Author Archives: Sarah

Sarah

About Sarah

Sarah grew up in Philly and moved to Lancaster permanently after meeting her husband. She loves being outside, and finds joy in little wonders, taking her kids for a stroll downtown or a hike in the southern end, and is always up for trying something new. If you're familiar with Lancaster County at all, and have been to Central Market, you may run into her father-in-law, as he's the owner of Long's Horseradish!

Favorite Lancaster-sourced Farm Fresh Ingredients

Three local chefs share their fall favorites, and which dishes you can find them in

We love when the seasons change in Lancaster for so many reasons – in autumn’s case, the air turns crisp, Mother Nature puts on another show of her vibrant colors, and for my fellow foodies, it allows us to eat flavors that may only come around once a year.

Everybody knows that one of the most-anticipated flavors of fall is pumpkin, but there is so much more to be found at the fall farmers market. Check out these three chef’s favorite autumn dishes, which all include locally sourced ingredients.

John J. Jeffries
Sweet Potatoes & Lamb

Eating seasonally is not the norm in today’s society, but Chef Cavanaugh works closely with local, small, family organic farmers to source produce and meats year-round for John J. Jeffries ever changing menu. For the fall, you’ll find Japanese white sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes on the menu. He typically purees the sweet potatoes for an accompaniment to meat, or you’ll find them used in vegetarian entrees.

Lamb is ready to come off the pasture in early fall. You can find the lamb used head-to-tail, so the cuts on the menu vary from braised lamb, lamb leg steaks, and lamb chops.

Forklift & Palate
Beets

For a meal that can go either casual or a little fancy, head to Forklift & Palate, where their fall menu includes locally sourced beets, Brussel sprouts, and winter squash. Who doesn’t love the sweet, vibrant and colorful beet root? This chef’s tip is to choose smaller bulbs, as they tend to have a richer flavor.

The seasonal dish of choice? Try the Beet Salad Appetizer.

Speckled Hen Coffee
Apples

This fall, the Speckled Hen will be featuring local apples from the Meck family with Meck’s Produce. You can find their apples in an Apple Pie Crumble (scratch made) which is delicious as is, or to add another local ingredient, can be served a’la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream from Lapp Valley Farms.

If you’re in the mood for something savory, you can enjoy a Harvest Turkey Sandwich, made with bacon, sharp cheddar, apple slices and a drizzle of maple syrup grilled on wheatberry bread.

Rainy day things to do in Lancaster County

Whether you come in the bright sunshine or come to a rainy Lancaster County, we’ve got tons of great things to do! Rain is a good thing for Lancaster, as it helps us to provide the freshest produce and ripest, juiciest fruit at our numerous farm markets and roadside stands.

So, if you find yourself here in Lancaster, looking for something to do on a rainy day, here are some suggestions for you:

Learn about the Amish
Lancaster County has a number of Amish homesteads, tours, and farms, where you can learn about the lifestyle of the modern Amish, see a farmhouse, and travel the backroads and country lanes where the Amish live. You can also take a buggy ride if it’s not raining too hard – you’ll be covered by the buggy, and you can experience riding through farmland the way the Amish do!

– Amish Farm and House
– Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides
– Amish Village Backroads Bus Tour
– Old Order Amish Tours
– The Amish Experience

All aboard
Head to Strasburg to learn everything you can about locomotives! From elaborate model train displays and historic exhibits to a ride on a historic railway, Strasburg’s attractions will all paint a picture of the colorful past of Pennsylvania’s railroad industry.

– The Choo Choo Barn
– Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
– National Toy Train Museum
– Strasburg Rail Road

Watch it being made, or make it yourself
Want to see how things are made in Lancaster? 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! Twist your own pretzel at America’s oldest commercial pretzel bakery or create your own ice cream flavor in the Turkey Hill Taste Lab. For an adults-only trip, take a peek into the distilling or beer brewing process, and enjoy the delicious end product.

– Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
– Turkey Hill Experience
– Kitchen Kettle Village
– Thistle Finch Distillery & Wacker Brewing Company
– Lancaster Brewing Company

A museum for every interest
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! For little ones, we have museums boasting hands-on learning, and where imaginations can soar. Lancaster is also home to tons of art museums, galleries, and specialty museums, exhibiting everything from clocks to cars.

– Lancaster Science Factory
– North Museum of Nature and Science
– Hands-on House, Children’s Museum
– National Watch and Clock Museum
– Demuth Museum
– AACA Museum

Catch a show
What better to do on a rainy evening than head to the theatre! Stages across the county are coming to life with broadway-caliber shows, concerts, stories from the bible, and so much more.  So pick a theatre, and prepare to be swept away!

– Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
– Rainbow’s Comedy Playhouse
– Fulton Theatre
– Sight & Sound Theatre
– American Music Theatre

Shopping til you drop
We’ve got tons of shopping opportunities, from antiques to artisans, farmer’s markets to furniture, and local shops to sweets & treats, as well as great outlet shopping. You’ll be sure to find whatever it is you’re looking for, or even things you’re not looking for, as souvenirs to remember your trip to Lancaster County.

– Tanger Outlets
– Ten Thousand Villages
– Antiques Capital
– Lancaster Central Market
– Green Dragon Farmers Market
– Zum Anker Alley Gallery

Bounce, Climb, Race
For the active visitor, Lancaster is home to many indoor attractions where you can get your extra energy out. Laser tag, jumping on trampolines, and rock climbing will get your heart rate up, and keep the kids entertained for hours!

– Spooky Nook Sports
– Sky Zone Trampoline Park
– Go ‘N Bananas
– Laserdome
– Rocky Springs Entertainment Center

There are tons of other things to do on a rainy day, so just check out our website for a complete list. Don’t let a little rain keep you in your hotel!

Picking Peaches at Cherry Hill Orchard

If you’ve ever created a summer bucket list, whether it’s with kids or not, you may have added finding a local farm where you can pick your own fresh fruit (whether that’s strawberries, apples, or cherries). I know this is an activity that I always wanted to try with our kids.

Well June came and went, and we missed peak cherry picking season in Lancaster County. July also came and went, and we missed prime plum picking season. August started to arrive, and I was determined to pick some fresh fruit before the end of the summer. We were driving past Cherry Hill Orchards, and saw a sign that said “Pick Peaches Today!” What better sign than that for us to check something off our bucket list.

It was really quite an adventure. It was a gorgeous day, we pulled on the orchard road, stopped to let them know that we wanted to pick peaches (it’s also the season for blackberry and early apples), and were directed to the trees that would be ripest for picking, we parked, and we picked! After we were done gathering our peaches (we picked about 20), we went back to the entrance, they weighed our peaches, and we were done!

Photo C

Here are some tips for picking pretty much any fruit:

1.  Bring your own basket, box, or bag. The thought didn’t occur to me about where we would put the fruit we picked, until we pulled up and they asked us what we would carry them in. Fortunately, they have boxes on hand for people like us who forget.

2. Ask about which peaches (or any fruit) are best to pick. The kind man who gave us our box (since we forgot one) also let us know to look for peaches that were very red/orange, not a lot of yellow or any green. He also told us NOT to put them in the fridge, and that they’d be ripe in a day or so. We ended up picking some peaches that were more yellow, since we were picking so many, we didn’t want them all to be ripe the next day!

3. If you’re picking berries of any kind, it is wise to bring wipes with you – you can typically eat while you’re picking (and won’t pay for the extras that you eat), but your hands will likely be smeared with berry juice.

For a full list of fruits that are in season, see Cherry Hill Orchard’s website here.

Skip the Traffic, Take the Train!

While Lancaster County is a year-round vacation destination, the summer is definitely considered peak season for out of town travelers. That means lots and lots of cars on the road. So whether you are traveling to Lancaster from New York City, Harrisburg or Philadelphia, maybe next time you visit you want to skip the traffic and take the train!

Kid-Friendly
Did you know that if you’re traveling with kids, up to two children, ages 2-12, can receive a 50% discount on the lowest available fare? Kids under the age of two ride FREE! And it’s much easier to travel with kids when they can move around a bit, without the constraints of their car seat. They will enjoy snacking, coloring, and just watching the world whiz by (and maybe even laying across two seats and napping if the train isn’t too busy). Oh, and did I mention there’s not pulling off the highway to find a bathroom? Just walk to the end of your car, and do whatcha gotta do!

Earth-Friendly
Lancaster County is known for our green spaces, with loads of rolling farmland. We depend on the earth for our number one economic driver, agriculture. So, we like to take good care of the earth. Another great perk of riding the train is that you’ll be traveling green! Amtrak trains are 11% more energy efficient that planes and 31% more efficient than cars.

Traveler-Friendly
Whether you’re visting for just the weekend or taking a 2-week vacation, there is plenty of space to store your baggage on Amtrak trains. So pack the extra sunscreen and a few extra pairs of “just-in-case” shoes, because when you travel on Amtrak you get two carry-on bags plus two personal items for FREE. Then, when you arrive at the station, you’ll be able to easily rent a car or taxi to get to your destination.

