THE COOLEST GUIDE TO WINTER FUN IN THE LEBANON VALLEY
You’ve turned the clocks back, the winter coats have come out (fingers crossed that zipper still works), and five minutes have been added to your morning routine for defrosting your car windows (yes, I am very jealous if you have a garage). It may be dark before you’ve even had dinner, but here in the Valley, we don’t let the cold weather keep us inside!
In no particular order, here are 20 things you can do to beat the winter blues, combat cabin fever, and make the most of winter in the Lebanon Valley.
1. Go Tubing
Check out Iron Valley Tubing where you’ll find fun for the whole family and stunning views of the Lebanon Valley! The best part? They pull you and your tube back up the hill after each run. That means no uphill walking—need I say more? After tubing, warm up with a full menu restaurant at Iron Valley’s Miner’s Pub. Insider tip: Be sure to check the Iron Valley Tubing website before your visit for the most up-to-date reports on hill conditions.
2. Walk, Hike, or Ski!
Enjoy the stillness and quiet of the snow by heading out for a walk in the Lebanon Valley. Whether alone or with your (furry?) friends, physical activity causes a release of chemicals that boost your sense of well-being and help to fend off the winter blues. Plus, did you know that you can cross-country ski on the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail and at Swatara State Park? The even terrains and long stretches of trails create the perfect environment for this fun sport.
3. Go Ice Skating
Did you know that the Lebanon Valley is home to the largest family ice skating facility in central Pennsylvania? With three rinks, a pro shop, and a café, Klick-Lewis Ice Arena in Palmyra is the place to be for indoor winter fun. Rent a pair of skates and hit the ice for public skate—just don’t forget to bring your socks! After your skate, warm up with a cup of hot cocoa and a variety of snacks at the rink’s Cross Check Café. Insider tip: Choose an evening public skate where colored lights and a disco ball illuminate the rink.
Photo Credits: Klick Lewis Arena on Facebook
4. See a Local Phenomenon
The migration of snow geese through the Lebanon Valley attracts thousands of visitors to our county each winter. From mid-February to mid-March, hundreds of thousands of snow geese will stop in southeast Lebanon County during their migration north. Head over to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area for a chance to see the geese. Insider Tip: The best place for geese viewing is Willow Point, just off of Hopeland/Kleinfeltersville road, at either dusk or dawn.
5. Go on a Java Journey
It’s the fifth year of our Java Journey! Join the self-guided coffee trail from Thursday, January 11 through Saturday, March 9. Simply buy a passport and accompanying mug at any of the 12 participating coffeeshops, get stamps from each location you visit, and then turn in your completed passport at your last stop to be entered to win the grand prize of a stay at the Annville Inn Bed & Breakfast, or a range of runner-up prizes. #fueledbyjava
6. Discover Stories of Local African American Heritage
Celebrate Black History Month here in the Lebanon Valley. Available in February (and all year round), the Lebanon County African American Heritage Trail offers you and your family a guide to exhibits and historic sites in our county that are related to Black History. With some of these sites tracing back to the 1700’s, there’s lots to see, read, and learn about the people and places that helped to shape our local community.
7. Dine In
Usually we’re all about outdoor dining here at Visit Lebanon Valley. But with the colder weather and early sunsets (it’s only 6pm?), we suggest dining in at a local brewery or restaurant. For a seasonal brewery experience, try out a wintry IPA like the Holiday Punch Swheat Tart at Rotunda Brewing Company in Annville. For an authentic Italian dinner, try Trattoria Fratelli and be sure to order the Opera Fudge Bomb for dessert (its inspired by one of our local claims-to-fame, Opera Fudge). For other dining options in the Lebanon Valley, check out the Dine page on our website.
8. Go To the Movies
The Allen Theatre is a great spot to take a break from the cold winter weather. Enjoy a classic or discover new feature films at this single-screen cinema in Annville. When your movie is over, head to the adjacent eatery, the Backstage Café, for a bite to eat or a warm drink! Enjoying a delicious panini as you watch the world go by outside the café’s large picture windows is a truly magical experience.
9. Go Shopping
There are plenty of local shops here in the Valley where you can find gifts for friends, family, and yourself, of course. We could make a whole guide on where to shop and what to get… Oh wait, we already did! Check out our Holiday Gift Guide with featured ideas for foodies and homebodies, as well as ideas for stocking stuffers and experiences to remember. Plus, by shopping at these small businesses, you’re helping to support the local economy and reduce your carbon footprint—talk about a gift!
