Category Archives: Kids & Family

Ten Things to do in Lancaster County this October

From spooky to sweet, fall fun is in full swing this October in Lancaster, PA. Fall foliage is also at it’s peak, making this season an especially beautiful one across the sprawling farmlands and by the river. Get ready for some festive fun and start planning with our round-up of to-dos.

Fall on the Farm

Farmers are hard at work as crops become ready for harvest. Experience the activities of this season at two of Lancaster’s heritage attractions.

Harvest Days at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum showcase fall with demonstrations, exhibits, live music and horse-drawn wagon rides, October 8-9. Watch as a harvest gem, the humble apple, gets transformed into apple butter, and treat yourself to a cider float with fresh-churned ice cream.

In addition to their classic 1805 Amish farmhouse, Amish Farm and House offers family-fun harvest activities including pumpkin painting, a corn maze, hay wagon rides, and more during their Fall Farm Days. From October 7 through 10, families can learn about Amish life while they enjoy demonstrations, from woodcarving to applesauce making.

Treats over Tricks

Those who prefer treats to tricks will love these events around the county and beyond. Get your costumes ready, it’s time for trick-or-treat fun.

Trick-or-Treat through vintage vehicles at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum’s Trunk-or-Treat event, October 22. Children 12 and under will receive treats at stops around the museum, and guests of all ages can enjoy a Halloween-themed video in the indoor Drive-in theater.

Treats will be plentiful at Turkey Hill Experience during their Trick-or-Treat event, October 22-23 and 29-30. There will be 13 stops around the Experience – 6 are free while others do require paid admission. While you’re there, discover all the ice cream and tea-themed fun Turkey Hill Experience has to offer.

Dutch Wonderland transforms into a spook-tacular, family-friendly wonderland for three weekends, October 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30. Happy Hauntings is a safe, non-scary event featuring themed ride, games, and even the opportunity to trick-or-treat with over 20 lifelike dinosaurs on Exploration Island.

Spine-Chilling To-Dos

For a tour of the spooky side of Lancaster County, hop on a scooter with Strasburg Scooters! Their Spooky Scoot tour will give you the chance to buzz around the back roads and experience folklore and hair-raising stops.

If you’re looking for a tour of a spookier sort, discover the mysteries and tales from the past on a candlelight walking tour of Downtown with The Ghost Tour of Lancaster. Ghost Tours are also available in Strasburg for more haunted history.

Select Thursdays and Fridays in October, Rock Ford Plantation dives into the eerie story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with Spooky Hollow: The Legend Comes to Rock Ford. Guests can follow the characters of the classic play as they move from room to room in the historic mansion that will be transformed into the story’s autumn ball setting.

Unique Happenings

Victorian meets industrial at Strasburg Rail Road® with their Steampunk unLimited event, October 14-16. The three-day festival features entertainment, fashion, vendors, sideshows, food and more, all celebrating the steampunk culture. While you’re there, enjoy the restored Victorian rail cars and historic charm of America’s oldest short line railroad.

For the art lovers, Fall ArtWalk will take place in Downtown Lancaster October 8 through 9. Explore Lancaster’s gallery scene with this self-guided walking tour, featuring meet-the-artist events, special activities, demonstrations and more.

 

Make a Friend in Lancaster, PA

Make-A-Friend Workshop allows kids of all ages to create a one-of-a-kind memento of their trip to Lancaster County. From wooden toys to Amish dolls, your child will enjoy this hands-on activity, and will love showing off their creation with pride.

The friend-making process begins by choosing a doll, either male or female, with a variety of hair colors to choose from. Then, clothes are chosen for the doll. The Amish-style dresses and shirts come in a variety of colors, from dark to light. Each piece is sewn with care and features snaps, much like real Amish clothes. Lastly, children get to pick a name card for their doll. The names, many traditional Amish names, are listed along with their meanings. The children can sign and date their card, remembering when they made their new friend.

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The doll with a dress or shirt and pants along with the name card is $25, and accessories like bonnets, aprons, hats and vests, are available to add to the doll, ranging from $8 to $12.

For the little carpenter, wooden toys like trains, barns and airplanes, can be built using hammers, nails, and wooden pieces. Kids will love making their very own wooden toy, which range from $17 to $25.

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Make-a-Friend Workshop also carried doll cribs, and rocking chairs and Amish-style dress for children, all unique mementos from Lancaster County.

