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Pennsylvania, the Keystone State, is a land of history, culture, and natural beauty. While cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh often steal the limelight, the state’s capital, Harrisburg, offers a delightful experience for a weekend getaway. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through Harrisburg and its surroundings, highlighting the city’s rich history, vibrant arts scene, and a must-visit stop at the world-famous Hershey Factory.

Getting to Harrisburg

Harrisburg International Airport(image via Flickr)

Before you begin your weekend adventure in Harrisburg, it’s important to plan your journey. The city is conveniently located in the central part of Pennsylvania, making it easily accessible from various major cities on the East Coast. If you’re flying in, Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) is your gateway. Alternatively, you can opt for a scenic drive, with Interstate 81 and Interstate 83 passing through the area.

Where to Stay

The Hilton Harrisburg

The Hilton Harrisburg

When it comes to accommodations, the Hilton Harrisburg stands out as a top choice. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Harrisburg, this upscale hotel offers luxurious rooms, excellent dining options, and stunning views of the Susquehanna River. Its central location makes it the perfect base for exploring the city’s attractions.

The Manor on Front

The Manor on Front(image via Facebook)

For a more intimate and charming experience, consider staying at The Manor on Front, a historic bed and breakfast overlooking the Susquehanna River. This elegant and cozy inn offers beautifully appointed rooms, personalized service, and a serene atmosphere that is perfect for a romantic getaway.

Day 1: History and Culture

Pennsylvania State Capitol

Pennsylvania State Capitol

Start your weekend in Harrisburg with a visit to the Pennsylvania State Capitol. This magnificent structure is a true architectural gem and a prime example of Beaux-Arts style. Take a guided tour to explore its impressive domed rotunda, grand staircases, and the stunning House and Senate chambers. The building’s history and art are sure to captivate your imagination.

State Museum of Pennsylvania

State Museum of Pennsylvania(image via Wikimedia)

Adjacent to the Capitol, the State Museum of Pennsylvania offers a comprehensive look at the state’s rich history, natural resources, and cultural heritage. Here, you can immerse yourself in exhibits that showcase Pennsylvania’s Native American history, the Civil War era, and its role in the Industrial Revolution. Don’t forget to check out the planetarium for a celestial journey.

Fort Hunter Mansion and Park

For a dose of local history and some fresh air, head to Fort Hunter Mansion and Park. This serene riverside park houses a beautifully restored 18th-century mansion and several outbuildings. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the area, and then enjoy a leisurely stroll through the picturesque gardens and walking trails.

Broad Street Market

Broad Street Market

Lunchtime in Harrisburg calls for a visit to the Broad Street Market. Established in 1860, it’s one of the oldest continuously operating markets in the country. The market is a vibrant hub of local cuisine, artisanal foods, and handmade crafts. Sample a variety of delicious dishes from different cultures while enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Susquehanna Art Museum

Susquehanna Art Museum(image via Wikimedia)

In the afternoon, indulge in some contemporary art at the Susquehanna Art Museum. Located in a modern, architecturally significant building, this museum hosts a rotating collection of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography. It’s a cultural gem that reflects the city’s dedication to the arts.

Day 2: The Sweetest Stop – Hershey, PA

Morning Drive to Hershey

On day two, prepare for a short drive to the nearby town of Hershey, which is synonymous with one thing: chocolate. Known as “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” Hershey offers a delightful and aromatic experience for chocolate lovers.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

Hershey's Chocolate World

Start your day in Hershey with a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World. This attraction is a haven for all things cocoa-related. Take a tour to learn how chocolate is made, enjoy a chocolate tasting, and shop for an array of Hershey’s products. Don’t forget to create your own customized chocolate bar – a sweet memento of your visit.

The Hershey Story

The Hershey Story(image via Wikimedia)

After satisfying your chocolate cravings, head to The Hershey Story, a museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Milton S. Hershey, the founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company. Explore the exhibits to learn about his entrepreneurial spirit, philanthropy, and the creation of the Hershey brand.

Hershey Gardens

Hershey Gardens(image via Wikimedia)

Stroll through the beautiful Hershey Gardens, where you can enjoy a diverse collection of themed gardens, including a stunning rose garden, a butterfly atrium, and an arboretum. The gardens are a picturesque place to relax and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds Hershey.

The Hotel Hershey

The Hotel Hershey

For a delightful lunch with a view, dine at The Circular at The Hotel Hershey. This historic restaurant, known for its elegant ambiance and excellent cuisine, offers a refined dining experience. After your meal, explore the grand hotel’s beautiful architecture and gardens.

ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park

ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park(image via Wikimedia)

To round off your Hershey visit, make your way to ZooAmerica, a wildlife park located adjacent to Hersheypark. This zoo focuses on North American animals and offers a unique opportunity to see various species in their natural habitats. It’s a great experience for families and animal enthusiasts.

Day 3: The Outdoors and Riverside Relaxation

City Island

City Island

Your third day in Harrisburg begins with a visit to City Island, a beautiful recreational area located in the middle of the Susquehanna River. This island paradise offers a range of activities, from mini-golf to batting cages, as well as a lovely riverside walking trail.

National Civil War Museum

National Civil War Museum(image via Flickr)

For a deeper dive into American history, head to the National Civil War Museum. This thought-provoking museum provides insight into the Civil War from both Northern and Southern perspectives, offering a balanced view of this critical period in American history.

Appalachian Brewing Company

Appalachian Brewing Company(image via Flickr)

Wrap up your weekend with a visit to the Appalachian Brewing Company. This local brewery offers a variety of craft beers, a welcoming atmosphere, and a menu of hearty pub food. It’s an excellent place to relax, enjoy a cold brew, and reflect on your memorable weekend in Harrisburg.


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Summary

Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, may not always be the first place that comes to mind when planning a weekend getaway, but it’s a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its historic landmarks, vibrant arts scene, and a delectable detour to the Hershey Factory, Harrisburg has all the elements for an unforgettable weekend trip. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and explore the charms of the Keystone State’s capital – you won’t be disappointed. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or a chocolate lover, Harrisburg has something to offer everyone for a memorable weekend adventure.

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