Pennsylvania is certainly alive with history. Take a trip back through time to discover interesting facts about a variety of topics, from Milton Hershey’s candy company legacy and beautiful vintage cars to the Pennsylvania’s State police and centuries old Fort Hunter. Here’s a list of must-see museums in Hershey, PA to help you travel through time and learn something new. Our Inn at Westwynd Farm is nearby offering luxurious lodging on a beautiful and peaceful equestrian farm.
After years of disputes, civil unrest and crime, the Pennsylvania government realized how important it was for peace and order to be maintained by regularly appointed and responsible officers. As a result, the Pennsylvania State Police officially came to be on May 2, 1905. You can experience this fascinating museum about the State Police’s history through a multitude of exhibits, including interactive exhibits – one that puts you at the scene of a crime!
- Cadet Training (The State Police Academy is known to produce the most well-trained Troopers in the world.)
- The Ultimate Sacrifice (A tribute to a PA State Trooper killed in the line of duty)
- PA State Police Rodeo (Artifacts from the life of the rodeo from 1921 to 1974)
Interactive Museum Exhibits:
- PA State Highway Patrol (You’ll discover some of the rarest historical documents and artifacts from the State Highway Patrol)
- Thompson Submachine Gun (The gun’s early notoriety was in the hands of gangsters from the days of Prohibition and the Great Depression)
- Interactive (This exhibit focuses on the world of crime scene investigation and forensics)
COVID-19 Adjustments: The Academy has currently closed its doors to all tours inside the facility therefore, Guided Tours will be limited only to the Museum and Academy grounds. Self-Guided Tours will resume as normal. » Note: All visitors to the Museum will be required to wear masks covering their nose and mouth and will have their temperature checked, and will be reminded to maintain social distancing while in the Museum and Gift Shop. Normal Tour Hours
The Mansion’s history begins in the early 1700s when John Harris, Sr., arrived in Pennsylvania. He was the first European immigrant to this area, induced by a land grant. During his time here, he built a house and trading post on the bank of the river (near where the large, arched railroad bridge is today), and started a ferry service until he passed away in 1748.
John Harris, Jr. inherited his father’s businesses and continued to operate them with success. About 1766, John, Jr. decided to build the present day Mansion, choosing an area by the river where the home would be safe from flood waters. He lived there until he died in 1791, at which time his sons, David and Robert lived in the Mansion. Robert sold the house to Thomas Elder in 1835. The home transferred hands to Reverend Beverly Waugh in 1853, State Senator Simon Cameron around 1863, and then passed to his daughter in 1889, and grandson Richard in 1915. Richards’ sister, Elizabeth Wright, boated the house and furnishings to the Historical Society in 1941.
To date, the Mansion has undergone several renovations and additions, and at least eight ownerships. In 2016, at 250 years old, the home underwent a significant and award-winning restoration by the finest craftsmen in the area. And the work continues today as the Historical Society redecorates and rotates furnishings throughout the home.
During your tour, you will see Senator Cameron’s office decorated with his own furnishings, the large Victorian parlor with its stunning French mirrors, a beautiful glass-filled solarium with French wallpapers, bedrooms furnished in Colonial and Victorian styles, a stunning Art Deco bathroom added in 1929, and much more.
The Museum Office and Research Library have reopened to the public and resumed normal operating hours. Tours will be offered by appointment due to ongoing restoration and maintenance projects. Reservations require at least 24 hours notice.
Closed on Mondays
Office: 10am-4pm (Tuesday-Friday)
Library/Archives: 1-4pm (Tuesday-Friday)
Tours of Mansion: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm (Tuesday-Friday), and 1pm (2nd Sunday of each month)
Fort Hunter Park is a site to behold for history and nature buffs alike. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Susquehanna River and Blue Mountains beyond, the Mansion and Park has served as a war fort prior to the Revolutionary War, a hub for frontier commerce during the late 1700s and early 1800s, and an exclusive private estate. Daniel Dick Boas, a prominent Harrisburg citizen, bought the property in 1870. It stayed in his family (Reily’s) for half a century as the family’s dairy farm and the social center for Harrisburg. One of the Reily’s nieces recognized the property’s historical significance and established the Fort Hunter Museum.
Fort Hunter Park provides tours and education about the:
- Centennial Barn
- Tavern House
- Covered Bridge
- Fort Hunter Service Station
Add a tour of this property to the top of your itinerary.
COVID-19 Adjustments: Guided tours are 30 minutes long, by reservation only and limited to 6 guests.
May through December
Tuesday – Saturday: 10a.m., 11:30a.m., 1p.m., 2:30p.m., 3:30p.m.
Sunday: 12p.m., 1:30p.m., 3p.m., 4p.m.
$5.00 per person (special Covid-19 rate)
More Hershey PA Museums
Here are four more fantastic museums in the Hershey area. You can learn more about them here.
The Hershey Story Museum – Learn the fascinating history of Hershey’s Chocolate and its founder, Milton S. Hershey. You could spend an entire week here there is so much to see, do and taste!
The National Civil War Museum – This museum offers an unbiased glimpse into the tragic and complex Civil War. You’ll have access to 4,400 three dimensional artifacts and 21,000 pieces that belonged to everyday soldiers, as well as some items that belonged to important figures such as General Robert E. Lee and President Abraham Lincoln.
AACA Museum – This 71,000 square foot interactive museum is a haven for auto lovers. Travel through 80 years of vintage automobiles that are displayed in special settings for the ultimate experience.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania – Take a tour through the State of Pennsylvania’s history with exhibits featuring life-size streetscapes of 19th century towns you can walk through, Native American history and artifacts, as well as historic tools, machines, and vehicles.
These must-see museums in Hershey, PA are open most of the week. Get away for a weekend or take a mid-week vacation from work and stay at our charming and relaxing bed and breakfast tucked away in the Pennsylvania countryside. Or make it extra special with your significant other and save with our Winter Romance Special: book mid-week before February 28, 2021 and your third night is on us! Use promo code “winter” when making your online reservation or call 717-533-6764.