Middletown is a borough of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and is considered its oldest community.
Its beginnings can be traced to 1690 when William Penn chose present-day Middletown as a settlement along the Susquehanna River.
In 1736, the first state road running from Lancaster to Shippensburg was completed.
Then, in 1755, George Fisher designated the area between Lancaster and Carlisle as Middletown.
In 1828, the community was officially incorporated as a borough after a sudden economic surge.
Because of its age, the town is filled with architectural treasures from different periods ranging from log houses to grand Victorian mansions.
Today, the town is home to hip restaurants, museums, nature reserves, and old buildings that helped shape its history.
Here are the best things to do in Middletown, Pennsylvania:
Go Kayaking at Swatara Creek Water Trail
Located on Fulling Mill Road, the Swatara Creek Water Trail is a 60-mile segment of Swatara Creek running from Pine Grove to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission's Middletown Access.
It offers public access every seven miles, so you can launch your kayak and explore the trail.
You will see farms, riparian forests, the Union Canal locks, an abandoned railroad and bridge, lava deposits, and limestone formations along the water trail.
If you want to camp out in the area, you can stay in one of the three recommended campgrounds: the Hershey Highmeadow Campground, Swatara Watershed Park campground, or the Lickdale KOA Campground.
Just wear a USCG-approved Life Jacket with a sound-making device such as a whistle or horn for safety purposes.
The Swatara Creek Water Trail also has a mandatory Cold Weather Life Jacket Wear policy for boats less than 16 feet in length from November 1 through April 30.
Explore the Trails at Highspire Reservoir Park
Located on White House Lane is Highspire Reservoir Park.
It has a short 0.89-mile nature trail with boardwalks and handicap accessibility, and a complete loop takes about 33 minutes.
The trail goes through a lush forest and overlooks wetlands where you can see ducks, turtles, and herons in the water.
The towering trees serve as a habitat for rare bird species, so bring your binoculars when you make the trail.
Besides wildlife viewing, it’s also an excellent trail for running and walking.
You won’t even realize that the trail is tucked between marshes and townhouses because of how quiet it is.
If you’re looking for a short afternoon escape, explore the trails of Highspire Reservoir Park.
Have a Picnic at Hoffer Park
Located on Mill Street is the ten-acre public recreation area, Hoffer Park.
The park sits along Swatara Creek and offers plenty of recreational space for locals and tourists.
There’s a multipurpose open field where you can play frisbee or football.
There’s lighted tennis, full basketball courts, and a patch of sand where you can play beach volleyball.
On the other side of the park are a skateboarding and rollerblading park where you can watch local skaters perform high-flying tricks.
However, Hoffer Park is a favorite for family picnics, equipped with picnic tables, shelters, and charcoal grills.
Learn Local History at the Middletown Area Historical Society Museum
The Middletown Area Historical Society Museum is located on Main Street, where you can learn about the borough’s colorful history.
The museum is inside the historic Grosh House, a two-story log and frame building built in 1755 and repaired in 1800.
The house had previously been a dental clinic until 2013 when the Society purchased it to house its collection of artifacts.
At the Middletown Area Historical Society Museum, you will find Middletown's Micky Mouse, produced by Performo Toy Company.
People believe this mouse inspired Walt Disney to create the character of Mickey Mouse.
Photographs from the Great Fire of 1910 that burned Downtown Middletown are also displayed here.
Artifacts relating to the Middletown School District and the Blur Raiders are proudly showcased at the museum, including memorabilia from sports teams and the school band.
Try the Chicken Pot Pie at Brownstone Café
Located on North Union Street is Brownstone Café, housed in a historical building that used to be a bank.
The striking architecture should draw your attention from the outside, but it’s even more charming inside, with framed pictures and documents giving you a glimpse of the town’s history.
The interior, including a scale model train set on the second floor, will transport you back to 1892, when the bank was first built.
But the real highlight of Brownstone Café is its menu of hearty dishes.
Let the creamy crab soup warm you up on a cold day.
Don’t miss the chicken pot pie and the sourdough French toast.
For a lighter meal, the café also serves salads and sandwiches.
Drink Home-Brewed Beers at Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works
Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works is a veteran-owned brewery and distillery serving award-winning handcrafted beers.
It’s Harrisburg’s first co-branded and co-located brewery, with multiple locations in Pennsylvania.
Besides beer, this brewery also prepares gin, vodka, and whiskey, so expect high-quality spirits whenever you visit.
Tattered Flag serves classic pub favorites like the Crispy Boardwalk-Style Fries and the Harvest Burger that go well with any of its beers.
The brewery is also famous for its Mac Bowls, from the classic Mac & Cheese to the loaded Pulled Pork Mac Bowl and the healthy Broccoli Mac Bowl.
Of course, the brewery pays tribute to the veterans with its army-themed dishes like the Stars & Stripes Burger and the War Bonds Pulled Pork Sandwich.
Dine like Royalty at Alfred's Victorian Restaurant
Located on North Union Street is Alfred's Victorian Restaurant, serving Italian cuisine and an excellent selection of wine.
The restaurant is inside a historic Victorian brownstone mansion built in 1888.
In 1970, Alfred D. Pellegrini opened the restaurant after purchasing the mansion the previous year.
He retained the mansion’s original fixtures, including the decorative works and the stained-glass windows.
The well-preserved interior adds to the restaurant’s elegance, but the menu completes a royal dining experience at Alfred's Victorian Restaurant.
