15 Best Things to Do in Columbia, PA

Columbia, PA
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Trips aren’t just about beautiful destinations, but it’s also about the journey, the memories you make along the way, and the people you meet on your travels.

Columbia in Pennsylvania is one of those places where your journey can be magical and meaningful.

If you want to witness this kind of beauty and wonder on your travels, choose this city.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Columbia, Pennsylvania:

Marvel at the National Watch and Clock Museum

Exterior of National Watch and Clock Museum
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The National Watch and Clock Museum, located at 514 Poplar Street, offers a quaint and unique experience that visitors of Columbia wouldn’t want to miss.

Established in 1977, this museum has a vast collection of timepieces from all over the world, each with its own interesting story.

The tall clock tower of National Watch and Clock Museum
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Travel back in time once you step foot into the building and witness the different ways humanity’s recorded and told time since the stone age.

One of the most notable pieces in the museum is a gorgeous German table clock from the 1570s.

A clock on the grounds of National Watch and Clock Museum
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Follow the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail

The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail was developed in 2003 and was designed to serve as a multi-purpose and public recreation trail for everyone to enjoy.

It follows the historic Pennsylvania Mainline Canal, meaning you’ll never run out of fun sights to see.

As you walk down the path, you’ll find several interesting things, such as archeological remains, canal locks, and old quarry equipment.

You’ll also pass by several natural wonders and important historic sites on your journey, so be sure to get your cameras ready!

Visit Wright’s Ferry Mansion

Exterior of Wright’s Ferry Mansion
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Another historical site that you shouldn't miss is Wright’s Ferry Mansion, located at 38 S 2nd St.

It was built in 1738 and was specifically designed to reflect the sophisticated taste and wide variety of interests of Susanna Wright, the house’s original owner.

At present, it’s the only existing English Quaker House that’s been exclusively furnished to reflect the first half of the eighteenth century.

Now, after she’s long passed, the house has been restored and furnished by The von Hess Foundation.

You’ll find a large collection of glass, ceramic, metals, and textiles from 1700 to 1750.

Learn the Veterans Memorial Bridge’s History

Aerial view of Veterans Memorial Bridge
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The Veterans Memorial Bridge, also known as the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge, is one of the most historically significant concrete bridges in the United States.

It spans the Susquehanna River and sits right between Columbia and Wrightsville, carrying Pennsylvania Route 462 and the BicyclePA Route S.

View from under the Veterans Memorial Bridge
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This bridge was also burned during the American Civil War so that the Union prevented Confederate forces from advancing into Columbia.

It was later on reconstructed several more times, most notably as part of a railway, before the metal parts were finally dismantled in 1958.

The Veterans Memorial Bridge reflecting on the river
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Step into the First National Bank Museum

One of the first places to visit when in Columbia would definitely be one of their oldest historic sites: the First National Bank Museum.

Located at 170 Locust st, the site hosts one of the oldest banks in the United States.

The building was first built in 1814 as a Federalist-style townhouse, and after becoming a tavern, a private residence, and a hotel, it finally became home to a bank in 1852.

When you first step into the establishment, it’ll be like being transported back to the 19th century.

Join an amazing educational tour to learn about the bank’s unique history.

And once you’re done with that, you’ll still have plenty of time to explore the area.

Stop by the nearby shops, art galleries, taverns, and restaurants to get the full tourist experience of the area.

Have a Scrumptious TIme at the Turkey Hill Experience

Exterior of Turkey Hill Experience
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Pay a visit to Turkey Hill Experience, at 301 Linden Street, if you want to try their delicious treat and have a great time along the way!

The site offers several tours that’ll educate guests on how ice cream is made.

Interior of Turkey Hill Experience
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And after that, you can move on to other fun things, such as sitting, taking pictures on their milk truck, and having fun milking Turkey Hill’s mechanical cows.

Once with those things comes the best part: you get to create your own virtual ice cream flavor, package, and commercial!

And, obviously, while you’re doing all these ice cream-related activities, you’ll be munching down as many free samples as you can to your heart’s content.

So really, there’s no downside to visiting this magical ice cream palace.

Beverage section in Turkey Hill Experience
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Stop by the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center

The Columbia Crossing River Trails Center provides a lot of resources for visitors who want to learn more about the culture, history, and customs of the area.

You can find it on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River, and they’re always ready to welcome curious travelers.

The site provides visitors with educational offerings that’ll tell them some historic, scenic, and recreational stories straight from the mouth of locals.

The center also offers several events throughout the year to keep visitors happy and engaged while maintaining a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

You can even rent out their facilities if you need them for your own special occasions and memories.

Marvel at the View from Chickies Rock County Park

View of the river at Chickies Rock County Park
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Chickies Rock County Park sits right between Columbia and Marietta and lets you see the best of both worlds.

The property was acquired back in 1977 and now—with its vistas, lovely and unique geological features, and rich heritage—offers its visitors the chance to experience nature at its finest.

