17 Best Things to Do in Lebanon, PA

Discover the best things to do and top-rated attractions in Lebanon, PA, including Union Canal Tunnel Park, Franklin House, and many more!

Lebanon, PA

Embarking on a quest to uncover the best things to do in Lebanon, PA?

In this comprehensive guide, we've melded insights from locals and travelers to present you with a mosaic of experiences that define this remarkable place. While we've highlighted some must-visit spots, it's imperative to understand that these recommendations are shaped by personal opinions and experiences.

There are countless other wonderful places awaiting your discovery. Our goal isn't just to point you to the well-trodden paths, but to inspire you to explore and truly immerse yourself in the city's essence.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Kenzie Daugherty, Rachel Paul, Rosa Watson, John Ritter, Ira Evans, Helen Ortiz and Lawrence Sanchez.

Journey through History at Cornwall Iron Furnace

View of the Cornwall Iron Furnace
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be in the heart of the early American iron industry? Well, I did, and I found my answers at Cornwall Iron Furnace.

It's like stepping into a time capsule and being transported back to the 19th century.

The impeccably preserved furnace is a living testament to Pennsylvania's rich history.

The intricate design and structures give you a sense of the heavy machinery used in those times.

Every detail, from the chimneys to the iron artifacts displayed in Cornwall Iron Furnace, tells a unique story, making the place special and inspiring.

I've been fortunate to experience Charter Day at the Furnace, where admission is free.

Despite the crowds, the event was well-organized and enjoyable.

Entrance to the Cornwall Iron Furnace
Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

The volunteer tour guides are a treasure trove of information.

Their stories bring history to life right before your eyes.

They know the tiniest details about the furnace, its history, and its contribution to the iron industry.

Even without the guide, just wandering around the park is an experience in itself.

The structures and artifacts are all labeled and explained.

The location, in the heart of Lebanon County, is easy to find, with ample free parking.

It's a great place to bring the kids for a day out; they'll be fascinated once they understand the significance of what they're looking at.

View of the Cornwall Iron Furnace
Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

Every time I step into Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art Gallery, it's like stepping into an artistic wonderland.

The walls are adorned with stunning artworks, the shelves teem with a varied assortment of mixed media pieces, artisan jewelry, glass, and pottery.

From floor to ceiling, it's a vibrant display of artistic mastery and creativity.

What strikes me the most is the friendly and inviting atmosphere fostered by the owners.

Their energy is infectious, their enthusiasm palpable.

They make the drive from Harrisburg feel like a rewarding journey rather than just a commute.

Every visit to this gallery is a swipe of support to local businesses.

And it's not just altruism that drives me – it's the assurance that I'll find something within my price range.

It's the perfect place to find unique gifts, whether it's a handmade pin for $2.

50 or an exquisite piece of art.

One of my most prized possessions is a piece of artwork framed by Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art Gallery.

I've used different framing services in the past, but none of them have matched the quality and attention to detail that LPF offers.

The quality of their finished pieces is second to none, and their customer service is unrivaled.

There's a certain pleasure in watching their skilled hands transform my artwork into beautifully framed pieces that add character and charm to my living room.

Cool Down at Patches Family Creamery

When you think of the quintessential family outing, Patches Family Creamery is where it's at.

Located conveniently off the beaten path, it's a gem I stumbled upon while on the ice cream trail.

Parking is a breeze with ample space available, and get this, they even have a drive-thru for ice cream!

As you step out of your car, the charm of Patches Family Creamery is unavoidable.

There's a whole petting zoo on site, complete with adorable farm animals that kids and adults alike can interact with.

Just a word of caution: watch out for the one horse - he can be a bit grumpy!

The kids are kept entertained not just with the animals but also with a playground on the premises.

And hey, if the weather isn't on your side, no worries – they have indoor seating options as well.

But if it's a sunny day, why not enjoy your sweet treats while basking in the sun at their outdoor seating area?

Believe me when I say that the ice cream is to die for.

Made in-house and available in a variety of flavors, it's a delight for the taste buds.

For those who prefer their ice cream in a beverage form, their milkshakes are absolutely delicious.

