When it’s time to choose a place to live, there are so many things to consider. You’ll likely want the shortest commute as possible, and access to basic amenities. You’ll always want to live somewhere close to entertainment and cultural options. However, what if you are struggling to decide between two similar spots that both offer unique experiences?
Harrisburg residents know what it’s like to have to choose between living on the East Shore or West Shore. Both sides of the river offer endless possibilities for shopping, dining, outdoor recreation and entertainment. Which side of the river do you want to call home?
We’ll explore specific locations on either side of the river to help paint a picture of the East and West Shore vibe. You might find one side resonates with you more, and if not, that’s OK, too. You only have to cross the bridge to experience both.
Harrisburg is a riverfront city founded in 1785 that became the capital of Pennsylvania in 1810. You’ll find downtown Harrisburg east of the Susquehanna River, or in the East Shore region.
Restaurants, museums and other cultural amenities abound in this section of town. Chocolate lovers can drive 20 minutes further east to land in Hershey, PA. A little over a half-hour south is the artsy and historic city of Lancaster.
East Shore is the place to live if you want the center-city experience. You’ll have the option to walk to fun hangouts like breweries and restaurants, and you’ll be closer to all the action. However, as is the case with most cities, the closer you are to the heart, the more densely populated it is. So, it’s a matter of what is most important to you and what you want.
We’ll help you decide by presenting you with five reasons to choose East Shore.
Would you like to live a short distance away from a life-sized 19th-century village or early Pennsylvanian archaeological treasures? If you live in East Shore, you’re not too far from this possibility.
The State Museum, located in the Capital District, is the place in Harrisburg to explore everything Pennsylvanian, from ancient artifacts to modern art. General admission is the cost of a cheap lunch, at $7 per ticket.
On the first floor of the museum, pay a visit to a William Penn sculpture, stroll through an old Pennsylvanian town or learn how Pennsylvania influenced the nation through a collection of 350 items.
Get immersed in Native American culture in the Anthropology and Archaeology Gallery on the second floor, or learn about Pennsylvania’s hardworking past with the Transportation and Industry exhibit.
The third floor brings you close to nature, where you can view minerals and rocks in the Hall of Geology, stand next to dioramas of Pennsylvania mammals or learn all you need to know about Pennsylvania plant life in the Ecology Hall.
Though the State Museum offers the chance to get lost on three floors of Pennsylvania history, here are some other museums you’d also have easy access to as an East Shore resident, such as:
Explore East Shore by bike or foot using the Capital Area Greenbelt. Formed in 1990, this 20-mile loop takes you through various parks and portions of the city. The trail is mostly paved with some gravel portions and consists of mainly dedicated paths for bikers and hikers.
While cruising the Greenbelt, you’ll have the opportunity to check out the following parks:
Who wouldn’t love to catch an arthouse flick and then walk next door for a tasty brew? As an East Shore resident, this wouldn’t need to be a special occasion. In fact, if you live in or near Midtown, you can enjoy the cultural attractions this part of Harrisburg has to offer every day.
Named after a day of rest during an Appalachian Trail excursion, Zeroday Brewing Company loves beer and art. Not only can you check out local art while sipping specialty beer, but you might catch a live music performance, too.
The brewery doesn’t have a large food menu — however, if your belly rumbles, there are plenty of yummy snacks to nibble on, like Bavarian-style pretzels. Want to turn your beer into a float? Ask for a scoop of ice cream.
After you’re warm and fuzzy, wind down to an inspiring film at Midtown Cinema next door.
Curious about other East Shore breweries? Here are some other worthwhile stops:
River City Blues Club and Dart Room seems to have it all for a night of fun, music and food. Pay pool, pinball or darts, or enjoy a jazz or blues event in the basement, complete with a full bar. Make sure you leave room for some tasty eats, like a po’ boy, house-fried chips or a BBQ brisket sandwich.
Looking for a dose of comedy as an East Shore resident? Take some friends to the Harrisburg Improv Theater on Third Street. Laugh, interact and test your improv skills for only $5 a show or $10 for the whole night. Did we mention it’s BYOB, too?
Another benefit to living on the east side of the Susquehanna is proximity to Broad Street Market. Since 1860, Broad Street Market has been the oldest continuously operated market in the United States. With nearly 40 vendors, you can easily spend an afternoon shopping or sampling a variety of local and ethnic foods.
Dough-lovers can try pierogies at Pikowski’s Pierogi Place, hand-rolled soft pretzels at Lil’s Pretzels or gourmet donuts at Evanilla. Individuals with adventurous taste buds can indulge their senses at Flavors of India or Porter’s House for Jamaican cuisine.
