Family Adventures Before School: 5 Must-Try Activities in Harrisburg, PA

Discover 5 exciting family-friendly activities in Harrisburg, PA to enjoy before the school year begins. From exploring City Island to experiencing the State Capitol, create lasting memories together.

Standing in Fort Hunter Park looking out at the Susquehanna River at sunset.

Hey there, fellow Harrisburg adventurer! As a photographer based right here in Harrisburg, I’m all about capturing those precious family moments in our charming city. And what better time to do that than before the school bells start ringing? I’ve put together a comprehensive list of five fantastic activities that you and your loved ones can enjoy together. So, grab your camera, gather the family, and let’s explore the wonderful world of Harrisburg before the academic hustle begins.

1. City Island: A Riverside Oasis for Family Fun

Nestled in the gentle embrace of the Susquehanna River, City Island is a true gem that offers a plethora of family-friendly activities. As a photographer, I can attest to the island’s captivating views and photo-worthy spots. Start your day by leisurely strolling along the riverfront and taking in the serene beauty of the water. Whether you’re enjoying a peaceful moment with your spouse or capturing your kids’ delight as they explore, the island’s charm is undeniable.

And let’s not forget the carousel! This historic ride has been delighting families for generations. Watch your kids’ faces light up as they choose their favorite colorful steed and go ’round and ’round. The island also boasts a wonderful miniature golf course, where you can challenge each other to a friendly round of putt-putt while soaking in the island’s refreshing atmosphere.

Kids love to play games. Tossing them in a blanket makes for beautiful family photos.

2. Immerse Yourself in History at the State Capitol

Harrisburg is not only the capital of Pennsylvania but also home to a stunning architectural masterpiece: the State Capitol building. As a history buff and a photographer, I find the Capitol to be a fascinating subject. Guided tours are available, allowing your family to explore the history, art, and intricate architecture of this iconic landmark.

Walk the grand hallways, marvel at the Rotunda’s breathtaking beauty, and gain insights into Pennsylvania’s rich history. If the legislature is in session, you might even catch a glimpse of democracy in action. Don’t forget to venture outside and enjoy a leisurely stroll through Capitol Park, where you can snap some Instagram-worthy shots of the Capitol’s majestic exterior.

The Capitol complex in Harrisburg makes a beautiful spot for the kids to run around and for you to capture beautiful family photos

3. Whet Your Appetite for Learning at Whitaker Center

If you’re eager to engage your family’s curious minds, look no further than the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. With its interactive exhibits, live performances, and IMAX theater, this center is an educational goldmine. As a photographer, I appreciate how the Whitaker Center effortlessly blends art and science into a captivating experience.

Your kids will love getting hands-on with science experiments that both entertain and educate. And when it comes to entertainment, the live shows are a real treat. From science demonstrations that defy gravity to captivating artistic performances, the center offers an array of activities that are bound to inspire wonder and excitement in both young and old alike.

4. Step Back in Time at Fort Hunter Mansion and Park

For a dash of history and a dose of fresh air, Fort Hunter Mansion and Park is a must-visit destination. As a lover of all things historical and picturesque, I often find myself drawn to this charming spot. The mansion, dating back to the 18th century, provides guided tours that transport you back in time. Learn about the lives of the people who once inhabited these walls and gain a deeper appreciation for Harrisburg’s roots.

The surrounding park is perfect for a leisurely family walk or a picnic amidst nature’s splendor. Keep an eye on the events calendar for workshops and special activities that often take place on weekends. Whether you’re capturing the essence of history with your camera or simply immersing yourselves in the past, Fort Hunter Mansion and Park is a serene escape from the modern world.

Fort Hunter is a beautiful spot for all seasons of family photos. Whether you’re on the covered bridge side with the Centennial Barn & covered bridge or the mansion side sitting on a swing overlooking the river, you can’t go wrong spending a day at the park!

5. Root for the Home Team at a Harrisburg Senators Baseball Game

Sports enthusiasts and families alike will find something to cheer about at a Harrisburg Senators minor league baseball game. The energy at the ballpark is infectious, and as a photographer, I’ve captured some of the most genuine smiles and jubilant moments at these games. So why not treat your family to a day of sports, snacks, and shared excitement?

As you settle into your seats, surrounded by the buzz of the crowd, you’ll feel a sense of unity as everyone comes together to support the home team. Indulge in classic ballpark treats, from hot dogs to cotton candy, and make memories as you cheer on the Senators. And don’t forget to capture those thrilling moments of victory and camaraderie that unfold on the field.

Former Harrisburg Senator's pitcher Andrew Lee announces pregnancy.

Before the school bells ring and routines regain their rhythm, seize the opportunity to bond with your family and explore the vibrant offerings of Harrisburg, PA. From the riverside enchantment of City Island to the captivating architecture of the State Capitol, the interactive wonder of the Whitaker Center, the historical charm of Fort Hunter Mansion and Park, and the exhilaration of a baseball game, these activities promise to create lasting memories that you’ll cherish for years to come.

So, whether you’re a seasoned photographer like me, a history aficionado, a nature lover, or simply a family seeking quality time together, Harrisburg’s got something special for everyone. Grab your camera, capture those smiles, and let the adventures begin!

Kate McCord is a seasoned motherhood & family photographer serving Central PA. Voted Harrisburg Magazine’s 2023 Simply the Best Photographer, Kate McCord Photography can be trusted to deliver you beautiful, timeless memories to last a lifetime.

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