15 Best Things to Do in Chambersburg, PA

Chambersburg, PA
Robert Hale / Shutterstock.com

Chambersburg is a borough and the county seat of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, tucked deep in Cumberland Valley, a section of the Great Appalachian Valley.

This borough is also the 13th largest municipality in Pennsylvania.

The borough got its name from the Chamber Brothers, who first settled the area in 1730.

They chose the spot because it lay between Falling Spring and the Conococheague Creek, an ideal location for their sawmill and gristmill.

Since then, the settlement grew as an important trade hub; travelers crossed the valley in their journey from east to west.

In 1764, the community officially formed Chambersburg.

Likewise, Chambersburg teems with history.

Confederate general Robert E. Lee made his decision to move to Gettysburg in the Chambersburg town square.

During the Civil War, the town itself got occupied three times.

Today, travelers can visit Chambersburg to revisit this history and explore the modern downtown.

Do you want to know more about Chambersburg, PA?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in town.

See a Show at the Capitol Theatre Center

Exterior of the Capitol Theatre Center.
Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This historic 800-seat theater has hosted live performances, film screenings, and shows since 1927.

If you want to bring your family on a theater night, you won’t go wrong visiting this place.

Thousands of people attend screenings and performances here every year, thanks to the sense of history and the majestic design of the interior.

The theater has retained the architectural style and flavor of its 1927 version.

Feel the weight of history in the seat cushions, and remind yourself of a bygone era on the walls.

Likewise, the theater also has a concession area, a gorgeous lobby, a coat room, and a wheelchair ramp on the entrance.

Several touring national acts make a stop at the Capitol every year.

Don’t miss out on a lovely evening with the family and catch a show.

Learn Local History at The Old Jail and Museum

This historic jail managed to survive the Confederate Army’s burning of Chambersburg in 1864.

However, that’s only part of what makes the Chambersburg Old Jail a special site.

In 1818, the town built the jail according to the Georgian style.

More than a century later, in 1970, the National Register of Historic Sites placed the jail on their list, making the jail one of the oldest buildings ever listed there.

People suggest that the Old Jail was also a stop on the Underground Railroad, sheltering escaped slaves fleeing to the north.

For 150 years, the town used the jail as a prison, housing several local criminals.

A couple of them were “Lewis the Robber” and Captain John Cook.

The latter belonged to John Brown’s armed group, captured after their botched raid on Harper’s Ferry.

Today, the Old Jail offers guided tours through the jail’s dungeons.

One of the cell blocks also holds a museum containing Franklin County historical artifacts.

Go Biking at the Chambersburg Bike Park

Bring your bike to the Chambersburg Bike Park and test your cycling skills at their wide tracks and bike jumps.

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner.

The park also accommodates total bike beginners.

However, if you’re a veteran biker, you’ll still find a reasonable challenge here.

Many bikers visit the park every day, honing their skills, inviting you to mingle and make new friends.

Likewise, the park hosts biking events from time to time, so don’t miss out on dropping by this Chambersburg attraction.

Meet an American Hero at the John Brown House

Another major American historical figure is John Brown, the white abolitionist who raided plantations in the South to rescue slaves.

The US government captured him after his failed raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in October 1859.

In December, the government hanged him, which made Brown the first American executed for treason.

When you visit Chambersburg, make sure to visit the John Brown House, formerly known as the Ritner Boarding House.

Under the alias “Isaac Smith,” Brown had boarded there in the summer of 1859.

He and his men stockpiled weapons and planned the fateful Ferry attack.

The National Register of Historic Places listed the house in its record in 1970.

The Franklin County Historical Society now owns and operates the House, restoring it with period-accurate furniture.

Enter the John Brown House to relive the final months of the famous revolutionary.

Let Your Kids Play at Cluggy’s Amusement Center

If your kids get bored by visiting old buildings and houses, treat them to a day out at Cluggy’s Amusement Center.

You’ll enjoy it, too, because the center offers various games and rides there.

For example, you can play mini-golf or mini-bowling, or race your kids on go-karts.

Cluggy’s also allows bookings for special events, like birthdays.

They will even host the party for you.

There’s a reason Cluggy’s has become a Chambersburg institution.

For more than 26 years, the place has entertained generations of kids and parents treating them to a good time.

Try Fine Wine at Jan Zell Wines

This time, treat yourself to some grown-up fun by grabbing the best vintage at Jan Zell Wines.

After a day of touring and getting active, enjoy a glass with your partner and unwind.

Likewise, the family-owned Jan Zell Wines offers a relaxing place to savor your chosen wine.

You can choose from a wide selection of wines, from sweet wines to dry ones to apple ciders.

The winery also allows guests to hold parties in their wine tasting room.

You can even have the staff arrange the party for you if you want.

Explore Cumberland Valley at the Chambersburg Heritage Center

Chambersburg Heritage Center
Robert Hale / Shutterstock.com

Begin your exploration of the Cumberland Valley region by visiting the Chambersburg Heritage Center.

Located at Chambersburg’s Memorial Square, this building has stood in town since 1915.

Back then, it was a marble bank, formerly known as the Valley National Bank.

The historic bank building has undergone extensive renovations and became a museum.

During your visit, you’ll explore five historically significant places in Franklin County and Chambersburg.

The themed exhibits contain artifacts relating to specific periods of local history, starting from its early days as a frontier town up to the Civil War.

