Yearly Archives: 2012

Stretch your Christmas money further this year

Option A: features more than 90 name brand factory stores.

Option B: features over 60 name brand stores.

Both are known for being among the most successful outlet centers in the country.

So which one will you choose? Fortunately, you don’t have to! Option A is referring to Rockvale Outlets Lancaster and option B is talking about Tanger Outlets Lancaster; and they are within two miles of each other!

With store selection ranging everywhere from Under Armour to J. Crew and Pottery Barn to Coach, Rockvale and Tanger Outlets offer many of the name brands you love at prices you can’t resist. If the thought of all the Christmas runaround makes you cringe, then you’ll love the accessibility the outlets offer.

With all the excess that comes this time of year, do yourself a favor and save. Save yourself a lot of time and a lot more money, and shop Tanger and Rockvale Outlets of Lancaster this holiday season.

Traditional & non-traditional gifts for the holiday

There are always a few people on my list who I’m not really sure what to get, or gifts for those White Elephant exchanges. So, in case you struggle with the same thing, here are a few ideas for some traditional, and some not so traditional holiday gifts!


  • You can never go wrong with a gift certificate to one of our many theatres. Whether it’s to the Fulton Theatre, where they put on Broadway caliber shows, the Rainbow Dinner Theatre, where they do all comedy, all the time, or American Music Theater with live, musical experiences with amazing dancing, you’re sure to find the theatre that’s best for the recipient.
  • Another present that’s sure to be use is food! There are plenty of gifts of food that you can pick up from here in Lancaster County. Everyone loves a whoopie pie or shoo-fly pie, and stopping at Kitchen Kettle Village or Intercourse Canning Company for some jam & relish makes the perfect stocking stuffer or gift box!


  • Tellus360 has so many fun quirky things, from wooden electric guitars and reclaimed wood furniture, to Irish antiques, cards & books, and MUCH more. It is definitely always worth the trip, and I’m sure you’ll find not only a gift for someone else, but something for yourself as well!
  • Make a donation to an organization, like the Long’s Park Amphitheater Foundation. Each summer this organization offers, Long’s Park Summer Music Series, 13 weeks of FREE music. Show your support this year by “lighting a candle” on their birthday cake. Read more about that organization here.

Dutch WINTER Wonderland

My wife and I always set aside an evening during the holidays to take the boys over to Dutch Winter Wonderland.  Dutch Wonderland is such a special place for young children during the summer it’s easy to overlook they have special hours during the fall for Happy Hauntings, and then again over the holidays as well.

The main attraction for us is always the Royal Light Show.  DW literally has tens of thousands of lights strung up throughout the hub of the park all synched to a stirring holiday soundtrack.  Make sure to take the sky ride, or take a drive with the antique cars to either get a birdseye view of the show, or drive right through the heart of it.

Of course, many of our favorite rides are open in addition to the holiday specific attractions.  My 2-year-old is a fan of Duke’s Dozers (miniature bulldozers), the Off-Road Rally (nice and tame Monster Trucks!), and of course taking a tour of the light be-decked park on their miniature train, the Wonderland Special!  The older boys (6 and 9 respectively) ride the Twister, hit up the bumper cars, and take a swing on the Space Shuttle (a space-themed Viking ship type ride).

If you have any budding young female royalty in your family, you might want to check out Storytime with the Princess.

With so much to see and do and at a great price, Dutch Winter Wonderland is another budding holiday tradition for the Evans family right here in Lancaster County.

Snow tubing at AvalancheXpress

As a kid, I remember there was a field across the street from my house, where when the snow got pushed off the road, it would get pushed into that nicely sloped field. We were so excited for snow so that we could go sledding down that nice slope. As we got older, the slope seemed to get smaller and smaller. I still look forward to playing in the snow. Here in Lancaster, some winters we get TONS of snow, and then we have some mild winters where we don’t get near enough snow to play in. If you find yourself wishing for snow, or a hill steep enough to satisfy your sledding cravings, I have good news: at AvalancheXpress Snow Tubing and Ice Skating you can get your fill!

