100 Reasons to Love Central Pa.
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100 Reasons to Love Central Pa.
We may be a bit partial to the midstate, but there truly is so much to love about this area and our hometowns – 100 reasons to be exact. Certainly this region is not perfect, but we feel it’s pretty great. In fact, narrowing down all of the reasons to love Central Pa. proved to be a most difficult task, which makes this list by no means comprehensive, rather just a sampling of the many fantastic facets – in no particular order – of the place we call home.
1. High School Sports
School spirit and town pride unite under Friday night lights and packed gyms across the region, and if you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of future athletic greatness long before ESPN and Sports Illustrated does.
2. The Pennsylvania Farm Show
3. Long’s Park in Lancaster
4. The replica Statue of Liberty in the middle of the Susquehanna River
5. Chocolate Central
That wonderful, dark (and sometimes white), tongue-tingling, crave-compelling substance known simply as chocolate has been flat out mastered right here in Central Pa. Of course, Hershey’s is the undisputed king of chocolate, but local cocoa connoisseurs also know well the delights of Wolfgang Candy Company, Wilbur Chocolate Company, Matangos Candies, Miesse Candies and Anstine’s Candy.
6. The live music venues in Harrisburg (Abbey Bar, The MakeSpace, Midtown Scholar, The Millworks, Stage on Herr), York (Strand-Capitol, Pullo Center, The Depot) and Lancaster (American Music Theatre, Chameleon Club, Fulton Street Arts Co-op, Marion Court Room, The Village, Tellus360)
7. Skiing and snowboarding at Roundtop Mountain Resort in Lewisberry, Liberty Mountain Resort in Fairfield and Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg
8. The state parks, conservation areas and nature preserves
9. First Friday, Fourth Friday and Third in the Burg
Art galleries and small businesses in Lancaster, Mechanicsburg, York, Harrisburg and numerous other midstate towns come alive with exhibits, music, special events and promotions.
10. Dillsburg Farmer’s Fair (October 12 through 19), and this year marks the 100th anniversary of the event
11. The fact that towns exist here with names like Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand and Paradise
12. Haunted house season at Halloween Park in Strinestown, Jason’s Woods in Lancaster, Field of Screams in Mountville and Haunted Mill Scream Park in Spring Grove
13. Farmers markets
Farmers markets offer a cornucopia of fresh, local foods and products, and the midstate is home to a bountiful harvest of spots where the phrase, “Let’s go to the market,” needs no locale clarification. Do your shopping at York Central Market, Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market, Lemoyne’s West Shore Farmer’s Market or Lancaster Central Market.
14. Patriot-News/PennLive ArtsFest of Greater Harrisburg every Memorial Day weekend
15. The Capital Area Greenbelt
16. Rock-wall climbing at Climbnasium in Mechanicsburg and Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, and bouldering at Governor Stable near Bainbridge
17. Potato chip and pretzel paradise
Central Pa. is the snack-food capital of the Northeast, and with tasty favorites like Utz, Snyder’s, Martin’s, Middleswarth and Wege, it’s easy to see why.
18. Candlelit walking ghost tours in Gettysburg and Lancaster
19. A caffeine upload at one of the many fantastic coffee cafes, like Cornerstone Coffeehouse in Camp Hill; Harrisburg’s Little Amps Coffee Roasters; York’s New Grounds Roasting Company or The Green Bean Roasting Company; St. Thomas Roasters in Linglestown; or Lancaster’s Prince Street Cafe or Chestnut Hill Cafe – to name just a few
20. Car Show season in Carlisle
21. New Year’s Eve celebrations
To ring in each new year, Harrisburg drops a strawberry, Hershey a chocolate kiss, Dillsburg a pickle, Mechanicsburg a wrench, Lebanon a 16-foot bologna, York a white rose, Lancaster a red rose, Carlisle a button and Palmyra a giant shoe.
22. Gettysburg National Military Park
23. Boutique shopping in downtown Carlisle, Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg, on Main Street in Camp Hill, Lancaster’s N. Queen Street and at the Shops on N. Beaver Street in York
24. Harley-Davidson – America’s most iconic motorcycle is manufactured in York
25. The most beautiful State Capitol building in the U.S.
Who can argue with the 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, when he said that the Pennsylvania State Capitol was the handsomest building he ever saw?
26. Picking your own apples and drinking fresh apple cider
27. Celebrating Free Comic Book Day (first Saturday in May) and getting the latest addition of your favorite DC, Marvel, Vertigo, Image or Dark Horse comic from Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg, York’s Planet X Comic & Collectibles and Comic Store West and The Comic Store in Lancaster
28. The variety of flavors and abundant availability of whoopee pies
29. Live theater
From community productions to national traveling shows, the thespian craft is impressive and plentiful at Theatre Harrisburg, Hershey Theatre, Gamut Theatre Group, Hershey Area Playhouse, Gretna Theatre, York Little Theatre, Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, Fulton Theatre, Open Stage of Harrisburg, Oyster Mill Playhouse, The Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg, Rose Lehrman Arts Center and Allenberry Playhouse – to name more than a few.
30. Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad
31. Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg, aka the largest and longest-running one-day street fair on the East Coast (June 18)
32. Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
33. Covered bridges
Remnants of an era when horse power was taken literally, the bucolic spans can be found all over the midstate, especially in Lancaster County. Check out pacoveredbridges.com for a list of those closest to you.
34. America’s first fair, the York Fair (September 11 through 20)
35. Flea market finds at Saturday’s Market in Middletown
36. Civil War re-enactments – the annual Battle of Gettysburg event takes place over the July 4th weekend
37. Pro teams
The Harrisburg Senators, York Revolution, Lancaster Barnstormers, Hershey Bears and Harrisburg City Islanders – among other area pro teams – give sports fans something to cheer about all across the midstate.
38. Car Racing at Susquehanna Speedway Park in Newberrytown, Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Hunterstown Speedway near Gettysburg, Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, South Mountain Raceway in Boiling Springs and Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover
39. Swinging the clubs and irons at the many beautifully manicured golf courses and country clubs
40. Shoofly pie
Outsiders may not understand the taste-bud joy of the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of molasses pie, but that just leaves more for us. There’s really only one important question when it comes to Shoofly pie – wet or dry bottom?
41. Antiquing at Bedford Street Antiques in Carlisle, Antique Marketplace of Lemoyne and the Old Sled Works in Duncannon
42. Indian Echo Caverns in Hummelstown
43. The comedy and improv scene
If it’s laughs you seek, forget NYC because Central Pa. has more than enough funny to go around at Stitches Comedy Club in Lancaster, Harrisburg Comedy Zone and Harrisburg Improv Theatre. And don’t miss an opportunity to see The Oxymorons or TMI Improv perform at a variety of live venues in the region.
44. York Barbell Co.
and the The Weightlifting Hall of Fame
45. New Cumberland’s Apple Harvest Festival (September 26)
46. Indie bookstores
In search of a Steinbeck, Shelley, Twain or Tolkien? Then skip the big-box book sellers, and pay a visit to Whistlestop Bookshop in Carlisle, The Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, Po’s Bookstore in York or DogStar Books in Lancaster – you’re “bound” to find plenty of rich “character” in a brick-and-mortar bookstore.
47. Lancaster’s Dutch Country
48. The Elizabethtown Fair (August 24 through 29)
49. The Hershey attractions
Even if chocolate is not your thing, the fun of Hersheypark, Chocolate World, ZooAmerica, Hershey Gardens, GIANT Center plus so much more makes the town that’s synonymous with sweets the entertainment epicenter of the midstate and, arguably, the entire Northeast.
50. Pumpkin patches and corn mazes in the fall
51. Siebert Park in Camp Hill
52. The hip-hop music scene
Perhaps the region’s most underappreciated music scene thrives despite the lack of mainstream support, and the 717 Music Video Awards stand as proof of the undeniable talent right in our own backyard.
53. Pride Festival of Central PA at Riverfront Park in Harrisburg (July 25)
54. The breathtaking views at Negley Park in Lemoyne
55. Record stores
Vinyl is alive and well in Central Pa. – find your favorite record at Little Amps in Harrisburg, RecordSmith in Mechanicsburg, IKO’s Music Trade in York and Lancaster’s Mr. Suit Records and Stan’s Record Bar.
56. Harrisburg’s Kipona Festival every Labor Day weekend
57. The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia – National Ice Cream Day is on July 19 this year
58. Breweries and brew pubs
Sudsy draughts flow fresh and aplenty in the midstate. From Tröegs Brewing Company, Appalachian Brewing Company and Lancaster Brewing Company to Bube’s Brewery, Molly Pitcher Brewing Company and Liquid Hero Brewery, the merry revelers of the golden bubbly brew have more than enough options to enjoy a frothy pint.
59. Fine art galleries in nearly every town
60. Lancaster’s Sertoma Chicken BBQ, the world’s largest chicken barbecue held in mid-May at Long’s Park
61. Burritos at Neato Burrito and Roburrito’s
The endless combinations that can make up everyone’s favorite tortilla-rolled delicacy are celebrated by the devoted burrito fans of Central Pa. And there are few more popular purveyors in the beans, rice, meat and cheese game than Neato Burrito and Roburrito’s.
