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A Tired Parent’s Guide to a Relaxing Weekend in Harrisburg

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Are any other parents out there tired? Like many of us, the past two years have taken a toll on my mental health. When work and home life boundaries were erased, self-care became more of a fantasy than a daily ritual. 

I kicked off the new year with a trip to the state capital for a weekend of much-needed R and R. Not only was my weekend filled with some overdue self-care, but I got to spend time with some old friends (me, myself, and I). 

Here are a few of the budget-friendly activities that I discovered during my Harrisburg  getaway:

1. Soak up some views

After checking into my Airbnb, my unstructured day (what a novel idea!) started with a stroll along the Susquehanna River. Admire the river and local art as you walk down the four-mile path along the water.

2. Home Away from Home

Somehow, I’ve gone this long without staying at an Airbnb. I highly recommend an overnight either of these Uptown or Olde Uptown rentals! Both were located within walking distance of downtown, had plenty of parking, full amenities, and were great hosts. 

3. The art and cultural capital

It turns out Harrisburg is quite an arts town. Its charming streets are splashed with 44 murals. In case you prefer your art inside, there are tons of galleries, theaters, The Susquehanna Art Museum, the State Museum of PA, Whitaker Center, PA  National Fire Museum, The Pride of the Susquehanna, The State Capitol, Midtown Cinema, and more. 

4. Crafts Meets Craft Beer

After a fantastic, locally-sourced Millworks meal, grab your beer and visit any of the 36 art studios in the building. For a nightcap, head to the laid-back Zeroday Brewing Company. Every parent should live by their namesake: a Zeroday is a day when trail hikers stop in a town to resupply, rest, and reinvigorate instead of logging miles.

5. For the Bookworm

In my book, no getaway is complete without a few reads. Lucky for me, The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is one of the country’s largest bookstores! Give yourself a few hours to browse their collection of 200,000 used, new, and discounted books. They even have coffee to fuel your reading quest.

6. Come hungry

I will dream about Millwork’s General Tso Cauliflower long after I put my fork down. I barely put a dent into Harrisburg’s vibrant food scene.

Can’t decide what to eat? Head to the Broad Street Market, the oldest continuously operated market house in the country. From artisan cheese to ice cream, Puerto Rican to Korean cuisines, the 40 market vendors will please every palate. 

7. Sip and Savor

Remember life before littles when you could leisurely drink your coffee while it was still warm? That sounds fun. Turn up the volume on your vacation with a cup of Little Amps Coffee Roasters’ award-winning espresso.


8. One-of-a kind shopping

As soon as you enter Old Sled Works’ 30,000 sq. foot craft and antique hall, you are transported back in time. Housed in a historic sled factory, this market contains 125 antique and craft vendors, a mini sled museum, an authentic 1950’s fountain, a working penny arcade as well as shopping opportunities galore!

9 & 10. So Nice, We're counting it twice

Last but certainly not least, every tired parent must book themselves a winter retreat at Amethyst Retreat Center. Unplug, reflect, and relax at this wilderness oasis, located just 30 minutes north of Harrisburg. 

When I wasn’t curled up in front of the fire with my book, I painted, practiced yoga, listened to my Shine meditations, relaxed in the sauna, cooking in their full kitchen, and enjoyed my coffee, and tea uninterrupted. 

For a complete relaxation retreat, local holistic practitioners will come to you at Amethyst! Pick from a menu of massages, reiki, reflexology, or a meditative forest walk. In warmer months, guests can explore 144 acres of woods, trails, lavender fields, and a labyrinth.

I started to plan my return trip before I even left the driveway!


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