You’ll find Make-a-Friend Workshop next to the petting zoo and playground in Kitchen Kettle Village. Through September and October, they’re open Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, as well as on Columbus Day.

Visit MakeAFriendWorkshop.net for more information.

Bring on Back-to-School!

Lancaster County is back to school, and the crisp days of autumn are right around the corner. Everyone is settling back into routines of homework, activities, and sports. To keep up the excitement and anticipation of a new “school day” why not add some of these fall recipes to your daily routine or lunch box repertoire.

With the help from The Australian Walkabout Inn B&B, Harvest Moon B&B, and King’s Cottage B&B, Discover Lancaster has gathered some easy-to-make recipes for weekday breakfasts and lunchtime snacks. These seasonal treats are a great excuse to head over to Central Market, or your favorite produce stand to pick up some fresh, local ingredients.

We also have some County-themed lunch box notes to tuck in with your treats. They are guaranteed to bring a smile to any little face- making a case of the Mondays, or a tough math test a little better.

Here’s to a happy and healthy school year!

September – A Month of Fairs & Festivals

Fairs, festivals, and harvest events are plentiful as fall begins in Lancaster County. The air begins to get crisper, and the weekends are filled with autumn fun.

Whoopie!

It’s time to celebrate a favorite Lancaster County sweet treat – the whoopie pie! Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn hosts their annual Whoopie Pie Festival on September 10, complete with a whoopie pie eating contest, a treasure hunt, and the chance to see the largest whoopie pie ever made.

With over 100 whoopie pie flavors to sample, festival-goers can snack on the classic combinations like chocolate with vanilla cream and pumpkin, or try unique match-ups like strawberry with vanilla crème and carrot cake. New for this year –

Sweet festivities take place from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and admission is free.

Fiesta!

Held in Downtown Lancaster on September 11, the 4th Annual Latin American Cultural Festival honors the cultures, customs, art, and cuisine of Latin American countries. Folk dances and live music will be performed on the stage in Binn’s Park. Bring the whole family for arts & crafts and activities for children in the kid’s corner.

This celebration takes place from 2:00 to 9:00 PM, and admission is free.

Touchdown!

Football season means it’s time for tailgating! Kitchen Kettle Village commemorates the beginning of the sport’s season with their Tailgating Festival, featuring tasty snacks and family fun along the village walk ways. There will be tasty tailgating food samples, cooking demonstrations, a bounce house, pumpkin bowling, live music, and even a parade through the village.

Wear your favorite team jersey and head over to this free event that will take place on Friday, September 16 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Saturday, September 17 from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM.

Tic-Toc!

On September 24, National Watch and Clock Museum is hosting its second annual Cloktoberfest, alongside Smithsonian Magazine’s Free Museum Day. This fall-themed event consists of behind-the-scenes museum tours, clock and watch evaluations, make-and-take a clock workshops, steampunk fashion show, book sales, silent auction, food trucks, beer, and more.

Perfect for lovers of history and all things horological, this event takes place from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Fair Time!

Town fairs are plentiful during September across the county, boasting agricultural exhibits, contests, rides, parades, and fair food. Community is celebrated through parades and exhibits where vegetables, fruits, canned goods, arts & crafts, and more are displayed for viewing. Get ready for some sure-fire entertainment, family fun, and fantastic food.

Streets and fairgrounds are transformed into social hubs in the following towns this month: York (September 9-18), Denver (September 13-17), Solanco (September 14-16), Ephrata (September 20-24), West Lampeter (September 28-30) and New Holland (September 28 – October 1).

So whether you’re local or visiting from out-of-town, there’s plenty to do in Lancaster County this month! For a complete list, visit our online events calendar.

Happy Autumn!

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!

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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.

10+ Things to Do in Lancaster County in August

There’s still plenty of time to enjoy the splendors of summer in Lancaster County. Plan some last minute fun with the kids before school starts or enjoy a weekend girlfriend’s getaway.

Kid-Friendly Festivities:

Happy Birthday to Kitchen Kettle Village’s beloved gingerbread man mascot, Yummie! Join Yummie and his friends for a family fun birthday party, featuring a petting zoo, pony rides, pedal cart rides and samplings of Kitchen Kettle’s tasty jams, pickles and more. This event is best suited for children 10 and under. Before the festivities begin, party-goers can enjoy a breakfast buffet filled with Lancaster County favorites. Tickets are required for the pre-party breakfast, and can be purchased online.

