It might seem too good to be true. How can a family make a quick getaway to a city like Hershey or Harrisburg and only spend $200? It’s possible!
With a few frugal tips and some local experts to show you the ropes, your family can enjoy a weekend taking in the arts, enjoying local food and embracing all that time together can bring. Through these tips, you’ll be able to plan your own weekend to Pennsylvania’s capital area. You’ll get plenty of great ideas for how to keep more money in your pocket while enjoying all there is to see.
A $200 weekend in Harrisburg — or even a $200 weekend in Hershey — is a great way to stick to a budget while still having a great time. Don’t miss out on the chocolate-filled scents and treats that Hershey has to offer or the history and culture of downtown Harrisburg. With some planning, a budget-friendly weekend is waiting for you.
A Weekend for Families of Varying Interests
Your family may have a range of interests. Maybe your mom loves the arts, while your dad could spend hours in a history museum. Maybe your sister wants to chow down on some tasty treats, and your brother just needs something to do to keep himself out of trouble.
If your family is looking for a good time that doesn't break the bank, take a fun-filled adventure through the Hershey Harrisburg region. There's a wide range of exciting activities for frugal families around the area.
Let’s get our $200 weekend in Harrisburg started!
- 3rd in the Burg
On Friday, plan to arrive into the heart of downtown Harrisburg for 3rd in the Burg, a monthly event that celebrates the arts and culture that the city has to offer. But before you kick off a family weekend in Harrisburg on a budget, you need to get something to eat.
- Harrisburg Food Truck Feast
The Harrisburg Food Truck Feast at 1601 N. Third St. offers free parking and a range of food trucks to tempt hungry families. Plus, eating from a food truck provides affordable options for families hoping to save a few bucks. Street entertainment usually keeps diners tapping their feet to music or listening to the popular mixes produced by a local DJ. But the biggest priority here is some grub. First stop is Soul Burrito, a popular truck that travels throughout Central Pennsylvania bringing monstrous burritos and tasty tacos to hungry people.
All burritos are just $7, and specialty options include The Jamaican Sensation with grilled chicken and coconut curry sauce or The Downtown, featuring chicken, buffalo sauce and crumbled, crunchy tortilla chips. With growling stomachs satisfied,you’re ready to hit the next destination in our family weekend in Harrisburg for $200.
- Local art
Sticking to Third Street, families can head to a number of studios showcasing local art. Admission is free, and most locations feature live music, light refreshments, and educational opportunities. 3rd Street Studio at 1725 N. 3rd Street is a popular destination, as is a pop-up gallery at 1419 N. 3rd Street and the Historic Harrisburg Association at 1230 N. 3rd Street.
On North Front Street, the Art Association of Harrisburg is also open late, and The Manor on Front offers beautiful views of the Susquehanna River as well as live music from its recently renovated entry room.
Tried from walking and burning off those big burritos, it’s time to call it a night and rest up for the rest of the weekend — because there’s a lot left to do.
Daily total: $28
- Indian Echo Caverns
Kick off your morning in Hummelstown, where the cool, crystal waters of Indian Echo Caverns entice families to escape underground for a few hours. More the 440 million years old, the limestone formations were created as water erosion sculpted out the caves as we see them today. With a cool temperature of 52 degrees year round, a trip to Indian Echo Caverns can be a nice break from the summer heat, but consider bringing a jacket if you get chilly.
Tickets are $16 for adults 12 and older, $10 for children ages 2 to 11 and free for anyone younger than 2. Check out the Indian Echo Caverns website before your visit for a $1 off coupon to help keep your weekend family fun deals in check.
The 45-minute tour takes visitors through the caverns so a guide can explain the unique formations and history of the caves. Sometimes animals even find refuge here, including bats, raccoons and bears, as well as fish and other fungi. Visitors of all ages can learn something new and be inspired by all that nature has to offer. When families exit the cave, many take some time to play on the playground and visit the animals in the petting zoo before unpacking a picnic lunch and enjoying the wide outdoor space.
After a healthy and budget-friendly picnic lunch, head on to the next adventure that the Hershey Harrisburg region has to offer. Next stop is nearby Chocolatetown USA, home of Milton Hershey, Hersheypark and all things delicious.
- Hershey’s Chocolate World
Hershey’s Chocolate World is a great thing for families to do in Hershey on a budget because it’s free. Step into the place where American’s favorite chocolate bar was born and get in line for the Chocolate World tour. On this ride, visitors are entertained by musical animations as they learn about the history of Hershey Chocolate and see how its famous treats are made.
Be sure to take a deep breath — the smell alone in this place is worth the trip. The tasty smell of chocolate will get your stomach growling. The tour lasts just 30 minutes, but it comes with a free sample of chocolate at the end. Sometimes visitors even get to try a new or tough-to-find product that Hershey offers.
When you’re done with the ride, head to the Chocolate World Food Court but try not to be tempted by all of the chocolate treats on display. Remember: Stick to the budget (and your diet!). But you can’t come to the tastiest place on Earth without trying something truly delicious. Many visitors choose to indulge in the famous Hershey Chocolate milkshakes. At $5 each, the cool, thick, creamy treat is one that brings people back to the Chocolate World Food Court year after year. Take a break from all of the activities and slurp down your milkshake. You deserve it.
