12 Free Things To Do In Harrisburg, Pa

free things to do harrisburg pa

Are you looking for a budget-friendly way to explore Harrisburg, Pennsylvania? Look no further! With a variety of free activities and attractions available, you can experience all that this vibrant capital city has to offer without spending a dime. From historical landmarks to outdoor adventures, here are 12 free things to do in Harrisburg that will leave a lasting impression on your visit.

Activity Name Description
Harrisburg Capitol Building Free guided tours of the stunningly beautiful state Capitol.
Wildwood Park Offers hiking trails, educational programs, and peaceful ponds.
National Civil War Museum Exhibits about the causes, events, and impact of the Civil War.
State Museum of Pennsylvania Interactive exhibits and a comprehensive look at the state's history.
Riverfront Park Scenic views of the Susquehanna River, bike trails, and fishing spots.
Italian Lake Beautifully landscaped park with picnic areas and walking paths.
Fort Hunter Mansion A historic restored mansion with gardens and weekly music events.
The Pride of the Susquehanna A paddlewheel riverboat with live music cruises and dinner packages.
City Island Park A popular spot for picnics, mini-golf, batting cages, and an arcade.
HBG Flea A local market with free entry featuring live music, food, and over 15 vendors.


Visit the Pennsylvania State Capitol building

Source: Visit Cumberland Valley

As a travel lover, I always look for interesting destinations that offer unique experiences without draining my wallet. And if you happen to be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, you'll be pleased to know that there are plenty of free things to do in this vibrant city. One of the top attractions that you simply must visit is the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.

Located in downtown Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania State Capitol is a stunning example of American Renaissance-style architecture. In fact, it is often considered one of the most beautiful state capitol buildings in the United States. With its intricately designed dome, ornate sculptures, and richly decorated rooms, the building is a veritable feast for the eyes. But the best part? You can explore it all for free!

When you enter the Capitol building, you'll be greeted by the Grand Staircase, a sweeping marble staircase that leads up to the Rotunda. The Rotunda itself is an impressive sight - a domed chamber adorned with stained glass windows, intricate murals, and a massive chandelier that hangs from the ceiling. There are also several statues of notable Pennsylvanians located throughout the Rotunda.

As you venture further into the building, you'll come across various halls and rooms that are equally impressive. Highlights include the Senate and House of Representatives chambers, which are open to visitors when not in session. You can also marvel at the numerous murals that adorn the walls and ceilings of the building, depicting various scenes from Pennsylvania's history.

One thing to note is that the Capitol building offers free guided tours that are led by knowledgeable docents. These tours provide a fascinating insight into the history and architecture of the building, as well as the workings of the Pennsylvania government. While the tours are not mandatory, I highly recommend taking one to get the most out of your visit.

Overall, a visit to the Pennsylvania State Capitol building is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Harrisburg. With its stunning architecture, rich history, and impressive collection of art and sculptures, it's no wonder this building is considered one of the city's top attractions. And the best part? It won't cost you a penny to explore! So, put on your walking shoes, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.

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Explore Riverfront Park

Source: HarrisburgPA.gov

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a beautiful city situated along the picturesque Susquehanna River. If you're looking for a budget-friendly activity in Harrisburg, you don't have to look far. One of the best things to do in Harrisburg for free is to explore Riverfront Park.

Riverfront Park is a 20-acre green space that offers breathtaking views of the Susquehanna River. The park is open every day from dawn until dusk and has plenty of activities for visitors of every age. Whether you're a solo traveler, a couple, or a family with kids, you're sure to find something to enjoy in Riverfront Park.

One of the most popular things to do in Riverfront Park is walking or biking along the paved pathways that weave through the park. As you stroll or ride, you'll be able to take in the stunning views of the river, the Harrisburg skyline, and the iconic Walnut Street Bridge. If you're traveling with kids, they'll enjoy the playgrounds, splash park, and large grassy areas perfect for running around and playing games.

Another must-see feature of Riverfront Park is the City Island area. City Island is connected to the park by a bridge and is home to a baseball stadium, a mini-golf course, and a train ride attraction. If you're visiting during the summer months, you can catch a Harrisburg Senators baseball game and cheer on the local team from the stands. Or, you can take a spin on the mini-golf course, which features one-of-a-kind obstacles like replicas of iconic Harrisburg landmarks.

If you're interested in learning more about Harrisburg's rich history, be sure to check out some of the park's historical landmarks. For example, the park is home to the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, which was built in the 1700s and has served as a home to several notable figures in Harrisburg's past. You can also view the Waterworks, which is a historic structure that was used to generate power for the city's water system.

