Category Archives: Regions

Snow Geese at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

If you have not been to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, it is certainly worth the trip any time of year, but especially now! Sometime in late February to early March the lake is can be found filled with beautiful snow geese and tundra swans.

The birds use the WMA as a resting place on their returning migration back north, some traveling as far as Canada for nesting. This year has been a particularly good year for bird watching due to the mild winter- the grounds are mostly unfrozen for feeding, and so is the 400-acre lake. It was estimated on Sunday, February 19, that there were approximately 50,000 to 70,000 birds at Middle Creek.

It is best to go see the birds in the evening around sunset when they are making their way from the fields to the lake for the night (or vice versa at sunrise, if you are an early riser… they do say the early bird catches the worm). If you are lucky you will catch the birds lifting off the lake in a similar fashion to a murmuration of starlings. It is mesmerizing to watch them skillfully swirl around the air and then land gracefully back on the water.

If you are interested it visiting be sure to check the park website or call for information on their hours and which areas of the park are open to the public. Also, be sure to ask the bird count, since they are wild animals they do not make reservations to stay for a certain length of time. They may be there one day and gone the next! If you do have the opportunity to go it truly is a memorable experience which makes you stop think about how as humans we live in the environments and ecosystems of all nature’s creatures.

Insider’s tips:
– Wear comfortable walking shoes, there is a bit of a hike out to the point.
– Bring binoculars if you have them, since they are wild birds you can only get so close.
– Dress warmly, it can get quite windy near the lake.
– Don’t set your expectations too high, they are wild animals so if they don’t feel like flying they won’t.
– Be respectful of the park and natural environments, walk and explore in only designated areas.

Website: http://www.pgc.pa.gov/InformationResources/AboutUs/ContactInformation/Southeast/MiddleCreekWildlifeManagementArea/Pages/default.aspx

Phone number: 717-733-1512

 

Tomato Pie Café

Have you ever wanted to be transported to Luke’s Diner in Stars Hollow, or the lunch counter of a Norman Rockwell painting? Try eating at the Tomato Pie Café in Lititz! This quaint eatery is a favorite watering hole among locals and visitors alike. No matter what time of day, it is always busy. Once inside amongst the delicious smells and cozy atmosphere you can’t help but feel a little cheerier; the perfect atmosphere for catching up with a friend.

Everything on the menu is delicious, but a slice of tomato pie is their specialty. Tomato pie, the namesake of the café, is an original family recipe consisting of seasoned red tomatoes baked in a flakey pie crust and covered with a cheesy topping. Slices are available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and makes a savory meal for any time of day. The café also has a full expresso bar with a selection of coffees, lattes, smoothies, and teas. If you haven’t been tempted so far, just wait until you see the dessert counter- everything is baked in town at the Bakery at the Cupboard. In additional to the standard menu, specials change monthly so there is always something new to try.

Next time you are in Lititz be sure to stop by, but allow for extra time to be blocked out of your schedule- you will end up staying for a while.

Hours:

Monday – Saturday: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm

Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Things to Do in February

The winter chill is still in the air, but that doesn’t stop the fun in Lancaster! From two exciting festivals to the first Mud Sale of the season, you’re sure to find something unique to make your trip one to remember.

Festive Festivals

Lititz presents their Fire & Ice Festival over President’s Day Weekend (February 17-20) featuring ice sculptures, great food, live entertainment and activities throughout the weekend. To contrast the frosty ice sculptures, a Chili Cook Off is held on Saturday alongside the Winter Wonderland Carnival and Vendor Fair.

The sweet, sweet sounds of roots and blues music will fill the air of Downtown Lancaster during the three day Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival, February 24-26. The 2017 lineup includes over 50 artists performing at 8 venues throughout the city. A variety of ticket options are available, from one to three day tickets along with VIP and Under 21 options.

Dinner with Your Sweetheart

To celebrate the day of love, join the Vineyard at Grandview for a five course wine pairing Valentine Dinner that will infuse your holiday with romance. Delicious dishes are paired with the vineyard’s wines made on location. Mark your calendars for February 10 and reserve your seats today.

