Though it doesn’t look like much from the highway, bypassed by both US-30 and the I-83 freeway, the medium-sized town of York (pop. 43,718) claims to be the first capital of the United States: Late in 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted here by the 13 newly independent former colonies, and (arguably) it’s in that document that the name “United States of America” was first used. A significant number of historic buildings still stand in the quiet, low-rise downtown area, including the medieval-looking, circa-1741 Golden Plough Tavern and other colonial-era structures along Market Street at the west edge of the business district.
For all its historic importance, self-proclaimed “Factory Tour Capital of the World” York is best known for its industrial prowess, which is saluted at the Harley-Davidson assembly plant (877/883-1450, Mon.-Fri. 9am-2pm, free), a mile east of town off US-30 on Eden Road. The guided tours take about two hours and begin with a brief history of the company, which is still based in Milwaukee. The tour then takes you past a lineup of some 40 Harleys past and present, culled from the corporate collection of over 200 motorbikes, then proceeds to the shop floor for a close-up (and very noisy) look and listen as the bikes get put together: Sheets of steel are pressed to form fenders and fairings, and, once assembled, each bike is “road-tested” at full throttle on motorcycling’s equivalent of a treadmill. A souvenir store is stocked with all manner of things with the Harley-Davidson logo, from T-shirts to leather jackets.
Downtown York has a handful of cafés and restaurants. On the west edge of town, where the US-30 bypass rejoins the old Lincoln Highway (Hwy-462), Lee’s Family Diner (4320 W. Market St., 717/792-1300) is a classic early-1950s Mountain View pre-fab diner, still serving up hearty breakfast all day long. Another classic diner experience is offered on the north side of York at the Lyndon Diner (1353 Kenneth Rd., 717/699-5523). Both are open early until late (5 or 6am to 9 or 11pm).
The nicest place to stay has to be the historic Yorktowne Hotel (48 E. Market St., 717/848-1111, $119 and up), a 1920s landmark.
Yorktowne Hotel (48 E. Market St.)
Lee’s Family Diner (4320 W. Market St.)
Harley-Davidson assembly plant (1425 Eden Rd.)
Lyndon Diner (1353 Kenneth Rd.)