On the travel map, York County (Pennsylvania) is often neglected. If you ask most people, they would probably tell you that it is a rural town with little to see and that you should take a trip to New Orlean, Richmond, or even NYC instead.
Well, only the wildest minds know what York has to offer! When I first visited York, I was blown away by how much there was to do in the city of white roses.
From a rich history to beautiful natural attractions and fancy restaurants, there are many exciting things for you to discover. All it takes is a bit of patience and an adventurous soul to explore every bit of this seemingly quiet town.
Does that make you want to pack your bag and visit York? Finding a good travel guide can be troublesome since, again, this city is often overlooked. That’s why Enjoyfuntrip presents to you the top 10 things to do in York PA. Read on, and you will have a weekend getaway like no other!
What Makes York, PA A Special Place?
Did you know that, before the Civil War took place in 1861, York was a prominent town? From September 1777 to June 1778, it even played the role of the national capital. While it was just a brief period, the city is still home to many cultural landmarks and notable historical attractions that you must check out.
York County got its most well-known nickname, “The White Rose City”, from the royal emblem of England. Aside from that, the city is also entitled to an “architectural museum” thanks to all of its charming old buildings. Just take a walk down the old town’s historic district, and you will know what I mean!
However, what really sets York apart from other cities is the factory tours. From motorcycles to candies and potato chips, many factories open their doors and welcome tourists to take a behind-the-scenes look at how the products are made. No matter who you are, your wildest curiosity will be satisfied here. And guess what? Most of those tours are free!
Together with its lovely green spaces and vibrant performing arts scenes, all of those make this Pennsylvania city a hidden gem waiting for you to discover. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best things to do in York PA!
Top 10 Things To Do In York PA
Take A Trip To The Past At The Old Town Historic District
As mentioned above, the city of York boasts plenty of beautiful old buildings, and you can find most of them in the Historic District. There are over 300 architectures whose styles reflect the old times, especially the Victorian and Revival eras. All of them are constructed between the 18th and 20th centuries.
Hence, just like user “Dave C.” from Tripadvisor noted, “taking a stroll down the Old Town Historic District feels like walking back in time”. Some of the places I’d recommend stopping by are the Christ Lutheran Church and the U.S Post Office. They will give you an insight into how York played an essential role in American history and how it has fallen from prominence. Of course, don’t forget to visit the oldest public-private partnership, namely the York Water Company. The little museum hidden at the backdoor of this building is one of the amazing findings only the locals know!
On the first Friday of every month, the Historic District will become an immersive gallery. If you are lucky enough to be here these days, don’t miss out on the chance to take in local art, live performances, or artisan crafts!
Have A Delicious Lunch At The Central Market House
How does it feel to be a Yorker? Head to the Central Market House, and you will know! This is the local best farm market where you can find the finest farm produces at excellent prices.
After a trip to the market, you can take home fresh vegetables, meats, seafood, deli products, baked goods, and a variety of specialty items. With the friendly sellers, you will always feel welcomed here.
This is also one of the most vibrant spots in the town, bustling with families enjoying lunch, grabbing coffee, or buying baked goods. People find fresh flavors at the wide range of food vendors, with tons of seating for mingling and making the rounds. From the all-time favorites like fried chicken, barbecue, and Pretzels to more exotic fare like Mexican, Greek, and Korean, there is something for everyone here.
In York, the Central Market isn’t just a place to shop: It’s the heart of the community, where locals and visitors alike come together and become a part of what’s going on downtown.
Explore The Birthplace Of The United States At York Colonial Complex
After lunch, make your way to the York Colonial Complex! While Philadelphia’s Old City and specifically the Independence Hall are well-known as the birthplaces of the U.S, this place can also make the same claim.
The complex offers guided tours for all visitors, starting with a walk through the Golden Plough Tavern. Constructed in 1741, it’s well known as the oldest building in the city, providing tourists with a glimpse of how life was in 18th century York.
Then, you will explore the General Horatio Gates House. In 1777, Horatio Gate – the top commander of the Continental Army, spent the whole winter in York. After touring his residence, visitors will learn more about his life.
The York County Courthouse – a place that hosted meetings of the Continental Congress from autumn 1777 to summer 1779 – is another stop on tour. While the original courthouse was demolished in the 1860s, a replica has been constructed so tourists can get an insight into the historical events that took place in York.
Things To Do In York PA – Make Bath Fizzies At Sunrise Soap Company
After learning about the region’s rich history, culture, and heritage, it’s time to slow things down and have some fun! From the moment you step into the Sunrise soap company, you will be engulfed by an incredibly pleasant aroma.
