I’m beyond excited for the first installment of Weekend Wanderlust for One, an exciting collaboration with some of my favorite bloggers who show you how they’d do a long weekend alone and on the cheap. Basically, I give them a budget of $500USD and ask them to plan a trip to a destination less than four hours from their hometowns lasting three days and two nights for one traveler. See how they’d travel solo and get inspired for your own weekend wanderlust. First up? My own take on the Weekend Wanderlust theme.
Where I’d go | Destination
Although I live within an hour and a half of both New York and Philadelphia (two cities that I love), I’d choose to spend my long weekend in the Harrisburg/Carlisle area.
You read me right. Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania after all, and with the mighty Susquehanna River flowing just west of the city, and the verdant Cumberland Valley beyond, the Harrisburg/Carlisle area would be a perfect change of pace for this often stressed-out traveler.
How I’d get there | Transportation
Since Harrisburg is slightly less than 200 miles from my home on the Jersey Shore, I’d gas up my trusty vehicle and hit the road. With my car getting roughly 325 highway miles on a full tank, I’d need about a tank and a half for round trip and incidental driving. Since I’m taking my car, I’d add an extra $10 for on-street metered parking in downtown Harrisburg. Cost: $65
Where I’d stay | Lodging
I’ve been to the Harrisburg/Carlisle area twice before, and both times I’ve stayed at the wonderful Pheasant Field Bed & Breakfast in Carlisle. It’s one of the few places I’ve found that offers slightly discounted rates for solo travelers. In addition, Dee, the innkeeper, makes amazing breakfasts that keep you feeling satisfied for the better part of the day. Cost: $271 (2 nights including 9% state and local tax)
What I’d do | Itinerary
I’d hit the road as early as possible to get into Harrisburg by 10 am when the National Civil War Museum opens. As a history junkie, there’s no way I’d miss the biggest museum to approach the War from both sides of the story. Cost: $9
I’d definitely want to visit to the Harrisburg Cemetery (if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know I have a thing for domiciles of the dead). With graves dating back to the early 19th century, I could easily lose myself here for a little while. Cost: FREE
After the cemetery, I’d grab a sandwich or wrap for takeout at a place like Café Fresco on 2nd Street and then high tail it to the banks of the Susquehanna for a late and leisurely al fresco lunch. Cost: $10
For the evening’s entertainment, I’d head over to City Island, situated smack dab in the middle of the Susquehanna River. Hopefully the Harrisburg Senators minor league baseball team will be playing that night and I’d root-root-root for the home team. If I’m lucky, there’ll be fireworks after the game. Cost: $10 for ticket and parking (plus another $15 for hot dogs, peanuts, crackerjacks…you know. Baseball food.)
After the game, I’d drive into Carlisle for some R&R at my B&B.
After an early breakfast, I’d dive head first into the local culture and attend an antiques auction. I’ve never been to an auction before and the bidding process totally intrigues me. Local newspapers usually list where and when the auctions are held. Cost: FREE (unless I accidentally win a bidding war by scratching my nose)
Next, I’d head to Boiling Springs, a picturesque small town about 5 miles south of Carlisle. My destination? The Village Artisans Gallery, a local art gallery/gift shop that’s simply chock full of pieces crafted by local and regional artisans. I can only hope I leave with my budget intact. Cost: FREE to look (willpower, woman!) but I’d certainly hope to find something to fit my budget as a memento of my visit.
By the afternoon, I’d probably feel a mite peckish, so I’d stop in at the Boiling Springs Tavern for a late lunch. A local favorite, the restaurant was built as a tavern in 1832 and sits directly across from the picturesque Children’s Lake where you can see firsthand the bubbling springs that give the town its name. Cost: $25
After lunch, I’d take a walk on the Applachian Trail which runs parallel to the Children’s Lake (it’s not unusual to run into a grizzled thru-hiker or two). It’s a wonderful opportunity for a short tramp on this historic and iconic trail. Cost: FREE
I’m probably holding back a yawn or two at this point so I’d return to the B&B and take a nap (and a shower) before heading back into Boiling Springs to Allenberry Resort Inn & Playhouse in the early evening. Allenberry offers murder mystery-themed weekends as well as nightly stage shows. At the time of writing, “Hello, Dolly,” one of my favorite musicals, is playing. Cost: $40
Thanks to a late lunch, I’ll probably end up skipping a full dinner and heading into downtown Carlisle to the Market Cross Pub and Brewery, a local bar that offers its own house brews on tap. What could make the night better? A dart board and a few competitive locals. Cost: $12 (one beer and a small appetizer with tip).
After a drink and some darts, I’d return to the B&B for some shuteye.
Checking out of the B&B after breakfast, I’d take a short drive back into the heart of Carlisle. The town was settled in the early 1750s, so there are literally centuries of history waiting to be discovered on a self-guided tour around town. Cost: FREE
By midday, it’s time for me to leave Carlisle, but there’s no way I’m gonna drive through Harrisburg without taking a ride on the Pride of the Susquehanna. In the past couple of years, I’ve become obsessed with river cruising so I’d definitely ride this “authentic stern paddlewheel riverboat.” I can’t think of a better way to bring my time in the Harrisburg/Carlisle area to a close than on the mighty river. Cost: $9
After a delicious cruise, I’d begin the three-hour drive back to New Jersey, but not without stopping at one of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores on I-81. They serve hush puppies. I’m just sayin’. Cost: $25
Here’s my budget breakdown:
Transportation – $65
Lodging – $271
Meals – $87
Attractions – $68
Weekend Wanderlust for One Grand Total: $491
Next month’s Weekend Wanderlust for One features one of my favorite solo travel bloggers with a “colorful” name…and get this, folks–she’s going to try to leave the country on our shoestring budget. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!
Feeling inspired? Where would you go for your own three-day getaway?