Set in south-central Pennsylvania, the historic town of Carlisle was founded in 1751. The charming community features a thriving downtown area complete with cultural organizations, restaurants, bars, and stores, all of which are nearby Dickinson College, the first college after the United States was formed, and the U.S. Army War College. There are quite a number of points of interest to discover, from antique shops to an Art Deco-style theater, a local gastropub and the natural splendor of the pristine park, known as the Kings Gap Environmental and Education Training Center, among others. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA
© U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center
Part of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center is the main historical research facility for the U.S. Army. Set on 56 acres, the center is comprised of the Army Heritage Museum, Military History Institute, Historical Services Division, Visitor and Education Services, U.S. Army War College Library and Collections Management. There is an impressive collection of 16 million military items including the world’s largest collection of Civil War photography along with exhibits such as the Soldier Experience Gallery that follows the U.S. Army from the Spanish-American War to now, and the Army Heritage Trail with tanks and helicopters.
950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013-5021, Phone: 717-245-3700
2.Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
© Dickinson College
Spanning 144 acres in Carlisle, Pennsylvania lies the private liberal arts college, Dickinson College. After its early beginnings as Carlisle Grammar School, the college was officially chartered on September 9, 1783. That date is significant because it happened just a few short days of the Treaty of Paris Signing, establishing it as the first college following the United States forming. Today, it is an institution of higher learning offering students a rich academic life complete with theatrical performances and sporting events with the hometown team the Dickinson Red Devils.
28 N College St. Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 800-644-1773
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3.Kings Gap Environmental and Education Training Center, Carlisle, PA
© Kings Gap Environmental and Education Training Center
In Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, there is an exquisite state park, boasting natural beauty, and amazing opportunities to get active out in nature. The King Gap Environmental Education Center keeps visitors quite busy with its numerous hiking trails, picnic areas, and fun things to do. One scene certainly not to miss is the incredible vantage point of the South Mountain and the surrounding forests from the mansion onsite. As for the wildlife, an abundance of flora and fauna awaits. Overall, there are many things worth exploring, including the Woodland Ecology Trail.
500 Kings Gap Road, Carlisle, PA 17015-9306, Phone: 717-486-5031
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4.Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Considered the second-oldest active military base in the United States, the Carlisle Barracks is home to the U.S. Army War College and also functions as a U.S. Army facility. Located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the barracks dates back to 1757 and has a storied past. During the week, from Monday through Friday, from the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can take self-guided tours. Civilians who do not have federal government ID may be subject to a background check.
870 Jim Thorpe Drive, Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013, Phone: 717-245-3721
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5.Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA
© Cumberland County Historical Society
Originally established as a library in the will of local attorney James Hamilton, Jr. in 1873, the Cumberland County Historical Society today operates as a history and education center and features a library as well as a museum, photo archives, and hosts events year-round including walking tours, lectures, workshops, and family-friendly programs. Visitors to the museum will find 16 galleries featuring a range of art and artifacts spanning 250 years. Notable highlights from the collection include over 30 carved animals by folk art carver Wilhelm Schimmel and original items by local clockmakers and silversmiths. Adjacent to the Historical society is Vale-Himes park featuring tranquil walkways and gardens.
21 North Pitt Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 717-249-7610
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6.Things to Do in Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Bedford Street Antiques
© Bedford Street Antiques
Housed in a building that first served as a church and then a clothing manufacturing company, flea market, and auction house over the years, Bedford Street Antiques has quite an interesting history. It was in 2003, that the current owner bought the 33,000 square foot garment factory and the antique store officially opened for business later that year. Today, the local business features more than 100 antique dealers over two floors. From traditional furniture to artwork, vintage toys and more, the store really does offer a wide selection of great merchandise for sale.
44 North Bedford Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 717-241-5309
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7.Carlisle Theatre, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
© Carlisle Theatre
Known as the “Gem of Downtown,” the Carlisle Theatre is a historic venue in an Art Deco-style building that first opened its doors as The Comerford in 1939 and was later renovated in the nineties. Today, the space features eclectic and entertaining events presented by the Carlisle Regional Performing Arts Center including plays, musical concerts, films, and family programs. The local theater company Players on High stages interesting productions such as the recent Anne of Green Gables musical, while movie fans will always find something interesting to watch here whether it’s an independent film or the latest foreign release.
