There is an abundance of fun things to do in Central Pennsylvania if you have a little one. Whether you’re looking to get out of chilly weather or get super involved in fall activities, I’ve got a few family favorites below.
This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but these are activities that my 3 1/2 year-old loves.
1. Whitaker Center.
The Whitaker Center is located downtown in the heart of Harrisburg. It is a nonprofit organization that not only has outstanding musical acts and a giant IMAX theater, but it caters to the little ones in our lives. There is a science center in the basement featuring hands-on displays as well as an area on the main floor that is specifically dedicated to creative play. There’s a mini stage where kids can put on their own plays, a pretend ambulance with a costume area, and you can find a bunch of plastic produce in their grocery store that has a check-out register.
Budgeting tip: If you want to save money on parking and not pay those Harrisburg street parking prices, leave your car at City Island and walk across the pedestrian bridge.
2. All the parks.
Through the next several months, Dauphin and Cumberland counties will have some of the most impressive foliage in Pennsylvania, and you can easily enjoy it from within their multitude of parks. With hiking trails, playgrounds, and fall festivals, you’re sure to find something that both you and your children will enjoy. Some of the upcoming festivals and our personal favorites include:
- Pumpkin Fest at Adams-Ricci in Enola
3. Pick your own orchards.
In addition to getting fresh air and exercise, pick your own orchards make excellent spots for an afternoon trip. Whether you’re picking pumpkins, apples, or something different, giving your kiddos choices in what they get to take home gives them an incredible sense of independence and autonomy. There are a ton of orchards we love in the area, among them: Strites, Mt. Airy, and Patchwork Pumpkin Farm.
4. Cruising the Susquehanna
The Pride of Susquehanna Riverboat features a variety of events through almost every season. During the fall, there are 45-minute sightseeing cruises that take you up and down the river. There are also sunset dinners, murder mysteries (better for the older kids), jazz bands, folk performers, and a Halloween Spooktacular. The riverboat is such a fun learning experience for our little one, and it’s a relaxing time as well. A bonus is that you see the riverfront trees in autumn colors while enjoying the Harrisburg skyline.
We are a committed budget-friendly family, so most of the activities we enjoy during the fall are low or no cost. We are proof that you can have a happy, well-cared for child without spending a ton of money or buying them everything they want. I think it’s easy to do while living in Central PA. There really is so much to see and do. It’s the reason we stayed here rather than move back to Chicago when I found out I was pregnant. This area is magical – especially in the fall.