Are you an adventurous traveler on a budget, looking for the perfect getaway destination? If so, then Lewistown PA and Juniata River Valley is the place you’ve been looking for!
Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania along the Juniata River, Lewistown is brimming with incredible nature and steeped in history. The Juniata River Valley region encompasses Mifflin County and Juniata County.
We recently enjoyed a long weekend exploring Mifflin and Juniata Counties. As long-time budget travelers who love the outdoors, we can say for sure that this destination has both affordable and worthwhile outdoor adventures.
Whether it’s hiking in the mountains or floating down the Juniata River in a kayak – there’s no shortage of diversion!
Read on to learn about the top activities and destinations awaiting you in Lewistown, Juniata and Mifflin Counties, and the Juniata River Valley.
Disclaimer: this blog post is sponsored by the Juniata River Valley Visitor’s Bureau, however, all opinions are my own honest experience! This post may contain affiliate links, which help keep the blog running at no cost to you. Thank you for helping support me so I can keep creating free content for your adventure planning!
Best Things to Do in Lewistown PA
Explore Downtown Lewistown
Lewistown itself is a charming small town with a bustling local business scene and many historical buildings. Stop by the Juniata River Valley Visitor’s Bureau in downtown Lewistown to orient yourself and speak to staff. They are not only friendly but extremely knowledgeable of the area. From here, you can explore the rest of downtown Lewistown and the Juniata River Valley.
Not far from the historic courthouse where the visitor’s bureau is located is the McCoy House Museum. Just steps from Monument Square, the McCoy House hosts the Mifflin County Historical Society Museum. There you will find memorabilia of the McCoy family along with rooms from the Victorian Period, and other items in the permanent collection of the Mifflin County Historical Society
Next door is The Crooked Shelf Bookshop, named after the owner’s favorite book series The Shiver Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater. Scattered throughout town are the painted Wild Goose Statues, an ode to the famous Goose Day celebrations annually. You will also see many murals such as the Logan Guard Mural honoring the first men to answer Lincoln’s call to arms in the Civil War.
Don’t miss Victory Park along the Juniata River which runs right through downtown Lewistown. Across the river is the Historic Lewistown Train Station, the oldest station still in use that was built during the Pennsylvania Railroad project in 1849 (Monopoly, anyone?)
Celebrate Goose Day
While it only comes once a year, Goose Day in the Juniata River Valley is a fun and unique holiday that sets this region apart.
Once a year on September 29, residents and visitors alike come together to eat goose for prosperity: Eat Goose, Get Luck.
Goose Day has been celebrated for over 200 years, and stems from the Christian holiday St. Michaelmas. Nowadays it is a common celebration for all to take part in. There are several events you can check out, including
- Snapping Photos of Geese on the Wild Goose Trail
- Eating a Goose Dinner for good luck
- Attending Lucky Friday events all over town
- Experiencing a Drone Show
- Savoring several local Blackberry drinks
- Finding the Goose in the At the Barnyard corn maze
- Participating in the Goose Day 5k
Keep updated on the official Facebook page for a full list of the events each year.
What to Expect on Goose Day in Lewistown
We were in Lewistown specifically for Goose Day and had a great time exploring all the small businesses in the area that celebrate.
St Michaelmas Day commemorates the Archangel Michael who defeated Satan during the war in heaven by throwing him from the skies, so the story goes. Satan landed in a prickly blackberry bush and cursed it.
We found that the many blackberry goodies in recognition of this lore were anything but cursed! The Nook served up delicious blackberry lemon ricotta pancakes, while Hungry Run Distillery pours Blackberry Spritz on draft all day!
The events on Lucky Friday were a lot of fun. We started the day with a Golden Goose Latte from East End Coffee and spent the day exploring. Hungry Run Winery and Bistro was serving up delicious Goose and Waffles with gravy and a Blackberry Merlot that paired perfectly together. Goose Dinner = Check!
The Crooked Shelf hosted Edelia’s Salvadoran on their porch who had amazing Pupusas. On almost every corner was a live musician that had us feeling like we were in an episode of Gilmore Girls! All around downtown Lewistown were vendors set up with their wares.
The night ended with a drone show that filled the sky with messages like “Eat Goose, Get Luck” and “#Believe!” Goose Day was a lot of fun, and we are already excited to return for next year.
Visit for other Fun Events in Lewistown PA
If you thought an entire day dedicated to eating Goose for luck was fun, wait until you see the many events in the Juniata River Valley throughout the year.
In May, County Memories Day celebrates with over 100 delicious food and craft vendors who even have some DIY stations, plus an antique car show in McVeytown. For over 50 years, the Richfield Dutch Days festival has been commemorated with a Dutch Food picnic, auctioning of a hand-made quilt, and a fireworks show.
