We have rounded up 16 fun and free Spring activities for you to try!
Experiencing the Susquehanna Riverlands can be easy on the wallet, especially with fun and free experiences to be found throughout the river corridor. You will be surprised at just how easy it is to find free things to do in the Riverlands. Whether you’re planning some free fun ahead of time or are looking for a quick way to fill a few hours while you’re here, we’ve rounded up a list of free attractions to keep you busy during your Spring visit. From heritage sites, local history stops, to trails for biking, you can find excitement and lasting memories with these budget-friendly activities.
The Marietta, Pa Spring Bucket List
Susquehanna NHA with the Marietta Area Business Association plan to partner together to launch a 2021 Marietta Spring Bucket List! We have all been struggling to keep busy and find new fun. The Marietta Spring Bucket List is here to keep you exploring whether you live in town or you’re visiting for the day. It’s the perfect time to get outside and discover the unique experiences available right here! Explore the town with fun activities featuring Marietta organizations, businesses, and landmarks, there is something for everyone! Share your adventures online and tag @SusqNHA on Instagram or Columbia Crossing on Facebook.
Find the Marietta, Pa Spring Bucket List and more information here.
Take the Self-Guided Iron Furnace Walking Tour
Let the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail take you on an immersive adventure while viewing the remains of the furnaces and discover the thriving industry that once rivaled Pittsburg in production of quality pig iron, right here along the lower Susquehanna.
Take a self-guided tour of the Iron blast Furnaces on the NW Lancaster County River Trail using the Rivertownes Iron Industry Brochure. Explore a 2 ½ mile stretch of the trail between Columbia and Marietta through Chickies Rock County Park, that is full of history. Pick up the brochure from the Musselman Vista Furnace Museum or Columbia Crossing River Trail Center.
Learn more about the Furnaces in Chickies Rock County Park here: https://www.rivertownes.org/.
Learn how the iron furnace ruins on the stretch of land between Columbia and Marietta was once a thriving iron industry in this area known as “the Pittsburgh of the East.” https://www.susquehannaheritage.org/riverroots-pittsburgh-of-the-east/
Northwest Lancaster County River Trail Heritage Map
Susquehanna NHA has a new digital map that reveals some of the hidden history, features and heritage sites on the NW River Trail. There are 35+ stops along the 14-mile trail that explore iron furnace history, geology, science, nature and more. Open the map to start your adventure at home or on the trail. Click a marker to view photos and information about each place on the trail.
Find the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail Heritage Map here: https://bit.ly/NWRTHeritage.
Check out Susquehanna NHA’s Haunted Heritage Map here: https://www.susquehannaheritage.org/susquehanna-nha-haunted-history-guide/.
Playdate at the Park
Who wouldn’t want to head to the park for the afternoon! There is something for everyone from playgrounds to pristine native greenery with the perfect view. The Susquehanna Riverlands is the ultimate outdoor playground.
If you are looking for the parks with the best playgrounds head to Kline’s Run Park, Washington Boro Park, Wrightsville Riverfront Park, East Donegal Riverfront Park, Muddy Run Park, Lock 2 Recreation Area, and East Donegal Township Chickies Creek Day Use Area.
Find a park to visit: http://susquehannariverlands.com/the-great-outdoors/parks-trails-nature-preserves/parks/
Picnic at a local Nature Preserve
Nature preserved for you to enjoy. With over 20 protected and preserved natural areas, you will find beautiful flora, fauna, and wildlife native to the Susquehanna Riverlands. Have a picnic among the astounding natural beauty of the Riverlands at any of our local nature preserves. Please remember to leave no trace!
Find a nature preserve in the Susquehanna Riverlands; http://susquehannariverlands.com/the-great-outdoors/parks-trails-nature-preserves/nature-preserves/
Bike the Trails
There are miles of trails in the Susquehanna Riverlands, including the famous Mason-Dixon Trail. From beginner to expert there are trails for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Bring your bike! The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail (paved), Enola Low Grade Rail Trail (gravel), York Heritage Rail Trail (gravel), Conewago Recreational Trail (gravel) provide seemingly endless miles of trails to ride on.