For the craft beer lovers, the General Sutter Inn presents a Beer & Food Tasting dinner featuring Founders Brewing Company on February 27. For $38 per person, you’ll enjoy courses paired with brews that will have your tasty buds buzzing. With the popularity of this event, reservations are required.

If PA Dutch style cooking is what you’re craving, Bird-in-Hand Fire Company is hosting their first Chicken Pot Pie Dinner of 2017. They are serving up all-you-can-eat chicken pot pie, peas, pepper cabbage, rolls, desserts, and more from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM (or until they sell out) on February 25. It’s the perfect PA Dutch meal to fill your belly on cold day.

Bring Your Boots

Mud Sale season kicks off on Saturday, February 25 with the Strasburg Mud Sale. Whether you’re looking for great bargains on antiques, crafts, furniture and quilts or spectating and enjoying the wonderful food, be sure to remember your boots. These events are classically muddy as they are held as the ground begins to thaw.

Gimme Some Sugar

So sweet – it’s time for Maple Sugaring at Lancaster County Park. On-going demonstrations in the sugar bush of the park will be held on Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26. Learn about the process from tree tapping to boiling to making the sweet product into candy. Maple products will be on sale for you to take tasty treats home to share.

Arts & History  

Browse Charles Demuth-inspired art at the Demuth Museum’s annual exhibition featuring Lancaster area artists. “Valentines for Demuth” invites Lancaster area artists to create works inspired by his work, 1896 Valentine. Works will be on display from February 4 to 26.

Rock Ford Plantation invites children ages 4 and up and their parents to celebrate the first President of the United States, George Washington. Enjoy cake and ice cream with Mr. Washington, enjoy crafts and games, and learn why we continue to celebrate his birthday. Reservations are required for this February 26th event.

For a complete list of events in February and beyond, click here

What Exactly is a Long John?

While browsing the bakeries, sweet shops, and market stands, you may come across a doughnut that looks a lot like an éclair – but with a different name.

In Lancaster County and various areas across the country, these bar-shaped donuts are called Long Johns, and boy are they delicious! Not to be confused with the long undergarment worn on cold days, Long Johns are rectangular, yeasted doughnuts that are either filled or unfilled and topped with a variety of icing flavors.

If you’re looking to sink your teeth into one of these tasty pastries, you can find one (or a dozen) here:

  • Achenbach’s: Dubbed the “Home of the Long John,” Achenbach’s is celebrating over 60 years of baking goods from scratch. Choose from vanilla, chocolate or peanut butter icing or even a Long John cakes for special occasions. Stop by on your birthday for a free Long John – sweet!
  • Shady Maple: If you happen to be at Central Market or at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, a unique Long John is just steps away. You’ll find the sweet and salty Maple Bacon Long John, topped with maple icing and strips of smoky bacon, and the straight-up-sweet Better Cream Long John, filled with light cream.

Bon appetite!

Sources: Eater.com, “Everything You Need to Know About the Great American Doughnut” 5/28/2015

Girl’s Night at Art and a Bottle

Looking for a new girl’s night activity or a stress-free creative outlet? Look no further than Art and a Bottle in Lititz.

My sister and I were invited to attend one of their paint night classes where we would be painting a popular fall piece – four jars with fall-colored flowers. When we arrived, we checked in and settled at our table with a bottle of wine. The staff encourages those attending to bring wine, snacks, and beverages to enjoy during the class, which is nice to have since the classes last from two to three hours.

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Art and a Bottle provides the painting supplies, from the paint and canvas to aprons and paint brushes. Before we even started to paint, the instructor told us a little more about the painting we would be completing and described the brushes we were going to use. This was a HUGE help for someone who isn’t very art savvy (that would be me).

When we were ready to put paint on the canvas, the instructor skillfully guided us through mixing colors and gave us painting tips and techniques that would help even a beginning artist or someone with no painting experience create a painting similar to the example. Between instruction, music played and instructors walked around to answer questions as we painted. The instructor encouraged creativity and suggested ways we could make the painting our own – from different flower colors to spelling a different word on the jars.