The view from a hill at Chickies Rock County Park
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The towering outcrop of quartzite rock is inarguably the most notable feature of the site, and is something that every visitor would have to see with their eyes.

You’ll also find a panoramic view of Chickies Rock and Susquehanna River if you walk to the edge of the park, making it the perfect spot for weddings, anniversaries, or if you’re simply looking for a spot with a picturesque and timeless view.

Work with the Columbia Historic Preservation Society

Aside from visiting notable historical sites, you may also want to find a place where enthusiasts with the same passion for the past interact with each other.

If that’s the case, then the Columbia Historic Preservation Society at 21 North 2nd Street is the place to go.

They offer published articles and books that detail the town’s history and culture, so strap yourselves in for an afternoon filled with fun and learning.

The establishment also houses a model train display, several artifact exhibits, a microfilm archive, and so much more.

You can be sure that just one visit to this place will satisfy the needs of your inner history enthusiast.

Explore Columbia River Park

A bench overlooking the Columbia bridge at Columbia River Park
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Columbia River Park, which can be found just a few blocks from the heart of Columbia, is a great place to visit if you want to do some activities in the water.

The place features a canoe and kayak launch as well as a boat launch, which is a great feature for people who want to explore the Susquehanna River.

The water trail is more than 50 miles long and is managed by Susquehanna Heritage.

These kinds of features exist to honor the long history Columbia has of water travel and trade.

Back in the 19th Century, the area was a hub of transportation, commerce, and industry, and most of it was because of the place’s proximity to the water.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Rela at Samuel S Lewis State Park

The open space of Samuel S Lewis State Park
Nicholas, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Samuel S Lewis State Park, found at 6000 Mt. Pisgah, is the place to go if you’re looking for a spot to do more recreational activities.

If you’re interested in hiking, then you’re in for a treat!

Welcome sign of Samuel S Lewis State Park
Gerry D, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are even places where you can settle down and watch out for the unique wildlife that the area offers.

You can also go on a picnic or fly a kite if you want to do something more laid back and relaxed while remaining in the outdoors.

The park also has a space for sledding in the winter, so be sure to try that out with your friends if you get the chance.

The millstone of Samuel S Lewis State Park
Gerry D, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Join a Tour of Fright at the Field of Screams

When the name alone elicits a chill down your spine, that’s when you know you’re in for a great time.

The Field of Screams at 191 College Avenue is the place to go if you’re looking to be scared out of your wits.

Step into their haunted house ride and try not to be overwhelmed by the heebie-jeevies, and don’t flinch as you walk through their den of darkness and its three stories of pure terror.

You can also explore the Frightmare Asylum, where you’ll be surrounded by the demented and the deranged.

And if you and your travel companions are still up for it, take a stroll down the Nocturnal Wasteland and find the secrets it hides.

Come face to face with the mutant creature hidden underneath the thick vegetation and feel your heart leap out of your chest from a mix of fear and excitement.

Learn History at  Blue Rock Heritage Center

A red barn at Blue Rock Heritage Center
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Wineries aren’t the only place for romantic outings, and Columbia certainly has a lot to offer in this regard.

You can also go to the Blue Rock Heritage Center at 2251 River Rd with your romantic partner or your traveling companions.

The site was founded to provide a home for several historical artifacts found in the area.

If you want a glimpse of the ancient past with your friends and loved ones, this is the place to go.

The center aims to promote and conserve the area’s rich history, and what better way to help them do that by listening to and appreciating the stories they have to tell?

Wine and Dine at Moon Dancer Vineyard and Winery

Fine wine and even a finer company are enough to turn any bleak day into a bright afternoon.

Moon Dancer Vineyard, located at 1330 Klines Run Rd, overlooks the Susquehanna River and is the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

Sample their wide menu of wines and ciders alongside your special someone, and revel in each other’s presence and the electrifying atmosphere.

The establishment also offers locally produced craft beers and spirits to add more variety to their selection.

You should also take the time to try out their artisan pizzas to get the full experience.

Expand Your Knowledge at Susquehanna National Heritage Area

The Susquehanna National Heritage Area at 1706 Long Level Road works with local, state, and national partners to make the area a top destination where people can have fun and appreciate the place’s cultural diversity.

The river itself has a rich history that visitors from all over the world will surely appreciate.

Native Americans have used its resources for thousands of years, and it was a big part of their daily life.

You can take a small piece of this history by joining one of the regular boat tours conducted in the area.

Take a ride on one of their electric rafts and listen to the guides as they tell stories about the area and impart information on the local flora and fauna.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to look for magic wherever you go, and Columbia is the kind of place that makes it easy.

Whether you are passing by one of their many parks and nature trails or getting lost in a clock museum, it’s hard not to fall in love with all the beauty all around you.

So be sure to add this place to your travel itinerary to get that extra sense of wonder that people need in their lives.

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