AvalancheXpress offers some of the best snow tubing on the east coast, with their hills that are engineered for fun. Does racing down a hill at breakneck speeds sound like fun?! Then you’ll love the Xtreme lanes that are available to you. Or maybe you enjoy taking in the sights as you slide down the hill; well whatever your pleasure, AvalancheXpress has something for you! If your looking for some time for yourself, drop the kids off for a day of fun in the snow, and head on over to the Serenity Spa & Salon!

This year, whether we have snow for making snowmen or not, head out to AvalancheXpress!

Holidays at Landis Valley Museum with der Belsnickel

I think it is safe to assume that we all know who Santa Claus is. But have you ever heard of the Belsnickel? If you have, give yourself a pat on the back. If you haven’t, well, you’re not alone. The Belsnickel is a character from German folklore who comes around at Christmas time; but don’t compare him to St. Nick. Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will show you why as the Belsnickel comes to town as a part of their Country Christmas Village!

Come enjoy the Days of Belsnickel Dinner Tour. You will experience and learn nineteenth- and twentieth-century Pennsylvania Dutch Holiday traditions and folklore with things like open hearth cooking and holiday decorating. Enjoy a home-cooked meal in the historic 1856 Landis Valley House Hotel/Tavern and be entertained by a famous Christmas character, “der Belsnickel.”

Mark your calendars and make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to celebrate with Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum each year!

Santa’s Paradise Express at the Strasburg Rail Road

My son is just over a year old, and is at the age where he really is starting to enjoy trains. My husband & I were excited to take him to the Strasburg Rail Road for his first train ride on Santa’s Paradise Express! That’s right, Santa himself was aboard our train, and he visited with each family on the train. We even got a special present from him & Mrs. Claus! I believe that they give each child a present under the age of 12. Our son got a slinky – he LOVES it.

In addition, with our ticket to ride the train, we could also enjoy storybook readings of holiday classics, a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car, and the little cars that kids can peddle around a small track (our son was a bit too small for these, but we enjoyed watching the bigger kids do it).

We started out our ride to Paradise with some live music from a trumpet player in our car – they played some lively Christmas carols. Later, after Santa visited, we also had carolers come to visit and sang along with Christmas carols. We enjoyed looking out the window at the farm land, and at one of the crossings, the train stopped and we listened for the echo of the whistle (which they said was the elves, whistling back that they’re ready to come help Santa!).

We really enjoyed taking our son’s photo with Santa, and hope that this is a tradition that we can continue to enjoy each year. It makes the photo with Santa something more special than just waiting in line at the mall – that’s for sure!

If you’d like to enjoy a Santa’s Paradise Express train ride, head on over to the Strasburg Rail Road.

Lancaster County Ale Trail

Did you know that Pennsylvania has more operating regional breweries than any other state? In PA Dutch Country, old German influences and creative personalities have blended to make special microbrews you won’t find anywhere else. Visit our local breweries and brewpubs and experience beers and ales with tons of Pennsylvania Dutch flair. Here are just a quick five of the great breweries you’ll find on the Lancaster County Ale Trail.

  1. Lancaster Brewing Company
    Located in a former tobacco warehouse, LBC brews great beer with great respect for the old traditions of brewing. Savor the hopped aromas as they come alive and accentuate the wholesome malt flavors in ales and lagers.
  2. Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
    Located in the classy College Row, adjacent to the Franklin & Marshall College campus. Serving distinctive, full-flavored, handcrafted beers accompanied by inspired yet informal New American cuisine in a comfortable, casual atmosphere. All of the beers are brewed on-site and include six House Beers and one or more rotating seasonal beers.
  3. Bube’s Brewery
    A 19th century brewing complex, Bube’s is one of the only breweries from the early days of the great American breweries that has been left intact. Today, Bube’s operates not only a microbrewery, but also as an entertainment and dining mecca.
  4. Rumspringa Brewing Company
    Located between Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand, Rumspringa is the first nano-brewery in Lancaster County. They serve only the finest handcrafted brews with seasonal selections added throughout the year.

Bad weather? No problem!

Bad weather doesn’t have to stop you from having fun… at least not here in Lancaster. There are plenty of great museums, art galleries, and restaurant that can keep you entertained while you’re visiting.

Learn about the Amish
Lancaster County has a number of Amish Homesteads, and the Amish Experience Theatre, where you can learn about a boy who is faced with the decision to stay in the Amish faith, or become English.