10. Get Away for the Weekend (Or the whole week… we won’t tell anyone!)
Whether you live in the Valley or your miles down the Turnpike, enjoy a weekend getaway at a local bed & breakfast. Stay at Heidi’s Bed & Breakfast and enjoy the tranquility of sleeping in a log cabin with a delicious homemade breakfast each morning. Or, experience the charm of Mount Gretna without all the hubbub of summer by staying in one of the beautiful Mount Gretna Rentals, where there’s room for the whole family.
11. Take a Spa Day
Self-care is a year-round requirement, so be sure to keep up with your me-time this winter by booking a spa day! It may be the stereotype for self-care, but sometimes a classic spa day is just what you need to reconnect and recenter. Rejuvenate your body and soul with a luxurious massage or facial at Cooper Spa in Lebanon. Or, try out a Himalayan salt room session at Your SPAcial Place. It’s different from the typical spa experience, but peacefulness is just the beginning of the good that can come from halotherapy.
Photo Credits: Your SPAcial Place on Facebook
12. Head to the Farmers Market
If you’re headed to a holiday get-together (or you’re just craving a homemade soft pretzel), the Lebanon Farmers Market is an essential stop. Grab seasonal vegetables at Horning’s Produce, find freshly smoked meats and award-winning cheeses at S. Clyde Weaver, order a custom charcuterie arrangement from Berry Unique, and top it all off with something sweet from Zig’s Bakery or Candy Rama (for your get-together, of course, and definitely not the car ride home).
13. Take a Ceramics Class
Create your very own ceramic piece this winter with a ceramics class from nationally recognized artist Karen Rich Beall at KRB Ceramics. As the only studio offering guided clay instruction, Karen offers easy to follow, step-by-step lessons in a supportive and relaxed environment. Whether you’ve not touched clay since elementary school art class or you’re a seasoned sculptor, you’re welcome at this Mount Gretna studio.
Photo Credits: KRB Ceramics on Facebook
14. Take a Painting Class
A painting class at 3 Summer Arts Studio in Mount Gretna is a great way to spend a cold wintry day in the Lebanon Valley. Follow along with step-by-step instruction from Patricia Reichenbach, a local artist who has spent the past 19 years teaching across the country and internationally in all levels of Bob Ross. Enjoy spending time learning from Patricia’s expertise and take home a painting you can be proud of after the class ends.
Photo Credits: 3 Summer Arts on Facebook
15. Go Bowling
From six-year olds’ birthday parties to a night out with college friends, Palmyra Bowling has long been a keystone for fun in the Palmyra community. Since 1981, this neighborhood bowling alley as well as the Sinkhole Saloon & Grille next door has been owned and operated by Doug and Sue Eiserman, serving as the culmination of their love for bowling, good food, and supporting their community.
Photo Credits: Palmyra Bowling on Facebook
16. Get the Kids Out of the House
Take our prescription for cabin fever with some out-of-the-house indoor fun in the Lebanon Valley. For kiddos ages two to 12, try the Kidmazium (think McDonald’s playhouse, but supersized) at Paramount Sports Complex in Annville. For the older kiddos, head just down the road from the Kidmazium to the Lazer Factory where kids ages six and up can join a game of laser tag. And if the little ones want to tag along, the Lazer Factory also has a bounce house, play structure, and arcade games.
17. Attend Trivia Night at a Local Restaurant
Q. How can you catch up with friends, grab a bite (or brew), and brush up on your states and capitals all at the same time?
A. Grab some friends for trivia night at one of the Valley’s many restaurants and breweries. From Tuesday night trivia at Snitz Creek Brewery in Annville to Thursday night trivia at the Hideaway in Mount Gretna, there’s trivia fun to be found all across the county.
Graphic Credits: Snitz Creek Brewery Annville on Facebook
18. Stroll Through an Art Exhibit (Part 1)
Discover the works of local artists with the rotating art exhibit at Lebanon Picture Frame, where you can even purchase some of the pieces on display. Headed to Annville? They’ve got an exhibit too. The Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery at Lebanon Valley College features five to six exhibits a year from national and regional art museums, galleries, and collectors.
19. Warm up by the Furnace…
Okay, the furnace may have stopped operating in 1883, but a tour of the Cornwall Iron Furnace is still a great way to learn about local history and warm up your knowledge of what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the only fully intact charcoal-fueled blast furnace from the hundreds that once populated the U.S., the Cornwall Iron Furnace is a unique survivor from our state’s former life as a top iron producer. After your tour, be sure to stop in at the museum store for unique gifts, books, and merchandise.
20. Stroll Through an Art Exhibit (Part 2)
Okay, yes, it’s another art exhibit, but 2024 is the Year of the Arts here in the Valley, so it’s only fitting. Discover a range of talented, local artists at the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts’ Annual Member’s Show, which runs through the end of January. Later in the winter, check out their Black History Month NAACP exhibit, as well as art from local students, both of which will be on display throughout the month of February.