Overall, exploring Riverfront Park is a great way to spend a day in Harrisburg without breaking the bank. Whether you're looking for a scenic walk, a fun activity with your family, or a glimpse into the city's history, Riverfront Park has something for everyone to enjoy. So grab your walking shoes, pack a picnic lunch, and head out to explore all that Riverfront Park has to offer!

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Stroll around City Island

Source: Visit Cumberland Valley

If you're looking for a fun and affordable way to spend a day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, look no further than City Island. This 63-acre park sits on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River and is packed with activities that won't cost you a dime. One of the best things to do on City Island is simply taking a stroll and exploring all it has to offer.

Start by crossing the pedestrian bridge that connects City Island to downtown Harrisburg. From here, you'll have fantastic views of the river and the picturesque Harrisburg skyline. Once you're on the island, take your time wandering the walking paths that wind through lush greenery and open spaces. There are plenty of benches and picnic spots if you want to stop and rest, or just soak up the scenery.

As you walk, keep an eye out for some of the island's unique features. You'll find a miniature golf course, batting cages, and a scenic train ride that runs around the perimeter of the park (although some of these activities do cost money). There are also several playgrounds that are perfect for children, as well as an open-air amphitheater that regularly hosts local concerts and events.

For a more active form of free recreation, bring your own sports equipment and make use of the island's basketball courts, soccer fields, or beach volleyball courts. You could also pack a frisbee or a kite and take advantage of the wide open spaces.

Of course, no visit to City Island would be complete without stopping by the Harrisburg Senators baseball stadium. Even if you're not a sports fan, you can still enjoy the view from outside the stadium, or catch a glimpse of batting practice through the fence.

Overall, City Island is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for free things to do in Harrisburg. With its beautiful natural surroundings and plenty of free activities, it's the perfect place to spend a day with friends or family. So why not pack a picnic, lace up your walking shoes, and head to City Island for a day of affordable fun in the sun?


Check out the Susquehanna Art Museum

Source: Travel2Next

As a travel lover, I am constantly on the lookout for free and fun things to do in new cities. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has plenty of options for those looking to experience the local culture without breaking the bank. One great activity that I highly recommend is a visit to the Susquehanna Art Museum.

Located in the city's downtown district, the Susquehanna Art Museum is a cultural hub for the region. The museum holds an impressive collection of contemporary art, including works by both local and international artists. Visitors can explore the many galleries and exhibits at no cost, making it a perfect stop for budget-conscious travelers.

One of the standout features of the museum is its commitment to showcasing the work of local artists. This gives visitors a unique opportunity to get a sense of the creative community in Harrisburg and the surrounding area. The museum also hosts a wide range of events, including lectures, workshops, and performances, many of which are free to attend.

In addition to viewing the artwork, visitors can also take part in guided tours of the museum. These tours offer a deeper dive into the exhibits and provide valuable insights into the artists and their work. The knowledgeable staff at the museum are always happy to answer questions and help visitors get the most out of their experience.

Overall, the Susquehanna Art Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Harrisburg. With its impressive collection of contemporary art and commitment to promoting local artists, it offers a unique and memorable cultural experience that won't cost you a dime. Be sure to add it to your itinerary the next time you're in town.


Visit the Susquehanna River Trail

Source: www.nrtdatabase.org

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the perfect destination for budget-conscious travelers. With an abundance of free activities, there's no need to break the bank to have a great time in this charming city. One of the best free things to do in Harrisburg is to visit the Susquehanna River Trail.

The Susquehanna River Trail is a scenic path that runs along the Susquehanna River for 20 miles. The trail is perfect for hiking, biking, or simply taking a leisurely stroll. The views of the river and surrounding countryside are breathtaking, and there are plenty of spots to stop and take in the scenery along the way.

One of the highlights of the trail is the Harrisburg Riverfront Park. Located right in the heart of downtown Harrisburg, the park offers beautiful views of the river, a playground for kids, and plenty of green space to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Pack a picnic lunch or grab a snack from one of the nearby food trucks and spend the afternoon soaking up the sun in this peaceful oasis.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can even rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the river on your own. The Harrisburg Canoe Club offers affordable rentals and is a great way to experience the beauty of the Susquehanna River up close.

In the fall, visitors to the Susquehanna River Trail are in for a treat. The leaves on the trees turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold, creating a stunning backdrop for a walk or bike ride. And in the winter, when the river freezes over, the trail becomes a popular spot for ice skating and ice fishing.

No matter what time of year you visit, the Susquehanna River Trail is a must-see destination in Harrisburg. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your bike, or pack a picnic and head down to the riverfront for a day of free fun in the sun.


