You don’t have to be a hardcore historian to enjoy Harrisburg’s rich history preserved in our beautiful museums and historic mansions.Through engaging exhibits and priceless artifacts, discover something new about Pennsylvania, U.S. History, natural history, the planet, animals, science, and beyond!
The Pennsylvania State Capitol building’s signature green dome is the jewel of the Harrisburg skyline, and the interior is just as striking with imported embellishments, beautiful artwork, and rich history. Take a free, guided tour through the Main Rotunda, public galleries in the House and Senate chambers, and the Supreme Court. On the Capitol’s lower level, the interactive Welcome Center invites visitors to answer commonwealth trivia questions and learn about the legislative process. When the weather is nice, get a family photo taken in front of the beautiful fountain along Commonwealth Avenue or the steps at Third and State Streets.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania is the official museum of the commonwealth and houses an impressive collection of Pennsylvania and American history. Take a stroll through a turn-of-the-century pioneer town. Learn about prominent Pennsylvanians of the past. Explore the -ologies that show you centuries-old discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, and geology. And go even further back to the beginning of time and beyond in their immersive planetarium!
During the American Civil War, Harrisburg was the capital of the second largest state in the Union and served as a prominent training camp and supply depot for the northern forces. Seizing control of the city would have been a big win for the Confederate army, and they almost captured the city twice! Today in Harrisburg, you can visit this moving museum that tells the story of America’s most turbulent time through true-to-life perspectives from both sides of the battlefield. The National Civil War Museum illustrates the conflicts leading up the war, its legendary clashes and turning points, and resolution through its educational exhibits and artifacts such as weaponry, uniforms, photographs, and letters.
This historic home housed two of Harrisburg’s most prominent citizens: John Harris, Jr., the founder and namesake of the city and Simon Cameron, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War and U.S. Ambassador to Russia. In the front parlor, you’ll surely notice the two 14-foot European mirrors which Cameron squeezed into the front parlor by lowering the first floor three feet into the basement! Take a guided tour of the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion whose rooms and hallways still have original décor, fixtures, and furnishings from the time period.
From a war fort to a frontier village to a dairy farm, the Fort Hunter Mansion & Park is steeped in Harrisburg heritage. The mansion itself tells centuries of history as told by its architecture and antique furniture and décor. The 40-acre property includes several historic outbuildings and its free to walk the property and take in the river views. From here you’ll have an unobstructed view of the Rockville Bridge, the longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the world!