October brings the Harvestfest, a family-friendly event full of artwork (even face-painting!) as well as local vendors with food and crafts
Later in the year, the annual Festival of Ice kicks off the holiday season with chainsaw-carved ice sculptures and days of live entertainment, street vendors, and other holiday fun.
Kayak on the Juniata River
You can’t come to the Juniata River Valley and not kayak along the Juniata River. Take a leisurely float or actively paddle as you kayak down the river.
Rent a kayak from Appalachian Kayak and they will also pick you up and drop you off at the launch points. You can use their kayaks or bring your own for a smaller fee.
The Juniata River is so peaceful and we floated down in our kayaks, paddling at a sluggish peaceful pace. We went out later in the season, in late September, and had the entire river to ourselves.
In the fall, the Juniata River is surrounded by exploding fall colors and would be perfect for a kayak day!
See Unique Animals at LoveTwo Farm
Nestled in the Tuscarora Valley in Juniata County, LoveTwo Farm is one of those hidden gems that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Owned by Dan Love, this fourth-generation farm boasts a variety of animals, including miniature donkeys and horses, as well as a zonkey, a mini Scottish Highlander, some zebus, and even swamp water buffalo. Stop by the farm store for a “scavenger hunt” paper to locate them all.
But the true magic of LoveTwo Farm can be felt in the friendliness and warmth exuded by everyone on the farm. Owner Dan Love took us around to see the farm as he talked about his experience as a farmer and what it means to have visitors come by.
It’s important to remind ourselves where our food comes from and the people working hard to bring us those resources.
At the LoveTwo Eat Farm Store (a play on words from these food-loving farmers) you can find products from 20 different local farms to bring home with you.
On our visit, we opted for a helicopter ride over the entire valley with Mission Destiny, which treated us to stunning views of the fall colors and the farm below.
Travel Tip: Cell Phone service in this region tends to be spotty, so make sure you download a map to use offline to avoid getting stuck or lost.
Try Fly Fishing
Book a fishing trip with River Valley Fly Fishing and try your hand at fly fishing in Kish Creek and other area waterways. While we originally planned to do this during our visit to Lewistown we were not able to make it.
However, fly-fishing is one of the top things to do in Juniata County and we highly recommend giving it a try!
Nick is an expert guide and can bring even novice fishers out to catch and release some local fish. Just be sure to secure your Pennsylvania Fishing License beforehand!
Other Things to do in Juniata County
While we try to experience as much as possible during a trip, we can’t possibly see it all! There are definitely more things to do near Lewistown that we would love to check out during a follow-up visit.
One thing Juniata County is known for is the Port Royal Speedway. This half-mile dirt track runs sprint and stock car races over an 8-month season and is known as “The Speed Palace”. Visitors can also camp out in RVs on-site or nearby to catch the races.
The Quilt Mural Trail consists of 8’ squares on barns throughout three counties in the Juniata River Valley and surrounding area. These huge painted quilts are part of an ongoing project by local students to honor the rich heritage of the area through this interpretation of folk art tradition. A digital map of the trail is available for those who want to explore.
There are four of the famous Pennsylvanian covered bridges located within Juniata County that visitors often enjoy taking pictures of. The most famous being the Pomeroy-Academia Covered Bridge, which is the longest covered bridge still standing in PA.
While it is no longer open to vehicles, interested sight-seers can reach the bridge at 70 Mill Rd, Port Royal, PA 17082. Park on the side of the road and walk to the bridge.
Things to Do in Mifflin County PA
Visit the Belleville Livestock Market
What started as a weekly auction to trade livestock between farmers has grown into a full-on flea market in the Big Valley. Known locally as Sale Day, on Wednesdays this lively marketplace boasts a range of offerings, from Amish goods to produce auctions.
Of course, the real draw for many is the livestock auction, where farmers from across the Big Valley and Juniata River Valley come to participate in one of the region’s oldest and most reputable sales.
And if you plan on attending, don’t forget to bring cash—the Belleville Market is a cash-only operation. The sale starts around 7 a.m. and runs until 11 in the summer to avoid the heat, and stays open a bit later in cooler months. The livestock auction itself is always at 1 pm year-round.
We arrived around 10 am having left early morning from Philadelphia, but since the auction was later in the day we happened to miss it during our visit.
Visit an Amish Farm
Discover the rural charm of the Juniata River Valley with a visit to an Amish farm. With the second-largest Amish community in Pennsylvania, Mifflin County is home to the rare yellow-topped buggies of the Byler Amish.
You’ll also spot the Renno Amish, distinguished by their black buggies, and the white-topped buggies of the Nebraska Amish.
