Keeping the kids occupied during the weekend or on vacation is always a challenge. Explore these five hidden gems in Cumberland Valley that are sure to become some of your new favorite places for family fun.


Plan some creative family fun at this paint-your-own-pottery studio in downtown Carlisle. Located in a renovated 1889 historic building, the studio also features a large 15’ x 30’ tent in the back parking area to accommodate a larger group. Choose your favorite ceramic figurine, mug, plate, or ornament, and let your imagination run wild as you create new cherished family memories. There are no additional sitting fees, making this an affordable and fun experience. Be sure to check their Facebook page to see the schedule for Family Movie Night. TIP: Gilded Door Pantry is located in the same building. The store offers tasty & unique food items, including olive oil and balsamic vinegar, pasta, tasty chocolates, creative jams, tea, honey, maple syrup, and quirky canned goods.

Walk-ins are welcome during open studio time. 

Jubilee Cake StudioJubilee Cake Studio

They bake, and you decorate. If you are looking for a fun, easy, and inexpensive option to keep the kids occupied, take them to Jubilee Cake Studio, the only decorate-it-yourself cake studio in Pennsylvania. Choose a cupcake or cake kit, grab your goodies (frosting, fondant, and sprinkles available in a rainbow of colors) and start creating your edible work of art. The two-layer white cakes with vanilla buttercream are approximately 5-inches round. The cupcake kit features four cupcakes. Stroll along the 40-foot wall of decorating tools that you are welcome to use to help craft a one-of-a-kind creation.

Walk-ins are always welcome or make a reservation for one of their instructor-led, themed workshops. They offer classes for all ages.

Grand Illusion Escape RoomGrand Illusion Escape

Grand Illusion Hard Cider's two Escape Rooms, located on the third floor of their building in historic downtown Carlisle, are the perfect way to spend a fun evening with friends and family. Wonka's Fantabulous Riddle offers a short 30-minute session and is ideal for younger kids. Houdini's Greatest Escape is a one-hour session suited for older children and adults. Afterward, parents will appreciate Grand Illusion's delicious ciders and delectable food. 

Schedule online reservations at

Susquehanna RiverSusquehanna Outfitters

If your active family has hiked and biked everywhere this summer, head to Susquehanna Outfitters for a water adventure. Rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard for a quick on-your-own exploration of the Susquehanna River (Tuesday through Sunday); spend more time exploring on your own with a three-hour or six-hour trip that includes shuttle service (Friday/Saturday/Sunday only); or plan a guided float along the Susquehanna, Yellow Breeches Creek, or Conodoguinet Creek. The three-hour trip along the shallow, slow-moving water of the Susquehanna River is the perfect introduction for children. (The minimum age is five at normal water levels.) The gentle currents make it a tranquil trip with no experience needed. Take in the panoramic views as you navigate down the river and explore secluded islands. TIP: After your trip, enjoy al fresco dining on the deck at Duke’s Bar & Grille or Dockside Willie’s – both within walking distance of Susquehanna Outfitters.

Reservations are strongly recommended. Canoes and kayaks can also be rented for off-site trips.

Bent Pine AlpacaBent Pine Alpaca Farm

Bent Pine is a 16-acre working alpaca farm in Mechanicsburg that is open to the public on Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm, although other dates and times are available by appointment. Spend time visiting and petting the alpacas. Adults will enjoy shopping at the on-site store, which sells clothing, yarn, and items made from alpaca fleece. They also host a number of events throughout the year, including Story Time, Craft Days, and an Open House. Check their website for dates and times.

Find other family fun locations, including Carlisle Sports Emporium, an indoor/outdoor entertainment complex.