Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Cumberland County, PA

  • Published 2023/04/02

Cumberland County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was named for Cumberland, England, and was officially founded in 1750.

It is included in the HarrisburgCarlisle metropolitan statistical area.

The county seat is Carlisle, a borough founded in 1751.

The county holds many exciting attractions, from historical sites, stunning art, and great parks to entertainment and dining options.

Are you interested in exploring this beautiful county?

Here are the best things to do in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

Learn Military History at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

Army tanks at U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

George Sheldon /

If you’re into history and the military, visit the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, the U.S. Army’s main historical research facility.

The 56-acre museum comprises Military History Institute, Historical Services Division, Army Heritage Museum, Visitor and Education Services, U.S. Army War College Library, and Collections Management.

It has an impressive collection of about 16 million military artifacts, including the world’s most extensive collection of Civil War photography.

Interior of U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

George Sheldon /

You can also stroll other exhibits like the Army Heritage Trail featuring helicopters and tanks and the Soldier Experience Gallery, documenting American military history from the Spanish American War to this day.

Discover military history at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle.

People at U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

George Sheldon /

Take a Scenic Walk at Spring Meadows Park

Spring Meadows Park sits on over 90 acres of property on West First Street in Boiling Springs in South Middleton Township.

If you want to explore or stay in shape, you can stroll, hike, or bike the 1.5-mile Spring Meadows Trail, a loop trail with fitness stations.

Otherwise, go with the one-mile Fielding Belt Trail, which will lead you to South Middleton Township Park.

Admire and take snapshots of the beautiful cherry blossoms in spring or the vibrant fall colors on the trails at Spring Meadows Park.

If you like sports, play a game on the baseball fields, soccer fields, football fields, or nine-hole disc golf course.

There are even pavilions or picnic areas for picnics and other gatherings.

Spend the Day at the Coliseum Megaplex

The Coliseum Megaplex, or the Coliseum in Camp Hill, is where you can eat, drink, and have fun with your family, friends, or significant other.

This 35,000-square-foot entertainment megaplex features various facilities for everyone to spend quality time with their loved ones.

Play some of the over 100 classic and new games at the 10,000-square-foot arcade, hit the 12-lane AMF-certified bowling alley, and shoot some pool at the billiards room.

An on-site Arena Grill Restaurant & Bar offers casual dining, including salads, burgers, wraps, wings, and various entrees.

You’ll also find 88 plasma TVs, 24 beers on taps, and imported and premium wines at The Coliseum.

The banquet room is great for parties and events like team-building activities.

The Coliseum is a fun place for a bowling game, beer, and wings at the sports bar.

Watch a Race at Williams Grove Speedway

A race at Williams Grove Speedway

Ted van Pelt, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love dirt-track racing, watch a sprint car race at the iconic Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg.

Since its opening in 1939, it has become one of the country’s oldest and most prominent automobile dirt racing tracks.

During the races at Williams Grove Speedway, you’ll see speeds reaching more than 100 mph on the half-mile clay track.

It has hosted some of America’s most remarkable national touring racing series.

Many of these events are associated with the United States Auto Club, United Racing Club, and World of Outlaws Sprint Cars.

Every year, it also hosts special events on Fridays from March to October, including the World of Outlaws National Open, its largest show.

Other racing divisions presented throughout the season include 358 sprint cars, super late models, and super athletes.

Catch a Show at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center

Head to the H. Ric Lurhs Performing Arts Center on the Shippensburg University campus for splendid performances.

This 1,500-seat regional theater hosts full-scale Broadway performances, symphonies, comedians, family shows, pop and rock performances, speakers, and more.

If you want more, you can tour the state-of-the-art performing arts center led by experienced guides.

The tour lasts roughly 45 minutes and features the Lurhs Center’s history, highlights about architecture, construction, audio and visual equipment, and visits to Grove Theatre, Stage, VIP Dressing Rooms, and more.

The best thing about this tour is it’s free of charge!

Rent a Kayak at Susquehanna Outfitters

Susquehanna Outfitters in Wormleysburg offers kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard rentals for those who want to get on the beautiful waterways of the Cumberland Valley.

You can explore the scenic Susquehanna River and tranquil creeks of Central Pennsylvania, watch wildlife from beavers to bald eagles, and enjoy beautiful views.

Multiple guided floats are available, led by specialists who’ll take you along the hidden gems of the river and creeks like Conodoguinet, Sherman, or Yellow Breeches.

Enjoy the evening, and special event floats featuring sunset relaxation, fall foilage, brewery, and more.

Don’t miss the chance to get on the water for one, two, or more hours in a single or tandem kayak.

There are also offered group programs, canoe camping trips, and lessons for those first time on the water.

Experience fun water adventures with your family, friends, kids, or partner by heading to Susquehanna Outfitters, open seasonally on the Wormleysburg Waterfront.

Commune with Nature at Colonel Denning State Park

A wooden footbridge at Colonel Denning State Park

Christian Hinkle /

The beautiful Colonel Denning State Park lies eight miles north of Newville in north-central Cumberland County.

The 273-acre park features extensive woodland, the 3.5-acre Doubling Gap Lake, and recreational amenities for the public.

Here, visitors can enjoy swimming and boating in the summer and ice fishing, ice skating, and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Explore the 2.5-mile Flat Rock Trail for a rewarding 180-degree panoramic view of the Valley or the self-guided one-mile Doubling Gap Trail, with signages telling the natural history found around a mountain stream.

Gazebo at Colonel Denning State Park

Christian Hinkle /

The park is also perfect for picnicking, cycling, hunting, birding, and rustic camping.

It also offers various programs you may join, such as ecological and historical walks and programs, campfire programs, and environmental education activities.

