5 Things People Do Not Know About Harrisburg

Several months ago I gushed in a blog post how much I liked Harrisburg. So I’m happy to revisit the concept…with a bit of a different focus. Here are 5 things that I would like to ‘reveal’ about Harrisburg, PA — the state capitol! If you are ready to travel the first thing is that to know all the details about traveling and packaging, At Absolute Back Packers website you will got it.

1. It’s a city, but a small one

Harrisburg’s skyline from the West Shore

Harrisburg may be the capital of Pennsylvania, but in terms of size, it is Pennsylvania’s 9th largest city (even Lancaster is bigger — you know, the place with the Amish). In fact, Harrisburg’s population doesn’t even crack 50K (last census count had it at 49,528).

However Harrisburg does a good job at ‘faking’ and urban environment. Being the state capital keeps visibility and awareness high. Plus, it’s part of the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metropolitan area — which is home to about 1.2 million people. So you still have amenities like a wide variety of shopping options, an ethnically diverse population and a nice variety of housing options. You just won’t find any towering skyscrapers or anything. You’ll have to go to Baltimore for those. And speaking of B-More…

2. Harrisburg’s closest ‘big city’ is Baltimore (MD)

That’s right; even though it is in the same state, Philadelphia is about 2 hours away while Baltimore is just over 1 hour away by car. In spite of the easy drive, natives aren’t ones to take weekend jaunts down Mobtown on a regular basis. Not sure if that’s because it’s perceived as dangerous or if it’s not just that appealing in general. But for someone not from here (and especially someone who is coming from a big city and worried about being in ‘the sticks’), it’s a cool perk.

The closest major metro to Harrisburg is Baltimore, MD (which is 80 miles to the south). Even so, there are more Steelers or Eagles fans in Harrisburg than Ravens fans (I guess keeping the sports loyalty within the state limits is a thing).

3. Harrisburg is a city of minorities

Now this one will definitely raise some eyebrows: Only 23% of Harrisburg’s residents are White. That’s less than 1 our of 4 residents! About 48% of the residents are Black (compared to 42% of Philadelphia) and about 20% are Latino.

Asians comprise just under 6% of the population and people of multiple races make up 5%; but those numbers have increased 24% and 43% respectively compared to 2000’s census count.

I will say, that in my humble opinion, unlike in Pittsburgh, there isn’t any part of Harrisburg that has a real ‘we don’t want Black people living here’ sort of vibe (you have to cross the river over to the West Shore for that!).

4. Hershey Park is really close to Harrisburg

As in 15 miles away close. In casual conversation, I’ve talked to several people from Pittsburgh who said they’ve been to Hershey Park….but they had no idea it was close to Harrisburg. Ditto to many religious Jews from NY/NJ who would come to Hershey for chol homoed — but were floored when I revealed I live not too far away.

Oh, and this isn’t really related…I just want to put it out there — ‘Hershey, PA’ is just a mailing address. There is no municipality in Pennsylvania called ‘Hershey’. The factory and the park are located in a place that is designated as Derry Township.

5. Harrisburg ranks very well in livability surveys

In fact, US News has it as the #1 Best Place to Live in Pennsylvania. Having lived in both Eastern and Western PA, I tend to agree. It’s a very family-friendly place. With affordable real estate, easy commutes, and a friendly sense of community.

Harrisburg also stands as a viable option for millennials. The combination of inexpensive real estate and a good amount of entry-level employment opportunities, a young person or family can set up easily here. While this is not the most glamorous or exciting place to live by a long shot, the statistics deserve some real attention. Especially if you are a realist and do not feel the need to live in the thick of the hustle and bustle of the big city (but would still like access to it at times).


It’s true I’m completely biased — but if you would like to learn more about Harrisburg or making your home here, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be glad to give you the scoop about anything you would like to know!