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Dauphin County: A Sweet Treat in Pennsylvania

Dauphin County, Pennsylvania sits in the southern-central region of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, Hershey, and Hummelstown are all worth mentioning, but there are plenty of things to see and do in towns that don’t start with the letter H, too.

There are even options both above ground and below ground. What? Have you ever toured caverns? Indian Echo Caverns is a popular destination that doesn’t get as much press as larger tourism attractions like Hershey Park. It’s a great rainy-day activity, since you’re within the caves. You’ll learn, explore, and see some amazing spaces. If you’re interested to learn more about the limestone caves, check out their site here for hours and info.

Connected to European Royalty

So, before we dig deeper, let’s have a look at how Dauphin County got its name. Did you know that Dauphin is the title given to the heir of the throne in France? This phrase started in use back in 1350! It’s changed a bit over time, but it stayed that way for almost 500 years.

Back in 1781, Louis Joseph Xavier François, wore that title. He was the son of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Sadly, he died as a little boy in 1789 from tuberculosis. It was in 1785 that Harrisburg began using the name of Dauphin County to thank France after the war with Great Britain for American’s Independence. 

Dauphin is also the French word for 'dolphin'. That connection is shown on the Dauphin County Born and Raised collection, found only at the Pennsylvania T-Shirt Company.

Did you know?

Philadelphia was the capital of Pennsylvania until 1812. It was in 1812, that Harrisburg took that title, and it’s been in place ever since.

Harrisburg is a vibrant city and community. What’s nice is that while it’s large, it doesn’t feel overwhelming like massive cities. It’s still a friendly, sprawling area with plenty to do without feeling like you’re getting lost in a crowd. Rather than point you to the state capital for a tour, we’ve got some other options. The National Civil War Museum takes a balanced look at the Civil War, so you can get a full picture of this history. And while Gettysburg is technically in Adams County, it’s close enough to add The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center to your agenda. Fort Hunter Mansion and Park and the State Museum of Pennsylvania are two more stops if you’re day tripping in Harrisburg.

Ashland is quite an interesting place with a history of mining and nearby Centralia’s underground fires. If you’re interested in seeing more about mining, The Pioneer Tunnel may be right up your alley. A steam train and scenic outing shows you another side of mining, while tours give you a look at days of the past.

Pioneer Tunnel

Pride of the Susquehanna

It would be next to impossible to avoid mentioning The Sweetest Place on Earth®, because who doesn’t love chocolate? Okay, so let’s straighten this out. Hershey is the name of the town, Hershey Park is the amusement park and offers a lot of other fun options like a stadium for concerts, a chocolate factory tour, and there’s a fancy spa and hotel across the way. But, Hershey, the town, isn’t only about the park.

So, yes, start the day and enjoy Hershey’s Chocolate World tour, but maybe cap off the day with a ride on The Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat over in Harrisburg.

If you’re all about wildlife and nature, there are plenty of parks and open spaces. But, two attractions you’ll want to add to your list of places to visit are Lake Tobias Wildlife Park and The Wolf Sanctuary. Lake Tobias offers zoo exhibits and drive-thrus.

As for events, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair is always popular with big crowds and big fun. The Pennsylvania Farm Show is another well-known and popular choice.

Pride of the Susquehanna
Pride of the Susquehanna

A Ferry Impressive County

What if you like quiet, tiny moments? Then you’re probably the perfect candidate to visit the Millersburg Ferry which is a mini-ferry able to host 4 cars. With speculation it started in the 1750’s, most records show better stats as of 1817.

Hershey Gardens includes botanical gardens, a butterfly atrium, and is open year-round with ongoing events, so be sure to see what’s happening when you’re in town.

If you love cars, consider it a perfect afternoon (rain or shine) by stopping by AACA Museum. The AACA stands for Antique Automobile Club of America. In fact, “The AACA Museum at Hershey ranks among the Top Automotive Museums in the world and has been recognized by the Smithsonian as an Affiliate Museum.” That’s quite an honor.

If you’re looking for action, consider Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. Need to kick back and relax after a stressful year? The Spa at Hershey Hotel is a great place to start. Of course, there are always outlets, wine trails, great restaurants, farmer’s markets and more.

Whether you’re looking for historic museums, or something more adventurous like exploring a cave, Dauphin County has something for everyone. Don’t forget to show your Pennsylvania pride with a selection from our unique, locally themed apparel. Share your love for your favorite Pennsylvania county and shout it out to the world.


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