Along the shores of the Susquehanna River, Harrisburg has grown from a modest ferry outpost to a picturesque capital city. A burgeoning center for the region’s arts and culture, the community offers all the pleasures of an urban metropolis while maintaining the warmth and caring associated with South Central Pennsylvania.
Backyard barbecues are the stuff of which summer is made, but how about a picnic in Harrisburg’s front yard? Riverfront Park and City Island offer a host of family fun and activities along the beautiful banks of the Susquehanna. Take a leisurely family stroll or bike ride and enjoy the view. Cruise the river on the Pride of the Susquehanna paddlewheeler. Or get a wetter, wilder perspective from a canoe, paddleboat or jet ski. City Island also is home to savory eats and sweets, quaint shops, miniature golf, a restored carousel, train and carriage rides. And at summer’s end, the riverfront Kipona Celebration boasts one of the oldest continuously operating inland festivals, including arts and crafts, a puppet theater and the renowned Pennsylvania Chili Cookoff.
Also on City Island, you’ll find the popular Harrisburg Senators AA Minor League baseball team. Back on the “mainland,” sports fans will thrill to the hot action of the Harrisburg Heat, a professional indoor soccer team playing its home games in the state Farm Show Complex. This sprawling facility also hosts a variety of fantastic year-round events, including the Pennsylvania Farm Show agricultural exposition; the Eastern Sports, Boat, Camping, Travel and Outdoor Show; the Keystone State Games and the Penn National Horse Show.
Music is the universal language of people, and Harrisburg speaks all of its dialects. What better way to enjoy a balmy summer evening than by taking in an outdoor summer concert along the riverfront? If you live for jazz, Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz concerts and improvisations in the city’s proliferation of clubs are sure to suit your style. And Harrisburg’s internationally known symphony orchestra offers concerts featuring widely acclaimed soloists throughout the year. Harrisburg also is home to a host of venues for art, from college galleries and local museums, to the Forum Building, to local artist exhibits at the Art Association of Harrisburg on Front Street. But don’t forget to look around as you visit the area malls and other public buildings — “grass roots” art exhibits seem to abound everywhere you go. And, if the stage is the thing for you, treat yourself to a live performance at the Harrisburg Community Theatre, Open Stage of Harrisburg or the Harrisburg Area Community College’s Rose Lehrman Arts Center.
For a taste of the past, visit John Harris Mansion to discover three centuries of history plus exhibits on folk art and esteemed past residents. Or tour the Pennsylvania State Museum, housing three floors of archaeology, history and art, topped off by a star-gazer’s heavenly planetarium. Upriver and overlooking Blue Mountain, the grand Fort Hunter Mansion brings the 1800s alive throughout its 35-acre park during the mid-September Fort Hunter Day festival. And for a bit of history in the making, don’t forget a trip to the Capitol itself. Free guided tours of this striking facility showcase architecture inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica and the Paris Opera House as well as an up-close look at state government.