The holiday season begins in earnest with the arrival of Thanksgiving. Kick-off the day with the Carlisle Family YMCA’s Turkey Trot, a popular event for friends and families that draws thousands of participants each year. If you didn’t register but have a last-minute burst of inspiration, race day registrations are accepted from 7 am to 8 am.
If you’ve spent the day eating, drinking, and watching football, burn off some calories and take advantage of remaining daylight hours with a hike. “Late fall and early winter is a wonderful time to get out and enjoy the trails in our local state parks and forests. While many folks want to get out earlier while the leaf colors are at their peak, it is a different kind of beautiful once the leaves are down and you can see the surrounding landscape through the trees. As an added bonus, there are no bugs! With more than 200 miles of hiking trails throughout Cumberland Valley, you’re sure to find a trail near you.” – Scott G., CAEDC Board Member
Holiday Shopping Suggestions in Cumberland Valley
Do you dread the crowds during holiday shopping on Black Friday? Are you worried you won't be able to find what you want in the big box stores? Try something different this year and shop local instead. Cumberland Valley’s shop owners offer warm and helpful customer service combined with an array of unique items that will make thoughtful holiday gifts. You’re guaranteed to end the day filled with holiday cheer.
Shop Local on Small Business Saturday
If you didn’t get a chance to shop local on Black Friday then Small Business Saturday is the time to support local businesses that contribute to the unique character and economic livelihood of our community and make our region a wonderful place to live, work, and play. To help get you started, here are 50 places to shop small and discover the perfect gifts that your family and friends will treasure for years to come.
Continue your support of local with the award-winning LoveBuck$ downtown gift certificate program from the Downtown Carlisle Association. LoveBuck$ can be used at a number of downtown Carlisle stores, restaurants, and businesses and are the ideal gift for anyone who loves Carlisle or who wants to explore downtown. The gift certificates come in a new limited-edition envelope designed for the holidays. LoveBuck$ can be reserved by going to www.LoveCarlisle.com/lb.
The magic of Christmas comes alive, and to the stage, in the Cumberland Valley with heartwarming and entertaining performances that are guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit. Kids and adults alike will love musical performances of Christmas classics such as Elf and Rudolph. Adults will be dazzled by the breathtaking Cirque Dreams Holidaze or find a meaningful musical performance during the Portraits of White concert.
“Shippensburg is known for its university, but have you attended an event at the breathtaking Luhrs Center, a 1,500 seat theatre on the university’s campus? If you missed the performance of The Nutcracker by The State Ballet Theatre of the Ukraine in November, check out the 2022 performance schedule. A gift certificate from The Luhrs Center makes an ideal gift for friends and family.” – Mark B., Marketing Director, Carlisle Events
Find Your Christmas Tree
Nothing quite gets you into the holiday spirit as putting up and decorating a fresh Christmas tree. Visit Liberty Farm in Carlisle for a great selection of handpicked and precut trees. They also sell hand-crafted gifts from local artisans, wreaths, garland, and refreshments in their early 1800s barn.
If you are looking to venture out into the fields, Conaway’s Pine Haven Farm in Newville makes it easy by providing handsaws and wagon rides to and from their fields. Pre-cut trees or live trees that are balled in natural burlap are also an option. You’ll also find wreaths, swaps, hand-made gifts, and more. A snack shop is open on the weekends.
Christmas Tree Decorations
If you have your tree but want new decorating ideas, these events will provide inspiration. The Christmas Tree Showcase at Hershey Gardens features trees exquisitely decorated by different local florists in a variety of styles and themes
The Annual Festival of Trees at Fort Hunter Mansion exhibits six themed Christmas trees beautifully decorated with handmade ornaments and trimmed by local garden clubs.
And, don’t forget, many local shops sell ornaments & holiday décor. What’s your favorite place to shop for decorations?
Creative Holiday Food & Crafts
Participate in a number of different creative workshops and classes for the holidays. Make a handmade gift or a festive decoration, take your children to make a fun holiday craft, or explore your creativity with a holiday cooking class. Be sure to register early. Many of these popular events sell out quickly.
Visit downtown Carlisle for a Wonderland Weekend filled with holiday cheer and seasonal shopping. Anchored by the Santa's arrival and Christmas tree lighting on Friday evening and the downtown parade on Saturday morning, this weekend also includes family-friendly events, movies, and Santa sightings to round out your trip.
Art for the Holidays
Carlisle Arts Learning Center's annual holiday shopping extravaganza features a wide selection of one-of-a-kind works by local artists who create with their hearts as well as their hands. Find unique fine art and photography, ceramics, jewelry, ornaments, cards, wearables, and home accents. Your purchase will make you the cleverest gift-giver on the block! Be sure to check out other events happening today during Carlisle’s Wonderland Weekend.