Thomas is coming back to town – Thomas the Tank Engine™ that is! August 27th through September 4th, Strasburg Rail Road® will host their Day Out with Thomas™ event, featuring a train ride with Thomas, storytelling and more. Thomas won’t be traveling alone, as his friend Percy will be joining in the festivities too. Tickets can be purchased for the August and November Day Out with Thomas™ events online.

For the Art-lovers:

If you’re a fan of arts and crafts, you’ll love the art show line up this month in Lancaster County.

Shank’s Mare Outfitters hosts their annual Art & Outdoor show on August 6, featuring local artists who will be displaying and selling their works along the Susquehanna River. Local non-profit outdoor, historic, and cultural organizations will also be displaying information on their activities and programs. Show-goers can enjoy activities throughout the day.

Drawing 700 crafters from throughout the United States and Canada, the Rotary Club of Lititz Craft Show will be held along East Main Street, Broad Street and in Lititz Springs Park on August 13.

A weekend of art comes to Mt. Gretna, August 20 and 21, and features a plethora of artists, exhibitors, live music and delicious food options. Stroll the show grounds as you take in art of all kinds and activities for all ages.

Educational Family Fun:

From history to the arts and science, there are plenty of fun ways to learn in Lancaster County.

Little history buffs will love the Stories-on-the-Porch series at Rock Ford Plantation, August 3, 10 and 17. Geared towards children 3 to 7, this free program features a Rock Ford volunteer in 18th century period dress reading a story on the porch of the mansion. Following the story, children will enjoy a game or craft and light snack.

The First Friday in August brings art to the North Museum of Nature & Science with their new exhibition. The STEAM Art Gallery features creations by local artists whose work is inspired science and nature. Kids can connect with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and the exhibition with a scavenger hunt activity. On August 5, guests can experience the museum after hours, interact with the artists and enjoy light refreshments during the First Friday Exhibition Opening.

Brews Galore:

Beer lovers will love the ale-centric festivals scheduled in Lancaster this month.

Columbia celebrates brews with Rivertown Hops on August 6 along Locust Street. With over 40 brewers, live music and food vendors, Rivertown Hops promises an afternoon of beer sampling and tasty food.

Lancaster City celebrates ales, ciders, stouts and more during the annual Lancaster Craft Beer Fest on August 27 in Binn’s Park. Last year’s festival featured 64 breweries (both local and natioanlly know), food vendors and live music, combining for an afternoon of fun in Downtown Lancaster.

Going Once, Going Twice:

Mud Sales and auctions are back with three consignment sales in August.

To benefit the work of the Mennonite Central Committee, the Gap Relief Sale will be held on August 13 at the Solanco Fairgrounds. This annual community auction features quilts and a variety of items, plus delicious food available for purchase.

On August 20, the Intercourse Fire Company Consignment Auction will be held at the Intercourse Fire Company. The following weekend, the Bareville Fire Company Consignment Auction will be held in Leola at the Bareville Fire Company.

And that’s just the short list! For a complete list of the events happening in Lancaster County in August and beyond, visit our online events calendar. Happy travels!

Lancaster County Car B-I-N-G-O!

Lancaster County Car Bingo is here! This handy car game will turn “are we there yet?” into a thing of the past, as kids keep their eyes out for commonly spotted items around the county. The passenger parent can even play along for family fun as you explore Lancaster.

Whether you’re driving in the country or city or a little bit of both, keep your eyes out and cross items off as you find them. Traditionally, five items in a row (diagonally, straight across or up-and-down) equals BINGO, but if you want more of a challenge, try to find all 24 items on the card. Your car, your rules!

Some items can be found on signs, while others can be found in the fields or along the road.

Before you hit the road, download and print the bingo cards for your kids, and get ready for a fun-filled drive around the county.

For little ones (age 3-6)

For older kids (ages 7+) – Version A

For older kids (ages 7+) – Version B

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…

When in Amish Country…

Driving along the country roads in Lancaster County, you are bound to see and share the road with plenty of horse and buggies, but have you ever thought about what it’s like to travel in one? Growing up in Lancaster County, I’ve wondered what this alternative form of transportation is like. I finally got the chance to find out with a buggy ride at Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides, located just outside of Bird-in-Hand.

