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.
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.
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.
The Susquehanna National Heritage Area offers River Discovery Boat Tours for groups up to 10 passengers. On these pontoon boats guides will lead you on a 1 hour and 15 minute tour of the river where you will experience the joy of benign the water, hearing stories of the river and viewing beautiful scenery ant wildlife. Tours are offered free of charge thanks to the grants from the PA Department of Conservation and Nation Resources/Heritage Areas programs, as well as the National Parks Service/ Chesapeake Bay Gateways Program. Tours depart from the Zimmerman Center for Heritage dock every Saturday and Sunday through August 4 at 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 2:30 PM. Online reservations are recommended.
If your idea of “outdoorsy” is sipping wine on your patio, try cruising along in a river boat. The Pride of the Susquehanna which offers daily tours around City Island and along the river banks, in the neighboring city of Harrisburg. While aboard you can enjoy live music and hand-crafted cocktails. If you are looking for a unique dining experience they also offer dinner cruises. The river boat cruises from May through October.
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.