They're not overly sweet but rather carry a natural taste, thanks to their homemade ice cream.

What makes Patches Family Creamery more special is that you can witness the process of milk bottling through a viewing window.

They even sell their fresh milk in the creamery.

So, if you're looking to stock up on some, this is your place.

The staff at Patches Family Creamery are nothing less than warm and welcoming.

They're always around to lend a helping hand and ensure that your experience at the creamery is nothing short of wonderful.

Catch a Performances at Gretna Theatre

So, there I was, nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania, ready for another amazing evening at my favorite place - the Gretna Theatre.

Now, when you live in a place as rich in history and culture as this, you find yourself drawn to the local arts scene.

And let me tell you, there's nothing quite like Gretna Theatre.

I've been attending shows at the theatre for quite a few years now, and I can honestly say it never disappoints.

It doesn't matter who the artist is or what style they're showcasing, every show I've seen there has been fantastic.

The diversity in performances is part of its charm - there's always something new and exciting to choose from.

Not just the performances the venue itself is quite impressive.

There's not a bad seat in the house.

Whether you're front and center or tucked away in the back, you'll have a great view of the stage.

The people at the theatre are also incredibly helpful, ensuring everyone has a great experience.

One thing I really appreciate about the Gretna Theatre is its cleanliness.

It's a small place, perfect for intimate shows, but they keep it really well-maintained.

The atmosphere is always inviting, making it a joy to spend an evening there.

Ride aboard a Train through Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails

You know, there's just something about the crunch of gravel beneath your tires that really makes a bike ride feel like an adventure, and that's exactly what I get when I head out on the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails.

It's not all gravel, of course.

Parts of it are paved, particularly around the Lebanon area, but most of it is tight, compact gravel that really gives you a feeling of being out in nature.

Now, I have to be honest, off-season rides can be a bit challenging with that type of surface, especially when there's snow or rain.

But if you're up for a bit of a challenge, it's so worth it.

One of the best parts about this trail, if you ask me, is the Root Bear Shack.

It's smack dab on the trail, and there's nothing quite like a refreshing root beer after a long ride.

And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, there's a little offshoot that takes you into Mt. Gretna proper.

There, you'll find a lake, a pizza joint, an ice cream place, and a restaurant.

Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails is well-maintained, and it's not just for biking.

You can run, walk, and even bring your class 1 e-bike (as long as it's pedal assist).

The trail is mostly flat, making it an easy and enjoyable journey, no matter your fitness level.

Surrounded by the peace and beauty of the woods, there's no place I'd rather be for my long-distance runs or leisurely bike rides.

Hike the Swatara State Park

There's nothing like a morning spent wandering through the scenic trails at Swatara State Park, gently winding through fields, woods, and alongside calm streams.

And let me tell you, it's a haven for anyone who loves outdoor activities.

Whether you're into fishing, hunting, hiking, or cross-country skiing, Swatara has something for you.

I'm personally a huge fan of the hiking trails.

There are miles of well-maintained paths with various entry points, parking areas, and even restroom facilities.

You can find maps and benches dotted along the trails, so you never feel lost or weary.

One of my favorite trails in Swatara State Park is the Goldmine Road.

It's popular among motorcycle riders, offering a relaxing place to unwind after a thrilling ride.

And if you're a fan of walking trails, you can't miss the cabin on the Rail to Trail path.

It's shaded and cool, even on the hottest summer days.

Just keep in mind that the water near the cabin can be quite low if there hasn't been recent rain.

For those seeking a bit more of a challenge, there are trails that offer more than just level paths.

There are trails with a few hills and curves, all layered with gravel for a safe and enjoyable hike.

The Sand Siding trail has a lovely bridge that connects the Bear Hole trail with the Rail to Trail.

Walk through at Union Canal Tunnel Park South

Beautiful view of the Union Canal Tunnel Park South
Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I must confess, one of the greatest joys of living here is the proximity to Union Canal Tunnel Park South.

I've spent countless afternoons strolling along the trails, listening to the sounds of nature as they intertwine with the whispers of history.

My most recent visit was a serene experience, as always.