Find trails in the Susquehanna Riverlands here: http://susquehannariverlands.com/the-great-outdoors/parks-trails-nature-preserves/trails-hikes/.
Visit the Columbia Crossing River Trail Center
The Columbia Crossing River Trails Center is managed by Susquehanna Heritage for the Borough of Columbia as a gateway visitor education center and trailhead for land and water trails in the Susquehanna Riverlands. Located in Columbia River Park on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna in the historic river town of Columbia, visitors will find maps, guides, and brochures related to river recreation, trails and nearby historic sites and family attractions, along with exhibits and rest rooms.
Columbia Crossing’s educational offerings focus on the river’s historic, scenic, and recreational stories and experiences for residents and visitors, especially bringing river heritage to life for young people. Rotating exhibits featuring local and river history, art and the environment highlight the richness of the local culture through the centuries. More information at: https://www.susquehannaheritage.org/explore-2/columbia-crossing-river-trails-center/.
Take a cruise through the Riverlands
Visit the best sites the Riverlands has to offer! Take a cruise through the Susquehanna Riverlands with these helpful guides. Explore historic river towns, heritage sites, scenic overlooks and more! Choose the perfect driving tour for you from 4 tour options. Driving tours: http://susquehannariverlands.com/driving-tour/.
Your exciting visit to our Rivertown is waiting! Enjoy the local culture. You will find various small businesses, antique shops, and restaurants to discover during your visit. Explore local art galleries, museums, and heritage sites at your leisure. Stroll the downtown areas and enjoy the architecture and notes of the past. Looking for more information about the rivertowns? Visit https://visitsusquehannavalley.com/.
Looking to take a covered bridge tour? Find it at; https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/lancaster-2019/images/files/CoveredBridges-ModifiedNov2020.pdf?mtime=20201124085158&focal=none.
View the train display at the Columbia Historic Preservation Society
Columbia Historic Preservation Society Columbia, Pennsylvania, a historic town known for history and commerce for over 225 years. Come visit the Columbia Historic Preservation Society and experience Columbia of past and present with displays of business & industry.
The Columbia Historic Preservation Society Model HO, Model Railroad covers 1000 square feet and is HO scale. The Columbia area is based on what existed during the 1920-1940 era. Columbia covers approximately 200 sq.ft. of the layout, and is home to a large roundhouse facility, a major yard, coaling, and diesel facilities, as well as the Pennsylvania RR and Reading RR stations.
Museum open in late April. Plan your visit here: http://www.columbiahistory.com/.
Take in the view at one of our many scenic overlooks
Go… Explore the view. Choose from any of the 10 scenic overlooks in the Susquehanna Riverlands. Always stay within designated areas and remember to leave no trace. How high are you willing to go today? Discover scenic overlooks in the Susquehanna Riverlands here: http://susquehannariverlands.com/the-great-outdoors/scenic-overlooks/.
Visit Climbers Run Preserve & Nature Center
Located in southern Lancaster County & Martic Township, this 82 acre preserve features diverse habitats including a pond, wetlands, meadows, forests and an exceptional, wild brook trout stream. Highlights include three trails ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty (click here for a trail map), scenic waterfalls upstream, and rocky outcroppings that flow into a valley that has undergone a wildlife habitat and stream restoration project in partnership with Donegal Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. For more information on Climbers Run Nature preserve visit: http://susquehannariverlands.com/the-great-outdoors/parks-trails-nature-preserves/nature-preserves/climbers-run-preserve-nature/.
This preserve features a 19th century barn, the Conservancy’s Susquehanna Riverlands Research & Education Center. The Susquehanna Riverlands Research & Education Center supports research and education programming on water and natural resource issues within the Susquehanna Riverlands. Find the bird feeder on site to birdwatch or tune in to Conservancy TV to watch the bird feeder live camera from home! For more Information on Susquehanna Riverlands Research & Education Center at Climbers Run Nature Preserve visit: http://susquehannariverlands.com/the-great-outdoors/parks-trails-nature-preserves/nature-preserves/susquehanna-riverlands-res-ed-center/
View Climbers Run Bird Cam here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChFCefqUZk-m-4j91luSdeA.