Check out our Trains
The Choo Choo Barn, National Toy Train Museum and Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will all paint a picture of the colorful history of Pennsylvania’s railroad industry, and are all indoor for staying dry! Right next to the Choo Choo Barn, you’ll find Uncle Leroy’s for some sweets and treats, and Isaac’s for a delicious lunch or dinner!

Watch it being made, or make it yourself!
Want to see how things are made in Lancaster County? A rainy day is the perfect time to head indoors to see things being created from start to finish, and even create some things yourself! Head to Intercourse Pretzel Factory or Julius Sturgis Pretzel House and learn to twist your own pretzel! The Wilbur Chocolate Factory is where you can watch the candy makers at work hand-dipping homemade marshmallows into luscious Wilbur Chocolate. If art is more your style, you can head downtown to the Bead & Pottery Works to paint your own piece of pottery or create jewelry.

Museums and Historic Sites
I know what you’re thinking – I don’t want to spend a whole day in museums. You’ve obviously never been to our museums on a rainy day in Lancaster County! If you’ve got little ones with you, head to the Lancaster Science Factory, where they have tons of hands-on activities for kids of all ages. Lancaster has tons of art museums and galleries, both Downtown and around the County. Historic sites include the Demuth Museum, the National Watch & Clock Museum, President James Buchanan’s Wheatland, and Rock Ford Plantation.

What better to do on a rainy evening in Lancaster County than head to the theatre! We have a few dinner theatres including the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre and the Rainbow Dinner Theatre. For Broadway caliber shows, head Downtown to the Fulton Theatre. Sight & Sound Theatre is known around the world for their shows, and American Music Theatre has excellent concerts and shows. So pick a theatre, and be swept away in the show!

There are tons of other things to do on a rainy day, so just check out our website for more things to do!

Proper road etiquette around buggies

The question usually arises, “What’s the proper etiquette  for driving on the road with buggies, visiting their farms, or taking photos of the Amish.” We’ve pulled together a few bullets here for you, if you happen to be wondering!

  • Do not trespass on Amish farms, homesteads, or schools in session. There are several settings where you can visit a working farm, take a buggy ride, or ever stay over at an Amish farm. These experiences will definitely give you a taste of Amish lifestyle.
  • Photographs. The Amish have a strongly held belief that photographic images violate the biblical injunction against graven images and promote the sins of personal vanity and pride. Taking pictures of their land and animals is permissible; taking pictures of them is not.
  • Watch the road! Roads in Lancaster County have especially wide shoulders to accommodate horses, buggies, and tractors. Buggies are marked with red reflective triangles and lights at night. It’s preferable to slow down to Amish paces. Honking disturbs the horses. You can pass buggies, but be cautious, ensuring there is no oncoming traffic.

We hope these three things will help you to be more informed on your next visit to Lancaster! Thank you for being respectful of our culture.

A Bed & Breakfast to rave about

I received this wonderful review of a visitor’s stay at the Pond View Farm, and asked her permission to share it with you, our readers! If you’ve ever thought about staying at a B&B, especially one where you can learn more about the Amish way of life, this would be a wonderful one to try!

“We stayed one night with Pondview B&B.  John and Nancy Fisher and their children were lovely.

The guest house is 4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bath, huge kitchen (full kitchen with all appliances except a microwave oven) electricity throughout the house, living room, huge dining room.  Beautiful grounds.  The family gave us a tour of their dairy farm operations which was very informative.

There’s plenty of things for kids to do.  The farmer’s kids can take children on a pony ride, and to visit with their pet rabbits, cats, dogs, etc.  We fed the calves with giant baby bottles and that was fun for us as adults, but of course, it would be a lot of fun for kids to do.

It was $95.00 for the two of us (2 adults) to stay there, but the house is huge and can accommodate a lot more people.  I think they said the price is different for a larger group. They accept cash or money orders only.

One of the bedrooms is downstairs, and the rest are upstairs.  There’s no air conditioning, but we opened the windows and they had box fans for us to use, so we were comfortable.

Their 63 acre property is beautiful, well manicured, and there’s a shaded area for a picnic.  Most importantly, the family was really sweet, and answered all our questions about Amish life.  They were a real joy to meet.”

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