York County prides itself on being the “Factory Tour Capital of the World” (from Harley Davidson motorcycles to Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels). But fall in this Pennsylvania county – a short drive from Lancaster’s Amish Country, Gettysburg’s Battlefields and Hershey’s Chocolate World – offers a bounty of opportunities to get out of the factories and into the foliage.
To celebrate the season, York County presents “Autumn on the Susquehanna River,” featuring hot air balloon flights, Civil War trail hikes, winery picnics, and yes, even some tours, on weekends in September and October.
Alison Smith, public relations coordinator for York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, tells MotorHome that the dining, shopping, recreational and other activities that are part of “Autumn on the Susquehanna River” can be found along a 20-mile stretch of the river, from John Wright Store & Restaurant to the site of the Susquehanna River Rock Art Expeditions. Temperatures over the next two months will be pleasant, she said: high 60s to mid-70s during the days and low 50s in the evenings.
The river rock excursions, Smith said, “are eye-opening – featuring petroglyphs dating back over 800 years.” The John Wright store, located in a restored warehouse on the banks of the river, “offers the perfect view to sit back, eat some local fare and do some discount shopping all in one place,” she added.
The family-owned Flinchbaugh’s Orchard & Farm Market sells freshly picked produce and homemade baked goods. On several Saturdays through October, in addition to Columbus Day Oct. 12, guided orchard tours will be given. Visitors can sample what they’ve seen by sipping a glass of fresh apple cider and eating a slice of warm apple pie afterward.
Moon Dancer Vineyard & Winery, in a French chateau setting, has a “view of the river that can’t be beat,” Smith said.
Shank’s Mare Outfitters is the area’s river recreation expert, offering paddle tours, kayak rentals and more. The wildlife that can be seen is diverse, said Smith: “Bald eagles are often spotted along with herons, ospreys and tundra swans.”
For a unique view of the area, soar overhead in a hot air balloon. AE Balloon Flights has excursions daily, weather permitting.
Stories of courageous citizens who burned their bridge to stop the Confederate advance are told along the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails.
There are multiple campground and park options for RVers, including Ben Franklin RV Park and Gifford Pinchot State Park. Additional campground options are listed here.
The fun doesn’t stop at the end of October. Coming in November: the Wine Just Off the Vine event (Nov. 20-22) along the UnCork York Wine Trail. Ten wineries will allow visitors to go behind the scenes after the harvest to witness the grape’s journey from vine to bottle.
If kayaking, wine tasting, hot air ballooning or hiking aren’t your style, there are always those factory tours. Anyone care for a Martin’s potato chip or a Wolfgang chocolate-covered raspberry?