Take a trip to Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley

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I really didn’t give much thought to going to Carlisle, Pa., for an overnight trip. But when I was invited there by a representative from the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, I thought:  why not?

For one thing I have never been there and secondly, the trip is only about two hours from my home in Baltimore County.

And another thing: I don’t like to turn down invitations.

So here I am at the Comfort Suites Hotel in downtown Carlisle (10 South Hanover Street). An ideal location because it is very close to many attractions. There are 105 suites, a fitness center, business center, parking lot, a ballroom for events, a complimentary hot breakfast, room rates year round at about $100.00 and an outstanding restaurant which you’ll read about if you can keep going.

xThe restaurant, which offers outdoor seating in season, is 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion.  And yes, there was such a thing as the Whiskey Rebellion. But don’t ask me about it, look it up. OK, let me state right here I had the best salmon and New York strip steak I’ve had in a long time and I am somewhat of an authority on salmon.

It was a surprise to me because generally hotel food is not that good.

Let’s face it: When you’re thinking of somewhere to go for dinner how often do you even think of a restaurant in a hotel, even a well-known one?

So I am suggesting when you’re up this way, go to this one. And the wait staff was most charming – I even got a visit from the chef checking to see how I liked the food.  Soon, they are going to dinner only. (comfortsuitescarlisle.com).

Now a little about the town.  Perhaps you know the area because of the many car shows held here or because of Dickinson College. I am told it is an outstanding college and well respected in the academic community.  It was chartered in 1783 and was the first college in the United States to be chartered after the Treaty of Paris. I took a stroll on campus and would recommend it.

Hanover Street is one of the main streets. I spent most of my time exploring the shops on Pomfret and High Street.  The downtown area is quite walkable so you can go in any direction from the hotel and find things to see and do. The town has historic markers to help you navigate. The streets were arranged by William Penn’s sons in a grid pattern. According to a helpful brochure the streets are parallel, two blocks in each direction from the central square with the outermost named North, South, East and West. Stop by the Visitors Center, 33 West High, and get this brochure along with others.xx

Other information discovered by reading: the Borough of Carlisle was founded in 1751, as George Washington chose it for the army’s first arsenal and school. Olympic champion Jim Thorpe was a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

Some of the attractions I can suggest are the Major General John Armstrong House, the Old Graveyard, St Patrick Church & Cemetery, the Old prison, the Blaine House, Lincoln Cemetery, High Street Train Station, the Richardson House, Duncan-Stiles House, Union Fire Company, Veteran’s Square Civil War Monument, the Carlisle Theatre and the United States Heritage and Education Center.

By the way, there a few other small towns in the area worth a look, including Mechanicsburg, Boiling Springs and Shippensburg.

Each has its own personality and certainly worth a look since you’re so close. I’m most familiar with Boiling Springs. In the heart of town there’s a pond that has an area for walking. There’s also a town clock, which you don’t see too often.

Let me close by saying almost anywhere you go that’s new to you is worth the time and effort. You don’t need a Times Square, Golden Gate or Grand Canyon to have a good time and learn something.

All you have to do is open your eyes, be willing to explore and ask questions of locals.

The country, and indeed this area, is filled with interesting places.

Of course being able to read a map might be helpful.

For more information on the Carlisle area call 888-513-5130 or go to visitcumberlandvalley.com.