Category Archives: Lodging

A Romantic Leap Get Away!

Whoever gets paid makes that plans. That’s the deal Cheryl and I have for date night. I got paid so I made the plans. I wanted a quiet get away. A place where we could have a fabulous dinner and hear each other talk. Casual elegance is a good description for what I had in mind. In addition, I wanted to be able to walk to dinner and back to our room where ever that may be.

We’d been talking about Cameron Estate Inn and Restaurant in Mt. Joy because our daughter will be getting married at the estate next January. We’d been there for dinner a couple of times and after each visit I thought it would be wonderful to be able to simply walk upstairs and spend the night. I called, made a dinner reservation for Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and booked the Donegal Garratte room on the third floor.

We arrived just before 6:00 p.m. At check-in they let us know our dinner table was ready and that we could come down at any time. We meandered upstairs, changed and made our way to the restaurant. The Inn, an early American mansion set on a 15 acre estate is absolutely adorable. It’s decorated with antiques and feels like a step back in time. There’s a sense of authenticity about it.

The hostess who was also the waitress remembered us from the last time we’d been there and that was some time ago. She seated us at a corner table in the sunroom so were surrounded by windows on two sides. Our view looked out over the estate. We got to watch it get dark and the lights around the mansion come up. It was awesome.

We started off with a ten year old 2006 Kendal Jackson Reserve, a Cabernet Sauvignon. The menu was incredible, as always.  From past experience we knew whatever we chose would be wonderful. The hostess recommended the pepper encrusted Lamb Porterhouse and the crab cakes. I got the lamb. Oh my goodness, it was amazing. It came with roasted vegetables and an unbelievable cherry reduction. Cheryl had the crab cakes. She loves crab cakes but these were over the top. I wrapped up with Crème Brulee and Cheryl had a hot chocolate spice cake that was to die for.

As the sun went down and the lights came on the estate took on a romantic glow. There was just enough light for a walk. We strolled along the foot paths and stopped momentarily on a small bridge to watch the light bounce off the stream and the water rush by.

We collapsed in a high four poster bed in our room at the end of the hall on the third floor. The next morning breakfast; a choice of quiche, pancakes and yogurt parfait was served at 8:00. Afterward we took another walk around the estate, we put our things together and made the 25 minute drive home.

It was a wonderful overnight stay. We didn’t go far. The Estate was both historic and romantic. There were people around but it wasn’t crazy. The staff was cheerful and engaging. Whether you are local or from out of the area a stay at the Cameron Estate Inn and dinner in the restaurant is a perfect choice for an overnight get away.

Our enchanting overnight stay

I wanted to take my husband on a local overnight getaway for his birthday. I was envisioning a relaxing, carefree, and welcoming environment. I got just that when we stayed at the Australian Walkabout Inn Bed and Breakfast.

When I booked our stay, I spoke with Lynne. She could not have been nicer. Lynne and Bob are the Innkeepers and are especially gifted at making their guests feel like family. I was impressed with her ability to be professional yet warm. I booked our stay in the Outback Cottage because it had a private hot tub. I also booked a couples relaxation massage.

When my husband and I arrived, we were greeted by Bob. He explained that he was taking another couple to their room and he would be with us shortly. We walked into the front door to wait for Bob. When we entered, Matt and I were impressed with the decorations. They were done with great detail and thought. It was obvious that the innkeepers wanted their place to feel like home but also elegant. We had made our way into the sitting room to wait for Bob. Only a short time later, he arrived. He offered us coffee and began explaining where the massage would take place, what time breakfast would be starting, and gave us our room key. He then led the way to the Outback Cottage.

When we opened the door to the cottage, I was struck with how lovely it was. Immediately we saw a fire place, a Keurig, and a private hot tub – score! But the best part of the room was the completely inviting king-sized bed.

A short time later we were to arrive for our massages. We went into the main house and walked up the stairs to the third floor. The massage therapists were there waiting for us. The room was very relaxing. We were ready to put our cares and worries behind us for just one hour. The massage therapists did a great job by relaxing us and we felt so comfortable in their care. Once the massage was over, we went out to dinner and then arrived back at our room.

We turned on some music, along with the fire place, and got in the hot tub. It was so nice that I tried to coax my husband into redoing our bedroom to model this one. He didn’t budge. We then went to bed and we both slept like babies because of how relaxed we were from the massage, hot tub, comfortable bed, and perfect room temperature.