Now if only we could get a horse-and-buggy rental at the Lancaster station… maybe on your next trip…

Unexpected Surprise: Lancaster Symphony Orchestra

Lancaster County is known worldwide for the Amish culture. I’ll be honest, when I was moving here for college from Center City Philadelphia, that’s about all that I knew about Lancaster – the Amish, Dutch Wonderland, and Shady Maple. While all of those are true, and are all great to experience, I’ve come to love all of the unexpected surprises that Lancaster has to offer.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that this past Saturday evening was the first time that I experienced this particular surprise, but there, I’ve said it. I was invited to see Hollywood Heroes and Villains performed by the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra at the Winter Center for Performing Arts at Millersville University. Let me tell you – the performance was amazing, and our orchestra rivals the only other one I’ve seen live, the Philadelphia Orchestra. The symphony typically offers its classical music events, but this was the start of a new popular music series, POPS.

In this particular show, they performed both the dark side and the bright side of new and old favorite “hero vs. villain” stories like Batman, The Hobbit, Wizard of Oz, Frozen, and Star Wars. The conductor, Stephen Gunzenhauser, set a fun tone for the evening by walking out wearing a batman mask to conduct the first series of songs. Their tech team put together a video that was projected above the orchestra that allowed us to have an experience like you would have had back in the day when a pianist would accompany your movie in the theatre. The best part about this is that you’re overwhelmed by the passion of the orchestra. The sounds that you hear live all around you paired with the visuals seem to swallow you up.

I would highly recommend going to see the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra perform, whether you’re into classical music or not. If you are, you can pretty much see anything this season; if you aren’t, you might want to wet your feet with their POPS series.

Amish courtship

There is no PA Dutch word for “dating,” but the Amish use the English word when they need it.

The Amish consider romantic relationships to be private, so courtship is practiced secretly, while parents look the other way until the couple comes to ask their permission for marriage.

Amish young people can choose whoever they want for their mate, but if they want to remain Amish themselves, they need to marry within the faith (or date someone who has intentions of joining the faith). Very rarely, a non-Amish person might join the Amish church to be able to marry an Amish person.

Dating often starts with a boy offering to take a girl home after a Sunday evening sing, which is one of the places young people socialize. When a couple is more serious, a boy can visit the girl at her house after her parents have gone to bed on a Saturday night when there’s no church on Sunday. They sit in the living room, where most parents require a light to be on, and visit, sometimes with other couples.

Print your free PA Dutch Valentine

I’m always looking for a way to send Valentines Day cards with my son that don’t include candy, because I feel slightly guilty giving chocolate away to small children. I recently saw something that made me recall my days of elementary school, and when we used to play M.A.S.H. and make fortune tellers (also known as “cootie catchers”). Then I thought, why not make one of these into a valentine?

I’ve decided to share my PA Dutch Valentine Printable with you, along with step-by-step instructions, in case you weren’t privy to (or just can’t recall how to) making these paper games. Instead of getting a “fortune” when you choose your final number, you get a PA Dutch Saying about love/friendship!

Here’s how to make yours:

First, print out the PDF, and use either a paper trimmer, or scissors to cut on the dotted line (this is designed to be 8.5″ x 8.5″).

2-flat

Next, fold it in half both ways, making a good crease (photo below). When you unfold the second time, your creases will make a cross or an ‘x’ on the paper.

3-half

Put the paper on the table printed side down, and fold each corner in to meet the middle.

4-corner4-corners

Then flip the paper over so that the PA Dutch icons and numbers are facing the table, and fold each corner again into the middle (photo below). When you are finished, all your numbers will be on one side, and the PA Dutch icons will be on the other side. Your fortune teller will be in a perfect square.

5-flip-fold6-flip-fold2

Next, flip your paper and fold it both ways to make nice creases.

7-flip8-fold

Finally, slide your fingers into the fortune teller as shown in the first photo below, one thumb and index finger under each PA Dutch icon. Fluff the sides up until it looks like the second photo below.

9-slide-fingers10-fluff

Last, enjoy the game! Instructions on how to play below!

11-numbers12-saying

If you’re not quite sure on the instructions to play, you can follow this simple method of the game!

Player A: Asks “choose a PA Dutch icon.” (Holding the game closed so that Player B only sees the four icons)
Player B: Chooses one of the four icons. (for example, Buggy)

Player A: Spell out “Buggy,” holding the game with your thumb & index fingers of each hand, alternate pinching on “B,” pulling on “U,” pinching on “G,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose a number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 3)

Player A: Count to “3” while pinching on “1” and pulling on “2,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose another number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 5)

Player A: Open the flap with the number 5 on it, and read the PA Dutch Saying under the flap to reveal Player B’s valentine!

*If you want to extend the game, you can repeat the middle step a few times (choosing three numbers before opening the flap).

 

Amish church services

You might wonder what an Amish church service is like. You can’t visit one to find out, because the service isn’t public, it’s for members and invited visitors only. Also, you wouldn’t understand any of it, unless you can speak Pennsylvania German, as that’s the language the service is conducted in.