Tree Lightings & Santa Sightings
If you missed Carlisle’s tree lighting on Friday night, take the family to Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs this evening to watch Santa light the floating Christmas tree. Approximately 400 luminaria candles ring the lake adding a magical feel to this cherished community tradition.
“Watching families and friends gather at the gazebo by the lake to welcome Santa and see the tree lighting is a great way to kick off the holiday season. If you can’t make it for the tree lighting ceremony, the luminaries around the lake are lit every evening from December 10-12 and December 17-January 1, weather permitting.” – P.J., owner, Village Artisans Gallery, Boiling Springs
Most people associate gourds with decorating for Halloween but Meadowbrooke Gourds is stocked for the season with a phenomenal and creative collection of holiday gourds. Snowmen, Santas, penguins, reindeer, angels, miniatures, and ornaments, all were created on-site at Meadowbrooke, the country’s largest gourd manufacturing facility. If you’re feeling creative, purchase a craft kit to make your own creation.
De-Stress This Holiday Season
Whether you’re hosting a large gathering for the holidays or you are visiting your family, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. If you are looking to de-stress this holiday season, you’ll find several spas worth visiting in the Cumberland Valley. In addition to manicures, massages, and facials, you’ll find unique treatments such as float therapy and halotherapy to help you sink deep into relaxation.
Whether you are looking for the perfect host or teacher gift or to find someone’s favorite treat, head out to Cumberland Valley’s candy shops to find the sweetest options this holiday season. Discover classic favorites at Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy & Gifts, or custom creations at Mummert, Macris, Brittle Bark, Cocoa Creek, or Exquisite Chocolates. These mouthwatering creations are sure to be a hit with everyone.
Artisan Adventure Trail
Plan a shopping excursion to some or all of the shops on Cumberland Valley’s Artisan Adventure Trail. As you travel from Carlisle and Mechanicsburg to the West Shore, you’ll find a collection of beautiful, unique, and quirky handmade and homespun treasures that reflect Cumberland Valley’s lovely local arts scene.
“Village Artisans Gallery in Boiling Springs features the handmade work of local and nationally recognized artists and craftsmen. For the holidays, they will be featuring Diane Troutman’s beautiful Santas.” – Ashley K., CVVB Staff Member
Christkindlmarkt @ Dill's Tavern
Taking its inspiration from a traditional German Christmas Market, Christkindlmarkt @ Dill's Tavern features 40 vendors and artisans, delicious food, Santa, children’s activities, live music, and more spread across the beautiful historic grounds of Dill’s Tavern. Dress for the weather, support local artists, and find treasured gifts for everyone on your shopping list.
Cooking Classes @ The Kitchen Shoppe
Today, the Kitchen Shoppe is hosting 4 different sessions of Gingerbread House decorating. Check online to see if they still have availability. If not, you can participate in a number of other cooking classes leading up to the holidays. Or find the perfect gift for your favorite chef at this kitchen superstore.
Warm Up with Local Coffee
Take a moment from your to-do list to savor a cup of coffee at one of our local coffee spots. Whether you try a new flavor or stick with your go-to, you’re sure to love a moment of relaxation as you sip a perfectly-brewed coffee, latte or mocha. Bonus points if you pick up a bag of roasted coffee beans, sweet treats, or merchandise as a gift for the coffee aficionado on your holiday shopping list!
Jewelry is a classic holiday gift and for good reason. Everyone loves a little sparkle! Cumberland Valley’s jewelry shops and boutiques can cater to any budget, whether you want a custom piece from a local artist like K Novinger Jewelry or a vintage find from Marjorie’s Gems, you’ll find the perfect bling.
Support Local Restaurants
Supporting our local restaurants – which were hard-hit by COVID-19 -- by purchasing gift cards for a loved one is a win-win this holiday season. Give the gift of an experience from a hometown favorite locale or from a new spot in one of our charming downtowns that you want someone to try this season. You can choose from more than 250 local restaurants offering palate-pleasing cuisine.
Cumberland Valley Beer Trail
Cumberland Valley Beer Trail locations are the perfect way to show your beer-loving friends and family some appreciation this holiday season. Purchase a variety of gift cards and send them on their own beer trail adventure or grab a few growlers and merch so they can celebrate at home! If you’re hosting friends and family and also want to get out of the house, head out together to experience the Beer Trail and find a new favorite brew from more than 20 location. If you are not a beer fan, don’t worry. Several Beer Trail locations feature locally-crafted wine, cider, and spirits.
Skiing, Snowboarding, and More
The projected opening day for Roundtop Mountain Resort is December 17. With 20 trails, 9 lifts, and a state-of-the-art snowmaking machine, head to the mountain for skiing and tubing. For those seeking a thrill, catch some air or ride the rails at three different terrain parks. Or, but a season pass for the snow lover in your life.