Broad Street Market gives you the chance to decorate your home with fresh flowers from Floral Bouquet, too. Stock your fridge with local goods from Hummers Meats or Produce Patch at Peach Ridge.
Still not sure if you’re into the East Shore side of things? Let’s take a look at what West Shore has to offer. You might find you can have the best of both worlds.
West Shore is the region west of the Susquehanna River. You won’t be in downtown Harrisburg, but you will enjoy a more small-town feel in Enola, Lemoyne or Camp Hill. This side of the river is a bit of a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown, but there is no shortage of things to do.
You might not be able to walk to a brewery and then next door to a theater as you can in East Shore, and there are fewer restaurants to choose from within walking distance — but for those who prefer less city action, the West Shore region might be the way to go.
Want to explore other towns and cities from West Shore? Historical and charming Carlisle is a short drive away to the west, and the city of York is less than an hour away to the south.
So, here it is — our five reasons to consider West Shore as your place to thrive.
Have you always dreamed of acting in a play or working backstage, but don’t know how to make it a reality? Well, in Camp Hill, you can make your theatre dreams come true at the Oyster Mill Playhouse. This nonprofit community theatre welcomes volunteers to act, design or direct plays and keep theatre alive on the West Shore. Originally a grist mill, Oyster Mill was remodeled and opened as a playhouse in 1988. It is now completely volunteer-run.
If theatre is not your forte, don’t catch a ferry to the East Shore just yet. Instead, get your game on at the Coliseum Megaplex in Camp Hill.
The Coliseum is a 10,000-square-foot arcade where you can play American classics like skee-ball, pinball, bowling and a variety of new arcade games. When it’s time to take a break and recharge, stop in at the sports bar for a burger and a brew.
You might not live next door to one of the oldest markets in America as a West Shore resident, but you won’t feel left out, either. West Shore Farmers’ Market in Lemoyne may be all you need.
Since 1950, West Shore Farmers’ Market has supplied locals with a variety of homemade and farm-produced goods. In 1999, a fire destroyed the market, but it reopened in 2000. Now, West Shore residents can enjoy two floors and 50 vendors, selling everything from gourmet food to antiques.
It’s OK to skip crossing the bridge to Broad Street Market, and instead buy your meats, candles, baked goods, collectibles, antiques or jewelry at West Shore Farmers’ Market. Or, simply enjoy an afternoon of browsing, sampling and chatting with neighbors.
Beer lovers can rejoice in West Shore, especially if they live in Enola. Al’s of Hampden wants to please every palate with a beer selection that can’t be beat. They offer 99 craft beer taps, limited bottles and cask-conditioned beers. If Pizza Boy Brewing is not enough to satisfy your craft beer craving, here are a few other West Shore brew spots to check out:
Though safe biking might be more of a challenge on the west side of the river, there are still plenty of places to enjoy the outdoors. And, if West Shore doesn’t meet your nature-loving needs, Little Buffalo State Park is less than an hour away. Go even further west, and you’ll find yourself in Tuscarora State Forest. However, in the meantime, enjoy these parks, available to all West Shore residents:
There is no denying East Shore has tons of restaurants to choose from, but it wouldn’t be fair or true to say West Shore lacks in eatery possibilities. The choices are diverse, too. Whether you’re craving Indian, Italian, Thai, Japanese or Tex-Mex, you won’t have to travel too far in West Shore.
For example, if you live west of the river, you won’t need to commute to enjoy a fusion dish at Korealicious in Lemoyne. Treat yourself to a Korean burrito for lunch, or keep it traditional with a dish like bibimbap.
In the mood for Himalayan instead? No need to fly to Bhutan. All you have to do is head to Yak N Yeti in New Cumberland. To sample a variety of exotic cuisine, try to catch their lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.
You can take your taste buds on a world tour in West Shore. For example, visit Cedars Restaurant in Camp Hill for Lebanese cuisine. If you go Friday or Saturday, you can catch a belly dancing show for the full experience. Hungry for fish and chips? Head to Grotto Pub Sports and Raw Bar in Enola for tasty food and live music.
Now that you know a little more about what each side of the river has to offer, consider the following points to help finalize your decision.
Finally, ask yourself what is most important to you and the things you hope to accomplish and experience as a Harrisburg resident.
In many ways, the East Shore mirrors the West Shore and vice versa. For example, you could practically wave at a Broad Street Market shopper as a West Shore Farmers’ Market shopper. Despite the similarities, there are some big differences, too.
Overall, know that no matter which side of the Susquehanna you choose to call home, you’re only a bridge away from the other side.
Check out one of our rental properties or contact us today for more information!