These communities may differ in their daily customs, for example, some may be more lenient than others, but their dedication to their religious beliefs remains relatively similar.
Stop by the farms with signs at the end of their driveways to purchase homemade goods, or come during the Big Valley Sale Day for a true country experience.
For a leisurely ride through the scenic countryside, take a carriage ride with Dayze Gone By Carriage Rides.
For those seeking a hands-on experience, Daisy Lane Farm offers u-pick flowers where you can choose from a variety of blooms, including sunflowers and dahlias, to take home as a cherished memento. The farm is located at 214 Daisy Lane.
We had so much fun picking our own bouquet, and for 25 stems at $11, it was a steal! Daisy Lane Farm also has an incredible view overlooking the mountains and Big Valley, so it’s worth a drive for the view alone.
Just walking through the flowers, taking photos, and admiring the view is free of charge.
Stretch your legs in a state park
If you’re looking for a hike in the gorgeous Juniata River Valley, there are several state parks nearby waiting to be explored. Reeds Gap State Park is the perfect starting point, as the only state park located within Mifflin County. It has a range of easy, flat hiking trails and picnic areas, as well as some campsites.
A short drive away, Greenwood Furnace State Park in neighboring Huntingdon County offers even more hiking and outdoor adventures. Take a leisurely stroll to explore the old furnaces and historic buildings in this defunct town-turned-state park.
And if you’re looking to explore a bit further afield, nearby Poe Valley State Park and Poe’s Paddy State Park are worth visiting, with scenic picnic areas, hiking trails, and campsites in the adjacent Centre County. For a stunning viewpoint, make sure to check out the Big Valley Overlook.
We have been to all of these state parks, and would recommend stopping by at least one! The natural beauty surrounding Juniata and Mifflin County is not to be missed!
Head to a Lookout for views of Juniata River Valley
For a quick walk to get your blood pumping with absolutely stunning views, head to Stone Mountain Hawk Watch. While the Hawk Watch platform is only .4 miles from the parking lot, tromping up and down the rocky hills to get there will have you catching your breath.
While you are there you might be lucky to catch a volunteer in the autumn months – they count raptors migrating from this platform, thus the name.
Head just a quarter of a mile further to get to Sausser’s Pile which is a cliffside covered in cascading rocks. In our opinion, the view from here was even more spectacular.
Of course, the view of the layered mountains from the parking lot is not to be missed either. We happened upon a golden sunset as we returned to our car and couldn’t help but linger for a bit to soak it in.
For another perspective of the Juniata River Valley, you can also check out Jacks Mountain Hawk Watch.
Where to eat:
Restaurants in Big Valley and Mifflin County:
If you’re looking for some great spots to eat in Big Valley and Mifflin County there are a few options. For a quick and affordable breakfast, Taste of the Valley coffee shop is the place to go.
But, if you venture to Reedsville, you’ll have even more options to choose from. Check out Hostetler’s Country Market for a deli counter, Amish-baked goods, and an ice cream window. East End Coffee Co offers locally roasted coffee and pastries, while Honey Creek Inn is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch, as well as delicious pie.
For something quick or sweet, head to Reedsville Creamery Ice Cream Stand for smash burgers, fries, and hand-dipped ice cream. You can spend time walking around Reedsville to check out the local shops while you are there.
For a more upscale experience, Seven Mountains Wine Bar & Stonefly Cafe serves great food made with local ingredients. Check their website for nightly specials that pair well with their incredible wine.
Places to Eat in Lewistown:
When exploring the Juniata River Valley, the options for where to eat in Lewistown are endless.
One standout spot is Shy Bear Brewing, which offers an extensive menu of innovative brews and pub fare. For a cozy dining experience, head to The Nook, a small restaurant in the heart of town known for its breakfast options, among them the blackberry lemon ricotta pancakes during Goose Day weekend.
And don’t miss out on the Hungry Run Bistro & Wine Bar for upscale dining expertly paired with local wine.
Craving something sweet? The Square Cafe & Bakery has you covered with their homemade pastries and cakes. They also specialize in smoked meats perfect for those craving classic bbq.
For a caffeine fix, check out East End Coffee Co., and if you’re feeling adventurous, head to Guante Family Restaurant in Mifflintown for a taste of Latino cuisine.
Finally, stop by Walnut Cheese Nook in Port Royal for their incredible deli counter and beautiful gardens outside. It may seem unassuming, but they have AMAZING hot food like the crispy chicken wrap we ordered, with freshly sliced Muenster cheese. As a bonus, they are literally minutes down the road from Juniata Valley Winery!
The Juniata River Valley is a haven for wine enthusiasts, boasting several wineries and wine bars to visit. In fact, the Juniata Wine Trail offers a passport to be stamped at each winery in the area!
