Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Sipping Surfside: Harrisburg Beach Club brings the shore to the Susquehanna.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Lindsley.

Sand? Check. Boat drinks? Check. Sunny, summertime fun? Check and check.

You may never confuse the Susquehanna River with the Atlantic Ocean, but the Harrisburg Beach Club is bringing as much of the shore experience to the capital city as possible.

At the point on City Island, you’ll discover a new hotspot where you can play in the sand[box], grab a drink, eat a meal and find a spot to relax with friends, with an unbeatable view of the Harrisburg skyline to boot.

Co-owners Bryan Donovan and Adam Maust opened the outdoor venue last November with a vision to provide a year-round, waterfront hangout spot for locals and visitors alike.

The cold-weather months can be rough in central PA, but, as the weather has warmed, the Beach Club has hit its stride. Swimming isn’t permitted, but, according to Maust, “we have sand, a beautiful view and live music for guests to relax, play and enjoy.”

The city’s beautiful, century-old bathhouse is the centerpiece of the Beach Club, which the business partners brought back to life as part of the venue’s construction.

“Before we stepped in, the bathhouse had been shuttered for more than two decades, and the beach was hidden behind a dilapidated area of the island,” Maust said. “We worked hard to bring this idea to life, restoring the bathrooms and changing areas for guests who would like to take in the sun while avoiding the water, since swimming is prohibited.”

The Harrisburg Beach Club is open seven days a week, from noon to 10 p.m. during the warmer months, weather permitting. Adirondack chairs and “comfort zones” line the lawn for casual lounging and to take in live entertainment—all free of charge. Patrons can listen to live music throughout the day as the Harrisburg Beach Club rotates artists and genres regularly.

“We pride ourselves on providing a space for local artists to play music,” Donovan said. “We have a broad selection of genres and announce the schedule weekly on social media.”

Only a few steps from the shore, beachgoers will find a bar serving specialty cocktails made with local Hidden Still spirits as well as Pennsylvania-made beers and wine. Want to taste before you buy? Harrisburg Beach Club also offers tastings of their partnered spirits on site.

For a more authentic beach day, parties can rent beach chairs and umbrellas just a few feet from the water. Reservations can be made through their website’s booking portal, where guests can choose a chair location and enjoy personal wait service from the bar and food truck. The owners also plan to launch an app reservation system that will guarantee groups a spot on the beach together, Maust said.

Around the corner from the beach, a food truck serves such savory items as Bourbon smash burgers, Nashville hot chicken sandwiches and Coney Island dogs. Starting this month, the food truck will be open daily from noon to 9 p.m.

The Harrisburg Beach Club is a family-friendly venue and even allows canines, if on a leash. Kids can play in the sand, eat some lunch from the food truck or from home and run around in the grass with Fido while adults lounge and sip on spirits. Children under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

“We have worked hard to create a free destination that anyone can come and appreciate at the most beautiful spot in Harrisburg,” Donovan said. “From parents to adult couples and even dogs, too—there is something for everyone at the Harrisburg Beach Club.”

The Harrisburg Beach Club is located on City Island, Harrisburg. For more information, visit Follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @HarrisburgBeachClub.

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