Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, sits 72 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
Founded in 1813, it was formed from parts of Dauphin and Lancaster counties, with a total land area of 362 square miles.
Only 0.2% of the landlocked region is water, most of which is drained by Swatara Creek and Tulpehocken Creek.
Lebanon County is primarily a valley.
It shares borders with Berks County in the east, Lancaster County in the south, Schuylkill in the northeast, and Dauphin County in the north and northwest.
Currently, the county has a lone city, Lebanon (the county seat), seven boroughs, 18 townships, 14 census-designated places, and two ghost towns, Cold Spring and Rausch Gap.
Here are the best things to do in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania:
Spot Birds at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area
The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is a 6,000-acre nature preserve in Lancaster and Lebanon counties.
Located on Hopeland Road in the unincorporated community of Kleinfeltersville, Heidelberg Township, the area was set aside by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for controlled wildlife harvest.
It’s a popular stopover for snow geese during winter migration, reaching up to 200,000 in peak season.
The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area has a 400-acre shallow water lake and a 70-acre impoundment home to waterfowl, forest, and farmland wildlife.
The best time to visit the area is from late February to late March, when flocks of tundra swans stop over during migration.
Buy Fresh Local Produce at Lebanon Farmers Market
Located on 8th Street in Lebanon is the historic Lebanon Farmers Market.
Dating back to 1892, the market is housed in the Market House, the site of the infamous Lebanon County Jail.
The farmers market is open every Saturday from late May through October.
Lebanon Farmers Market is home to local vendors selling fresh local produce, hot meals, jewelry, and other handmade goodies.
On the building’s third floor are restaurants serving anything from made-to-order sushi to sandwiches and pastries.
One of the most popular food stalls is Buddy’s Breakfast & Lunch, which serves all-day breakfast sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, and subs.
If you’re craving something sweet, Carmany's Double Twist has soft pretzels, homemade muffins, and tea.
See a Classic Movie at the Allen Theatre & Backstage Cafe
The Allen Theatre & Backstage Café is a historic single-screen cinema with an adjacent café located on East Main Street in Annville.
The theatre dates back to the early 1900s, then-named Hippodrome, showing movies at a discounted rate after they’ve finished their first run in theaters.
It was renamed Astor Theater in 1929 until it closed in the early 1980s due to financial troubles.
It was reopened in 1995 as the Allen Theatre and now shows classic films on special days.
Adjacent to the theater is Backstage Café, previously known as MJ Café, which serves sandwiches, salads, pastries, coffee, and smoothies.
The café hosts local musicians, jazz acts, and other artists on select nights.
Every Monday, it hosts open mic nights for anyone who wants to showcase their talents.
Join Trivia Night Wednesdays at the Downtown Lounge Bar and Restaurant
The Downtown Lounge Bar and Restaurant is a local sports bar located on Cumberland Street, Lebanon.
The brick-lined sports bar and grill has served classic American cuisine since 1979.
There are several TV screens around the bar, where you can watch the big game.
The walls are decorated with signed photos of sports personalities, from figure skaters to golfers to NFL stars.
The Downtown Lounge Bar and Restaurant is famous for its chicken wings, which are great to pair with a glass of ice-cold beer or handcrafted cocktails.
They also serve signature sandwiches and 1/3-pounder burgers named after professional football players.
Wednesday nights at the bar are Trivia Nights, while Friday nights are for karaoke enthusiasts.
Appreciate Pennsylvania German Craftsmanship at the Stoy Museum
The Stoy Museum is the Lebanon County Historical Society Museum located on Cumberland Street, Lebanon.
The original front portion of the museum was built in the 1780s and was the former home of a local minister and prominent Revolutionary War physician, William H. Stoy.
The museum offers guided tours that begin with a stroll through old shops and offices.
Inside the Stoy Museum, you will see fine examples of Pennsylvania German craftsmanship, such as furniture pieces, redware, quilting, and weaving.
A general store is also stocked with antique household items like kitchen tools and kerosene lamps.
The front parlor display features advertising materials from local county shops like The Karamel Corn Shop and Haak’s Dept. Store.
Learn about Local Iron History at Cornwall Iron Furnace
Cornwall Iron Furnace is a former furnace turned museum located on Rexmont Road in Cornwall.
Built in 1742 by iron magnate Peter Grubb, the furnace was Pennsylvania’s leading producer of iron at the time until it was shut down in 1883.
At its peak, Cornwall Iron Furnace supplied arms to George Washington during the Revolution.
Today, the furnace, blast equipment, related buildings, and the surrounding community still stand as they did over a century ago.
As a designated National Historic Landmark, it’s the only intact charcoal cold blast furnace in the Western Hemisphere.
Visitors can explore the well-preserved buildings where hardworking men cast cannons, guns, and pig iron day and night at the peak of the Revolutionary War.
There are multiple daily tours, but tour space is limited, so you should call ahead of time for reservations.
Try the Hotdogs at William Penn Bar & Restaurant
William Penn Bar & Restaurant is a casual bar and grill located on Cumberland Street, Lebanon.
The red brick restaurant is known for its hotdog sandwiches with a special house-made sauce.
They serve other American diner classics like burgers, fries, and milkshakes.
They also offer a breakfast menu with omelets, egg sandwiches, and toast.
You can make your sandwich and choose your ham, sausage, bacon, and cheese filling.
You can also choose the type of bread you want, from white, wheat, and rue toast, to English muffins and bagels.
The Chipped Beef on Toast and the William Penn-Hot Dog, Onion, and Chili-Sauce Omelets are other must-tries.