Your kids will also enjoy roaming the Children’s Activity Room while you look for unique souvenir items at the Gift Shop.

Grab Fresh Produce at Jim’s Farmers Market

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can skip out on eating healthy meals.

Don’t rely on take-out all the time and prepare your own food by grabbing fresh ingredients at Jim’s Farmers Market in Chambersburg.

For over 30 years, this market has supplied Chambersburg and Cumberland Valley with only the freshest meats and produce.

They also sell baked goods, organic ingredients, and meals.

They even sell candles and antiques.

If you don’t feel like cooking, you can also buy home-cooked meals at the farmers' market.

It’s also open all year, so you’ll never miss out on adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Spend the Day at the Chambersburg Memorial Park

Bring your family to the Chambersburg Memorial Park if you want to keep your vacation simple.

This 37-acre park provides everything you’ll ever need for a relaxing afternoon outside.

Walk around the green space and enjoy the shade from groves of mature trees.

Likewise, bring your kids to the two playgrounds, fitted for both 5-year-olds and toddlers, respectively.

You can also play various sports at the park’s fields and courts, from basketball to softball to tennis.

The park also hosts a bandshell for live performers, so you can enjoy some music while you grill some burgers at the picnic areas.

You can also enjoy a cookout at the open barbecue pit at the center of the park.

For over 50 years, the Gateway Gallery Auction has brought collectors together through its roster of unique and antique items.

Its regular specialty auctions sell items like vintage sports memorabilia, model trains, and specialty coins.

You’ll also find other interesting items displayed inside their modern showroom.

Even if you don’t end up buying anything here, Gateway still triggers nostalgia, bringing you back in time when things were simpler.

Their main auctions also put various valuable antiques up for sale, so why not join the bidding if you’re in the mood?

Shop ‘til You Drop at Chambersburg Crossing

Indulge yourself in some retail therapy by visiting the Chambersburg Crossing shopping center located off Interstate 81.

You’ll find 17 major retailers inside the complex, such as Kohl’s, Staples, and Target. Go crazy and explore every inch of this massive compound.

All that shopping should make you hungry, so you can head over to the various restaurants inside the mall.

Sit down and grab a bite at Chipotle, Subway, Panera Bread, Red Robin, and Friday’s.

You can also get a pizza for the whole family at the new Mod Pizza.

Window shoppers should also enjoy taking in the sights at this elegant shopping complex.

Savor Authentic Mexican Cuisine at the Montezuma Mexican Restaurant

Since 2003, the Montezuma Mexican Restaurant has treated diners to the savory and flavorful goodness of authentic Mexican food.

The restaurant proves that you don’t have to cross the border to enjoy mouthwatering Mexican specialties.

For instance, Montezuma has served its popular burritos to diners from everywhere in Pennsylvania.

Don’t limit yourself to the blandness of big-box Mexican fast-food chains.

Go seek out real nachos and tacos from Montezuma and never look back.

This restaurant will surely leave you coming back for more.

Enjoy a Night Out at Norland Pub

Don’t miss out on getting your drinks on at Norland Pub, one of Chambersburg’s best bars. Bring your squad and liven up the night over a few rounds of drinks.

Likewise, pair your drinks with the signature Norland Pub’s Beer Cheese and Pub Wings to complete the experience.

Otherwise, you can try their equally delicious pizzas and seafood chowder.

The pub’s tasty offerings also make Norland a terrific spot for family-friendly lunches or dinners.

However, the nighttime crowd also brightens up the place, becoming a nice spot to meet the locals.

Go Camping at the Twin Bridge Campground

In the heart of Cumberland Valley lies the Twin Bridge Campground, where you can bring your family to spend a night or two in the company of nature.

Vast farmland surrounds the campground, giving you a nice pastoral environment with the Tuscarora Mountains looming in the far distance.

Make sure to look to these mountains during sunset to catch the orange sun sink beneath the peaks.

You can pitch your tents or park your RVs along the creeks crossing the wooded meadow, at the intersection of Back Creek and Dennis Creek.

The twin bridge at this spot gives the campground its name.

Practice your outdoor skills by chopping firewood, setting up your tents, and gathering cooking supplies.

During your stay, you can fish at the nearby well-stocked trout stream, join several family activities, or simply explore Franklin County.

Step into History at the Chambersburg Historic District

The National Register of Historic Places included the Chambersburg Historic District in its record in 1982.

In all, this district comprises 159 buildings in the central business hub and the residential Chambersburg area.

You’ll also notice that many of these buildings follow either the Italianate or Georgian architectural styles.

You can easily spend an entire day marveling at the history emanating from this district.

However, if you want a clear guide to the historic buildings, there are a few famous examples.

For example, the St. Paul United Methodist Church has stood in town since 1896.

There’s also the Professional Arts Building, completed in 1930.

Other noteworthy buildings are the Cumberland Valley Railroad Station, the Cumberland Valley National Bank, and the Church of the Falling Spring, completed in 1803.

You’ll also find the historic Franklin County Jail, Franklin County Courthouse, and the John Brown House in this district.

Final Thoughts

History buffs will surely enjoy wandering the districts of Chambersburg, with its selection of historical buildings and museums.

On the other hand, tourists who just want a good time will find it at places like amusement centers and unmissable bars and restaurants.

Why not take a holiday at Chambersburg?

Book your trip today!