Columbia, Lancaster County, PA
Situated along the Susquehanna River, Columbia was originally founded as Wright's Ferry in 1726.
Located within the Susquehanna National Heritage Area, Columbia is a destination for outdoor fun, culture, and history. This small town has a lot to offer visitors, whether you’re here to explore our rich history or looking for adventure, Columbia has something for you.
There is no shortage of outdoor recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, rock-climbing, and activities on the water. Before you hit the trails, stop by the Columbia Crossing River Trail Center for trail maps and more information about the area.
The important location along the Susquehanna has had a great impact on its history. The town served as a major transportation hub for those traveling along land, rail, and river routes to other destinations. One of Columbia's key businesses in its early history was shuttling passengers and cargo across the river, but the town later grew into an industrial hub for lumber, coal, and assorted goods. Its lively characters and community are one of a kind, with a sense of pride that is unique to the Susquehanna Valley.
It was John Wright, a Quaker who traveled to Columbia to preach to Indians, who established a ferry in 1730 that provided access to land beyond the western banks of the Susquehanna. The Wright's Ferry Mansion is still located at Second and Cherry Street in the town and can be visited today with tours held May through October. Their tours share the remarkable story of John Wright’s daughter, Susanna Wright who thrive in the frontier settlement.
Today, these preserved houses are interspersed with warehouses and former factories - all of which are a piece of Columbia's industrial past. The town plays host to a variety events and activities that celebrate the community's rich stories, past and present. It's flanked by neighboring river towns Marietta and Wrightsville.
Ice cream lovers young and old will be in heaven at Turkey Hill Experience, where you can get the scoop on how ice cream and Turkey Hill iced teas are made. For extra cool fun, add the Taste Lab experience to your visit and make your own ice cream flavor, complete with tasty mix-in options.
Watch time tick by as you explore the massive watch and clock collection at the National Watch & Clock Museum, also located in Columbia, PA. This fascinating museum features interactive exhibits, special collections, and a museum shop.
Located along the Susquehanna River, Columbia offers plenty of outdoor adventures including hiking, biking, rock-climbing, and activities on the water. Before you hit the trail, stop by the Columbia Crossing River Trail Center for help planning your adventure. If you happen to be in town at the end of June, catch Riverfest event that commemorate the Civil War burning of 1-mile long, wooden covered bridge. Join in the event by attending outdoor live music, run and paddle races on the river and nearby trails, or meet historic reenactors.
If you're interested in kayaking then checking out kayakLanCo is a must. They offer private self-guided kayak experiences that take you close to the Columbia bridges. Chiques Rock Outfitters is another go-to spot for all things outdoor adventure. They have all the equipment you'll need for a fun and adventurous day by the River. You can even rent a bike to zoom down the Northwest River Trail or an electric scooter to explore the town in style.
Looking for something unique to remember your visit? Antiques are plentiful in this area of the county with over 10 large shops to explore. Located in restored, historic buildings shop like Burning Bridge Antiques Market, Bootleg Antiques, and Rivertowne Antiques Center are filled with hidden gems and treasures from the past that antique-lovers will enjoy browsing for hours.
For even more unique shopping, visit Columbia Market House. This historic building was first established as a market in 1869. It's been renovated to become a modern hub for all to gather, get fresh produce, specialty foods, and shop unique, hand-made items.
Other popular events held in Columbia, PA:
- Thunder on the River Car Show, June
- Riverfest, June
- Albatwitch Day, October
- Fourth Friday, held each month
Where to Eat
Looking for something more? Stroll this picturesque river town for a bite to eat, with a variety of unique and tasty eateries there is something for everyone. If you’re looking for a cup of coffee to keep you on the go, stop in at Columbia Coffee and Cream, The Café at Garth, HomeGoodies & Coffee, or Prince Street Café you will be pleasantly surprised by the burgeoning coffee scene developing in this quaint old town.
For a dose of nostalgia and heart home cooking, head to Hinkle’s Restaurant, located in the Columbia’s old Hinkle’s Pharmacy. Grab a seat at the diner counter for a filling, traditional breakfast or cozy up in a booth with your family for that classic American cuisine you crave. If you still have room for dessert, grab a sundae while seated at an old-fashioned soda fountain! Speaking of old-fashioned, enjoy a delicious meal just like you had in the good 'ol days at Griddles Malt Shoppe. Dine like a local and embrace community pride at this classic Columbia restaurant.
If you’re looking for a cold pint after an afternoon hike, head over to Columbia Kettle Works. A hip hangout in Columbia’s downtown, specializing in hand-crafted ales that are made in house, IPAs, porters and more along with sandwiches, meat & cheese boards, and bar snacks.
Try a local favorite for fine dining, head across the river to John Wright Restaurant where you can enjoy delicious dishes served in the restaurant and wood-fire pizza served on their pizza patio all while taking in the beautiful river views. Their monthly cigar and dinner events are a great way to experience the cuisine and views, for those who enjoy cigars.
Where to Stay:
Other popular places to visit:
For more information visit: Discover Columbia
Your guide to rail-trails, nature preserves, and hiking spots
Explore the great towns and activities along the Susquehanna River.