Buy Antiques at Black Swan Antiquities
Black Swan Antiquities is an antique shop on West Front Street in Palmyra.
The store features over 60 antique dealers who have amassed more than 20,000-square-feet’s worth of fine antiques, vintage items, and collectibles.
The massive warehouse-like shop contains weaponry, ephemera, furniture pieces, and farmhouse items worldwide.
Prepare to walk around the co-op and scour for deals; the items are well-organized, and the vendors gladly assist you.
The aisles are vast, so you don’t have to worry about knocking down some priceless vase while inspecting the pieces.
You can find anything from elegant china, vintage toy cars, dolls, and even gemstones at Black Swan Antiquities.
Chug Craft Beers at the Union Beer House
The Union Beer House is a bar and restaurant located on Cumberland Street, Lebanon.
They boast a wide variety of local and imported craft beers from specialty brewing companies.
They have 16 revolving taps, Crowler fills, mix-6, cold six-packs, wines, and adult slushies, so you will get something new every time you come by.
They also offer a decent food menu with classic favorites that pair well with their taps.
Don’t miss their Philly Cheesesteak, filled with juicy pieces of beef and slathered with melted cheese.
Other Union Beer House must-tries are the egg rolls, chicken wings, and fried rice bowls if you want something more filling.
Enjoy a Fancy Dinner at Tony’s Mining Company Restaurant
Tony’s Mining Company Restaurant is an upscale American restaurant located on Rexmont Road, Lebanon.
The restaurant opened its doors in 1974, with second-generation miner Anthony Cek wanting to capture the industry's essence in the food they serve.
Restaurateur Jennifer Bushey took over the restaurant in 2021 but maintained its decades-old classic style with a touch of modern sophistication.
They’re known for the filet mignon, served with a rich demi-glace sauce, Yukon mashed potatoes, and French beans.
Another must-try is the Fry-Aged New York Strip served with jalapeno butter, cheddar, chive potato hash, and charred cauliflower on the side.
If you’re looking for a fancy dinner, Tony’s Mining Company Restaurant is the place to go.
Go to Candy Land at Wertz Candies
Wertz Candies is a well-loved candy store located on Cumberland Street, Lebanon.
The family-owned and operated shop has made handmade sweet treats since 1931, using fresh ingredients and recipes handed down from generation to generation.
They have a wide selection of artisanal chocolates available in your choice of milk or semi-sweet chocolate.
They also make caramel, fudge, and corn to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Their chocolate-coated pretzels are some of the best-selling items on their menu, but their Opera Fudge, creams, toffees, and truffles are must-tries.
Wertz Candies makes Country Fudge in small batches using farm-fresh butter, so you’re lucky if you find some in the store.
Fun-shaped gummies, licorice, and assorted old-fashioned candies can also be found in their store.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Spend the Day at Hersheypark
Hersheypark is located on Hersheypark Drive in Hershey, Pennsylvania, just 31 minutes from Lebanon County.
The amusement park was founded in 1906 as a leisure park for the nearby Hershey Chocolate Company employees.
The park initially only had an Allen Herschel carousel, but a miniature railroad, bumper cars, boat rides, and a roller coaster were eventually added in the following years.
Today, Hersheypark features 15 rollercoasters and a massive waterpark that visitors of all ages will surely enjoy.
The park follows four seasonal themes: Spring Weekends, Summer Season, Hersheypark Halloween, and Hersheypark Christmas Candylane.
Meet the Wolves of Speedwell at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA
Located on Speedwell Forge Road in Lititz is the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.
Just 22 minutes away from Lebanon, the 80-acre natural woodland is a refuge for displaced or rescued gray wolves and wolf-dogs.
Founded by William H. Darlington in 1980, the family-owned and operated sanctuary has provided shelter to wolves and hybrids for over 40 years.
It relies on donations and tour fees to operate; you can help these wolves get a better life.
The guided public tours are done in groups of 20, taking you to several of the packs, with a knowledgeable guide sharing information about their biology and conservation.
Wolf Sanctuary of PA also offers private tours.
You can meet the packs, join full moon fundraisers where you can hear the wolves howling, and take photography tours where you can spend time with them.
See the Roses at the Hershey Gardens
The Hershey Gardens is a botanical garden located on Hotel Road, Hershey, 20 minutes from Lebanon County.
The 23-acre garden and arboretum was opened in 1937 upon Milton Hershey’s request to create a lovely garden of roses.
Sitting on top of a hill overlooking Hersheypark, the garden opened to the public with just 3 ½ acres of formal beds of more than 7,000 roses.
Hershey Gardens is divided into 11 themed gardens, with a children’s garden, the Butterfly Atrium, the Bugzone, and more.
There are seasonal displays with more than 3,500 rose bushes in over 800 varieties.
Ride a Mountain Bike at Swatara State Park
The Swatara State Park is a 3,515-acre state park in Swatara, encompassing the Lebanon and Schuylkill counties.
The park can be accessed via Suedberg Road in Pine Grove, which is about 22 minutes away from Lebanon.
It’s a relatively new state park, having been opened just in 1987, so expect some undeveloped trails.
The Swatara State Park is a popular spot for mountain bikers due to its challenging trails.
The bike trail follows the old railroad of the Lebanon & Tremont Branch of the Reading Railroad, which was completely abandoned in 1981.
Lebanon County may not have the big city glitz and glamor, but it has the small-town charm every city dweller craves.
From well-loved local restaurants serving classic favorites to specialty shops that have become institutions, this region will make you feel at home.
So, pack your bags now and try the best things to do in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.