Town of Carlisle

Carlisle is a vibrant town with small-community charm and an urban, international flair.

You know Carlisle is home to Dickinson, and you know it’s two hours from Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. But what are you supposed to do, drive two hours any time you want to do something fun or eat somewhere besides the Dining Hall? Read on, and get ready to be surprised!

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"If you were to wander off the main street in downtown Carlisle, you will eventually end up on Pomfret Street. It’s wonderfully quirky, with an array of locally owned artisanal shops in a colorful row of violet, blue and red brick houses. Whether you enter a family owned gourmet chocolate shop or a mini artist boutique, a bakery, a coffee shop or an ice-cream place, the owners will always make you feel like an old friend in their homes."

— Alexander Bossakov, Sofia, Bulgaria


  • Carlisle leads off with Miss Ruth's Time Bomb, a vintage boutique that's as fun to hang out in as to drop some coin, and also offers for your shopping pleasure Sanctuary Boutique, Greatest Gift, Earth Artisan & Outfitter and Glitz Soap Co.
  • Walk on over to Georgie Lou’s and get your fix of retro candy, the stuff your parents wouldn’t buy you but your friends always seemed to have. Or indulge in gourmet confections at Exquisite Chocolates of Carlisle on Hanover and Mummert Chocolates on Pomfret Street.
  • No Common Scents, an eclectic shoppe (note the extra p and e), and Pat Craig Studios will keep you busy with funky things galore.
  • And if you like to buy new and/or used books, check out Pomfret St. Books (it’s huge and a little spooky) and Whistlestop Bookshop (it’s small and not terribly spooky).

"One of my favorite things to do in Carlisle is go to Farmers on the Square, the farmers market that the town has every Wednesday! I love to go with friends and check out all the stands and support the local businesses. The best part is that Dickinson has its own stand to sell some of the produce from the farm, and they even make homemade pizza! It’s a great way to integrate yourself into the town and get to know the locals as well as meet more Dickinsonians."

—Campbell Breihaupt, Boulder, CO

Candy Store
Miss Ruth's Time Bomb in Carlisle
Student at Whistlestop Bookstore in Carlisle

Let's Eat!

We know what you’re thinking: “Dickinson is in a college town, so I’ll be eating most of my meals in the Dining Hall or at one of 63 pizza places.” Well, you’re in for a treat or two: Carlisle has your food mood covered, from Thai to Belgian to Mexican and back.

Every chain under the sun resides in Carlisle as well, so when you're craving that Venti iced half-caff ristretto three-pump sugar-free cinnamon dolce soy skinny macchiato, it’s right around the corner.

Go Have Some Fun!

Dickinson has all the academic rigor you’re looking for, but at times you’ll want to set your books down, get off campus and find new ways to clear your head. Because you know what all work and no play adds up to, right?

Jumping right in:

  • Create-a-Palooza is an art and activity studio featuring "paint your own" pottery, canvas painting, glass painting classes and special events onsite and offsite.
  • Eclipse Gaming Café serves already-legendary grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and salads while offering board games like Sorry, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Exploding Kittens, Clue, Monopoly and Marvel-related games. Plus puzzles, and who doesn't love a good puzzle?
  • Grand Illusion Escape is now open in Carlisle’s favorite cider bar, featuring a variety of decked-out rooms. Come for a drink and stay to escape!

There's plenty to do around the area, whether you're looking for something...

...Around Town

1. Carlisle Sports Emporium

This sprawling indoor/outdoor facility offers a variety of ways to amuse, entertain and allow a good and proper amount of steam to be blown off: laser tag, indoor/outdoor go-cart racing, batting cages, two outdoor miniature golf courses and an arcade.

2. Local Golf Courses

There are four public golf courses within 10 minutes of campus, so say goodbye to waiting around between shots and making tee times a week in advance. Carlisle is in central Pennsylvania, where the grass is lush and green and the courses are rarely crowded.

3. Midway Bowling Center

Just admit it: You like to bowl. It’s great fun, and you leave smelling like that spray they use in the shoes. When your wrist becomes too sore from lifting bowling balls, the Big Lebowski-themed Midway has a huge outdoor deck, a golf simulator, pool tables, foosball and darts to keep you entertained. The food is great, and for the alcoholically legal crowd, the Sparetime Lounge has an amazing wine and craft beer list. Seriously.


1. State Parks and Forests

If you like jumpstarting your soul with some fresh air, within yodeling distance of campus you’ll find Colonel Denning, Pine Grove Furnace and Fowler’s Hollow state parks and Michaux and Tuscarora state forests, the former of which has Laurel and Fuller lakes, for your swimming enjoyment.

2. Nearby Nature Destinations

Hawk Mountain, with views that will both inspire you to write heartfelt nature poetry and give you vertigo, is nearby, and King’s Gap, a serious mansion with a serious view turned into a serious environmental center, awaits.

3. Rail Trails

The 13.7 miles of local rail trails—once the site of the Cumberland Valley Railroad and living between the Blue and South Mountains—are great for hours of nature-loving exertion, if you want to strap that mountain bike onto your car and head into the woods.

4. The Appalachian Trail

The renowned 2,200 mile trail extends from Georgia to Maine, but also happens to run right through town!

...Or A Little Ways Away

1. HARRISBURG: Featuring Restaurant Row, a couple of malls, the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts and a pretty lively shopping and general hanging-out scene. Also, the Midtown Scholar is a legendary bookstore, with new and used books filling a space both massive and comfy.

2. CITY ISLAND: Home of the Harrisburg Senators: Go catch a minor league ball game, and maybe you’ll see the next Bryce Harper (you missed the last Bryce Harper, who played for the Senators a few years ago). Also there: the Harrisburg City Islanders soccer team.

3. Three ski resorts: Ski Roundtop, Liberty Mountain, and Whitetail.

4. HERSHEY: Hershey is home to not only all that chocolate (and Chocolate World) but Hersheypark, a massive amusement park with some of the most terrifying roller coasters ever built, and a great water area to cool down your sweaty palms. Also in Hershey is Hersheypark Stadium and Giant Center, two huge arenas for your serious concert needs.

5. BEER AND ICE CREAM TRAILS: These have recently been launched in the area. So you can begin in Carlisle and spread out, trying ice cream from 16 locations and hit 23 breweries, distilleries and wineries. So whether you're looking for crippling brain freeze or local beer, wine and spirits, you’re off and running.

Getting here