I set up a little picnic for myself on one of the many tables scattered throughout the park.

What a delight it was to watch a doe and her fawn prancing across the meadow, their innocence a stark contrast to the age-old tales the park holds.

Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

One doesn't need to be a history buff to appreciate the park's rich heritage.

The guided tour took us through the neat, old tunnel, a living testament to the engineering prowess of yesteryears.

Alas, the tunnel was closed that day, but it didn't dampen my spirit.

I simply found solace in the picturesque surroundings - the trees standing tall and proud, the fish playfully splashing in the water, and the deer quietly munching on the grass.

Union Canal Tunnel Park South is indeed a microcosm of harmonious coexistence.

Explore Military History at the Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum

If you've ever found yourself in the heart of Pennsylvania with a day to spare, may I suggest a trip to the Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum?

It's not just a building filled with artifacts; it's a place where history comes alive.

I remember one day when I took my grandson on a field trip.

The museum staff, specifically Tom Small & Charles Oellig, were not only well-versed in the exhibits but also shared their own intriguing personal narratives.

Their tales added a unique touch to the museum visit, making it feel like a journey back in time rather than just a typical field trip.

Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum offers a deep dive into the history of Fort Indiantown Gap, a local landmark that has seen its fair share of historic events.

The dedication and passion of the staff were palpable as they shared future plans for the museum.

Knowing that they're constantly working to enhance the visitor experience was truly inspiring.

The visit to the Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum was more than just educational.

It was a memorable experience that brought history to life in a way that made a lasting impression.

Play Ball at South Hills Park

In the heart of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, resides a hidden gem, South Hills Park, a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of city life.

I've spent countless sunny afternoons there, basking in the serenity that the park offers.

The park is a paradise for athletic enthusiasts like me.

My mornings often begin on the walking trail, sauntering along the winding path and breathing in the crisp morning air.

If you're a fan of sports, you'll be spoilt for choice.

I've played my fair share of games on those verdant fields and courts – everything from disc golf to basketball.

One of my favorite parts of the park is the frisbee golf course that snakes through the light woods.

There's something about launching a frisbee through the trees that brings out the kid in me.

On the opposite hill, you'll find a self-serve driving range.

From that vantage point, the view is breath-taking.

You can see as far as the towers at Mt.Gretna to the quiet town of Myerstown.

But South Hills Park isn't just for the active.

It's a haven for families, too, with picnic areas and playgrounds where children can run and play.

I've had many peaceful picnics there, surrounded by the laughter of children and the chirping of birds.

The park manages to be vibrant and tranquil at the same time – a difficult balance to strike but one that makes South Hills Park unique.

One thing I'd love to see in the future is a pickleball court.

The sport has grown in popularity recently, and it would be great to have a court in the area.

But that's just a local's dream.

Even without it, South Hills Park is a treasure trove of enjoyment, relaxation, and natural beauty.

No matter what your interests are, there's something for everyone here.

Have a Picnic at Ebenezer Lake

From a young age, my life has revolved around Ebenezer Lake.

It has been the backdrop to many important events and countless everyday moments.

My senior graduation party was held in the picnic area by the lake, a day that was filled with laughter, jubilations, and a sense of accomplishment.

The Ebenezer Lake has seen it all.

I still remember how, as a child, I would eagerly run to the lake, renting the boats, diving off the raft, and splashing in the water during the hot summer days.

I can still picture the old diving board that used to be on one of the docks.

It may have been removed, but the memories remain as vibrant as ever.

The lake is but one part of this beautiful locale.

The park surrounding it offers a serene walking path, clean restrooms, and a fun-filled playground.

Yes, the body of water may seem small, not exactly serving justice to the term 'lake,' but that never bothered me.

The joy that I and so many others have found here is not defined by its size.

What’s more, Ebenezer Lake is a great place for kids and pets.

I often see families and dog walkers making the most of the park.

It's also a favorite spot for joggers and walkers, myself included.

Go Fishing at Stoever's Dam Park

One of my favorite places to unwind is Stoever's Dam Park.

There's something incredibly soothing about the gravel trail that encircles the lake.

