehanna. Your task? Simply stroll through the parks, playgrounds and fields, all of which have views of the river.
If you’re craving a little competition, play a round of mini golf at the Water Golf on City Island miniature-golf course. And if you’re visiting between April and September, FNB Field hosts the local Minor League Baseball team. Grab a footlong hot dog, an ice cream sundae or some fries from the concession stands for the full experience.
Whether you wrapped up at the ballgame or finished your own home run at the local batting cages, rest your legs with a ride on the Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat, which can be boarded a short walk from FNB Field. The 45-minute (guided) sightseeing tour runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, as well as on weekends in September and October.
End your day on City Island at the Harrisburg Beach Club, where you can dine right on the river. The lively club has its own food truck with sandwiches and burgers, and there’s often live music on Saturdays to accompany your post-dinner drinks and yard games (cornhole, anyone?).
Sunday: Take In Midtown’s Arts and the Riverfront
Midtown is a hip and growing neighborhood in Harrisburg. Start your day with brunch at the Millworks, a combination restaurant, brewery and artist studio, for delicious breakfast staples along with beer brewed on-site. But don’t leave once your plates are cleared. Instead, head upstairs to view the studios of regional artists, whose work ranges from paintings to pottery, candles to jewelry and so much more.
Down the street from the Millworks is Midtown Scholar Bookstore, a unique bookshop with used, new and rare books. The Susquehanna Art Museum is also nearby, housing both international and regional works in a converted bank.
After an hour or so immersed in the selection at Midtown Scholar, the airy galleries of the museum will reveal a different kind of story through its many exhibits. Past displays have focused on the photography of Diane Arbus, the collagraph printmaking process and a photographic spotlight on the barbershops and beauty salons owned by Black and Brown communities during the global pandemic.
Next, take a break from shopping and visit Riverfront Park, which offers bike lanes and paved walking paths, both with views over the Susquehanna River, as well as outdoor concerts and arts festivals.
Once dinner time rolls around, make your way to Pastorante for a wide variety of homemade Italian dishes. Chase it all down with some craft ice cream from Urban Churn (try the honey lemon and lavender) next door — it’s a sweet ending to your weekend in historic Harrisburg.