Taking an empty nest adventure in your own backyard (not literally) was so much fun! I guess you would actually call it an “Empty Nest Adventures Staycation.” We had the privilege of working with Visit Hershey Harrisburg on a Media Tour to discover some interesting places for couples to visit in Central PA.
The second weekend in June happened to be our 30th Wedding Anniversary so it was the perfect time to plan a quick empty nest adventure Harrisburg, PA is only 40 miles from our home. Of course, we’ve been there many times to eat, visit and sightsee, but this trip was completely different. We found all the hidden gems and made the best of them.
Empty Nest Adventures in Harrisburg History
Harrisburg is the capital of PA. It’s packed full of history and is home to one of the most elegant and expensive State Capitol Buildings. I was in awe. A visit to the PA State Capitol is a must!
I had toured the capital during my own school years and also as a chaperone during my children’s field trips. My husband had never had the privilege of visiting our state capital. There’s a huge difference in visiting when your an adult with time to appreciate the space. The architecture was stunning.
Marble, gold, mosaics, commissioned artwork and more. It’s definitely a sight to see and perfect for adults to enjoy without their children. Free public tours are offered Monday through Saturday. It’s always best to call ahead and ensure a tour is running or has open spots for your party.
Learning the history of how the capital was formed and founded was enlightening. I’m not usually enthralled by history, but I couldn’t get enough.
The guided tour starts in the outdoors, leads to the parlor, butler’s kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and ends with a dedicated display of local brewery memorabilia to showcase the county. (Which really isn’t part of the mansion’s history)
Again, the history and architecture of the building were stunning. Imported marble, types of furniture, and art deco designs are just a few of the outstanding features inside.
Empty Nest Adventures in Harrisburg Food
Harrisburg is filled with so many places to eat. From casual to elegant your needs can be met around every street corner. We are total foodies. We couldn’t get enough of the unique and fabulous eatery choices in Harrisburg, PA.
Our first stop was Broad Street Market. A historic indoor and outdoor market packed with unique gifts, local artisans, and fresh local foods to eat in or take home. You could spend hours tasting your way through one cuisine to the next. African, Jamaican, PA Dutch, and so much more.
Los Tres Cubanos
Neither of us has eaten “real” Cuban food. Los Tres Cubanos did not disappoint. The atmosphere was fun and traditional. Be sure to make reservations. The inside seating is limited but worth the wait.
If you have a cuisine you love or have not tried there is a very good chance you will find it offered in Harrisburg, PA. Rubicon is a French restaurant, another first for us. I was fascinated by the Lotus Root Chips. They were not only pleasing to the eye but also crunchy and delicious.
My husband is much more daring in his food ventures. He had the grilled octopus. He said it was fabulous. I didn’t try it. A duck BLT was my entree and it was a great choice!
The Millworks is home to local artisans, microbrewery and great food! We made a quick stop for an appetizer and drinks so we could check out the artists in residence. Again, food that didn’t disappoint. Grilled Wild Mushrooms and Fries with Stoudt Gravy! Yum!
A hidden gem we visited was O’Reilly’s Tap Room and Kitchen. We don’t usually visit tap rooms because we don’t drink. O’Reilly’s happened to be the restaurant attached to the Best Western where we stayed for the weekend. We popped in there for a quick appetizer, too.
The Crab Stuffed Pretzel was plenty to share. A great combo of flavors and was delicious. We also had a plentiful breakfast buffet and room service all prepared in the tap house kitchen.
Besides being in foodie heaven all weekend, we had plenty of fun too!
Empty Nest Adventures in Hershey Harrisburg Fun
If you are in the Hershey Harrisburg area a trip to the Hershey Gardens is a must. In June the gardens are in full bloom. You can spend hours wondering, taking photos and stopping to smell the roses.
A bonus at the Rose Gardens is the Butterfly Atrium. It mimics rain forest conditions. Several species of butterflies and moths are flying, resting, hatching, and eating at their leisure.
Do you see the pattern on the moth wings? It looks like a snakehead. Perfect camouflage to protect him from predators.
Ski Roundtop Mountain Adventures was definitely the biggest empty nest adventure of the weekend. Dual Zip Lining, OGO Ball,s Water Slides, Scenic Chairlift Ride, and snack bar visit. It was definitely a day full of adventures. I can’t wait to take our nieces and nephews for the day!
We got to experience our first dual ziplining ride. It was fabulous! The initial step is a tough one, but after that, you’re flying 400 feet high across the park. It’s definitely something we’d do again!
The next day was more low key. We spent a rainy Sunday on the Susquehanna River. The Pride of Susquehanna is one of the 6 remaining “authentic” paddlewheel riverboats in the United States. This means that the Pride ONLY uses the paddle wheels for both propulsion and steering. There are no propellers, rudders or other forms of propulsion or steering. If you need some downtime to relax and enjoy the scenery take a ride on the pride.
You’ll get a tour along the Susquehanna River rich with history and scenery. It was raining during our visit. Actually, a full downpour, so we didn’t get to enjoy the outside deck, which we know from past experience is the most memorable part of the ride.
Before our ride, we explored City Island. You could easily spend the whole day there. Miniature golf, baseball games, train and carriage rides, bike rental, bathing beach and even workout stations. It’s definitely a place the whole family can enjoy.
After our day filled with activities, we were able to head back to our hotel to plays some air hockey and get some much-needed rest. The king size bed was comfortable and very roomy. It seemed much bigger than our normal queen size at home. The hotel was clean and room service was fabulous. I am not usually a big fan of hotels, but I’d definitely stay at the Premier Best Western Central Hotel again. One of my favorite parts is the stunning decorated lobby with cozy seating and a fresh supply of complimentary coffee, tea and fruit infused water.
Harrisburg is packed full of food, fun, and adventure. We ate like royalty and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Harrisburg has so many hidden gems and is definitely a great place for couples and families, alike. If you plan to visit, let us know. We’d love to meet you for dinner.