Best Outdoorsy Harrisburg Weekend Itinerary

If you’re looking for the best Harrisburg weekend itinerary, check out this guide to outdoor adventures in Pennsylvania’s state capital.

Table of Contents
- Why Visit Harrisburg
- What to Do Near Harrisburg
- Where to Eat Near Harrisburg
- Where to Stay Near Harrisburg

Why Visit Harrisburg

If you grew up in Pennsylvania, your experience with Harrisburg is likely either a school field trip of the state capital or a family trip to Hershey Park. While both of these things are awesome, there’s so much more to the Hershey & Harrisburg area to explore. This region is an amazing place to explore the outdoors. From sections of the iconic Appalachian trail to inspiring mural tours in the city, Harrisburg has a ton to offer visitors looking to get outside.

Read on for the best outdoorsy weekend itinerary in Harrisburg!

Disclaimer - This is a sponsored blog post by the Visit Hershey & Harrisburg tourism bureau. As always, my opinions are unbiased and my own. I want to thank the Visit & Hershey Harrisburg tourism board for their generosity!

What to Do Near Harrisburg

Looking for outdoorsy weekend activities in Harrisburg? The Pennsylvania state capital offers tons of outdoor activities for both the nature lover and those who want to stay closer to the city. Feel free to mix and match your favorite options to make the best Harrisburg weekend itinerary for you!

Hike the Appalachian Trail

If you want a piece of hiking lore for yourself, check out the sections of the Appalachian Trail near Harrisburg! This iconic national scenic trail runs from Georgia to Maine (and if you’re lucky, you may run into someone who walked to Pennsylvania from either of those states).

The Hawk Rock section of the Appalachian Trail is under a 2 mile hike, but it’s no easy hike. The trail gains about 700 feet of elevation over rocky terrain to reach the trail’s namesake, Hawk Rock scenic vista. This is my personal favorite hike near Harrisburg and it’s absolutely worth the effort to get there. For more information about tackling this hike, check out my guide to Hawk Rock.

If you’re really up for a challenge, check out the Peter’s Mountain portion of the Appalachian Trail. Located across the river from Hawk Rock, this trail combines the AT with the Susquehanna Trail for a 3.5 mile loop with multiple scenic overlooks. This trail has multiple rock scramble sections, so I’d recommend tackling it on a clear day as the rocks are very slippery when wet!

Visit a County Park

Dauphin County Parks are some of the best in Pennsylvania! If you’re looking for nature but don’t want to deal with a ton of elevation or challenging hikes, check out Wildwood Park and Detweiler Park.

If you want to stick closer to the city, check out Wildwood Park. This park, located within Harrisburg city limits, is an oasis from city life. These trails are great for a nature walk. Some of them are ADA accessible or appropriate for a stroller, making it a great park for all users. During the summer months, Wildwood is host to Art in the Wild, an outdoor art exhibit where artists use natural materials to complement the park’s environment. Check out the park’s site for map of Wildwood Park trails and more detail about each one.

Detweiler Park is located fifteen minutes north of downtown Harrisburg. This park has more traditional hiking trails with some amazing foliage. The parking lot is shared with the Dauphin County Conservation district, so it’s got a bunch of signs explaining all of the conservation efforts the park has undertaken! For a map of Detweiler park, visit the Dauphin County Parks website.

For more about hiking in the area, check out my guide to the Best Hikes Near Harrisburg!

City Mural Walk

Love art? Check out the Murals and More Trail, presented by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg. This audio tour offers two suggested routes – both flat, paved and easy to navigate. Visitors who check in via the codes on each of the Murals can earn 14 beautiful postcards. For more information about the tour’s routes and how to earn the postcards, check out Visit Hershey & Harrisburg’s guide to the Murals and More Trail.

While I am normally more of a fan of nature walks than city walks, I was blown away by the amazing murals by such talented artists. It inspired me to try to check out more murals on my travels. Three of my favorites are in the photos below!