In the morning we took our time getting up, made some coffee, and then got ready. We painfully said goodbye to the best room we have ever stayed in. We walked into the main house and were greeted by other guests as we waited for breakfast. The other guests were quite pleasant and very interesting to talk to. We all went into the dining room and sat down at the two large dining room tables. The tables were decorated in a charming way and I was eagerly anticipating what lovely food we might be served. I had previously discussed with Lynne that I must eat gluten free foods and am very sensitive to even the smallest amount of gluten touching my food. She said it would not be a problem. I was anticipating that we would have eggs, bacon, etc. for breakfast so, imagine my surprise when Lynne brought out a piping hot baked oatmeal dish. It was so delicious – I could have eaten the whole batch!

We had a wonderful experience and could have easily stayed there for a week. My husband and I both decided that every year for our anniversary, we will stay at the Australian Walkabout Inn and request the Outback Cottage. It was an absolutely enchanting experience. One that I more than ready to repeat again!

Julie Iddings grew up in Lancaster County. She continues to be charmed by the quaintness of the small towns and villages of Lancaster, but also the artistic and thriving Downtown. Julie resides in Marietta with her family.

An overnight stay with former Amish

I hopped in the car and drove east. The drive was familiar although the destination uncertain. This city gal left Downtown Lancaster and breathed a sigh of relief. I needed an escape from the emails and the meetings, from the loud music and bright lights. For one night I was offered an escape to the countryside to stay overnight with a former Amish family.

Much of my time outside of the city has been spent down in Pequea where I discovered trails, dipped in swimming holes, and climbed around the endless curves that make up its wooded roads. This time I was traveling to the flat, open farmland. The cornstalks stood at attention, swaying slightly in the evening breeze. Cows and horses dotted the grassy hills, as I called out in excitement, the same excitement that had existed in my childhood. As the sunlight dwindled, I followed my GPS not once, but twice past my supposed destination. I pulled over and checked the address, finding my location the good ol’ fashioned way by looking at mailboxes and fence posts for house numbers.

As I neared my destination, Stoltzfus Bed & Breakfast, I saw a large, white farmhouse with green trim that sat atop a hill and was nestled between farms. I pulled into the driveway and up past the house to park. I was greeted by one of the owners, Ginger Stoltzfus, a lovely, charming and bubbly personality, her smile kind and sparkly. She told me a bit of the mansion’s history. It was built in 1845 and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. My challenge was to find where freed slaves had hidden; this task, however, was completely forgotten as I took in my surroundings and the warm demeanor of my hosts. Sam Stoltzfus had joined us in the tour and we made it as far as the dining room table before I realized my complete neglect of this part of Lancaster County.

The three of us sat at the table, a map spread out in front of us, and a plan being formed for that evening and the next day. The day ahead, they assured me, could take me anywhere I’d like to go. Each time I was asked if I had been to one location or another, my response was “not yet,” to which Sam exclaimed, “We need to get you out of the city!” A few minutes into our planning, I knew this to be true.

Sam and Ginger are determined to direct their guests to the best the area has to offer, providing them with the ultimate Lancaster County experience. Sam and Ginger both grew up Amish, Sam locally and Ginger in York County. I trusted their judgment in all things Amish, although I knew I was not the typical guest they usually entertain. They told me I could pet calves and eat ice cream, buy dry goods for my upcoming camping trip, or have dinner with an Amish family. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go… all I knew was that I needed food. My stomach was growling. Prepared with a list of restaurants, a description for each, and directions, we let my tummy do the talking. It took me to a local diner, one of Sam and Ginger’s favorite places.

Enter the scenic drive through the countryside, the juxtaposition between modern day lifestyle and a simpler way of life. I passed an Amish family plowing their garden, a young boy perched atop a horse with a second child guiding, the rest of the siblings ready and prepared to sow the earth. Around the next bend, I passed a group of “English” teenagers smoking and gathered around a motorcycle, slightly disheveled and appearing bored. A bit further down, a young, pig-tailed Amish girl ran towards the road, waving enthusiastically. Something simple and beautiful, I thought, as I waved back.

My dinner was no less extraordinary. However, I felt much like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: totally out of my element, stepping into some alternate reality. Clad in fake Wayfairers and noisy bangles, I took my seat and ordered an iced tea. My meal consisted of a cheeseburger with coleslaw. A regular, Roger, caught me laughing at a text message and struck up conversation. He sat one booth away, but we faced one another as we dined and laughed. He had chicken with a side salad. Soon I said my goodbyes and was on the road again, headed back to test out the air conditioning I had been eyeing up during the tour.

