The Hershey Harrisburg Region is famous for a lot of things, but let’s talk about a few hidden gems that you won’t find in your average guide book.
1. The Pennsylvania National Fire Museum occupies an 1899 Victorian firehouse, full of remarkable artifacts, antique trucks, vintage helmets, and all the bells and whistles (and alarms) you want to see. While it’s tough to imagine a time when firemen arrived on scene in horse-drawn carriages, the lineage of firefighting told through the museum’s exhibits amazes its visitors. Don’t miss the 1920s antique alarm system that alerted firemen when and where one of the city's pull-down fire alarm boxes was triggered. It still rings today!
2. Before you get lost in a book, wander through Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar Bookstore & Cafe, jam-packed with 200,000 new, used, and rare texts. Their famous in-store café blends the scent of organic, fair-trade coffee, tea, and espresso with the delightful fragrance of well-aged books. As the nation’s largest academic used bookseller, there’s no limit to the curious treasures you’ll find in the aisles of this cozy adventure. Plus, the Midtown Scholar regularly hosts author talks, book signings, live music, and poetry readings, making this independent shop worth the trip!
3. Housed in what was once the largest sled factory in the country, Old Sled Works is a charming antique and craft market in Duncannon with more than 150 vendors and hundreds of rare collectibles to peruse. From vintage toys and clothing to hand-crafted goods and jewelry, this is the ideal destination to find a better-than-average souvenir from our region. Among the unique finds at Old Sled Works are the working condition penny arcade games and soda fountain.
4. Since 1905, the Pennsylvania State Police have provided world-class service and protection to the Commonwealth, and their fascinating history is on display at the Pennsylvania State Police Museum in Hershey. In addition to vintage patrol cars, motorcycles, and memorabilia, some of the most interesting exhibits include one of the cell doors from the 1989 Camp Hill prison riots, the bicycle owned by the "Bicycle Man," perpetrator in the 1966 kidnapping of Peggy Ann Bradnick, and video footage, clothing, and a clown car from the PSP Rodeo (yes, a rodeo!), a huge hit between 1921-1974.
5. Have you ever seen a hot air balloon afloat and thought, “I want to do that!” Well, the opportunity awaits you here in the region with Balloon Rides Daily, hosted by the United States Hot Air Balloon Team. It’s both relaxing and exhilarating to soar around the sky in a colorful carriage, taking in a 360-degree view of our lush farmland.
6. There’s a lot of sweet history to enjoy when it comes to Hershey and Derry Township. In addition to learning more about Milton Hershey, the philanthropist behind the famous chocolate bar, dig deeper and discover the life of the Native Americans who first occupied this land and the European settlers who established the area we know and love today. The Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society & History Museum has more than 50,000 artifacts and photos, along with chronicles of Pennsylvania’s German pioneers who arrived in Philadelphia in the 1700s. Maybe your ancestors have been here before!
6 ½. Did you know Pennsylvania has its own Lady Liberty? Earning a half spot on the list, the Dauphin Narrows Statue of Liberty is one-sixth the size of the New York original, standing 25 feet tall on her perch in the middle of the Susquehanna River rapids. She appeared mysteriously one day in 1986, capturing the intrigue of residents and visitors alike. Her spontaneous presence was so endearing that when the statue blew over in 1992, fans pulled together to erect a replica of the replica, which stands on the old bridge pillar today. Intermediate to experienced kayakers can stop by Blue Mountain Outfitters for information on the best route to approach her by water. Everyone else can catch a glimpse of her while driving along the Dauphin Narrows on 322.
So whether you’ve been here before and are craving something new, or you’re whittling away at an off-the-beaten-path bucket list, we have the unique spots you’ll want to write home about! If you don’t exclaim “cool” or “neat” multiple times while visiting these destinations, you haven’t seen everything they have to offer!