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.

White pottery pieces to paint at Create-a-PaloozaCreate-A-Palooza

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. Be sure to check their Facebook page to see the schedule for Family Movie Night. TIP: Gilded Door Oil & Vinegar Tap Room is located in the same building. Try new and unique flavors to spice up your recipes.

Status: Walk-ins are welcome during open studio time. 

Colorful cakes and desserts at Jubilee Cake StudioJubilee Cake Studio

They bake, you decorate. If you are looking for a fun, easy, and inexpensive option to keep the kids occupied, take them to Jubilee Cake Studio. 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. Guests are welcome to use any of the decorating tools available at the studio to help them craft a one-of-a-kind creation.

Status: Walk-ins are always welcome or make a reservation for one of their workshops.


Grand 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. 

Status: Schedule online reservations at

Susquehanna 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 5 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.

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

Aerial view of Adventure Park in Mechanicsburg, PAAdventure Park

Perhaps you and the little ones want to explore farther away than your local playground. Head to Adventure Park on the grounds of Vibrant-A Christian Church. The handicapped-accessible playground (Adventure Zone Playground) allows children of all abilities to play side-by-side. The park also includes a paved one-mile fitness trail designed for everyone (including those with disabilities), a nine-hole disc golf course, sand volleyball courts, soccer fields, and a pavilion with picnic tables.

Status: The park is free and open to the public daily, rain or shine, from dawn to dusk. Public restrooms are located next to the playground.

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