Feel fancy with a slice of Alfred’s Beef Wellington, or feast on the tender Steak Dianne.
Select your wine from a list of foreign and domestic spirits to round out the flavors.
Try the All-American Bacon Burger at Hops & Barleys
Located on East Main Street, Hops & Barleys is a resto-bar serving classic American favorites like wings, burgers, and fries.
Founded by friends Steve Wian and Jason Melhorn, the bar is known for its good selection of cold beers.
If you’re craving their burgers' smooth, smokey flavor, try the All-American Bacon Burger made with high-grade aged Angus reserve and thick slices of applewood-smoked bacon.
Another must-try is the Steak Burger, which has aged Angus reserve slathered with A-1 steak sauce.
Hops & Barleys’ Mac & Cheese is a favorite among kids and kids at heart, and the chicken wings are the perfect finger food to pair with a cold glass of beer.
Have Breakfast at Kuppy's Diner
Located on Brown Street is a Middletown institution, Kuppy's Diner.
The quaint diner has served locals and tourists alike American breakfast favorites since 1933.
Founded by Percy Kupp, this family-owned and run restaurant is now under its fifth generation of owners.
Kuppy’s Diner is known for its homemade food, from the classic eggs and bacon to the loaded breakfast sandwiches.
The diner offers daily specials, homemade soups, and delectable desserts.
Try their Two Eggs with Two Steaks of Bacon and Two Hotcakes and the crowd favorites Eggs Benedict and McKuppy's Sandwich.
If you want something sweet for breakfast, get the Texas French Toast.
Grab Chinese Food at He(和)
He(和), located on North Union Street, is worth trying if you're craving authentic Chinese food.
The restaurant specializes in Xi'an cuisine, so expect the food to have a little kick.
The Spicy Noodle Soup is a favorite among regulars, with its perfectly al dente glass noodles and piping hot broth spiced with Sichuan pepper.
There’s also the Dan Dan Noodles, topped with a heaping scoop of minced meat and a generous pouring of house-made chili oil.
If you’re not into spicy food, try the Moburger, Chinese-spiced roast pork on a homemade bun.
To cut all the spice and richness, sip He’s milk tea, such as the Signature Milk Tea, Cream Top Tea, or Fresh Taro Milk Tea.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Visit the Indian Echo Caverns
Located on Middletown Road in Hummelstown, the historic Indian Echo Caverns is ten minutes from Middletown.
The show cave was discovered in 1802 but officially opened to the public in 1929.
It’s considered a “living cave” because its limestone formations are continuously growing.
Join the guided underground tour, where a knowledgeable guide will share the history of the Indian Echo Caverns and talk about limestone formations and the ecology inside.
The 45-minute tour takes you to the well-lit paths of the cave; stay alert because you may encounter low ceilings and muddy tracks.
Explore the Conewago Recreation Trail
Located on North Market Street in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, is the Conewago Recreation Trail, nine minutes from Middletown.
This public recreational trail sits between Route 230 and the Lebanon County line.
The trail stretches five miles from Elizabethtown to Lebanon, following the former Cornwall-Lebanon rail line.
It runs along Conewago Creek and leads to farmlands and lush woodlands.
The abandoned railway lines are a favorite among hikers as these corridors played an essential part in Pennsylvania’s rich railroading history.
During the summer, Conewago Recreation Trail is shaded by trees, making it suitable for daytime hiking, jogging, biking, and horseback riding.
During winter months, you can try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Grab Fresh Produce at Strites’ Orchard
Located on Strites Road in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is Strites’ Orchard, ten minutes from Middletown.
The produce market and farm boast 300 acres of sustainably-farmed fruits and vegetables that you can pick.
It was founded in 1914 by the Strites family, who has been farming in Harrisburg since 1843.
Earl Strite started selling their produce at local markets before the original Strites’ Orchard produce market opened in 195o.
It expanded in 1994 with the addition of a bakery.
Today, you can shop in-season produce all year long and try picking your own.
Drop by the bakery to check out freshly baked bread and pastries.
Play Arcade Games at Challenge Family Fun Center
Located on Middletown Road in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, is Challenge Family Fun Center, eight minutes from Middletown.
This family recreation spot features arcade games, mini golf, and batting cages.
There’s also Duck Pin Bowling which the whole family can play.
The 22 Hole Mini Golf Course is set in a beautiful garden surrounded by lush greens and colorful flowers.
There are over 50 arcade games, including air hockey and skee ball.
You can win prizes with Challenge Family Fun Center’s hot-paying redemption games.
Paddle to Conewago Falls with River Rock Recreation
Conewago Falls is a river barrier located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
If you want to appreciate its beauty, there’s no better way to paddle up the Susquehanna River with the River Rock Recreation team.
River Rock’s starting point is on the river's banks near Bainbridge, Pennsylvania, just an 11-minute drive from Middletown.
The tour company can take you paddling to Conewago Falls with experienced guides leading the way.
Marvel at the hidden networks of rocks during low tide and discover potholes and sculpted rocks shaped by Mother Nature herself.
Middletown is every history junkie’s dream destination.
With its historic brownstone buildings and sprawling Victorian-era mansions, it’s hard not to stop and admire the architecture and craftsmanship behind each structure.
Food lovers will also find comfort in this town, with a hole-in-the-wall restaurant serving hearty dishes that should fill your tummy and soul.
On your next vacation, try the best things to do in Middletown, Pennsylvania!