"Harrisburg: an underrated capital city" Top 5 Page for this destination Harrisburg by PA2AKgirl

Harrisburg Travel Guide: 107 reviews and 228 photos

A small part of the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex - Harrisburg
A small part of the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex
A little history...

When you think of Pennsylvania cities, you probably don't think of Harrisburg. By no means is it as large as Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, but it's becoming, once again, a nice city to visit.
It wasn't the 1st or even the 2nd capital of Pennsylvania. Until 1799, Philadelphia was the government seat of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A few years before, it had been called "an unfortunate location" for the capital and Lancaster was voted to take its place.
However, after only 2 years, Lancaster wasn't considered a suitable capital either. Ideally, the lawmakers wanted to be based somewhere in the Susquehanna Valley. Harrisburg was chosen out of eight possible locations and officially became the capital in 1810, largely because of its location on the Susquehanna river.

Early on, Harrisburg was a commercially important city for boats, trains and later, cars and airplanes. It's about 1 hour from Baltimore, 2 hours from Philly and DC and not too far from New York City either. However, Harrisburg hasn't thrived as well as it could have. The Susquehanna river is too shallow in most places to run an efficient shipping operation and industries have come and gone with little success.

Harrisburg Today...
Looking at downtown from City Island park - Harrisburg

Looking at downtown from City Island park

Growing up near this city, there was no reason for us to go to Harrisburg more than one time a year, if that. Thankfully, this is changing. Whereas in the past it was possible to drive downtown on the weekends and see no one at all, there are now people enjoying the city on their days off. The city has undergone a nice revitalitization or renaissance, but still has a little way to go

There are definitely things to do here now--City Island Park is probably one of my favorite places to go. Strawberry Square, the Capitol Complex, Pennsylvania State Museum, Museum of Science and Discovery are just a few places in the city. Hershey, Lancaster and Gettsyburg are just a short drive away, too.

Most recently, Harrisburg became very important to me on a personal level...Wanna know why?

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Many more things to do here than in the past, safer and cleaner than before
  • Cons:Still a place you don't want to get lost in--definitely some bad neighborhoods
  • Last visit to Harrisburg: Jun 2004
  • Intro Updated Oct 2, 2004
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (14)

Comments (8)

  • marca's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2006 at 9:12 AM

    We enjoyed walking over the Bridge from City Island and having lunch on 2nd Street.

  • belgianchocolate's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2004 at 9:54 PM

    Interesting page , the paddlewheel riverboat looks quit fun. You got a great style of writing. frank.

  • Stellaluna's Profile Photo
    Nov 19, 2004 at 4:16 PM

    From one PA girl to another.... Very nice Harrisburg pages.

  • b1bob's Profile Photo
    Oct 7, 2004 at 2:41 PM

    Real quick: name the other 8 cities that might have been capital. It would have to be a mighty big burrito for this guy of Scottish descent to pop $3 for it!

  • kazander's Profile Photo
    Oct 6, 2004 at 6:56 AM

    You're so mushy. :P

  • caffeine_induced78's Profile Photo
    Jun 27, 2004 at 10:18 PM

    Don't fret! The best my hometown can do is A-minor league baseball. Short season at that! Wonderful page and very informative.

  • ATXtraveler's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2004 at 6:47 PM

    Awesome Harrisburg Page.. no wonder you are top -10

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Jun 14, 2004 at 10:31 AM

    Excellent tips, well researched and well written. I lived in Harrisburg for almost 4 years in the mid 1970s, and have returned since a few times. We always LOVED attending the farm show.

PA2AKgirl's Profile Photo


“A pet should not have a wardrobe”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 2 5 0

Badges & Stats in Harrisburg

  • 14 Reviews
  • 15 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 11,591PageViews

Have you been to Harrisburg?

  Share Your Travels  

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)