Before you leave, keep an eye out for some iconic Hershey mascots. These giant Kisses, Hershey Bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are ready to pose with smiling families who visit the area. Bring your camera in case you notice one visiting Chocolate World. It’s a photo opportunity you don’t want to miss.
- Phillip Arthur’s Café
A long day of activities can leave any family looking for a chance to just relax. Pizza is the perfect budget-friendly food for a family looking to enjoy the neighborhood and a good meal while keeping money in the wallet. Since 2007, Phillip Arthur’s Café has been serving Hershey residents and visitors extra large pizzas and freshly prepared subs. Located at 108 W. Chocolate Avenue, it’s the perfect spot to grab a takeout pizza and head back to your hotel or home for the night.
Try the first pizza introduced into Hershey in 1947: the Famous DeAngelis Upside-Down Pizza. A 16” pie includes provolone, romano and parmesan cheeses, topped with tomato sauce. Yes, that’s right, the sauce is on top. But you won’t regret it. Take one home for $10.75 and save some energy and cash for what tomorrow has to bring.
Daily total: $88.75
- The Sturges Speakeasy
You can’t pass up a special weekend without indulging in some Sunday brunch. While there are some great budget-friendly brunch options in the Hershey Harrisburg region, the breakfast at Sturges Speakeasy is one that keeps diners coming back each sleepy Sunday morning.
Located at 400 Forster Street in Harrisburg, this midtown neighborhood bar opened in 2012 to feature more than 200 craft-fully prepared cocktails and a seasonal menu that keeps downtown residents, employees and visitors hungry for whatever is new. Another attraction is the rooftop deck, giving diners an outdoor experience with a downtown vibe.
The Sturges Speakeasy Sunday brunch has something for everyone. Whether you crave the egg-white omelet with spinach, tomatoes and feta cheese for $9, or you want the banana foster French toast served up hot and heavy on the syrup for $11, this hearty meal will leave you ready for whatever the rest of the day brings. If you’d rather skip on the breakfast foods and head straight for lunch, the brunch menu also offers pulled pork barbecue, smoked in-house for $10 or a classic BLT for $8. Adults might also want to indulge in one of the specially crafted Bloody Mary cocktails or down a strong-brewed cup of coffee.
While you sit back and enjoy your meal, look back on all of the fun activities the weekend had to offer. But don’t fear that the fun is already done. There’s still an afternoon of activity.
- The State Museum of Pennsylvania
Open noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, The State Museum of Pennsylvania is a great place to stop and enjoy the history of the commonwealth. Plus, it fits in nicely with things for families to do in Harrisburg on a budget. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children 1 to 11 years old. It’s free for active-duty military personnel and their immediate families, as well as retired military personnel. It’s also a good idea to check out the planetarium, which is an additional $3 per person.
Some of the permanent exhibits at the museum are must-see stops on your trip. Memorial Hall showcases a huge bronze statue of William Penn, as well as a raised relief map and a breathtaking mural telling the story of Pennsylvania’s history through 1964. A newer exhibit opening this fall is called Pennsylvania Icons, and it features more than 350 items that show how Pennsylvania’s people, industry and events in the area helped shape the nation as we know it.
The first floor also features a life-size village square for visitors to walk through, as well as a replication of the Brockerhoff House, a mansion in Centre County. The second floor will take visitors through the history of Pennsylvania’s transportation and industry, as well as the turnpike development and Civil War involvement. If you have an interest in natural history, the third floor showcases the Life through Time exhibit, looking at man’s early history, as well as Mammal and Ecology halls, with information on wildlife and ecosystems.
Changing exhibits include Art of the State, which showcases rotating local work through 48 years, a special feature on Alexander Wilson’s love of state birds and Civil War stories from those who lived in the area during the time. If you’ve opted for the planetarium, check out the rotating programs geared toward specific grade ranges.
The educational opportunities presented at the State Museum of Pennsylvania are great for families hoping to get a little more out of their weekend staycation or getaway trip. Hands-on exhibits and interactive displays make it a learning opportunity you don’t want to pass up.
Don’t forget to take a look at the grounds before you leave. The artfully designed building is right in the heart of downtown Harrisburg, making it a great place to visit the capitol and take a look at the water features, gardens and other must-see free attractions that are outside. You might even spot a state legislator or the governor if you look hard enough.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania a great way to cap off a budget-friendly weekend in Harrisburg. Spend a few hours wandering the exhibits and then head back home with plenty of time to get ready for the week ahead. In this scenario, we were able to stick to the $200 budget for the weekend and still pack each day with fun and entertaining things to do, proving that big fun can come to those with a smaller budget – if you know how to find it.
Daily total: $76
Trip total: $192.75
See What Else There Is to Do
Don’t just take our word for it – there are still plenty of other things to do in Central Pennsylvania. Whether you want to enjoy fine-dining, sip on local wines or check out live music venues, there are activities to fit every age and budget. Don’t forget that overnight accommodations can help make your trip feel like a real getaway. Charming bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels and affordable havens are ready to greet those who want to really get away to Central Pennsylvania.
When you’re ready to check out what else the Hershey Harrisburg region has to offer, be sure visit our Family Fun pages for more ideas and order our free Visitor’s Guide, packed with money-saving coupons.