As the name suggests, this company offers body care products handmade from natural ingredients. You can take home bath bombs, 100% natural soaps, scrubs, lip balms, lotions, and so on. Not only can you witness how the products are made, but you can also sign up for one of their classes and make your own fizzies!
A day at the Sunrise Soap Company
Go Wine Tasting At The Mason – Dixon Wine Trail
The Maxon-Dixon Wine Trail is not just any run-off-the-mill winery. It’s a group of wineries that spreads across three counties, offering an exceptional collection of wines from all over Pennsylvania.
If you want to enrich your wine knowledge, the wine trail hosts wine tasting events all year round. You can learn about how wine is made and sip for swag while admiring the spectacular views of the countryside.
Take Your Kids On The Martin Potato Chips Factory Tour
Or perhaps you are looking for some kid activities in York PA? Well, here you are! Being the “world’s capital of factory tours”, York is home to countless factories and production lines of famous snack brands. Among them, the Martin Potato Chips factory is one of the most visited spots, fascinating both adults and children alike.
Starting humbly in the Martin family kitchen, Martin’s Potato Chips has grown into a massive business that sells more than 1 million bags of potato chips and popcorn each month. Their scrumptious snacks were even served to George W. Bush and Bill Clinton on Air Force One!
As you visit their enormous factory, you will learn the art of crafting the perfect potato chips right in front of your eyes. After witnessing the making process, visitors can try out some of the savory products.
Martin’s Potato Chips Factory Tour
Things To Do In York PA – Go On A Harley Davidson Factory Tour
While there are many factory tours in York, the best is done by Harley Davidson – the legendary motorcycle brand. Nestled on the city’s northern outskirts, their factory offers amazing behind-the-scenes tours for those curious about the manufacturing process.
There are only a handful of locations in the United States that manufacture motorcycles, and of course, not all are open for tourists. In roughly one hour, the Harley Davidson factory tour will reveal everything about the renowned bike. You will be tempted to pick up a cool souvenir that will remind you of this trip!
Enjoy A Live Broadway Show At The Appell Center For The Performing Arts
If you are after a spectacular show, the Appel Center for the Performing Arts should be your next destination. Located in downtown York, its two venues offer every form of entertainment, from movie screenings and comedy performances to concerts and even live Broadway shows. Over the years, this entertainment hotspot has hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Blondie, B.B. King, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Appell Center For The Performing Arts
Another great way to spend the night is to revel in live music at The Depot. With a dive bar drive, this venue is where underground music lovers gather. It offers a cozy ambiance to enjoy performances from indie singers and bands. Don’t forget to check out their open mic sessions and craft beer selection held every Thursday!
Admire The Scenic Trails Of Heritage Rail Trail County Park
Beginning at the Colonial Courthouse, this iconic “rail-with-trail” covers a distance of approximately 21 miles.
The trail passes through York’s most breathtaking landscapes. This flat trail is perfect for hiking, and you will find a lot of fascinating sights along the way. This includes historic architecture, such as the Hanover Junction, and a tunnel, turning it into a one-of-a-kind experience. Watching the trains cross by is a fun experience, but be cautious when crossing the tracks.
For those interested in astronomy, the park hosts public stargazes where you can observe the night sky and its celestial bodies using telescopes.
Things To Do In York PA – Have A Picnic With Your Family At Rocky Ridge County Park
Just a stone’s throw from downtown York is the Rocky Ridge County Park where you can find a myriad of lively outdoor activities. The park takes its name from the numerous rock formations that dot its landscape. It overlooks both the Susquehanna River Valley and the surrounding hills and mountains. There are plenty of trails winding their way around the ridge, which lead to stunning vistas dispersed throughout. Whether you explore the woods by biking or hiking, you will be greeted with divine views and scenery.
Not to forget, Rocky Ridge has everything for a day out with your family. Tucked away in the woods, next to horseshoe pits and barbecue facilities, are picnic areas, park benches, and playgrounds. If you stop by during the holiday season, don’t miss out on the Christmas Magic event when thousands of sparkling fairy lights lighten up the walking trails and Santa visits the park.
Christmas Magic, York PA
Get Ready To Be Surprised!
The above list of things to do in York PA is a great start to exploring this low-key incredible city. Soon, you will uncover more facets. Even a simple walk through downtown York can bring you a lot of surprises: It can be an old building that tells the stories of Revolutionary War soldiers, a beautiful green space, or friendly Yorkers you meet along the way.
That’s York, a place where a simple and convenient visit turns out to be an unforgettable experience.