Visitor Guide: Museums in Columbia, PA



Visitor Guide: Museums in Columbia, PA

Nestled within the heart of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, lies the quaint town of Columbia, with a deep history that dates back to 1726. Steeped in that rich history and charm, Columbia offers a treasure trove of cultural and educational experiences to explore. From its picturesque landscapes to its vibrant community spirit, there’s something for everyone to discover in this historic region – including many museums you’ll want to add to your next visit’s itinerary. 

The diverse museums and attractions in Columbia each bring a unique glimpse into the past and present of this storied region. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or you’re simply looking for an activity the entire family will love, the museums in Columbia provide the perfect opportunity to delve into the area’s fascinating heritage and culture.

Learn more as we share three of the most captivating museums in the area, where every exhibit tells a story and every artifact offers a glimpse into the past. Pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable exploration of Columbia’s vibrant museum scene.

National Watch and Clock Museum

Tick, tick! This museum is waiting for you! 

For those who love clockwork or are intrigued by the mechanics of watches and clocks, the National Watch & Clock Museum is the perfect spot to visit. Operated by the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors since 1977, this museum offers a captivating exploration of timekeeping’s art, science, and history. With the most extensive collection of timepieces in North America – spanning over 13,000 artifacts from diverse cultures and time periods – it’s a must-visit destination for enthusiasts of all ages.

Step into a world where art, science, and history intersect, and discover the intricate workings of clocks and watches from around the globe. At the National Watch & Clock Museum, you can find exhibits that showcase the evolution of timekeeping technology and beyond. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or simply curious about the history of horology, the museum offers something of interest for both kids and adults, and each display provides insight into the human fascination with measuring time.

Be sure to visit the gift shop, where you’ll find a variety of timekeeping-themed items to commemorate your visit. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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514 Poplar Street, Columbia, PA 17512

First National Bank Museum

Step back in time and journey into the historic heart of Columbia at the First National Bank Museum. Preserved in its original structure lies one of the few banks in the United States still frozen in time, offering visitors a rare glimpse into the banking world of yesteryears.

Chartered in 1864, the First National Bank of Columbia is a testament to the town’s rich history and pivotal role in the region’s growth. As you step through its doors, you’ll be transported back in time to an era of grandeur and prosperity.

At the museum, you can explore the front two rooms of the historic building dating back to 1814, where every corner tells a tale of Columbia’s enduring legacy. You can join the museum for guided tours and unlock the secrets of this architectural gem, where history comes to life with every step. The First National Bank Museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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170 Locust Street, Columbia, PA 17512

Wright’s Ferry Mansion

The Wright’s Ferry Mansion is a beautifully restored 18th-century home that showcases the life of early settler Susanna Wright. Built in 1738 for James Wright and his family, pioneers in the founding of Columbia, this mansion embodies Pennsylvania’s colonial past.

Experience the charm of Pennsylvania architecture and English style in this pre-Revolutionary War house, which is rumored to have secret passageways leading to the Susquehanna River. Furnished entirely with items crafted before 1750 – including needlework, ceramics, and glassware – the mansion offers a glimpse into the daily life of an 18th-century Pennsylvania Quaker household.

At the mansion, you can also learn about Susanna Wright’s influential role in establishing colonial self-sufficiency. Wright’s Ferry Mansion is open May through October from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 

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Second and Cherry Streets, PO Box 68
Columbia, PA 17512

Coming in 2026: Underground Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

An exciting and immersive multimedia museum featuring rare artifacts, artificial intelligence enhanced experiences, and the regional secrets finally exposed is coming in 2026!

The Underground Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will be located at 331 Locust Street, a short walk from the Wright’s Ferry Mansion, the Columbia Historic Preservation Society, the 1869 Market House and other historic structures that already draw thousands of people a year to downtown Columbia. Plans for the 8,000 sq. ft. attraction include a detailed interpretation of abolitionist and anti-slavery activity in the state, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, with a particular focus on the Columbians engaged in a “conspiracy of good” that spanned generations—all told through immersive, interactive leading-edge exhibit technology.

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331 Locust Street
Columbia, PA 17512

Uncover even more of Columbia’s captivating attractions

While Columbia has some of our favorite museums to visit, there is much more to do, see, and learn beyond the museum walls. Explore additional attractions you won’t want to miss in Columbia that are perfect for family outings or solo exploring. 

Turkey Hill Experience

Nothing makes us want to visit a spot more than some delicious ice cream – and the Turkey Hill Experience has that and so much more! Immerse yourself in the world of ice cream at the Turkey Hill Experience, where you can learn about the dairy process, create your own delicious concoction, and indulge in tasty samples. 

Get hands-on as you learn about the dairy industry, create custom ice cream flavors, and treat your taste buds to samples straight from the source. Whether you’re a die-hard ice cream enthusiast or simply looking for a sweet adventure, the Turkey Hill Experience promises a scoop-tacular time for visitors of all ages.

Market House Dungeons

Local history is all around us—even below our feet! The Columbia Historical Society leads a tour of the Dungeons beneath the Columbia Market House to uncover Columbia’s Intriguing past. Beneath the 1814 Market House lies a network of narrow passageways, each containing cells where prisoners were once held for up to three days. Step into history as you explore these hidden chambers and hear tales of the town’s early days. 

Columbia Crossings

Last on our must-see itinerary is Columbia Crossings, which highlights the rich heritage of the Susquehanna River and surrounding areas. Managed by the Susquehanna National Heritage Area, this center serves as a gateway to the region’s land and water trails, offering a wealth of educational resources and recreational opportunities. Located in Columbia River Park on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna, Columbia Crossings provides maps, guides, and exhibits that illuminate the area’s riverfront history.

With 14 miles of river trails, picturesque landscapes, and historical landmarks, Columbia Crossings may seem like just a center for outdoor recreation – but it’s not; It’s a hub of cultural enrichment. Rotating exhibits delve into local history, art, and environmental conservation, offering a glimpse into the vibrant heritage of the Susquehanna River region. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply seeking a scenic escape, Columbia Crossings has something to offer for everyone.

Plan your visit to see Columbia’s favorite museums 

As you plan your next visit to explore Columbia’s favorite museums and attractions, remember that these spaces hold the keys to unlocking a treasure trove of history and culture. When you give the past a chance to talk to you, it’s incredible what you can hear if you only listen. Now, let’s get to exploring! 
Looking for more fun attractions to visit near Columbia? We’ve got you covered! And don’t forget to explore accommodations for when you stay. You can thank us later.