Embrace Fall Foliage, Food, and Festivals with a Long Fall Weekend Just Two Hours from Philly
We all could use a breather every now and then. Getting away from your surroundings and exploring some new scenery can be refreshing and offer a nice escape. And when you can do all that in just a two-hour drive, it becomes a no-brainer. That’s why Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania, with its beer offerings, hiking trails, shopping, and amazing scenery is the ideal destination for a long weekend. We’ve put together some suggestions to ensure you take in the best of what Cumberland Valley has to offer. Your weekend is waiting for you — go take it.
If you’re trying to see a lot of Cumberland Valley in a short amount of time, you can’t go wrong with traversing 20 locations along the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail. Take in the fresh fall air and taste the weekend with suds from breweries like Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. in Carlisle or imbibe some local spirits from Hook & Flask Still Works, which is run by two volunteer firefighters. Just a few blocks away is Grand Illusion Hard Cider, which features 15 Pennsylvania ciders, five beers, seven meads, and seven wines, as well as four non-alcoholic craft sodas. There’s also a food menu with gluten-free options, so you can embrace fall with some grub to go along with it. Downtown Carlisle also has around 30 restaurants spanning many different cuisines, so you can satisfy your appetite after a day of exploring.
And if you find yourself in Camp Hill, Ever Grain Brewing has ample outdoor seating to take in the autumn air. There’s also plenty of great food options, so you can work up an appetite and satisfy your cravings. In fact, many of the stops along the Beer Trail are close to top-notch dining, shopping and outdoor attractions, so you can veer off and choose your own adventure.
Shop for your next obsession
There is so much to explore within the downtowns that encompass Cumberland Valley. In Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, and Carlisle, you can shop for souvenirs, a new statement piece for your home, or take away a classic antique.
Carlisle Antique Mall is housed in a historic building with plenty of room for browsing restored items along with clothing, jewelry and more. Plus, local breweries and distilleries often partner with the mall, so you can sip and shop at the same time. Bedford Street Antiques offers items from more than 100 different vendors in a building that once served as a place of worship for Civil War soldiers. Carlisle also has plenty of trendy shops — vintage-leaning Miss Ruth’s Time Bomb and indie store Whistlestop Bookshop are great options to take in some local flavor.
In Camp Hill, boutiques like Little Black Dress and Meeka Fine Jewelry adorn the streets of the downtown. A coffee from cafe-shop hybrid One Good Woman while browsing in and out of stores is the perfect Camp Hill 1-2 punch.
Explore the Great Outdoors
One of the many great perks of a long weekend in Cumberland Valley: some of the best trails and views are just a short drive from the center of Cumberland Valley’s towns. You could be noshing on a pastry one minute and at the top of an overlook a few hours later. Even better: fall in Cumberland Valley is highlighted by vibrant colors everywhere you look.
In Carlisle, the Kings Gap Environmental Education Center is about a 25-minute drive from downtown. It’s an expansive location spanning more than 2,500 acres, with 19 hiking trails and five overlook options for curious travelers. Pack a picnic and visit the Kings Gap Mansion located on the top of the mountain at the end of a four-mile winding drive to learn a bit of local history. And if you’re new to hiking, the Scenic Vista Trail might be more your speed, producing awe-inspiring views after just a mile into your journey.
But for hikers looking for something a bit more challenging, Flat Rock Trail in Colonel Denning State Park is a step up, ending its 2.5 mile path at the top of Blue Mountain at an elevation of 900 feet. So while you might feel the burn walking up, you’ll be rewarded with 180-degree views of Cumberland Valley at an overlook that intersects with the Tuscarora Trail — which branches off of the Appalachian Trail.
Embrace the Season
When you think of fall, there’s probably a few things that come to mind — pumpkins, changing leaves, hay rides, apple picking, to name a few. In Cumberland Valley, fall festivals like the New Cumberland Apple Festival feature favorite fall apple treats along with 70 food vendors, 200 craft vendors, and a variety of entertainment options. And in October, don’t miss the Fall Furnace Fest in Pine Grove Fall Furnace State Park, which features all the fall fixings including pumpkin carving, scarecrow making, and free hayrides! There’ll be entertainment and food vendors on hand, as well as historical demonstrations detailing blacksmithing and charcoal making.
What’s more, you can head out to one of the many farmer’s markets in Cumberland Valley for a number of fun activities including u-pick apples and pumpkins, hayrides, and corn mazes. Paulus Farm Market, just minutes from downtown Mechanicsburg, or Oak Grove Farms, on the outskirts of Mechanicsburg, are two great choices.
Snap a pic for the gram
Of course, during your trip to Cumberland Valley, you’ll want to scrapbook all the fun you’re getting up to for the gram. And since there’ll be no shortage of beautiful pictures to be taken throughout your getaway, you can be sure your friends will have major FOMO. At Colonel Denning State Park — just a half-hour drive from Carlisle — be sure to snap pics of Flat Rock Trail. Also in Carlisle is Waggoner’s Gap, where those with a keen eye might just spot a golden eagle or raptor — Waggoner’s Gap has one of the highest concentrations of raptors in the U.S. — amongst the vibrant fall foliage.
For a more guided approach, why not hop along the Cumberland Valley Photo Trail and see how many spots you can hit? The trail features historical landmarks, sites on Dickinson College’s campus, as well as covered bridges in Mechanicsburg and Newburg, and that’s just the beginning. When you post your photos, tag #FoundItinCV to share the gems you find along the way.
For more information about planning your Weekend Easy getaway to Cumberland Valley, click here.This is a paid partnership between Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio