Museums, History & Heritage

Don’t just read about American history, experience it.

York, PA – briefly the nation’s Capital – is a premier place to do just that. York County is rich with history and is heaven on earth for history buffs and anyone curious about the past.

With re-enactments, historic sites, thousands of artifacts, and rare archives, the museums in York City and across the county chronicle the nation’s past, taking you back to colonial times, the Industrial Revolution, and the Civil War.

A Quick Look at York City Museums

The York County History Center is preparing for the opening of their new state-of-the-art complex in the summer of 2024. This new campus will serve as a major cultural anchor and community space in downtown York and combine items from the Historical Society Museum, Library/Archives, where you can track down your family’s roots; admire the artistry of yesteryear’s quilts, furniture and pottery; and astound your kids at the Rutter’s Discovery Center for Children where there’s a crank telephone and these things called “slates,” and the Agricultural and Industrial Museum, where you can set foot in a 1916 trolley car, discover what it’s like to milk a cow, and learn how wallpaper, pianos, and even caskets are made, plus much more. 

The Colonial Complex, Fire Museum and the Agricultural and Industrial Museum are now open for the season.

  • Go on a guided tour of the Colonial Complex – one of the most popular York, PA, attractions – and immerse yourself in 18th-century everyday life. The tour highlights York’s involvement in the Second Continental Congress and American Revolutionary War.
  • Take your childhood fascination with fire trucks to a whole new level at the Fire Museum. More than 225 years of firefighting equipment is displayed in a 1903 firehouse, including antique trucks and hand-drawn pumpers.
  • At the Agricultural and Industrial Museum, learn about York County’s vast contributions to the progress of agriculture and industry. Housed in a former factory complex, the museum features two floors with exhibits highlighting 300 years of transportation, agriculture and the development of manufacturing and industry. Many of the exhibits feature hands-on experiences for visitors of all ages.

The Historical Society Museum, Library and Archives, 250 E. Market Street, is CLOSED.

The new History Center Museum and Library & Archives is scheduled to open to the public on August 2, 2024.

For more information on York County History Center hours and admission cost, please visit their website.

For Civil War history, check out The Goodridge Freedom Center and Underground Railroad Museum, which honors William C. Goodridge, a former slave and wealthy businessman who helped free other slaves via the Underground Railroad. This York museum features an actual hand-dug hiding place under his kitchen floor.

Museums & Experiences Across York County PA

Multiple other historical experiences await throughout York County.

The African-American Focused and Women Owned or Operated Cultural Trails bring to life local heroes, and salute black- and women-owned businesses.

The Indian Steps Museum was built in 1912 by a lawyer who needed somewhere to store and display his vast collection of Native American artifacts. There are more than 10,000 pieces, including those from his visits to archaeological sites and tribal leaders throughout North and South America.

The Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village takes you back to a 1915 hub that sprung up around the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad. Take a five-mile train trip on one of the historic lines, and explore highlights with a costumed interpreter, such as the general store, mill, and grain elevator.

The Weightlifting Hall of Fame at York Barbell Company showcases how strength sports have evolved from mythology to the Olympics. Check out vintage barbells and tales of famous strongmen, such as Joseph Greenstein, a.k.a. “The Mighty Atom,” who stopped an airplane from taking off with his hair.

The Warehime-Myers Mansion & History Museum is a spectacular 1913 Greek Revival building with a marble-floor solarium, lion statues, and even a bowling alley in the basement. Tours are available for the first two floors.

Walk in the footsteps of the men and women who endured one of our nation's greatest struggles as you travel across York County, PA. You’ll discover stories of the pivotal…

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