40 West High Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 717-258-0666
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8.Cameron-Masland Mansion, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
© Cameron-Masland Mansion
Set in the Pennsylvania State Park, Kings Gap Environmental Education and Training Center, the Cameron-Masland Mansion is a stone mansion that local James McCorming Cameron used as a summer home starting in 1908. Modeled after an Italian villa, the 32-room mansion is open to the public on Sunday afternoons for self-guided walking tours of the first floor from the end of May through November as well as the first two Sundays in December for the Holiday Open House. Operated by the organization, Friends of Kings Gap, the Cameron-Masland Mansion regularly hosts a range of events including Yoga on the Terrace, Music on the Mountain and Astronomy for Beginners.
500 Kings Gap Road, Carlisle, PA 17015-9306, Phone: 717-486-5031
9.LeTort Spring Run Nature Trail
Named after French-Swiss trader James LeTort, LeTort Spring Run Nature Trail is a rail-trail in Carlisle, Pennsylvania spanning two miles from Carlisle Borough’s LeTort Park and a trailhead about two miles from South Spring Garden Street. The area, popular for many activities especially fly-fishing for limestone trout from the waters of the LeTort Spring Run, is featured in the book Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die. Along with fly-fishing, visitors to the trail may also enjoy hiking and birdwatching for Common Yellowthroats and Carolina Wrens, among others.
LeTort Regional Authority
Stuart Community Center
415 Franklin Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 717-245-0508
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10.The Trout Gallery, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
© The Trout Gallery
Located in a former gymnasium on the campus of Dickinson College at the Emil R. Weiss Center for the Arts, The Trout Gallery is the school’s art museum serving the students, faculty, and staff along with the residents and visitors of the Carlisle-Central Pennsylvania area. While its permanent collection of 6,000 works features global selections, there is a large concentration of works on paper from the Americas and Europe as well as ethnographic artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa. Enriching programming includes exhibitions, special programs and more including K-12 programming at the Mumper-Stuart Education Center, which opened in 2007.
Dickinson College, Emil Center for the Arts
240 West High Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 717-245-1344
11.Saint Patrick Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
© Alexey Fedorenko/stock.adobe.com
Situated in downtown Carlisle and part of the Carlisle Historic District, Saint Patrick Church has been welcoming people through its doors since it first opened back in 1779. Part of the Diocese of Harrisburg, the “Shrine Church” features the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, a library, parish office space, and classrooms. Along with regular mass service, Saint Patrick Church has several choirs including a Traditional Choir, Contemporary Choir, Handbell Choir, and a Children's Choir.
152 East Pomfret Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 717-243-4411
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12.Things to Do in Carlisle, Pennsylvania: 1794 Whiskey Rebellion
© 1794 Whiskey Rebellion
Located in downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1794 Whiskey Rebellion is a rustic restaurant and bar featuring a fine collection of 100 American and international whiskeys, paired with savory selections from the locally-sourced menu such as Bastille Medallions and Colonial Chicken Pot Pie. The restaurant is the ultimate destination for distilled spirits and was actually inspired by a visit from President George Washington in 1794 to stifle the Whiskey Rebellion, marking the only time in history that the Commander-in-Chief accompanied the Army in the field as it prepared to guard against the enemy.
10 S. Hanover Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone 717-960-1000
13.Market Cross Pub and Brewery, Carlisle, PA
When the owners of the Market Cross Pub and Brewery first set out to open an English Pub in 1994, they discovered Carlisle, Pennsylvania actually had a sister city in Carlisle, England, home to Market Cross Square, and that’s how their current establishment got its name. Today, the restaurant, now home to a garage brewery and beer garden, is a popular place to enjoy a pint of Old Yeller IPA, English Red Ale and Excalibur Imperial Stout as well as British fare such as Shepherd's Pie and Bangers & Mash, along with classic burgers and steaks.
113 North Hanover Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, Phone: 717-258-1234
14.Molly Pitcher Brewing Company
© Molly Pitcher Brewing Company
Brewing up an ever-changing range of new and innovative beers, the Molly Pitcher Brewing Company is a firm favorite with craft-beer enthusiasts. And it’s not just about enjoying a well-brewed beer or two; the Tap Room serves up a delicious range of pub food to accompany your beer. You can choose from a selection of small sharing plates which include nachos, wings, pretzel bites and Poutine or delicious burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. The beers range from their brut-style IPA to pale ales, fruited sour beers and stouts and porters. Entertainment includes live music nights, Trivia nights and more. Check the website to see what’s on tap today.
