Exploring Pennsylvania’s Capital

Harrisburg is the 10th largest city in Pennsylvania with a population of around 50,000 and has been its’ capital since 1812.

Harrisburg is the 10th largest city in Pennsylvania with a population of around 50,000 and has been its’ capital since 1812. Although no major civil war battles were fought there, the National Civil War Museum is located in Harrisburg’s Reservoir Park northeast of City Island and the Capitol Building. If you are coming from the Eastern part of Pennsylvania like I am, this is an excellent place to start your day in the capital. With over a dozen galleries and a theater, it’s easy to spend a couple hours exploring this two-story brick building in the Allison Hill neighborhood. Most of the exhibits cover the civil war years, but they also do a good job of covering the lead-up to the war as well as the aftermath.

Surgeon from National Civil War Museum

National Civil War Museum Harrisburg

American flag at National Civil War MuseumFor lunch, I headed southwest (towards the Susquehanna River) to the Asia Mall. There’s a large Asian grocery store there as well as Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. With ample parking, it’s worth spending some time there. I ate lunch at Kanlaya Thai Restaurant and did some shopping at K & H (Asian) Super Market afterwards.

After lunch, I headed to North 3rd Street for a  30-minute guided tour of the Capitol building. It certainly lived up to its reputation as one of the nicest Capitol buildings in the United States.

Capitol Building Harrisburg

Heading up steps in PA Capitol Building Instagram

Inside PA Capitol Building from the balcony Instagram

Inside PA Capitol Building Instagram

Right across North Street is the State Museum of Pennsylvania. With four floors of exhibits for people of all ages, it’s easy to spend a whole afternoon there. I spent what was left of the afternoon.

From the museum, I walked past the Capitol building to Walnut Street and headed towards the Susquehanna River. Once you pass North Front Street, you will see the entrance to the Walnut Street Bridge. From there, it’s a short walk to City Island. It’s very convenient to have one bridge for motor vehicles (Market Street) and another (Walnut Street) for everyone else.

Harrisburg from the steps of the Capitol building large file

Walnut Street Bridge in Harrisburg

Walnut Street Bridge Entrance in Harrisburg

High Water Mark Line Walnut Street Bridge Harrisburg

City Island is manageable for pedestrians. I was glad I left my Prius near the Capitol building. As soon as you arrive on City Island, you will see City Island Batting Cages and Arcade as well as Metro Bank Park, which is the home of the Harrisburg Senators (AA Team for the Washington Nationals). For those traveling with children, a ride on the City Island Train is a cute option, but I chose to explore on foot. Riverside Drive loops around the top half of the Island. At the tip of the island, you can play miniature golf with a great river view.

Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat Harrisburg
Pride of the Susquehanna

For dinner, I got back in my car and drove north to the Broad Street Market. Although it was closed, I left my car there and walked to Asalah Moroccan Restaurant. The place was empty, but the host was very friendly and I had a great dinner. From there, I walked to the Midtown Scholar, which is the largest academic used book store in Pennsylvania. It’s easy to get lost in there, but it had been a long day and I was ready to get on Interstate 81 and head home.

Broad Street Market Harrisburg


Author: The Walking Map

I grew up in a small borough outside of a small city in eastern Pennsylvania. As soon as I got my driver's license, I started going to see my favorite rock bands (Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Slayer, Sleater-Kinney to name a few) and quickly realized that I wanted to spend as much time traveling as possible. After earning my bachelor's degree in Management/Marketing from Penn State University, I started traveling overseas and have since traveled to 38 countries spanning 5 different continents. I'm an urban explorer who loves using public transportation. My 4 favorite American cities are New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. & Boston. I'm a lover of food and culture who has been to every state except Alaska. Brazil and Russia are at the top of my bucket list. If you need advice on where to get the best pizza or French macarons, I'd love to help!

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