When you stick to your routine and fail to expand your horizons, it becomes easy to develop a narrow perspective of the world. Consider broadening your outlook by visiting a local museum. These establishments are an excellent way to learn something new and see topics in a way you never thought you would. Going to a museum is also a fun and affordable indoor activity you can do regardless of the weather or time of year.

In even better news, York is an area teeming with culture and establishments seeking to share it. Apple Chevrolet is here to help you discover local museums in and around York. With this guide, you should be able to find something that piques your curiosity regardless of your interests.

Historical Society Museum and Library/Archives

Vehicles driving past the Pennsylvania Welcomes You sign

Several of the museums on our list are part of the York County History Center, an organization that owns multiple historic buildings and museums throughout the state. Purchasing a general admission ticket grants you access to all of these York History Center establishments for the day. One such establishment is the Historical Society Museum and Library/Archives on East Market Street. While the building was originally an automobile dealership that opened in 1921, William Richley donated the building to the York County History Center in 1955.

Visitors can appreciate the spacious two-story entrance hall and lobby that retains its original showroom tile floor. The immersive "Street of Shops" exhibit takes you back to early-1800s York by featuring local crafts and businesses. If you want to admire tall case clocks and decorative Pennsylvania-German furniture, be sure to check out the "A Timeless Collection" exhibit. The "Lewis Miller Gallery" provides a modern perspective on local folk art and features a revolving door of pieces, meaning there's always something new to experience every time you visit.

Location: 250 E. Market St., York, PA 17403

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Image by Ken Lund is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

Agricultural and Industrial Museum

The York County History Center also owns the Agricultural and Industrial Museum on West Princess Street. This former factory complex provides insight into York County's contributions to these fields that are essential to American society. Explore two floors featuring more than 20 exhibits that cover over 300 years of history. Whether you have kids or just have a kinesthetic approach to learning, you'll be glad to hear that the Agricultural and Industrial Museum has plenty of hands-on experiences.

The "Local Industry Galleries" lets you use a rotary phone via a 1930s switchboard, and the "York Plan" describes the area's industrial contribution to World War II. A walk through the "Hall of Giants Gallery" will reveal impressive machines, such as a 72-ton A-frame ammonia compressor that produced ice in the early 20th century. Other highlights include:

  • A 1916 trolley car.
  • A 1940 train switcher engine in the "Transportation Gallery."
  • Piano and organ exhibits.
  • A casket manufacturing exhibit.
  • A functional three-story grist mill.

Location: 217 W. Princess St., York, PA 17401

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Colonial Complex

One of the hottest museums in York is the Colonial Complex on West Market Street. This attraction consists of four historic buildings downtown that you can explore during a guided tour. You'll start in the Golden Plough Tavern that's been around since 1741 and showcases daily colonial life. The General Horatio Gates House from around 1751 gives you a more upper-class perspective of colonial life, as it mimics the stay of American General Horatio Gates. The Colonial Courthouse tells the story of how the Second Continental Congress eventually adopted the Articles of Confederation.

The final building is the Barnett Bobb Log House from 1812. It underwent relocation to the Colonial Complex and allows visitors to participate in hands-on activities and witness artisan demonstrations. Be sure to check the website for tour availability.

Location: 157 W. Market St., York, PA 17401

Hours: Open April through November for guided tours

Fire Museum

Just a little down the street from the Colonial Complex is the Fire Museum, which is also under the ownership of the York County History Center. The Fire Museum sits in the historic 1903 Royal Fire House and provides a glimpse into the lives of early-1900s York firefighters.

Exhibits contain over 225 years of firefighting equipment across the 72 York county fire companies. Objects on display include authentic uniforms, hand-drawn pumpers, historic alarm systems, and six fire trucks from the early to mid-1900s. The Fire Museum is only open on Saturdays from April through November, so be sure to make time one weekend to visit this York jewel.

Location: 757 W. Market St., York, PA 17401

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays from April through November

William C. Goodridge Freedom Center and Underground Railroad Museum

The William C. Goodridge Freedom Center and Underground Railroad Museum tell the story of a man born into slavery who eventually became a wealthy businessman and served as a station master on the Underground Railroad. This museum was the first in the world to recreate a circa-1840s daguerreotype photography studio in the same place as the original. In addition to ambrotype, daguerreotype, and tintype photographs, visitors will see a collection of African-American photo jewelry.

The other major permanent exhibit in this museum is the "Secret Hideaway on the Underground Railroad." The hand-dug space under Mr. Goodridge's kitchen floor is intact to this day and allows you to see an actual hiding spot of former slaves. When you visit this museum, consider scheduling a one-hour tour in advance to learn from an expert guide. You can also choose the more independent option of calling a number and listening to audio stories as you explore the exhibits.

Location: 123 E Philadelphia St, York, PA 17401

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays

We hope this guide helps you broaden your horizons and enjoy a relaxing activity with your friends or family. If you have other suggestions for York museums, be sure to let us know. The team here at Apple Chevrolet loves to stay in the know regarding local attractions.

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