62. Plein Air Camp Hill Arts Festival held in late spring
63. Manheim’s Spooky Nook Sports, the largest indoor sports complex in North America
64. Independent cinemas
For a Humphrey Bogart classic, artsy indie flick or the latest new release away from the local megaplex, pay a visit to the Midtown Cinema in Harrisburg or The West Shore Theatre in New Cumberland.
65. The autumn colors
66. Drive-in movies at Dillisburg’s Haar’s Drive-in and Cumberland Drive-in Theatre
67. The institutions of higher learning
For a doctorate or an associates degree, Central Pa. is home to some of the most respected and well regarded colleges and universities in the state – Harrisburg Area Community College, Millersville University, York College, Penn State Harrisburg and York, Franklin and Marshall College, Dickinson College, Elizabethtown College, Lebanon Valley College, Messiah College and Gettysburg College, to mention just a handful.
68. Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire on the grounds of the Mount Hope Estate in Manheim (August 1 through October 25)
69. Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs
70. Lunch at The Jackson House on N. 6th Street in Harrisburg
Sure the lines can be long, the parking sparse, the hours limited and the cash-only policy inconvenient, but for those who know, the delicious burgers and hoagies are well worth it.
71. State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg
72. Foundry Day Arts & Crafts Festival in Boiling Springs (June 6)
73. The Pride of the Susquehanna
Launching from City Island, take a sight-seeing tour or enjoy a dinner cruise on Harrisburg’s riverboat. Visit harrisburgriverboat.com for a full schedule.
74. Beau’s Dream Dog Park at Buchanan Park in Lancaster
75. Tubing down the Yellow Breeches, Codorus or Pequea creeks
76. Vineyards and Wineries
Straight from grapes grown right here in Central Pa., the plethora of area wineries would give even Dionysus cause to raise a glass. Uncork a fine vintage at Spring Gate Farms and Vineyards in Harrisburg, The Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey, Nissley Vineyards & Winery Estate in Bainbridge or Tamanend Winery in Lancaster – to highlight but a few.
77. Cocktail hour on Harrisburg’s 2nd Street
78. Swimming at Little Buffalo or Boiling Springs Pool & Waterpark
79. Harrisburg’s City Island
Surrounded by the mighty Susquehanna River, City Island is home to the Harrisburg Senators, The Pride of the Susquehanna, Water Golf and Susquehanna Outfitters – all that is required for a day of family fun.
80. Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
81. Adams-Ricci Community Park in East Pennsboro Township
Wings may have been born in Buffalo, but there are more than a few eating establishments in the midstate who would lay claim to perfecting the delicious and spicy art. Just a few favorite wing slingers include – in no particular order – Ted’s Bar and Grill, Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar, Buffalo Wild Wings, Underdog Sports Bar & Grill, American Bar and Grill and Boro Bar & Grill.
83. The Susquehanna River
84. The diversity of people, culture and ideas
85. Midtown Harrisburg
Fast becoming the apex of artistic activity, education and a fantastic meal in the state capital, Midtown’s growth and vibrancy is undeniable.
86. The Kid’s Castle play area and pick-up basketball at Hoffer Park in Middletown
87. The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle
88. The animal shelters and rescues
It’s been said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged upon its treatment of animals. And proving it everyday are the good people working and volunteering at the Human Society of Harrisburg, The Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance, the SPCA of York County, the Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation, the Lancaster County SPCA and the Humane League of Lancaster – among many other animal rescue organizations.
89. Outlet shopping at the Hershey and Lancaster Tanger Outlets, Rockvale Outlets in Lancaster and The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg
90. Main Street Mount Joy
91. Street Art
Commissioned muralists and ambitious street artists alike help beautify urban spaces in the midstate.
92. Quick pit stops for gas and a sandwich at Sheetz, Rutter’s, Turkey Hill or Royal Farms
93. Roller derby matches with Harrisburg Area Roller Derby, York City Derby Dames, Dutchland Derby Rollers and Hanover’s Black Rose Rollers
The legislators and the lobbyists, the elephants and the donkeys, the campaigns and the candidates – if you love the never-ending drama of state politics, look no further than Harrisburg’s Capitol Complex.
95. The Appalachian Trail
96. Free Shakespeare in the Park at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg
97. Fishing spots
Whether it’s a monster flathead catfish from the Susquehanna River in mid-summer or a rainbow trout from the Yellow Breeches Creek, Central Pa. is the place for wielding a rod and reel.
98. An educational and fun day among the wild animals at ZooAmerica – North American Wildlife Park in Hershey and Lake Tobias Wildlife Park in Halifax
99. The local symphony orchestras and their talented maestros
100. The people
Our state used to have the slogan, “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania,” because the Keystone state – though we may be a bit subjective – has the nicest people in the country. And that goes double for Central Pa.!