The Amish observe two kinds of Sundays: “church-Sundays” and “off-Sundays.”

The Amish are extremely religious, so it might surprise you to know that they don’t hold an actual church service every Sunday. Amish services are long, intense experiences. The service itself lasts about 3 hours, then they have lunch together, and then there’s an afternoon of visiting. For the younger teens, it’s even longer, because they meet again in the evening for singing & socializing.

On the “off-Sundays,” some may attend church in other districts, but for most it is a quiet day at home in the morning, and visiting friends & relatives in the afternoon.

While you’re driving around Lancaster, you might see a boxy wagon parked in a farmyard. That’s the bench wagon, and when you see it, you know that church was either recently held at that farm, or will be soon.

 

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.

Train rides, ice cream, horses and more

Located in Lancaster County, Strasburg is a quaint town just a few miles south of the hustle and bustle of the county’s busy thoroughfare, and it is the perfect location to see our country as it was amid what it has become. The town of Strasburg is a trip into a simpler, yet more complex, time. It offers you an honest view of living history while never leading you more than a few steps away from comforts that are modern and convenient.

The Amish culture survives and thrives in Strasburg. Unlike other experiences, the people you will see here are not part of productions staffed by actors but real people who walk their talk. For a full eye-opening view of the Amish in the area, try Ed’s Buggy Rides or take a ride on the Strasburg Rail Road. You can visit The Amish Village for a tour which provides a more comprehensive education about the Amish and their culture. And there’s always The Lil Country Store & Miniature Horse Farm, where miniature horses welcome you to a real Amish farm.

For the train aficionadas, Strasburg, known as “Train Town USA” offers not only the rail road, but the National Toy Train Museum, The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and the Choo-Choo Barn. If you’ve got an addicted train enthusiast with you, plan to spend at least one full day here.

But Strasburg has so much more to offer! Weather permitting, you can get in your daily exercise with a round at Village Greens Miniature Golf or get lost in the maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Not into the out-of-doors? Strasburg offers unique shopping like Eldreth Pottery. (Oh, and if you simply must power shop, Strasburg is only minutes away from Rockvale and Tanger Outlet centers.)

All that travel made you hungry yet? The town of Strasburg offers a variety of dining options that cater to all of our visitors’ needs. Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn hosts a smorgasbord for the truly famished, or try out Isaac’s for unique deli-style sandwiches as well as soups and salads. The Springerle House Tea & Cookie Café is just the place if you want to nibble on a light lunch and save room for dessert from their bakery. For fine dining and spirits, The Iron Horse Inn has an eclectic menu that combines local fare with sophisticated recipes, amid quaint surroundings and with great service. And then, there’s ice cream! Oh, and fudge! For a treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, stop by the Strasburg Country Store and Creamery. You’ll find homemade ice cream in some pretty unusual flavors and some truly creamy homemade fudge in a variety of flavors that will make it difficult to choose!

Strasburg is home to the renowned Sight & Sound Theatres, which produces stage shows that, as their mission statement says, bring “the Bible to life”. In addition to matinee and evening shows, the theatre also provides some ‘behind the scenes’ adventures. You’ll want to make sure to see one of their spectacular shows!

If you’re not afraid of the dark, and have no fear of the paranormal, consider making reservations for the Ghost Tour of Strasburg. This walking tour provides a spirited adventure in historic – and haunted – Strasburg.

Now, all that fun and food means it’s time to rest and rejuvenate! From camping to bed & breakfast to hotel, Strasburg offers plenty of options for getting a good night’s sleep away from all of the traffic of the busier towns. White Oak Campground, which is open year-round, provides sites for everyone from the rough-it-with-a-tent to the fully-self-contained-model camper. If you’re looking for charming and quant accommodations, then try a bed and breakfast, such as Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast or Verdant View Farm Bed & Breakfast. In addition to the inn at Hershey Farms, the town of Strasburg offers rustic inns such as the Carriage House Motor Inn, The Iron Horse Inn, The Limestone Inn and the Strasburg Village Inn. For the train lover, continue your experience by spending the night at Red Caboose Motel. And, if you really want to hold onto the familiar, stay at the Clarion Inn by Choice Hotels.

As you can see, the quaint, small town of Strasburg can offer you plenty of things to see and do to fill multiple days if you choose. Are you planning this adventure for a group and feeling overwhelmed by the choices? Strasburg even has a solution for that! Amish Neighbor Tours can put together a package for your group that includes attractions, lodging and meals!

Free Lancaster County Travel Planning Guide

Get our free Getaway Guide

View the Guide online or have it mailed to you

Get It

Receive our Email Newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest news, events, deals & more

Sign Up