My daughter, who has been fascinated with horse and buggies since she could look out the car windows, came along on this adventure with me. The weather the morning of our ride was absolutely perfect, with abundant blue sky and even a refreshing breeze. Aaron & Jessica’s was quite easy to find, as it’s located right off of Old Philadelphia Pike, neighboring Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant and Amish Experience Theater (a convenient stop for after your buggy ride to learn more information on the Amish or a home-style meal).

We met our driver, Ben, as we climbed up into the buggy and took a seat on the benches that are along the windows of the buggy. It was certainly cozy, but with the open windows it was quite comfortable.

As we hit the open road, Ben told us more about his family and Amish background, and introduced our horse, Al, who walked and trotted along the country road. As we passed fruit trees and fields of alfalfa wheat and corn, Ben talked more about the farming customs here in Lancaster County. He was happy to answer questions that we had along the way, and was enjoyable to talk to. My daughter was taking in the sites, looking out the windows as we rode down the driveway towards the farm we were stopping at.

Upon pulling up to the farm, we were greeted by a young Amish girl who told us about the homemade cookies, honey mustard pretzels, root beer and fresh squeezed lemonade they had available for sale that day. To satisfy our sweet tooth, we chose a bag of fresh chocolate chip cookies and a root beer. The cookies looked delicious, and we couldn’t wait to take a bite.

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While on the farm, Ben told us about Amish farms, houses and little more about family life. Even though I have lived here the majority of my life, I learned so much about the Amish community from Ben, and was so thankful he was willing to share his stories.

We headed back to the roads, chatting, learning and enjoying a cookie along the way. The farm looked beautiful from the road, especially with the clear skies and green fields. At 8 to 10 miles per hour, traveling by horse and buggy is significantly slower than traveling by car, but it was far less bumpy than I anticipated. Nature provided us with refreshing “air-conditioning” as Al trotted along the road.

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The buggy ride was a unique experience, and a must do if you’re looking to learn more about life on the farm. We went on a 30-minute ride which was an ideal amount of time for a young child, but Aaron & Jessica’s does offer longer rides that include a tour of the farm. Reservations aren’t required for regular rides, but they must be made for private tours.

Learn more about Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides and stop by for a buggy ride next time you’re in Lancaster!

A Refreshing Flight through the Trees

Lancaster County is full of unexpected attractions to experience and things to see. Beyond the farmland are rolling hills, an ideal home for a woodland retreat such as Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center.

I traveled off of the roads I was familiar with, igniting my sense of adventure. Upon arriving and getting out of the car, I was greeted with fresh mountain air that was slightly cool after a passing spring shower. Let the adventure begin!

There is really so much to do at Refreshing Mountain. For those who are daring and not afraid of an off-the-ground adventure, they have two zip lining courses – the Challenge Adventure course and Aerial Excursion Course. I opted for the Challenge Adventure course because that course features five zip lines PLUS nine rope course elements. They certainly don’t use the word “challenge” lightly – the rope course elements tested my balance, strength and mental stamina but in the end, I’m glad I set fear aside and tried them. From swinging from one platform to another on a foot propelled swing to a challenge they call “the monkey vine,” I think I can safely say this is the closest thing to tightrope walking that I will ever do. After conquering half the challenge elements, it was time to fly through the trees.

If you’d rather spend more time zipping from tree to tree, the Aerial Excursion Course features seven zip lines, double the length of the Challenge Adventure course, along with three sky bridges.

With a harness, helmet, and knowledgeable guides, I felt safe even 60 feet off the ground. The zip lining tour guides were kind and not only ready to teach, but also to answer questions as we went along. They gave clear instructions which helped me feel confident and safe.

For those who’d rather stick to adventure of the ground, there are plenty of things to experience including a hands-on reptile exhibit, playground, swimming pool, pedal cars and more. New for this year, Refreshing Mountain is offering three different Adventure Packages which give families or groups the option to do a variety of activities. Each package features three to four activities that highlight different aspects of nature and adventure.

The Explorer Package includes the Climbing Tower, Pedal Cars, Paintball Targets & Archery.

The Discovery Package includes the Hands-on Reptile Exhibit, GPS Nature Hunt, Sling Shots & Archery.

The Horse Rides & Farm Animal Experience includes the opportunity to pet, groom and learn safety around horses, a hand-led horse ride and time with other farm animals.

My experience was both exhilarating and refreshing as I got to try something new while enjoying nature’s beauty. The thrill of flying through the trees is best experienced by discovering it for yourself! Learn more about Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center and book your excursion today.

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