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The two hour class flew by, and we finished our beautiful hand-painted creations that we were able to take with us that evening. The class was fun, stress-free and a great way to hang out with my sister, while creating a painting I am proud to hang in my home.

In addition to paint night classes, Art and a Bottle also hosts open studio hours, where you can create a canvas painting, drink coasters, photo boxes and more! The studio can also be reserved for events such as birthday parties, bachelorette parties, family gatherings, etc.

For more information and to take a look at their upcoming class schedule, visit artandabottle.com.

Fly High at Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Whether you are five or 55, Sky Zone is the perfect place to unwind and have fun jumping on trampolines that line the floor and walls. Every Friday night, Sky Zone hosts a GlowZone Night. During this two-hour time period, guests of all ages jump in the dark with glow lights.

My friends and I decided to forget about the stress of college and experience the GlowZone. When we arrived at Sky zone in Lancaster, we went through a quick and smooth process to fill out a waiver, sign-in and receive a complementary neon t-shirt to wear throughout the evening. The building was filled with immense energy as everyone waited in anticipation to begin jumping on the trampolines. At 7 p.m., the DJ began playing music and the count down began to turn the lights off. As soon as the lights went off, everyone was free to jump around and be illuminated by the glow lights. The trampoline area is divided into four different sections, dodge ball, foam pit, a basketball slam-dunk area and free jump. All of these areas had trampoline elements incorporated within them. Although there were so many activities to do, we spent most of our evening jumping into the foam pit.

My friends and I had just as much fun as the younger kids running around. Sky Zone does a great job of ensuring all ages are able to comfortably participate, including having separate jumping areas for different age groups. Thanks to Sky Zone, we were able to feel…and act…like kids again!

Scooting around Lancaster’s Back Roads

On a beautiful fall day, the Discover Lancaster team took to the back roads of southern Lancaster County, not by car, buggy or bus, but by scooter! We met at Strasburg Scooters for a unique adventure, and were excited to see the fall foliage, covered bridges and farmland from a new perspective.

After a safety lesson and a few practice laps around the block, our group set off for our three-hour Covered Bridge tour, ready for the sights that were waiting to be discovered. Our scooters buzzed as we made our way up and down rolling hills. The foliage glowed in the warm sun. The wind, especially as we made our way through open roads, made for a chilly ride, but the experience made braving the cold worth it.

As we buzzed towards our first stop, we were guided around the curves and wooded back roads, dotted with beautiful fall-colored trees. Our guide signaled our first stop at a covered bridge, where we got off our scooters for a history lesson and a photo opportunity. After warming our hands and observing the architecture of the bridge, we hit the road again, headed towards our next two stops, a vista then an Amish farm.

Our guide knew the backgrounds well, and our caravan was greeted by Amish children at each schoolhouse we passed. When they heard the scooters coming around the bend or over the hill, they ran to the fence, greeted our guide and scrambled to collect the candy he tossed to them.

We pulled in to the Amish farm house and had the opportunity to tour their barn, meet the horses and learn more about Amish lifestyle and tradition. It was a great chance to learn more about the Amish, before hitting the road for our last stop.

Our final stop before heading back to base was another covered bridge, slightly narrower than the first, with more history to learn about. After snapping a few group photos to commemorate our adventure, we followed our trusty guide back to the starting point.

While our ride was quite cold, we were thrilled by journey we took around the county. If you’re looking to see the farmlands and the less traveled back roads, check out Strasburg Scooters. During the summer, they host a variety of tours including the Covered Bridge Tour, Date Night Tour, Bridge and Beer Tour, Amish Country Mystery Tour and more. Their fall tours include a Spooky Scoot, while winter features Scootin’ with Santa.

Tips:
– Be sure to check the weather and dress accordingly. We anticipated cooler weather and dressed in layers plus brought hats and gloves and even hand warmers! If you warm up along the way, there is space in the seat area of the scooter to store extra layers.
– Have your camera or phone charged and ready. Historic bridges and beautiful views await, and you’ll want to be sure to capture them when you stop to enjoy.
– Ask questions! The Strasburg Scooter guides have a wealth of knowledge about the bridges, Amish farm life, and the county itself, and are happy to share information along the way.
– If you don’t feel comfortable driving a single seat scooter, opt for a Scoot Coupe which look like small convertibles. They have three wheels for extra stability, and seat two people.