Discover Wildwood Lake Park

Source: explorewildwoodpark.org

Are you planning a trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania but trying to save some money? Look no further than Wildwood Lake Park - a beautiful park that offers a variety of free activities for visitors of all ages.

Located just a few miles outside of downtown Harrisburg, Wildwood Lake Park boasts over 200 acres of nature, including walking trails, fishing areas, and a stunning lake. Whether you're looking for a quiet afternoon outdoors or a fun day with friends and family, this park has something for everyone.

One of the most popular things to do at Wildwood Lake Park is to take a walk on one of the many trails. The park offers several different paths, ranging in distance and difficulty, and each showcasing the park's natural beauty. Take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk trail, which winds around the edge of the lake, or challenge yourself with the Quarry Trail, which leads to an abandoned quarry and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

If fishing is more your style, Wildwood Lake Park has you covered. The lake is stocked with a variety of fish, including bass, perch, and catfish, and is open to visitors who want to cast a line. Bring your own equipment or rent a rod from the park's office, and spend a relaxing afternoon on the water.

If you're visiting with kids, be sure to check out the park's Discovery Area. This section of the park features interactive exhibits that teach visitors about the natural history of the area, as well as a playground and picnic area. It's the perfect spot for a family picnic or a fun day out with the kids.

And of course, one of the best things about Wildwood Lake Park is that all of these activities are completely free. So whether you're a local looking for something to do on a lazy afternoon or a traveler trying to stick to a budget, Wildwood Lake Park is a must-see destination in Harrisburg.

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Tour the Fort Hunter Mansion and Park

Source: Tripadvisor

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a beautiful city with a rich history and plenty of things to explore. If you're looking for something fun to do that won't cost you a dime, the Fort Hunter Mansion and Park is a must-visit location.

Located just a few minutes from downtown Harrisburg, the Fort Hunter Mansion and Park is a historic site that is well worth checking out. The site is home to a beautifully restored mansion as well as sprawling gardens and walking paths that are perfect for a leisurely stroll.

The mansion dates back to the mid-18th century and was once the home of the Robert Coleman family. Today, visitors to the mansion can take a guided tour to learn more about the home's history and the lives of those who once lived there. You'll get a chance to see some of the original furnishings and décor of the time, as well as numerous artifacts that have been preserved over the years.

After touring the mansion, head outside to explore the park. You'll find plenty of things to see and do here, from hiking and biking to fishing and picnicking. The park's gardens are especially worth a visit - they're filled with a wide variety of plants and flowers that are in bloom throughout the year.

If you're lucky enough to visit during the summer months, be sure to check out some of the park's special events. Concerts, festivals, and outdoor theater performances are all held here throughout the year, and they're all free to attend. You can also catch a glimpse of the mansion and park's history during Civil War reenactments and other historical events.

In conclusion, if you're looking for something fun and free to do in Harrisburg, PA, the Fort Hunter Mansion and Park should definitely be at the top of your list. With so much history and natural beauty to explore, it's a location that is sure to delight visitors of all ages. So what are you waiting for? Pack a picnic, lace up your sneakers, and get ready for an adventure in one of the most beautiful parts of Pennsylvania!


Browse the Broad Street Market

Source: Broad Street Market

Harrisburg, the capital city of Pennsylvania, is known for its rich history and scenic beauty. But did you know there are plenty of free things to do in Harrisburg, too? One of the best free activities is browsing the Broad Street Market.

Located in the heart of Harrisburg, the Broad Street Market has been operating since the late 19th century, and it's a must-visit for foodies and anyone who loves exploring local markets. The market is open year-round on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

So what can you expect when you visit the Broad Street Market? For starters, you'll find an incredible variety of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to homemade baked goods, meats, cheeses, and more. You'll be able to meet local farmers, butchers, bakers, and artisans and learn more about the foods they produce.

You can take your time strolling through the aisles, exploring the different sections of the market. You might find yourself admiring the colorful rows of fresh fruits and vegetables, or you might be drawn to the mouthwatering smells coming from the booths selling prepared foods. Whether you're in the mood for savory snacks, sweet treats, or something in between, you're sure to find something that tickles your taste buds.

If you're not sure where to start, the market offers plenty of samples and tastings, so you can try a little bit of everything. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with the vendors, either; they're always happy to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for their products.

Beyond the food, the Broad Street Market is a hub of activity in Harrisburg. You'll see families, couples, and groups of friends browsing the booths, chatting with vendors, and enjoying the lively atmosphere. There are often events and concerts happening at the market, too, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.

One of the best things about the Broad Street Market is that it's completely free to visit. You can spend as much or as little time as you like, and there's no pressure to buy anything. Of course, it's hard to resist the delicious offerings on display, so you might end up leaving with a bag or two of goodies to enjoy.

