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 is refreshing and offers 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 amazing craft beverage scene, numerous hiking trails, unique local shops and stunning 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. It’s time to weekend easy.
If you’re trying to see a lot of Cumberland Valley in a short amount of time, you can’t go wrong with traversing 25-plus locations along the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail. Take in the fresh fall air and taste the weekend with drinks 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, Grand Illusion Hard Cider 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. After a day of exploring, satisfy your appetite at more than 30 local restaurants in downtown Carlisle, spanning a variety of flavorful cuisines.
The locations along the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail always impress with their year-round seasonal releases, but for many, fall is the best time to enjoy some fantastic pours. Plan to sample these enticing flavors as you pair breweries with some of the best spots to visit in Cumberland Valley.
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.
New for 2022, enjoy a picture-perfect getaway as you check in at fall foliage viewing spots and farm fun attractions on the new Cumberland Valley Fall Fun Trail and earn prizes. You’ll find hiking, scenic drives, overlooks, u-pick pumpkins, apple and sunflower fields, hayrides, corn mazes, and more on the free digital passport.
One trail location, 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 25 miles of hiking trails for all skill levels and numerous overlooks for travelers looking to reconnect with nature. Pack a picnic and visit the Kings Gap Mansion located on the top of the mountain at the end of a scenic four-mile winding drive.
Hikers looking for a challenge, head to Flat Rock Trail in Colonel Denning State Park. While you might feel the burn walking up this steep and rocky trail, you’ll be rewarded with 180-degree views of Cumberland Valley that reflect the dazzling colors of fall.
Embrace the Season
When you think of fall, there’s probably a few things that come to mind — pumpkins, changing leaves, hay rides, and 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 farmers’ 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. Pole Steeple Trail offers stunning views outside of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, and is only a 3/4 mile hike. Or, visit 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, check out the Instagram-Worthy Fall Foliage Locations. The ten-stop route creates a loop around the county that covers 102 miles of scenic roads brimming with the beautiful colors of Cumberland Valley’s fall foliage. 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