Posted: 06/15/2023

Things to do by the River in Lancaster, PA

Explore the great towns and activities along the Susquehanna River.

Things to do by the River in Lancaster, PA

With the temperatures rising we are all looking for ways to cool off. Did you know that there are plenty of activities to do along the Susquehanna River? Whether you are a hiker, biker, fisher, or just outdoor enthusiast there is probably an activity for you.

Love to bike? Whether you are a cyclist or weekend cruiser you’re sure to enjoy the Northwest River Trail. This rail trail connects the river towns of Columbia, Marietta, and Bainbridge where you can explore the unique history of each on two wheels. It offers breathtaking views of the river along the way as well as plenty of shade as you roll along. With a wonderful picnic area and information about the County’s riverland region, the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center provides a great starting place for your adventure.

In need of a bike to get rolling on the trails? Check out Let's Roll in Columbia! Located right on the Northwest River Rail Trail, this local family-owned business specializes in renting, selling, and servicing electric bikes.

If you prefer hiking we recommend a visit to Chickies Rock Park. With two overlooks, visitors can take in the incredible vistas of the Susquehanna River. There are also pavilions, picnic areas, and ball fields available- plan to make a day out of it! Rock climbers can often be seen scaling the rock faces along the trail. You can also head over to Pinnacle Point Overlook, a short walk from the parking area offers stunning views of the Susquehanna.

Another great hiking spot along the river is Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve. Considered one of the most pristine ravines which opens to the Susquehanna River, this preserve is beautiful all year round. In the summer you will be sure to see thickets of wild rhododendron. A stream runs through the park, perfect for creek-stomping.

If you prefer to spend your summer days on the water, the Susquehanna River is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, boating, and fishing. You can either bring your own equipment or rent single or tandem kayaks, paddles, and life vests from Chiques Rock Outfitters. They also offer guided tours and shuttles (if you don’t feel like going back upstream). Stand-up paddle boards and kayak rentals can also be found at Shanks Mare Outfitters, check thier calendar for fun events like Friday Paddle Nights with music, tours, and safetly courses. Be sure to check the water levels and conditions before venturing out.

kayakLanCo offers private self-guided kayak experiences. We offer great options for every age and comfort level, with seven Lancaster County routes from lake to river. All adventures are self-guided as we provide the instruction and equipment you need to have a memorable, refreshing nature experience while building your knowledge and confidence on the water.

Book your personalized tour with Adventure Explorations. They specialize in climbing, paddling, cycling, fishing and hiking excursions. Learn from expert guides and either develop new skills or build on existing ones - there is an outdoor experience for every type of adventurer!

River Discovery Boat Tours are back for the 2023 season at The Susquehanna National Heritage Area! Sit aboard a historic electric-powered vessel that was built in 1912. Experience the joy of being on the water, hear stories of the river, and view scenic landscapes and abundant wildlife aboard this elegant treasure from the past!
Beginning this June through mid-October, The Susquehanna National Heritage Area is offering tours where you can experience the joy of being on the water and experience what it is like to be aboard an elegant treasure from the past. They even offer sunset cruises, perfect for a date night! Advance reservations are recommended.

Also nearby, dine on the banks of the river at John Wright Restaurant located just across the water in Wrightsville, PA. You can even float on over and dock your boat! Their menu offers breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner. Another great place to eat near the river is Columbia Kettle Works, after an afternoon of antique shopping in Columbia it is the perfect place to refuel and have a cold craft beer.

In the chance of bad weather, there are indoor activities along the river as well! Families will love the Turkey Hill Experience where they can learn how the delicious ice cream is made or even create their own flavors in the taste lab! While history buffs can explore all things “time” related at the National Watch and Clock Museum.

Each river town- Columbia, Marietta, and Bainbridge- have their own unique history. You can explore their small shops, restaurants, and antique stores scattered through their historic downtowns. To learn more about these towns visit the Susquehanna Heritage organization. They are a designated National Heritage Area that offers a plethora of local information and are part Pennsylvania’s statewide Heritage Area.

If you're too tired to drive home why not stay at a local bed and breakfast, like the B.F. Hiestand or an airbnb with an amazing mural on the side of it's building! Talk about an Instagram-worthy filled day! A day filled with beautiful photos of the river can continue with a photoshoot besides a mural of a poppy at the Poppy House on Mulberry.

Keep the outdoor spirit alive by staying at Elizabethtown/Hershey Holiday KOA. Located conveniently between Elizabethtown and the river you'll just be a short drive away from getting back on the trail or heading into town to fuel up on good food.

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