Overall, a visit to the Broad Street Market is a must-do for anyone visiting Harrisburg. It's a great spot to soak up the local culture, try new foods, and experience the vibrant community that makes Harrisburg such a special place. Plus, it won't cost you a dime to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and flavors of this iconic market.

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See the National Civil War Museum’s outdoor exhibit

Source: Tripadvisor

If you're looking for free things to do in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, one must-see destination is the National Civil War Museum's outdoor exhibit.

As a history lover, I was eager to explore the museum's outdoor exhibit when I visited Harrisburg. This museum is dedicated to showcasing artifacts and telling the stories of the American Civil War, and its outdoor exhibit adds a unique dimension to the experience.

The outdoor exhibit is located on the museum's sprawling grounds, which feature beautiful trees and landscaping. There are several different exhibits to explore, each with its own distinct focus. For example, one exhibit focuses on the role of African Americans in the Civil War, while another examines the experiences of soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

One thing that struck me about the outdoor exhibit was how well-maintained it was. The exhibits are clean and orderly, and there are plenty of informational signs to help visitors understand the historical context of each display.

One of my favorite parts of the outdoor exhibit was the collection of Civil War-era cannons that are on display. These cannons are massive, and it's hard to imagine the amount of firepower they must have had during battles. There's also a replica of a Civil War-era fort that visitors can explore, complete with earthworks and defensive structures.

Overall, I highly recommend a visit to the National Civil War Museum's outdoor exhibit if you're in Harrisburg. It's a great way to learn more about this pivotal time in American history, and it's completely free to explore. Plus, the peaceful outdoor setting makes it a pleasant place to spend an afternoon.


Take a hike at Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area

Source: Find Your Chesapeake

Are you planning a trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania? One of the best ways to experience the city and its natural surroundings for free is by taking a hike at Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area.

Located just 20 miles north of Harrisburg, Boyd Big Tree Preserve is a 1,025-acre forest with multiple hiking trails for all skill levels. The preserve is home to old-growth trees, rare plant species, and various wildlife. It's the perfect place to unwind and connect with nature.

The most popular trails at Boyd Big Tree Preserve are the Quaker Race Trail and the Scenic Trail. The Quaker Race Trail is a two-mile loop that passes through a mature hardwood forest and is rich in wildlife activity. The Scenic Trail is a little more challenging, with steeper inclines, but rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

If you're looking for a longer hike, you can combine the Quaker Race Trail and the Scenic Trail to create a 5.5-mile loop. The trailhead for both trails is located near the parking area, so it's easy to start and end your hike.

Boyd Big Tree Preserve is also a great spot for birdwatching. More than 100 species of birds have been sighted at the preserve, including bald eagles and great blue herons. If you're lucky, you might even spot a red-tailed hawk or a barred owl.

In addition to hiking and birdwatching, Boyd Big Tree Preserve also offers opportunities for fishing and picnicking. The park has a pond stocked with fish and multiple picnic areas with tables and grills.

Overall, Boyd Big Tree Preserve is an excellent choice for a free outdoor activity in Harrisburg. The preserve is open year-round, from dawn until dusk, and admission is free. Make sure to bring sturdy hiking shoes and plenty of water, and get ready to explore the natural beauty of central Pennsylvania.


Visit the State Museum of Pennsylvania

Source: Visit Hershey & Harrisburg

If you are planning a trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and looking for free things to do, then visiting the State Museum of Pennsylvania is a must. It is an excellent choice for those who love history, science, and art.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania has a vast collection of exhibits that represent Pennsylvania's rich culture and history. It is located in the heart of Harrisburg and is easily accessible. The museum has three floors, each dedicated to different subjects. The ground floor of the museum is dedicated to the history of Pennsylvania. You can explore various exhibits that showcase the state's history, including the Native American period, colonial era, Civil War, and industrialization. You can learn about the state's contribution to the nation's development and its economic growth over the years.

The second floor of the museum is dedicated to science and technology. It has interactive exhibits that showcase scientific concepts and theories. You can learn about the basic principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and earth sciences through various exhibits. One of the unique exhibits is the planetarium, which simulates the night sky and shows you the different constellations and planets that can be seen from Pennsylvania.

The third floor of the museum is dedicated to art. It has a vast collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts that represent Pennsylvania's art and culture. You can see works of different artists and learn about their contribution to the state's art scene.

Apart from the exhibits, the museum also hosts various events and educational programs throughout the year. Some of the popular events include planetarium shows, storytime sessions, and craft exhibitions. These events are great for families with young children who can learn and have fun at the same time.