Zolé Art Factory

Want to do something creative, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Do all the projects you seen on social media seem too “Pinterest-Perfect”? Or perhaps you aren’t sure what gift to get for someone? Try heading over to Zolé Art Factory for one of their many art classes! Zolé offers classes each month in painting, pottery, photography quilting, and sewing. Every class is professionally instructed by thoughtful and encouraging teachers, that are patient with everyone from beginners to experts.

You can also attend “Canvas and Wine” parties, or book your own private event for groups of adults or children. Zolé is perfect for birthday parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, team building, or holiday events. Upon arrival, you cannot help but feel right at home, the atmosphere is so cozy and inviting. Large communal tables are great for talking and sharing paint with others.

If painting canvases is not quite your style, you can also paint a pottery piece of your choice. They have a large variety of items to choose from, including seasonal items like turkeys or Christmas ornaments, to dishware, or even Disney characters. Be sure to check their website for upcoming events and see what seasonal projects or classes are available for you to get your creative on!

Down on the Farm at Hands-on House

After our last trip to Hands-on House Children’s Museum this winter, my daughter couldn’t wait to visit again. We often talked about how much fun we had playing in the grocery store and factory, and would mention things we would do next time we got the chance to visit. When we heard they have a new exhibit celebrating farming in Lancaster County, we knew it was time to go back.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we ventured to Hands-on House for some fun (plus a little learning). After playing in our favorite exhibit, “Corner Grocery”, we decided to explore their newest area, “Little Valley Farm,” a farm-focused area that allows little ones to explore agriculture through hands-on activities.

Kids can make the connection between farms and the food they eat through interactive stations. One activity that we were drawn to was one where we could plant seeds, read about how vegetables are grown, then pick the vegetables. Kids are also able to pick, count, and sort apples.

In the “Little Valley Farm” barn, there are animals to learn about and feed, along with a hayloft to climb in. Chickens can also be found on the farm, where kids can count and pack eggs from the hen house.

“Little Valley Farm” is a wonderful addition to Hands-on House, and offers fun farm-focused activities for children ages 2 to 10. While you visit, be sure to visit all of their exhibits plus their outdoor playground area, filled with fun and learning. Admission for the museum is $9.50 for children and adults. Family memberships, starting at $99 per year are available for families planning to visit more than once or twice.

Full Moon Tour at Wolf Sanctuary of PA

Are you looking for a unique way to spend an evening, completely different from your usual Saturday night? Try heading over to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA for a Full Moon Tour!

These tours happen once a month on the Saturday evening closest to the full moon and are open to anyone 16 years of age or older. Walk through the sanctuary at your own pace moving from pack to pack and learn loads of interesting facts about the wolfs in each family- you may even be lucky enough to hear a bark or howl from the wolves themselves (although you will learn, it is not actually the moon they howl at!). This event is perfect for anyone with a fascination in wildlife, nature, or conservation. All the volunteers at each station are very knowledgeable and will answer any question guests ask as best they can. They also know the story of each wolf and how it ended up at the sanctuary- the majority of them are rescues!

Be sure to stop by the bonfire in the center of the sanctuary to warm up, roast some hot dogs or marshmallows, and just relax taking in the awesome experience you are a part of. It is a great way to enjoy being outdoors in the presence of an awesome species!

Note: If you are interested in visiting but have children under 16 years of age you can still visit the Sanctuary for one of the daytime tours. Admission for the Full Moon Tours is $20 per person, and your payment goes towards the care of the wolves (food, vet bills, facility maintenance, etc.)

Local’s Tips:

– Order tickets in advance online, or arrive early- this event tends to draw a crowd
– Make sure everyone in your party is 16 years of age or older
– Bring a flashlight and wear sneakers or comfortable shoes, you do quite a bit of walking and the ground is uneven in spots.
– Bring your own hot dogs, s’mores, roasting sticks, and blankets or chairs for the bonfire
– Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions, you can learn a lot!

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