Molly Pitcher Brewing Company, 139 W. High St, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-422-5591
15.Carlisle Indian Industrial School
© Carlisle Indian Industrial School
Located at the Carlisle Barracks, now home to the U.S. War College, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was established in 1879 in an attempt to assimilate Indian children into colonial culture. The school served as a model for a further 23 such schools. It was a well-intended initiative which many now believe to have caused more harm than good. Interested parties can visit the remaining school buildings using a self-guided tour brochure or try and join one of the occasional guided tours offered by the Cumberland County Historic Society. The site is also home to a cemetery where 186 students who died at the school were buried.
Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA 17013
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16.American Artisan Gallery
© American Artisan Gallery
The American Artisan Gallery in Carlisle provides a showcase for more than 90 of America’s best-loved artists. Art lovers will find that just about all forms of artisanal arts are represented at the gallery and can look forward to admiring glass tile mosaics, paintings in a wide variety of mediums, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, woodwork and more. You can find gifts for all your friends and family here – everything from a beautifully worked leather case to a unique piece of jewelry. If you get hungry while shopping you can fill that space with an assortment of hand-crafted chocolates or gourmet brittles which also make ideal gifts.
American Artisan Gallery, 35 N. Hanover St, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-254-6136
If you are looking for something a little different to do or would like to learn a new skill, a visit to Create-a-Palooza is a great idea. This interesting-sounding place is essentially and art and activity center which gives adults and children the opportunity to produce one-of-a-kind craft projects without having to buy a whole range of materials. Possibilities include “paint your own” pottery, gourd crafts, canvas painting and glass painting. Candle and soap making classes are also offered. Everything you or your child needs to create a masterpiece is provided and the finished products are yours to take home and show off.
Create-A-Palooza, 11 E. High Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-409-5036
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18.Desperate Times Brewery
© Desperate Times Brewery
Located within easy walking distance of the Carlisle Events Fairground, Desperate Times Brewery is a popular meeting place for Carlisle beer lovers. The name of the brewery is derived from the dark days of the Prohibition. The Brewhouse and Tap Room offer a good selection of award winning house-brewed beers on tap (13) as well as a full food menu and non-alcoholic drinks. There is an outdoor biergarten for good-weather days. The menu is German-inspired and the food has been carefully considered to perfectly compliment all the house beers. You can choose anything from a pulled pork and grilled cheese sandwich to a hearty plate of German sausage with all the trimmings.
Desperate Times Brewery, 1201 Carlisle Springs Rd, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-706-3192
19.Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy
© Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy
Georgie Lou’s invites visitors to take a nostalgic trip back in time to the type of candy store they visited as children. Do you remember when you could buy handfuls of candy for less than a dime? At Georgie Lou’s you will find a wide variety of old-fashioned favorites alongside the more modern candy that kids love eating today. The amazing store stocks around 800 different kinds of candy, and more than 100 different glass-bottled soda drinks. In addition to all the yummy edibles, you will also find retro candy boxes, toys, games, note-pads and so much more. A visit to Georgie Lou’s is fun for the whole family and you can take home a good stock of treats.
Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy, 56 W. High Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-243-1002
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© Midway Bowling
More than just a bowling alley, Midway Bowling is an indoor sports and fun center which has everything you need for a fun night out. At the heart of the complex are 32 bowling lanes where you and your friends and family can compete. There is something fun to do for all tastes and ages - if you are not into bowling you can try the amazing golf simulator, play a game of billiards or enjoy some arcade games. The center has a bar and a food menu and on Friday and Saturday Nights you can join the popular Rock & Bowl session, enhanced by rock music.
Midway Bowling, 1561 Holly Pike, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-249-1222
21.Bent Pine Alpaca Farm
© Bent Pine Alpaca Farm
Located about half way between Carlisle and Mechanicsburg, the Bent Pine Alpaca Farm is home to a around 25 – 30 alpacas and a few llamas. The historic farm was established way back in 1770 and covers around 16 acres. The alpacas are very friendly and love visitors. You can bring the whole family to meet them every Sunday afternoon between 1pm and 4pm or at other times by prior arrangement. Children will love getting up close to these gentle animals and are allowed to feed them a healthy carrot snack. The on-site shop stocks a range of unique fashion products made from the alpaca fleece – beautiful scarves, mittens and more.