In conclusion, visiting the State Museum of Pennsylvania is an excellent choice for those looking for free things to do in Harrisburg. It is a great way to learn about the state's history, science, and art while having fun. So, if you are planning a trip to Harrisburg, make sure you visit the State Museum of Pennsylvania.


Relax at Reservoir Park

Source: HarrisburgPA.gov

Harrisburg, the capital city of Pennsylvania, has plenty of exciting places to explore. From museums to historic landmarks to scenic parks, there's something for everyone. However, if you're looking for a relaxing experience that won't break your wallet, Reservoir Park is the perfect spot for you.

Located on North 6th Street, just minutes away from downtown Harrisburg, Reservoir Park offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. The park spans 90 acres and features a picturesque lake, walking trails, and a playground. Whether you're a nature lover or just looking to enjoy some fresh air, Reservoir Park has something for everyone.

One of the highlights of Reservoir Park is its stunning lake. You can take a leisurely stroll along the lake's edge and admire the tranquil waters. If you're feeling more active, rent one of the paddleboats available at the park and explore the lake from a different perspective. Not only will you get some exercise, but you'll also get to take in the scenery from a unique angle.

If you prefer to stay on land, Reservoir Park offers several walking trails that will take you through lush greenery and scenic vistas. The park's hilly terrain provides a bit of a workout, which is perfect if you're trying to stay in shape or want to work off some energy.

For families with young children, Reservoir Park's playground is a great place to spend an afternoon. The playground is well-maintained and offers plenty of equipment for younger and older children. Your kids will enjoy running, jumping, and playing on the various structures while you relax on one of the nearby benches.

In addition to its outdoor offerings, Reservoir Park is also home to several notable monuments and historical markers. These include a World War II memorial, an Irish Famine Memorial, and a statue of Francis Daniel Pastorius, one of the first settlers of Pennsylvania. If you're interested in history, a stroll through the park will provide you with plenty of opportunities to learn something new.

Overall, Reservoir Park is the perfect spot for anyone looking to relax and unwind in Harrisburg. With free admission and plenty of activities to choose from, it's a great destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. So why not pack a picnic, grab a book, and enjoy a day in nature at Reservoir Park? It's sure to be a memorable experience that won't cost you a penny.

Frequently asked questions

- Some free outdoor activities include exploring the walking trails at Wildwood Park, visiting Italian Lake, biking along the riverfront trail or taking a stroll through Riverfront Park, and enjoying the view at Reservoir Park.

- Yes, the Pennsylvania State Capitol offers free guided tours that allow visitors to learn about the history and architecture of the building. The Pennsylvania National Fire Museum also offers free admission on the third Sunday of every month, and the State Museum of Pennsylvania is free on the third Sunday of each month as well.

- The City Island Amphitheater often hosts free concerts and events during the summer months. Additionally, the Harrisburg ArtWalk, which takes place in September, is a free event that showcases local art and live performances throughout the city. For a unique experience, visitors can also attend the free Pennsylvania Farm Show, a week-long event held each January that showcases agriculture and local Pennsylvania products.

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Elodie Garza

I absolutely love visiting Harrisburg, PA and one of my favorite things about the city is all the free activities that are available. One of my go-to spots is the State Capitol Building. Not only is it a beautiful building to admire from the outside, but you can also take a free guided tour inside and learn about the history of the state. Another free activity that I always enjoy is walking along the Riverfront Park. The views of the Susquehanna River are stunning and there are walking paths, a playground, and even a beach area to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Harrisburg is definitely a city that knows how to provide free entertainment for its residents and visitors.
Thank you so much for your comment! I completely agree that Harrisburg, PA offers a plethora of free activities that are perfect for exploring and enjoying the city. The State Capitol Building is absolutely breathtaking, and the free guided tours provide an incredible experience that allows you to delve into the state's history and architectural beauty. Walking along the Riverfront Park is always a treat, as the views of the Susquehanna River are simply stunning and the park offers a range of amenities for outdoor enthusiasts. It's wonderful to see how Harrisburg values providing free entertainment for everyone to enjoy. I can't wait to explore more of what this amazing city has to offer!

Camilla Haas

I recently visited Harrisburg, PA and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of free things to do in the city. One of my favorite activities was exploring the Broad Street Market. This indoor farmers market is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, sample local products, and soak in the lively atmosphere. Another free activity that I highly recommend is visiting the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum. This museum is dedicated to preserving the history of firefighting and has fascinating exhibits that both kids and adults will enjoy. Harrisburg truly offers a wide range of free activities for everyone to enjoy, making it a great destination for budget travelers.

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