As darkness set in, I used the flashlight cleverly attached to my room key to guide my way towards the house and found my way to my room. I flipped on the switch, tossed off my shoes, and tested out the bed. Covered in a beautiful quilt, I slipped down into the sheets: pure heaven. The sheets were incredibly soft, the pillows just right. I had a TV, but no bother, I was inspired to keep it simple that evening. I read through Sam and Ginger’s Welcome/Guest Book. I peeked through the organized book of things to do in the area, imagining for a moment I was on really vacation. This would be a nice place, I thought, as I dozed off to the hum of the cool, condensed air.

The morning was no less homey. Breakfast was served promptly at 8:30 AM, and I was dying for a cup off coffee from the fancy machine Ginger had pointed out the day before. I hopped in the shower, pleasantly surprised to find a massaging showerhead, perfect for that kink in my neck I had developed over the last days of sitting in front of my computer. As I toweled off, I noticed the little touches around my room. Local goat’s milk lotion, beautiful furniture, and hand-painted signs. I made my way downstairs to the breakfast room table, surprised to see two more guests. I knew they were there, but I hadn’t heard a peep. Skip and Terry were from Maryland and here to spend some time in an area where people lived a simpler lifestyle. I guess we all needed to get away.

Breakfast was amazing and the coffee hit the spot. Ginger had left cheese off my side of my frittata, thoughtful of my random dietary issues we had discussed the night before. Amish nut butter, a delicious traditional cheese spread, sausage, and venison scrapple. The majority of the ingredients came from friends or neighbors aside from the potatoes, but I didn’t care. It was incredible. The Stoltzfus’, Ginger’s mother, Skip, Terry, and I sat around the table talking about our plans for the day, telling a little bit about ourselves, and sharing a meal together much like friends and family. After the plates were cleared, Skip and Terry said good-bye, and I headed upstairs to pack my bag.

The care with which Ginger and Sam had taken to expose the beauty of their historic home, uncovering wooden beams and pitted bricks, was the same care they gave to me to reveal the potential of my stay. As they led me from room to room, the mansion to the carriage house, I could see the love and care they bestowed upon their property. It was no accident they bestowed the same love and care onto me. I had assumed I’d just be spending the night in a different bed, with some air-conditioning, and a warm, morning shower. Instead I felt at home, with friends and family to share a meal with, a little ginger cat to rest in my lap, and laundry list of things I wanted to do in the area the moment I had time to spare.

Jocelyn Park moved to Lancaster in 2012 from Media, PA. Having traveled to various cities around the world, this one felt more like home than ever. When not planning creative events and blogging for Transplant, Jocelyn is a freelance graphic designer throwing good vibes and design out into the world around her.  www.jocelynpark.com | lancastertransplant.com

5 Reasons Lancaster is an RV destination

Country villages, unforgettable landscapes and the simple joys of Amish life are just three of the many reasons to visit Lancaster County by RV. The family-centered attractions of Pennsylvania Dutch Country make it easy to bring the kids along on your journey. Here are five fascinating reasons to start planning a Lancaster County adventure for the whole family.

  1. Kitchen Kettle Village, a delightful collection of vintage homes filled with goody-filled shops, is located in Intercourse, PA. Take the family on a buggy ride, stop for a memorable lunch at the Kling House Restaurant and purchase local specialties as you stroll through the village shops. Be sure to take the kids to the Bake Shop for freshly-baked cookies and whoopie pies!
  2. It wouldn’t be a Lancaster County adventure without a side trip or two to photograph the area’s many covered bridges. Enduring structures like the White Rock Forge Covered Bridge near Quarryville and the Forry Mill Bridge over Chickies Creek near Marietta draw photographers from all over the world. CoveredBridgeSite.com contains an excellent guide to Lancaster County’s historic bridges.
  3. Take the Old Philadelphia Pike to the village of Bird-in-Hand to experience the joys of a farmers’ market. Vendor stalls line the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market every weekend year-round, and their hours are expanded during warmer weather. Comfortable indoor shopping in a quaint setting with something everyone in the family will enjoy — the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. An RV travel tip: just five minutes out of town you’ll find Country Acres Campground, a highly-rated RV paradise waiting to be your home away from home.
  4. Follow Lincoln Highway over rolling hills dotted with neat and prosperous Amish farms to find Flory’s Cottages and Camping in the borough of Ronks, PA. Not only will your RV camping family enjoy the serenity of this rural campground, they’ll also love such local attractions as Lapp’s Wooden Toys and Furniture on Irishtown Road.

We’ve barely scratched the surface on why RV travelers should be planning a Lancaster County road trip! Whether your family comes for the quaint villages, glorious scenery or exceptional lessons in history, Pennsylvania Dutch Country doesn’t disappoint. There’s a Lancaster County adventure for the whole family waiting for you in South Central Pennsylvania.

Guest post by: Joe Laing, the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty’s Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their RV Camping Pictures.

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