It's about a mile-and-a-half loop, perfect for a leisurely walk or a quick jog.

Along the way, you'll find a few benches, too - just in case you need a breather or wish to sit and admire the scenic beauty.

The best part?

Even during the peak afternoon hours, the trail stays pleasantly shaded!

During one of my visits, I decided to make a pit stop for lunch.

I even got a bit adventurous and tried my hand at fishing.

To my surprise, I caught a bass!

Despite the water being a bit murky, the park's facilities were more than satisfactory.

It was bustling with visitors, but everything was well maintained.

But it's not just walking and fishing.

Stoever's Dam Park is a great spot for camping and exploring trails, too.

Once, I set up camp there for a week.

It was nothing short of delightful.

The park’s caretakers were incredibly friendly and helpful, always ensuring the well-being of the visitors.

They do a splendid job of keeping the park in top-notch condition, making it truly a beautiful space to visit.

You might just end up catching a glimpse of them taking those stunning pictures of Stoever's Dam Park.

I cannot wait to make more memories there!

Stroll down Union Canal Park

When I first moved here, Union Canal Park was the bustling heartbeat of our community.

There was an energy that flowed through the park, drawing you in to enjoy a peaceful afternoon by the canal.

I remember watching the sunlight dancing on the water's surface, the lush greenery offering a calming embrace.

But things have changed over the years.

The park, once well-groomed and loved by the locals, has seen less maintenance in the past decade.

While it may not be as busy as before, the tranquility it provides now is a welcome relief from the modern world's hustle.

Union Canal Park is a place where you can sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in the history of our region.

The historical plaques installed by the local Historical Society provide an insight into the canal's rich past.

Their maintenance of the park is commendable and well-kept despite the decreased footfall.

The natural beauty remains a constant, the canal still offering picturesque views that make for a lovely stroll or a peaceful picnic spot.

However, if you're looking for an extensive hiking experience, you might be left wanting.

The park's backside is usually closed off, limiting the hiking trails, but the minimalistic nature paths that are accessible alongside the canal are a treat for a leisurely walk.

Grab a Breakfast at Lebanon Farmers Market

Signage of Lebanon Farmers Market
Alisa Metzler / Shutterstock.com

After living in Lebanon for several years, I was excited to discover the Lebanon Farmers Market.

With its charming atmosphere and friendly vendors, it quickly became a go-to spot on weekends.

Even though it's on the smaller side, each visit feels like a brand-new adventure.

I remember my first encounter with a new vendor upstairs, who was selling an array of hot sauces, dips, dressings, and bloody marry mixes.

Their passion for their products was infectious, and my life has been forever changed with the discovery of dill mustard, which is now a pantry staple.

On another visit, I couldn't resist the culinary pleasures downstairs.

Sharing a soft pretzel, empanadas, a burrito, and scones with friends was a delightful experience.

And, of course, we couldn't leave without buying some of the beautiful produce to take home.

Facade of the Lebanon Farmers Market
Alisa Metzler / Shutterstock.com

Parking at the Lebanon Farmers Market has always been a breeze, which is always a plus.

The candy shop is a real treat, even when we decide to skip the sweets.

One of the best discoveries at the market has been Buddy's Breakfast & Lunch.

Open from Thursday to Saturday, they offer a scrumptious breakfast and lunch.

I still remember my first super breakfast sandwich from them, packed with egg, ham, cheese, hash browns, sausage, and bacon; it was the best breakfast sandwich I've had in a long time.

And their cheesesteak omelet?

Absolutely fantastic.

Have a Picnic at Coleman Memorial Park

What a day it was!

My family and I decided to spend our Sunday at the Coleman Memorial Park.

The park is spacious enough for any activity you'd like to do.

As soon as we stepped foot in the park, the beautiful gardens and forest trails caught our eye.

We took a leisurely stroll through the winding trails, soaking in the tranquility that the park offered.

The chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves painted a picture of perfect serenity.

Our kids couldn't resist the allure of the outstanding playground.

The joy on their faces as they played on the swings and slides was unmatchable.

I must admit, I enjoyed it too!

The park also boasts an incredible baseball field.

