In spring 2022, Carlisle was one of 20 nominees in USA Today’s 10 Best Historic Small Towns. All nominees have small populations of less than 25,000 but are rich in fascinating history. Thanks to everyone's support, Carlisle was voted No. 4. Scroll through the highlights below to find out how to explore Carlisle's history.
Located in the heart of south-central Pennsylvania, Carlisle was founded in 1751 and is noted for its restored architecture and tree-lined streets once walked on by George Washington, Molly Pitcher, and other icons of early America. If history is your passion, this town offers numerous options to delve into its past.
- Cumberland County Historical Society: This premier history and education center is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the county’s history. Its award-winning museum features 16 galleries with stories of local history.
- Self-Guided Walking Tours: Visit the Old Public Graveyard (the burial place of Molly Pitcher, among others) or learn more about the days leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg when the Confederate troops occupied and controlled the town for three days. Marks from artillery shelling from Confederate forces are still visible on the Old Courthouse on the Square.
- Dickinson College: The college was charted in 1783 by Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, making it the first college founded after the formation of the United States. Both East and West Colleges on campus were used as hospitals for wounded Union soldiers and captured Confederates during the town's invasion.
- Military Heritage: Carlisle’s strong military heritage dates back more than 250 years and includes the founding of Carlisle Barracks in 1757. The 217-acre facility is one of our nation's oldest military installations and has been home to the Army War College since 1951. The U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center is the premier facility for historical research on U.S. Army history and also features interpretive and interactive exhibits designed to “tell the Army story…one Soldier at a time.”
More to Carlisle
In addition to its rich history, downtown Carlisle is a thriving small town featuring a restored Art Deco theatre that has been providing entertainment since 1939; more than 20 restaurants offering worldwide cuisines such as Indian, Egyptian, Japanese, and Belgian; numerous locations selling craft beer, cider, and spirits; and an eclectic mix of local shops, antique stores, and art galleries. Plus, Carlisle is home to Carlisle Events, which has been hosting world-renowned collector automotive events at the Carlisle Fairgrounds since 1974. Plan a weekend visit now and discover everything Carlisle has to offer.