Holiday Lights & Christmas Caroling
Get in the holiday spirit as you drive through Adams-Ricci Park in Enola and observe decorated pavilions, trees, listen to carolers, and more. Holiday Lights in the Park: A Drive Through Experience runs from 7 pm to 10 pm on December 17 and 5 pm to 10 pm on December 18.
Or, brave the cold weather and bring holiday cheer to downtown Carlisle with community caroling hosted by TimeKeeper Tours. You’ll also learn some holiday history and traditions along the way! Afterward, warm up on the square at a charming vintage peddler's cart with some hot cocoa or warm mulled cider, and have a cookie (or two.) Finally, once you're warm and cozy, enjoy a traditional Christmas before you return home.
West Shore Farmers Market
Find everything you need for the holidays at the West Shore Farmers Market. With almost 50 vendors on the lower level, you’ll smell the delectable scents of a variety of foods from local coffee and spirits, kettle-boiled bagels, and fruit smoothies, to chocolate, freshly-baked pies and pastries, and cheeses and meats for the perfect holiday meal.
The boutique shops on the upper level sell everything from artwork, clothing, home décor, and jewelry to books, candles, and more.
Indoor Family Fun Activities
Are the kids home for winter break? Is everyone going stir crazy because they are stuck inside? Ditch the holiday to-do list and make memories at some of these favorite indoor family fun attractions.
Escape to the Carlisle Sports Emporium where you’ll find virtual reality, laser tag, indoor go-karts, and over 125 arcade games for all interests and skill levels. Plus, it’s the perfect place to purchase a reloadable play card as a holiday gift for the young or the young at heart.
Explore the interactive exhibits at the US Army Heritage & Education Center (free admission) or get creative and crafty with paint-your-own pottery at Create-a-Palooza. It’s the perfect place to make a new Christmas decoration.
Date Night During the Holiday Season
The holiday season is always a busy time for families. Between Christmas gift shopping, family events, work, and school activities sometimes it’s hard to find time for your partner. But, with all of that busyness, it’s even more important to plan a night out with your loved one. Enjoy dinner and drinks at locations along the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail, spend a fun evening playing games at the Carlisle Sports Emporium, or enjoy a holiday performance followed by a walk along festive downtown streets. There’s plenty of ways to reconnect in Cumberland Valley. If you want even more time together, consider a tranquil overnight stay at a Cumberland Valley bed and breakfast or Allenberry Resort.
Holiday Magic with Kids
It’s not too late to enjoy the magic of the season. In Elizabethtown, about a 50-minute drive from Cumberland Valley, The Christmas Village at Stone Gable Estates includes several historic buildings beautifully decorated for Christmas, Christmas music, a petting zoo, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, funnel cakes, the chance to meet Santa, and more.
Closer to home, Christmas in Lights is a private home in Marysville with a fun, festive, and FREE outdoor holiday light display that you can walk through (or drive-by).
Nearby, Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane dazzles with 5 million holiday lights, select rides, a holiday show, Santa and his reindeer, and a festive trail of more than a dozen trees in the Boardwalk area. If it’s too cold to be outside, stay warm in the car and drive through Hershey SweetLights, a winter wonderland featuring more than 600 animated displays along two miles of wooded trails.
Farmers on the Square
Today is the last day before Christmas to pick up fresh produce and special holiday treats at Farmers on the Square in Carlisle during their Holiday Artisans Market. Hours are 2 pm to 5 pm.
We’ve all been there. The last-minute gift need. Whether it’s a late invite, a late request, or that relative you always forget about, it feels like we’re never finished buying presents until it’s actually Christmas Day. So where can you go? An eclectic mix of boutiques in downtown Carlisle offers locally-made products, apparel, jewelry, art, and more. Or check out 1801 Market Street, Camp Hill’s newest shopping complex. Shop for gourmet food, culinary treats, loose teas, and specialty coffee roasted in small batches at One Good Woman. Sift through fashion-forward designer clothing at Little Black Dress; designer footwear, handbags, and accessories at Plum Bottom; and quality lingerie at Underneath It All. Or shop an extensive selection of home décor and upcycled furniture at Live in Color Boutique.
On this Christmas Eve, some of you are getting ready to attend evening church services or doing some last-minute Christmas wrapping. Some of you may be preparing for tomorrow’s big Christmas dinner or just enjoying a relaxing evening with family or friends. However you are celebrating, we hope that our holiday suggestions helped you to discover local businesses that are at the heart of this region. Whether you are a resident or a welcomed visitor, thank you for supporting Cumberland Valley.