Colonel Denning State Park is also a gateway to the 96,000-acre Tuscarora State Forest, which surrounds the park.

Waters at Colonel Denning State Park

Christian Hinkle /

Play Sports at Adams-Ricci Community Park

Another excellent park that deserves a visit is the 82-acre Adams-Ricci Community Park in Enola in East Pennsboro Township.

Those into sports will enjoy the park because it has multiple fields and courts for baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and bocce ball.

The neighborhood park also has a batting cage, horseshoe pits, children’s play equipment, pavilions, picnic areas, a drinking fountain, a staging area, and a butterfly garden.

You’ll also find five trail loops in the park, with 1.25 miles as the largest.

Adams-Ricci Community Park also provides walk-in access to the Conodoguinet Creek via a steep slope for boating and fishing opportunities.

Savor Delicious Food at the Three Pines Tavern

Head to the Three Pines Tavern in Mount Holly Springs to delight in some of the best wings in Central Pennsylvania.

Established in 1995, it is known mainly for its award-winning chicken wings in more than 40 flavors, but it also serves other great food options.

Their famous wings offer dry rub flavors, such as wing dust, old bay, and taco, and wet flavors, like the mild, hot, killer, BBQ, teriyaki, and sweet chili.

The main menu features appetizers, salads, homemade soups, side dishes, gourmet burgers, sandwiches, and entrees like crab cakes, margarita chicken, and the New York strip.

You can also try the local bar and restaurant’s delicious offerings every day of the week and the daily drink specials.

The Three Pines Tavern also has a kids’ menu, so make sure you bring your kids and enjoy your meal together.

Enjoy Stunning Views at Negley Park

Skyline and river view from Negley Park

Jon Bilous /

Drive to the lovely Negley Park on Cumberland Road in Lemoyne for one of the region’s most well-known picturesque spots.

Perched on a hill, the park is best known for stunning views of the Harrisburg skyline and the Susquehanna River, which you can admire and photograph.

The park often appears in publications and on television newscasts.

Besides being a favorite among tourists and photographers, it has a basketball court, tennis courts, a playground, and picnic areas for other outdoor activities.

Negley Park is the perfect location to host a sports game, have an afternoon picnic, or take a breather.

Read a Book at the New Cumberland Public Library

The New Cumberland Public Library is in the 1819 historic Benjamin House and is close to downtown New Cumberland.

The library, which sits within a 2.5-acre park, was established by the Civic Club of New Cumberland in 1941.

It houses an extensive collection of books, DVDs, and other materials and resources for all ages.

It offers free Wi-Fi inside and outside the building, public access computers, and printing and copying services.

The public can also view exhibits because an art gallery and locked display showcase are featured in the library.

The New Cumberland Public Library also offers a variety of programming and services for children up to ages 18 and their families and adult programs throughout the year.

Go Climbing at Climbnasium

Climbnasium is an excellent indoor rock climbing facility featuring extensive bouldering areas and climbs reaching 40 feet.

You can try two versions of climbing: toprope climbing, which requires two people, and bouldering, which means climbing on shorter walls, up to 14 feet.

Climbnasium offers a belay instruction class required for new toprope climbers to learn how to safely top rope.

Likewise, the facility has crash pads and padded floors to prevent injuries and cushion falls.

Try this fun and memorable adventure with your friends at Climbnasium in Mechanicsburg.

Discover Local History at the Cumberland County Historical Society

Entrance gate of Cumberland County Historical Society

Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle is a must-visit attraction for history buffs seeking a fascinating experience when traveling to Cumberland County.

It was initially established as a library in the will of a local attorney named James Hamilton, Jr. in 1873.

Today, the Cumberland County Historical Society functions as a history and education center with a library, museum, photo archives, and a gift shop.

The award-winning museum has 16 galleries with various artifacts and art items that date back 250 years.

Highlights from the collection include folk art woodcarvings, Native American boarding school projects, and artisan-made clockmakers, cabinetmakers, and silversmiths.

There are also over 30 carved animals by Wilmer Schimmel, a folk art carver.

You may also join several events organized year-round, such as walking tours, workshops, lectures, and family-friendly programs.

Ride a Bike along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is one of the best attractions in Cumberland County, where you can enjoy walking, hiking, horseback riding, and biking.

Trailheads with parking are available at different locations, including Shippensburg Station, Shippensburg Township Park, and Newville.

You can spot wildlife and enjoy charming scenery.

Likewise, check out interpretive way-point signs on the agricultural and Civil War heritage along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail.

A two-mile section past Newville and a one-mile section completed at Allen Road in Carlisle are part of the trail extension.

Spend Family Day at Carlisle Sports Emporium

Another ultimate destination for friends and family if you’re searching for entertainment is Carlisle Sports Emporium in Carlisle.

Also known as “The Play to Play,” this year-round indoor and outdoor entertainment complex in Central Pennsylvania is perfect for all ages.

Its 20,000-square-foot arcade has over 125 games for all skill levels and interests, with a fantastic game selection from video and simulation to skill building and redemption.

Drive indoor and outdoor go-karts with plenty of speed for any experience level.

Otherwise, take a swing at the brand-new, state-of-the-art batting cages.

You can also play laser tag, challenge yourself at the two 18-hole Castle and Western-themed miniature golf courses, or indulge in virtual reality games.

Carlisle Sports Emporium is also a great venue to host birthday parties, corporate team building, group outings, and more.

Final Thoughts

From breathtaking sights to exciting activities, you’ll always find something to see and do in Cumberland County.

Are you ready for your vacation here with your family and friends?

Plan your trip today and enjoy the best things to do in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania!

© All rights reserved.