As the seasons change from summer to fall, there are still plenty of opportunities for family fun. After a long week of work and school, here are some indoor and outdoor suggestions to enjoy a carefree weekend with the kids.
Pack up a blanket and some chairs, pick up some takeout from your favorite local restaurant and head to Pine Grove State Park for a picnic. Take a leisurely stroll along park trails and play in the sand at the park's two lakeside beaches. End the day with ice cream from nearby Twirly Top (check hours of operation). Read more about other places in Cumberland Valley for the perfect picnic.
Autobahn Indoor Speedway makes a rainy day better with exhilarating indoor racing. The high-speed electric Italian pro-karts are easy to handle and can reach speeds of up to 50 mph. Junior karts are available for children as young as 8 (and at least 48” tall), which means Autobahn is ideal for families whose children range in age. Not interested in go-karts? Axe throwing is available for ages 13 and older.
Midway offers great family entertainment at affordable prices. There are bumper and dinosaur ramps for kids ages 3+, lightweight bowling balls, and small shoe sizes. Mom and Dad will appreciate the great food and drink options and the outdoor patio area with fire pits, corn hole, bocce ball, and other fun games. Older kids TIP: During the week, Midway does not open until 4 pm. They open at 11 am on Saturday and Sunday. No open bowling on Monday or Wednesday evenings.
Or test your accuracy at Midway's axe-throwing lanes. Parents or guardians need to accompany children 18 years of age or younger.
The expansive entertainment complex at Carlisle Sports Emporium promises a day of play with more than 100 virtual and interactive arcade games, two 18-hole mini-golf courses, indoor and outdoor go-kart tracks, batting cages, virtual reality, and laser tag. Check their website for package pricing and daily specials.
Paulus offers year-round fun, but they really shine in the fall with their farm-themed activities, including the covered play areas in a fall fun fort, hay play tent, and colossal corn tent; a mini straw maze, wooden tractor, tubes, tires, tunnels, and more. The kids will love getting up close to animals such as a donkey, Pygmy goats, Holstein calves, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and pigs. Take a hayride out to pick your own pumpkin and watch them send pumpkins flying through the air with their pumpkin chunkin’ cannon.
When you are in Cumberland Valley, you are never too far from a community park, many of which offer several family-friendly amenities. To help narrow down your search, check out these locations where kids can climb and explore expansive play structures: Panther Playground at Adams-Ricci Community Park in Enola and Fort LeTort at LeTort Park in Carlisle (currently undergoing renovations). With their picnic tables and pavilions, these are also ideal places for picnic lunch or dinner.
7. Walk the Army Heritage Trail and Experience Interactive Exhibits at the US Army Heritage and Education Center
The US Army Heritage and Education Center is dedicated to “telling the Army story… one Soldier at a time.” The main museum gallery highlights the history of the US Army from the Spanish-American War to current missions and includes several interactive exhibits, including a digital shooting range and a parachute jump. Outside, kids will be delighted with the one-mile Army Heritage Trail, where they can examine up-close a Vietnam helicopter, a tank, and a WWI trench system, among other full-scale displays. Admission is free.
Jubilee Cake Studio is an easy and inexpensive option for unique family fun. Choose a cake (5” round white cake with vanilla buttercream) cupcake kit (4 cupcakes), grab your goodies (frosting, fondant, and sprinkles available in a rainbow of colors), and start creating your edible work of art. Guests are welcome to use any of the decorating tools at the studio to help them craft a one-of-a-kind creation. Walk-ins are welcome or sign up for one of their themed classes.
If you don’t want to try decorating edible creations, let your creative juices flow at this paint-your-own pottery studio. Choose your favorite ceramic figurine, mug, plate, or ornament, and let your imagination run wild.
The fall highlight at Mt. Airy Orchards in Dillsburg is their themed corn maze, with 5 acres of tall stalks offering a labyrinth of paths. It takes about 35 to 45 minutes to walk through the maze, which is open on Saturdays and Sundays in September and October. This year's theme is Reba McEntire. Little kids can also enjoy a smaller kid-friendly maze and a PlayLand, apple picking, and pumpkin picking. Also, the Maple Lane Farm corn maze in Newville is open on Saturdays & Sundays through October 29, 2023. Their corn maze features an outline of nearby historic Heishman's Mill.