Visit the Zimmerman Center for Heritage and tour the historic home.
The Zimmerman Center for Heritage is the headquarters of Susquehanna NHA and serves as Pennsylvania’s Official Visitor Contact and Passport Station for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Restored and renovated by John and Kathryn Zimmerman in the late 1990s, this historic riverfront home dates to the mid-18th Century. The Zimmerman’s donated the property to Susquehanna Heritage in 2007, when the home was opened to the public and officially dedicated as The John and Kathryn Zimmerman Center for Heritage in honor of their many contributions to our community and region.
Visit by land or water to learn more about this unique heritage trail, become a Junior Ranger; enjoy a hike to Native Lands County Park and the Trail; launch your kayak or canoe; view our Visions of the Susquehanna River Art Collection; see Susquehannock Indian artifacts; learn about river history; or attend a Heritage Lecture.
Read the Zimmerman Center for Heritage Visitor Guide for more information about the site. For more information visit: https://www.susquehannaheritage.org/explore-2/zimmerman-center/.
History lives on in Mount Bethel and Zion Hill Cemeteries
Meet some of the most famous Columbians at Mount Bethel Cemetery. Mount Bethel Cemetery, which dates from the 1720’s, is the oldest burial ground in continual use in the Columbia area. In the nearly 300 years since its creation, over 10,000 former citizens have been laid to rest in its grounds, including the founding families, famous natives and over 600 servicemen representing 9 wars beginning with the Revolutionary War. The interred represent the rich and diverse history of the Columbia area and the cemetery predates the formal creation of the Borough by Samuel Wright in 1788.
Use the Bethel Cemetery brochure to take a self-guided tour of the cemetery. Brochure is available at Columbia Crossing River Trail Center or use the online map at http://www.mtbethelcemetery.com/map.
Learn about the Underground Railroad and African American soldiers at Zion Hill Cemetery. Zion Hill Cemetery in Columbia, Pa is the final resting place of countless African American wives and mothers, husbands and sons, chambermaids and schoolteachers, and valiant soldiers. Buried here is Robert Loney, a conductor on the Underground Railroad and a soldier with Company I of the 32nd United States Colored Troops (USCT) Regiment that was raised in Pennsylvania.
Zion Hill Cemetery is located at 553 N 5th St, Columbia, PA 17512. Don’t forget to view the information panels during your visit.
Uncover history at the Conestoga Area Historical Society
Located in southwest Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the Penn Manor Area which includes Conestoga township, Manor township, Martic township, Pequea township and Millersville Borough. The Conestoga Area Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the history of the Penn Manor Area.
Seven buildings make up the museum grounds. The buildings consist of the Tobacco Shed, the Steven Atkinson log cabin, the Michael Harnish Stone House, the Elmer Hoak Broom Shop, The Myers Tannery Shed, a replica of a Sweitzer Bank Barn, and the Tobias Stehman Blacksmith Shop.
The Conestoga Area Historical Society is located in Ehrlich Park at 51 Kendig Rd Conestoga, Pa 17516. Learn more here: http://www.pennmanorhistory.org/.
Stop and see the reconstructed Codorus Furnace
Codorus Furnace was erected in 1765. It was once owned by James Smith of York, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Cannonballs were cast in the original furnace during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The furnace finally ceased operations in 1850.
The Codorus Furnace is located at 4045 Furnace Rd. Mount Wolf, Pa 17347. Learn more here: https://www.hellamtownship.com/?SEC=1432E3D0-BDBF-45F8-9543-4CA759619B4C.
Enjoy a day trip playing on the sculpted rocks and potholes in Falmouth, Pa
When the Susquehanna is low the rocks seem to come alive, sculpture like shaped rocks emerge from the water and stretch across the river below the Conewago Falls in Falmouth, Pa. Discovered during extremely low water in the fall of 1947, this otherworldly landscape is one of the most expansive pothole fields uncovered in the United States.
The rocks range in size and display various smooth, curvaceous shapes that captivate visitors. More information at: https://www.susquehannaheritage.org/river-roots-unique-geology/. Plan your visit: http://susquehannariverlands.com/the-great-outdoors/on-the-water/river-access-areas/falmouth-access/.