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, pick up some takeout from your favorite local restaurant, and head to Children’s Lake for a picnic. Watch the ducks, geese, and swans; try your hand at fishing, or just take a leisurely stroll around the lake. End the day with ice cream from The Sugar Shack, located just across the street. 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. Better yet, they offer discounts for active-duty military, veterans, education professionals, police, fire, and EMTs. 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 as well as the outdoor patio area with fire pits, corn hole, bocce ball, and other fun games. TIP: During the week, Midway does not open until 4 pm. They open at 11 am on Saturday and Sunday.
The expansive entertainment complex at Carlisle Sports Emporium promises a day of play with more than 100 virtual and interactive arcade games, two 18-holes 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 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-friend amenities. To help narrow down your search, check out these locations where kids can climb and explore expansive play structures: Panther Station at Adams-Ricci Community Park in Enola; Adventure Zone Playground at Adventure Park in Mechanicsburg is designed for children of all abilities; and Fort LeTort at LeTort Park in Carlisle. 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.
If you don’t want to try decorating edible creations, let your creative juices flow at this point-your-own pottery studio. Choose your favorite ceramic figurine, mug, plate, or ornament, and let your imagination run wild.
The highlight of fall at Paulus 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. Little kids can also enjoy a smaller kid-friendly maze as well as a PlayLand, apple picking, and pumpkin picking.