Exploring the city that gave the world Little League Baseball

It was a great day exploring the city that gave us Little League Baseball and in the last half of the 19th century claimed more millionaires per-capita than any other American city.

In the last half of the 19th century, Williamsport, Pennsylvania claimed more millionaires than any other American city. With a population of just under 30,000, there is no city of similar size within an hour drive. There’s one small airport, which only offers commercial flights to one city (Philadelphia). The Susquehanna River divides Williamsport and South Williamsport. Although most of the tourist attractions are located in the city of Williamsport, the most famous institution associated with the area is located in South Williamsport.

IMG_5336

Just south of South Williamsport on Route 15 (north)
Just south of South Williamsport on Route 15 (north)

Many people will be approaching Williamsport from Interstate 80. Since I live east of Williamsport, I take I-80 to either I-180 West or Route 15 North whenever I visit. My first stop on my most recent visit was the World of Little League Museum. This is an ideal place to start for anyone coming from the south.

IMG_5380

Every year, greater Williamsport gets flooded with baseball fans attending the annual Little League World Series. Williamsport claims to be the birthplace of Little League Baseball. The museum has ample parking right on Route 15 North. General admission is $5, but there is no charge to view the grounds behind the museum.

Howard J. Lamade Stadium
Howard J. Lamade Stadium

I started by driving around the grounds behind the museum, which include the 40,000-seat Howard J. Lamade Stadium as well as Little League Volunteer Stadium. Every year, Lamade Stadium hosts the Little League World Series. If you visit any other time, it’s hard to imagine the madness that surrounds the event every year as more people attend than live in the city of Williamsport.

scoreboard at Lamade Stadium
scoreboard at Lamade Stadium

After touring the grounds and taking some pictures, I visited the World of Little League Museum. Your tour will start with a brief orientation video. Once inside the actual museum, highlights include a timeline about Little League and the World Series as well as uniforms spanning the past 75 years. I spent around 30 minutes looking around before crossing the river and heading into Williamsport.

crossing the Susquehanna River
crossing the Susquehanna River

For lunch, I headed to Pine Square and ate at The Stonehouse Wood Fired Pizza & Pasteria. I had a classic margarita pizza as well as the grilled calamari. On the next block of Pine Street is Le Chocolat, which has excellent truffles. Owned by Bernie and Bonnie Katz for more than 20 years, I consider this to be a must-visit place for chocolate lovers visiting Williamsport.

margarita pizza at the Stonehouse
margarita pizza at the Stonehouse
grilled calamari at the Stonehouse
grilled calamari at the Stonehouse
inspirational banner on Pine Street
inspirational banner on Pine Street
old City Hall
old City Hall

After getting a box of chocolates to take home, I drove west on 4th Street. I first stopped to take pictures of the murals across from the historic Genetti Hotel, then drove through Millionaire’s Row (4th Street), then on to the Peter Herdic Transportation Museum. Inside, there’s a slide show on the history of transportation in Lycoming County (Pennsylvania’s largest) as well as information on the area’s role in the underground railroad. Out back there’s a Pullman Parlor rail car, which the museum claims to be one of only two remaining in the United States. Visitors can go inside.

Genetti Hotel

murals across from the historic Genetti Hotel
murals across from the historic Genetti Hotel
Millionaires Row
Millionaires Row

Just steps away is the Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society. This was my next destination. The Taber museum has exhibits on Lycoming County’s Native Americans, lumber industry and contribution to the armed forces. There are also period rooms which take the visitor back to the times of British colonialism and up to the present. Downstairs, there’s a toy train exhibition, which contains over 300 toy trains as well as two working layouts. The other basement room is dedicated to farming crafts and industry.

Taber Museum
outside of the Taber Museum
art at the Taber Museum
art at the Taber Museum

Many visitors to Williamsport take a Hiawatha Riverboat Cruise. They run May to October and cost $8.50. Although it’s by far the most “touristy” thing I ever did in Williamsport, I’m glad I experienced it. I found Susquehanna State Park (where the boat docks) to be more exciting as it provided for some excellent photo ops. The cruise itself is narrated and I’m pretty sure I was one of three people under 60 years old on the boat.

entrance to Susquehanna State Park
entrance to Susquehanna State Park

IMG_5391

bridge crossing the Susquehanna River
bridge crossing the Susquehanna River

IMG_5384

IMG_5404

IMG_5393
Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat
shot from the Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat
shot from the Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat

After visiting three museums, I decided to visit the “birthplace of Little League Baseball,” which is located across from historic Bowman Field (now Susquehanna Bank Park). Besides looking at plaques and watching some people play baseball, there’s not much else to do at the site, besides take some pictures and say “I was there.” Bowman Field is home to the Williamsport Crosscutters, which are one of the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league teams. It’s also the second oldest minor league ballpark in the United States.

historic Bowman Field (now Susquehanna Bank Park)
historic Bowman Field (now Susquehanna Bank Park)
plaque honoring Carl E Stotz
plaque honoring Carl E Stotz
Carl E Stotz Field (
Carl E Stotz Field (“birthplace of Little League Baseball”)

birthplace of Little League

After a full day of sightseeing, I was hungry for my favorite type of Asian food. From the park, I drove downtown to the only Thai restaurant in Williamsport. Joy Thai is located at 17 West 4th Street. For such a small city, parking can be a real challenge in the downtown area. There is street parking as well as municipal lots, both of which fill up fast. I know how big Pad Thai dishes can be, so I resisted the temptation to try appetizers and ordered the Seafood Pad Thai.

inspirational banner on Court Street
inspirational banner on Court Street
Seafood Pad Thai at Joy Thai
Seafood Pad Thai at Joy Thai

After dinner, I was in the mood to do some walking, so I headed to Pine Square and got some ice cream at Sprinkled Sweet. From there, as the sun set, I headed east to Market Street and walked across the Carl E. Stotz Memorial Little League Bridge (Route 15) bridge to South Williamsport and then back to my car near old City Hall. It was a great day exploring the city that gave us the organization which kept me occupied from age 9 to 12.

IMG_5408

walking from Williamsport to South Williamsport
walking from Williamsport to South Williamsport
sun setting over the Susquehanna River
sun setting over the Susquehanna River
Advertisements

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