Fort Hunter Mansion & Park

If you’re a history buff, make sure to add Fort Hunter to your Harrisburg itinerary. This historic mansion, located in a 40 acre park of the same name is a glimpse of life in the 1800’s. The mansion offers paid tours and reservations are strongly encouraged, as the tours can full up. I did not do the mansion tour on my trip, but I explored the gardens and the surrounding park which is free to access.

The park offers amazing views of the riverfront and the Rockville Stone Arch Bridge. This bridge is the longest stone arch bridge in the world. I met folks who traveled all the way from Michigan to watch trains cross this bridge! In my opinion, this park is a must-visit addition to the best Harrisburg weekend itinerary.

Where to Eat Near Harrisburg

One thing that stays consistent about adventuring no matter where I go – I am always starving. Harrisburg & Hershey offer tons of great places to eat – here are my favorites.

Zeroday Brewing

Zeroday Brewing is one of my favorite breweries in the state.The brewery’s name was inspired by the founder’s thru hike of the Appalachian Trail and is named after the thru-hiker concept of a “zero day”, a day where a hiker rests and hikes zero miles. I’ve never had anything to eat here that I haven’t liked, but I highly recommend the Zeroday smash burger, an incredible burger with spicy pickles marinated in Mango Hab beer. The pretzel bites are also great and come with Zeroday Lager beer cheese. To check out the menu and learn more about the brewery, check out their website.

Troeg’s Independent Brewing

Located in Hershey, Troeg’s is a Pennsylvania beer institution. This brewery is massive with a ton of great food and beer options. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they call their food menu the “snack bar menu” because there are full meal offerings. I loved their take on a chicken salad sandwich, which was served on a croissant with whipped feta and fresh veggie slaw. My favorite beer here was the summery Sunshine Salt & Lime Lager. For more information about this incredible brewery and to plan your visit, check out their website.

Where to Stay Near Harrisburg

The great thing about visiting Hershey & Harrisburg is that there’s a place to stay for all types of visitors. Below I’ve listed some of my favorite places to rest your head during a busy Harrisburg weekend itinerary.

Country Inn and Suites by Radisson, Harrisburg Hershey West

As a Hilton loyalist, I’d never stayed at a Radisson before my recent trip to Hershey/Harrisburg. This hotel completely exceeded my expectations. The Country Inn and Suites’ location was great for adventuring both in Harrisburg and Hershey. My room was super spacious – I had a queen bed and a couch in the room, as well as desk space to work if I needed it. It was extremely clean, the staff was so friendly, and breakfast was included with the stay (perfect for hungry hikers!) The biggest differentiating factor? Checkout was at noon, which was meant I could shower after my morning hikes before my drive home! If you’ve got kids, there’s an indoor pool on the lower level and a small but functional fitness room for the adults looking to get a workout in. I highly recommend this hotel. To make a reservation or for more information, check out their website.

Doyle Hotel 

If you want the TRUE hiker experience, check out the Doyle Hotel. This over 100 year old hotel is a staple for AT thru-hikers and is under new management to restore it while keeping its status as an AT institution. I have never stayed here but spoke with thru-hikers who did and really enjoyed it. Even if you don’t stay here, make sure to swing by for lunch or dinner and grab a burger. It is one of the best burgers I’ve eaten in the state and it is portioned for thru-hikers, so come hungry!

Home2Suites by Hilton

I stayed here summer 2023 and really enjoyed it. The rooms are super spacious and were great when I had to work remote for a day during my trip. Breakfast is included, as is wifi and parking. The property is also pet friendly and has an indoor pool and a fitness center. It is on the pricier side, so if you’re on a budget, check out my other two recommendations. For more information or to book a room, visit their website.

For more places to stay in Harrisburg, check out the map below! (Note: If you book through this map, I earn from your purchase at no additional cost to you. All additional income goes into keeping this site running smoothly!)

Enjoyed your visit to Harrisburg? Let me know in the comments below!

Updated June 7, 2024

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