If you’re looking for a taste of history, head over to Brookmere Winery in Belleville, PA, one of the oldest wineries in the state. While it can be hard to choose between the wine flight or the wine slushies, they have a ton of options for traditional wine and fruit wine to choose from!
Come during September and you can try the fan-favorite “Tears of the Goose” wine, made specially for Goose Day for the past 40 years. This signature blend includes Seyval, Vidal, and Chelois grapes for a sweet blush wine that is extremely popular in the area.
We enjoyed the Valley Mist, a dry white wine made from Vignoles grapes that is full-bodied with a citrus taste that was very refreshing.
For a meal with your wine, Seven Mountains Wine Bar & Stonefly Cafe in Reedsville, PA, serves up delicious flatbreads and grass-fed local burgers on Wednesday nights. They had several dry reds to choose from, and we went with the Ten Point blend which paired well with our rosemary and gorgonzola flatbread with grapes, and a juicy burger.
Wineries near Lewistown, PA
If you are looking for things to do in Lewistown, try Hungry Run Bistro & Wine Bar. They have a fantastic food menu, with the trio of dips and rosemary fries being popular choices. We were surprised to enjoy the semi-dry blackberry Merlot since we are more dry red wine fans.
And while Juniata Valley Winery near Port Royal, PA, doesn’t serve food, it’s one of the top wedding destinations in Juniata County. Try a few tastings before grabbing a glass to sip on as you explore the grounds of the estate.
Try the Traminette, their award-winning estate wine grown right on the grounds. It’s a semi-dry white wine with a floral-nectar taste and hints of citrus.
Just down the road is the Walnut Cheese Nook which is a local favorite and budget-friendly food spot.
For those looking for something other than wine, do not worry as there are other options for local spirits as well. Shy Bear Brewing near Lewistown has local beer, an excellent menu, and even live music.
Hungry Run Distillery offers cocktails on draft as well as their house-made spirits to taste. Their tasting room is super chic and spacious and would be perfect for gathering with friends for a cocktail.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Greenwood House of the Hill Store and Cottage in Big Valley. The Greenwood house was originally based in what is now Greenwood Furnace State Park. Now home in Mifflin County, the cozy wooden home has since been restored and relocated to the charming town of Belleville. The attention to detail in the renovations is visible with an emphasis on maintaining the home’s original features.
The homey feel from the pine flooring and authentic door latches make it a comfortable retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Hill Store and Cottage is only minutes from the original Greenwood Furnace State Park, so guests can explore the historical and natural gems of Pennsylvania’s countryside at their own pace.
Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast is an affordable place to stay in Pennsylvania for travelers looking to experience the beauty of Amish Country. Located in the rural town of Reedsville, it provides guests with a pastoral and peaceful atmosphere.
The bed and breakfast hosts four guest rooms. The Gazebo room comes with a private jacuzzi and its own private bathroom. The name Briar Rose comes from the Sleeping Beauty tale, and the other 3 rooms are named after this theme. Each room is outfitted with modern conveniences like flat-screen TVs while still maintaining the antique charm that’s expected from historical bed and breakfasts.
Briar Rose is known for their extreme holiday decorations. From Halloween, to Christmas, and even Valentine’s Day the hotel is decked out in holiday joy for guests to delight in. Enjoy delicious home-cooked meals each morning, served in the cozy dining room. Contact the hotel directly to book by calling
Short-term Vacation Rentals are also available in Lewistown and the surrounding Juniata River Valley area.
Map of Things to Do in Lewistown PA and the Greater Juniata River Valley Area
FAQ about Mifflin County and Juniata County
Lewistown is located in Central Pennsylvania, in Mifflin County. The counties of Mifflin and Juniata are known collectively as the Juniata River Valley. This area, combined with 8 surrounding counties is known as the Alleghenies. Counties in the Alleghenies include Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Fulton, Huntingdon, Mifflin and Juniata.
Mifflin County is known for having the second-largest community of Amish in the state of Pennsylvania. There is consequently a huge agricultural economy here, with Kishacoquillas Valley, known locally as Big Valley, being the most prominent area for farmland.
Juniata County is known for the Juniata River that runs through the county, as well as the historical structures like the courthouse, covered bridges, and the historic railroad station.
We had this question too! The “J” is annunciated rather than silent, so it sounds like “joo-nee-ah-tuh”
Wrapping up this Guide to Lewistown PA
Now you know what an untouched gem the Juniata River Valley, where Lewistown lies, really is.
With its winery hopping, charming restaurants, and unique holidays such as Goose Day, there is something for everyone.
Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast looking to explore Big Valley and the breathtaking countryside, or someone searching for a peaceful day and trying excellent cuisine in small towns like Lewistown and Reedsville- this city has something for you!
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