Touring by Segway
How’s this for an adventure, albeit an “unique” adventure – tour the countryside, small cities, even big cities, by Segway.
What is a Segway? The Segway Personal Transporter is an environmentally friendly vehicle with just two wheels that is self-balancing.
Your body weight changes the direction. Lean forward to go forward; lean back to slow down; pull a handle and lean right to turn right; pull a handle and lean left to turn left; balance your body straight and tall to stop. Sound like fun? It is!
Does it sound hard to do? With a little practice, you can do it!
Many local cities offer sightseeing tours via Segway as a way of showing the history, culture, architecture and beauty of their areas, more upclose and personal.
Harrisburg by Segway opened its business one year ago. It offers 1 1/2- or two-hour tours of downtown Harrisburg. The tours start one block east of Front Street.
Arrive early to be fitted with a helmet, then receive one-on-one instruction on how to operate a Segway. It’s weird to balance at first, but within 10 minutes you are zipping around on your own.
After loading a Segway “saddlebag” with your personal items – water bottle, camera, purse – it is time to head out with a guide.
Zip down some residential streets, past a beautiful small lake and on to the Zembo Shrine building. The guide will stop at these places to talk about them.
Cross Front Street and travel the walkway high above the Susquehanna River bank. The straight stretch is well manicured with neatly mowed grass and lovely flower gardens, many planted in memory of loved ones.
While maneuvering along, you can watch anglers and flocks of birds on the river. Walkers and joggers pass you by as you enter Riverfront Park. Soon you take a path down to the river and travel along the lower riverbank and enjoy more river views.
Move on to City Island by crossing the pedestrian Walnut Street Bridge. The guide might stop on the bridge to show a plaque marking the water level over the bridge during Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
City Island is the home of the Harrisburg Senators baseball stadium and also a fun family recreation spot. As you zip around the island, you’ll pass the miniature golf course and the beach area. Enjoy the cityscape view as you pass back over the pedestrian bridge.
In downtown Harrisburg, the Capitol building looms ahead on State Street. The impressive front steps are flanked on each side by garden space. Nearby streets are filled with shops, restaurants and old architecture.
Follow more residential streets as you wind your way back to the starting place of this fun Segway tour.
Take something “old” and add something “new.” Who would have thought to tour the Gettysburg Battlefield by Segway?
Segway Tours of Gettysburg offers two battlefield routes. A three-hour western battlefield route includes Seminary Ridge, Pickett’s Charge, Little Round Top and more with several stops for picture taking and commentary. The other is a two-hour eastern battlefield route, in lesser-known war territory but with more hills and curves throughout the 4-mile route.
The tours start at the Springs Street headquarters. You need to arrive a half-hour early to be fitted with a helmet and an audio receiver with earpiece, then to get your operational instructions and practice.
How do you get from the parking lot to the battlefield? By going down the main street – just like the cars. Don’t panic. You’ll do just fine. Your maximum speed is 12 mph.
Soon you take some alleyways to Confederate Avenue, one of the smooth macadam roads of the battlefield.
The audio narration is by a licensed battlefield guide. So, at different sights, you slow down and listen to the narrator while viewing the surroundings. You’ll go pass Culp’s Hill, East Cemetery Hill and Observation Tower.
“After the maneuvering practice, it was exciting to take off and follow the roads in the battlefield while listening to the narration … not being enclosed by a car or a bus, you feel like you were ‘there,’ ” a rider said.
On the way back to town, you might stop in front of the house of the only civilian killed during the war, an amazing statistic. Her name was Jennie Wade and she was 20 years old.
The tour group heads back to the starting point as this part of your adventure is over. But your day does not have to end here. Nearby is the entrance to the Museum & Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park.
Opened in 2008, the building, surrounded by stunning fields of naturally scattered yellow flowers, marries an architecturally pleasing, barnlike facade with high-tech inner displays.
Other Segway tours
State College: Happy Valley Tours offers a Blue/White Campus Tour. Travel the Penn State campus for two hours, passing by the Nittany Lion Shrine, Rec Hall, Palmer Museum of Art, Beaver Stadium and more, with stops at the HUB and Berkey Creamery. Tussey Mountain Nature tours also are available.
Hershey: Segway of Hershey offers two tours: a historical tour or a nature tour, both on The Hotel Hershey property. The two-hour historical tour of hotel property includes the history of Milton Hershey. The off-road trail tour gives riders access to the Hershey property, with guides explaining the history of the beautiful grounds along the way.
Emlenton, Venango County: The Scenic Allegheny River Tour travels the flat areas along the river. Take in beautiful scenic views and lots of roaming wildlife. Another tour winds through the Whitehall Camp and Conference Center and over rolling hills. A new advanced off-road woods and wildlife trail ride now is open. It is more physically demanding, with lots of twists and turns on the trail.
Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston and even London and Rome offer Segway tours.
Check out any places you visit and see if they offer the unique mode of transportation.
If you go
www.harrisburgbysegway.com; rear of 3037 N. Front St., Harrisburg
www.SegTours.com; 22 Springs Ave., Gettysburg
www.happyvalleytours.net; Tussey Mountain Resort, Route 322, Boalsburg
www.segwayofhershey.com; The Hotel Hershey, 100 Hotel Road, Hershey
www.segwaywpa.com; 610 Main St., Emlenton, Venango County
Museum & Visitor Center features high-tech displays of Battle of Gettysburg
Segway stop among monuments at Observation Tower
River bank route lookout
Crossing Walnut Street Bridge
Great view of Capital Building