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7 Outdoor Things to Do in Central, PA, and Beyond

A Lancaster Balloon Rides hot air balloon mid flight over Amish Country, PA

If you’re looking for some outdoor things to do in Central, PA, we’ve got you covered.

Central PA is more than the iconic sweets and Amish folks. The area is an outdoor recreational playground, which draws people to the location every year. Check out our list of cool outdoor things to do in Central PA, and you’ll see why everyone loves the area.

1. Gettysburg National Military Park

A civil war canon on the Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA,

History runs deep to the core of Gettysburg National Military Park. Here, thousands of soldiers fought during one of the most significant battles and the Civil War’s turning point, the Battle of Gettysburg, from July 1 to July 3, 1863. The site is also the location where President Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg Address.

Visitors can take walking tours of the sprawling 6,000-acre Civil War military park, use your car, or opt for a guided tour of the location. Experience the hallowed and historical grounds through living history demonstrations, historical artifacts on display in the museum, and anniversary celebrations.

2. Hot air balloon ride over Amish Country

Lancaster hot air balloon ride

Soar over Amish Country in a hot air balloon with the Lancaster Balloon Rides (operated by The US Hot Air Balloon Team). With sunrise and sunset flights, a hot balloon ride will make your trip to Central PA one to last a lifetime. Treat yourself to views of Lancaster County’s rolling hills and farmlands, Amish horses and buggies, and the small towns of Intercourse, New Holland, Strasburg, and Ephrata. You might even spot the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay or Delaware Bay if the weather cooperates. A hot air balloon flight is perfect for a romantic date or simply a memorable experience among friends.

3. Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park waterfall

As one of the top day trips in Central Pennsylvania, Ricketts Glen State Park is known for its scenic old-growth forest and over two dozen magnificent waterfalls flowing through the park. You won’t want to miss out on the Glens Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark, where you can hike amid free-flowing waterfalls cascading through rocks on an ancient hillside.

The 13,000-acre park spans three counties and offers an abundance of other outdoor activities: camping, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, as well as cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice skating in the winter.

4. Hersheypark

Entrance at Hershey Park Chocolate World

As the sweetest place in Central Pennsylvania, Hersheypark is at the top of visitors’ lists for a good reason. Open year-round, you can ride over 50 rides in the park, including 14 coasters and a water park, and ZooAmerica, a North American Wildlife Park.

During the fall, get into the Halloween spirit and visit the park in the dark. Come in the winter to experience over five million twinkling lights and visit Santa and his reindeer. Whatever the season or the reason, there are countless sweet memories to be made at Hersheypark.

5. Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

Pine Creek Gorge, known to many as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, spans 47 miles and plunges 800-1,450 feet deep. Viewed from the eastern rim at Leonard Harrison State Park or western rim at Colton Point State Park, the gorge is about a mile wide, from rim to rim.

Suppose you’re not up for a challenging hiking trail that gets you an up-close view of its impressive waterfalls. In that case, you can observe the PA Grand Canyon and its majesty via a viewing platform, a short walk from the parking lot.

Not quite Central PA but still worth visiting…

6. Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania

Unparalleled beauty, one-of-a-kind place, breathtaking setting, majestic gardens, and premier horticultural showplace are all accounts often heard describing Longwood Gardens. The celebrated botanical garden attracts visitors to 1,000-plus acres of gardens, meadows, woodlands, and elaborate displays of native and exotic plants. Founded in 1906, it has become a world-renowned destination for botany, design, art, and education. Explore Longwood Gardens today and discover the colors and sights of nature.

7. Perkiomen Trail

Perkiomen Trail, a 20.6-mile crushed stone and paved trail winds along Perkiomen Creek and passes through beautiful landscapes, quaint villages, and various historical sites. The Perkiomen Trail uses the Perkiomen Line of the Reading Railroad rail bed in Montgomery County, making it a great bike trail for riders of all skill levels. The path is also great for walking, jogging, horseback riding, and cross country skiing.

More things to see in Central, PA

As you can see, there’s so much to uncover in Central PA and beyond. Here you’ll find dazzling landscapes, protected forests, rich preserved history, roller coasters, and plenty more things to do outside. So what are you waiting for? Head to Central PA, book your hot air balloon ride, and join us in the seemingly endless outdoor adventures and things to do.