We watched a local high school game, cheering on the players on the beautifully maintained field.

My only wish was that they had the concession stand open for the game.

Why miss a chance for popcorn and hotdogs?

We took advantage of the picnic pavilions, renting one out for the day.

The pavilion at Coleman Memorial Park was large enough to accommodate our group, and the tables provided were sufficient.

There were plenty of electricity outlets to keep our food hot.

Indulge in Comfort Food at Franklin House Tavern

If you're looking for a place that offers an impeccable dining experience, Franklin House Tavern should be at the top of your list.

My first visit was nothing short of extraordinary.

It was like walking into a piece of history, with the beautifully preserved decor and charming atmosphere.

Not to mention the food, which was simply out of this world.

What first caught my attention was the delightful aroma wafting from the kitchen.

The menu at Franklin House Tavern is a perfect blend of traditional favorites and innovative creations.

I got myself their special burger of the month, and let me tell you, it was a culinary revelation.

That's the level of service you can expect from them.

And what about the drinks, you wonder?

Their beer collection was equally impressive.

Each one had a unique flavor profile that made my dining experience even more memorable.

I still remember how the refreshing bubbles of a locally brewed pint added to the overall delight of the meal.

The service here is another aspect that sets Franklin House Tavern apart.

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at Lebanon County Historical Society

Stepping into the Lebanon County Historical Society, lovingly referred to as LCHS, feels like journeying back in time.

I am always amazed by the wealth of history preserved in this beautiful historic building.

Every corner of the society reveals a different aspect of our local heritage.

The collections of books, magazines, newspapers, and archival material are like a treasure trove for anyone interested in diving into local history.

I am particularly fond of the library.

The archivist, Bruce, is not only knowledgeable but also incredibly helpful.

With his guidance, I've been able to complete numerous research projects.

One of my favorite discoveries at the Lebanon County Historical Society was a delightful collection of local artifacts, including a charming old sleigh that once belonged to Dr. Harry Gingrich.

I was thrilled to uncover this piece of Fredericksburg's history, the city I've lived in my whole life.

It isn't just about the past, though.

The LCHS also houses some rather unique exhibitions.

I remember walking into a room filled with milk jugs one day.

It was unexpected, but it's these quirky surprises that make each visit to the society memorable.

Of course, like any place, there's room for improvement.

During one of my visits, I noticed a group of college students leave abruptly, looking unpleased.

Perhaps the staff could be more welcoming to younger visitors who might be visiting the museum out of curiosity.

Get Inspired at the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show

The Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show is a cherished part of our summer here.

It's a bustling blend of creativity and community, nestled amidst the peaceful woods of our city.

The event is a vibrant showcase of artists from around the country, and it never fails to draw a crowd, saturating the air with a palpable sense of excitement.

The very first thing that strikes you is the sheer amount of art vendors.

Every corner is bursting with gifted artisans displaying their craft.

The variety is astounding, from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and textiles, there's something for everyone.

Even though the crowds can get thick, the vibe remains cordial and respectful, probably a testament to how well the event is managed.

However, getting food can be quite a task.

No matter where you decide to grab a bite, you should be ready to wait anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour.

But trust me, the food is worth the wait, especially with our local restaurant scene having set up catered food tents.

It's the perfect chance to sample some of the best our culinary scene has to offer.

A word of caution, though: the traffic can be heavy.

On one occasion, I sat on the road for a good 1.5 hours!

But once you get there, you'll find that the parking is well organized and there's a shuttle service to ferry you to the event.

The entrance at Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show costs $12, and parking is $10, a bit steep, but considering the quality of the event, it's worth it.

The theme this year was dragonflies, which added a whimsical touch.

Even though some vendors can be a bit pricey, I managed to pick up some delightful items - never too early to start gift shopping!

Final Thoughts

I feel honored to live amidst the charm and beauty of Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

From the unique treasures of the Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art Gallery to the delightful tastes at Patches Family Creamery, there's always something to spark interest and excitement.

The beauty of Lebanon lies not just in its attractions but in the spirit of its people, who take pride in their warm hospitality and the city's vibrant culture.

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