Bent Pine Alpaca Farm, 65 S Old Stone House Rd, Carlisle, PA 17015, 717-796-5949
22.Two Mile House
© Paul Maguire/stock.adobe.com
The historic Two Mile House is a shining example of a Federal limestone residence. Named for its distance from the town square, Two Mile house was built in 1820 and was known as the James Given Tavern from 1826 to 1857. The lovely old building contains 12 rooms, ten of which boast fireplaces, and is surrounded by 5 acres of landscaped gardens. The building was bequeathed to the Cumberland Country Historical Society in 1992. Since then the gracious old building has been used as a venue for many weddings and events. If you would like to tour the house you will need to phone to make arrangements. The gardens free-to-visit and are open to the public daily.
Tow Mile House, 1189 Walnut Bottom Road, Carlisle, PA 17015, 717-243-3437
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23.Castlerigg Wine Shop
© Castlerigg Wine Shop
A must-visit attraction for all wine lovers, the Castlerigg Wine Shop carries an excellent collection of Pennsylvania wines from trusted partner wineries. The wine shop is named for the mysterious Castlerigg megalithic ring of stones located in North West England. The store currently offers more than 50 varieties of Pennsylvania’s finest wines available at price points between $12 and $54. Located in a character-filled historic old building – the perfect space to relax by the fireplace and enjoy a tasting- the store welcomes all visitors to stop by and enjoy a tasting – a flight of 4 X 2 oz pours will cost you just $15.
110 S Hanover St, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-462-4663
24.Grand Illusion Hard Cider
© Grand Illusion Hard Cider
You may be wondering about the name of this unique wine and cider venue. It is quite easy to explain – the illusion part is achieved by infinity mirrors on the staircases, stange-sounding paint names and hidden bathrooms. All just a bit of fun to make your Grand Illusion experience unforgettable, just like the memorable Pennsylvania ciders you will be enjoying. For your drinking pleasure you can choose from a huge selection of Pennsylvania ciders on tap as well as a rotating selection of PA Beers and wines. The food is rumored to be just as delicious as the drinks and all the servers are well versed in all things cider and are happy to share their knowledge with you.
Grand Illusion Hard Cider, 26 W. High Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-462-4716
© Claire’s Orchard
The Fetters family have been farming in Adam’s County for four generations and opened their retail market in Carlisle in 2013. Their fresh produce includes a wide variety of fruit including apples, peaches, nectarines, cherries, plum, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Everything is harvested and brought to market at the peak of seasonal perfection to ensure that everything you buy tastes exceptional. In addition to their own farm-grown produce, Claire’s Orchard also stocks a range of other local products including dairy products from Misty Meadow Farm Creamery, Pasture-reared meats, honey, preserves and pickles, sauces, mustards and much more.
Claire’s Orchard, 1452 Holly Pike, Carlisle, PA 17015, 717-752-5996
25 Best Things to Do in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
- U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA, Photo: U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center
- Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, Photo: Dickinson College
- Kings Gap Environmental and Education Training Center, Carlisle, PA, Photo: Kings Gap Environmental and Education Training Center
- Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Photo: ednorog13/stock.adobe.com
- Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA, Photo: Cumberland County Historical Society
- Things to Do in Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Bedford Street Antiques, Photo: Bedford Street Antiques
- Carlisle Theatre, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Photo: Carlisle Theatre
- Cameron-Masland Mansion, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Photo: Cameron-Masland Mansion
- LeTort Spring Run Nature Trail, Photo: cooperr/stock.adobe.com
- The Trout Gallery, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Photo: The Trout Gallery
- Saint Patrick Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Photo: Alexey Fedorenko/stock.adobe.com
- Things to Do in Carlisle, Pennsylvania: 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, Photo: 1794 Whiskey Rebellion
- Market Cross Pub and Brewery, Carlisle, PA, Photo: okorokovanatalya/stock.adobe.com
- Molly Pitcher Brewing Company, Photo: Molly Pitcher Brewing Company
- Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Photo: Carlisle Indian Industrial School
- American Artisan Gallery, Photo: American Artisan Gallery
- Create-a-Palooza, Photo: Create-a-Palooza
- Desperate Times Brewery, Photo: Desperate Times Brewery
- Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy, Photo: Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy
- Midway Bowling, Photo: Midway Bowling
- Bent Pine Alpaca Farm, Photo: Bent Pine Alpaca Farm
- Two Mile House, Photo: Paul Maguire/stock.adobe.com
- Castlerigg Wine Shop, Photo: Castlerigg Wine Shop
- Grand Illusion Hard Cider, Photo: Grand Illusion Hard Cider
- Claire’s Orchard, Photo: Claire’s Orchard
- Cover Photo: Carlisle Borough
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