Category Archives: Next-door Neighbors

PADCVB Members that are not within the county limits

Gretna Theatre

Are you a movie or theater lover, but can’t stand the idea of spending a beautiful evening inside? The Gretna Theatre is the perfect spot for you! Located in Mt. Gretna near the lake this outdoor theater puts on spectacular summer productions. The Chautauqua playhouse has continuously operating since 1892, bringing Broadway to our own backyard since 1927. Mt. Gretna was originally established as an arts/resort community. It is now a mix of residential and vacation-rental homes, but the Chautauqua playhouse still draws a crowd in June and July.

Currently running is the popular Tony Award winning show, Man of La Mancha which is based on the novel Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. Set during the Spanish Inquisition, it begins as famous author, actor, and poet Miguel De Cervantes is thrown in prison. He must convince his fellow inmates not to burn his beloved manuscript by convincing them of its worth before he himself must face a similar trail for his own life. He enlists their help to put on his production, making it a play within a play. The casting of characters is wonderfully done, and the singing and choreography of the show are Broadway caliber. Entertaining the audience as they follow the multiple storylines.

The show runs through July 22 as both matinee and evening productions. But don’t worry if you cannot make it, there are several other productions happening this summer as well. The summer performance schedules can be found here as well as information on other events and educational programs.

Make our Visitors Center your first stop

Located directly off the Greenfield Road exit of Route 30, a well-known highway that snakes through Lancaster County, you will find the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center. Make this place your first stop and your trip will be off to great start!

Here are 6 reasons to stop at our Visitors Center:

1. Restrooms, ATM, and Wireless Internet Access

Take advantage of our free wireless Internet access, onsite ATM, and clean restrooms. If you like coffee, grab a FREE cup of Lancaster County Coffee Roasters coffee courtesy of Discover Lancaster.

2. Informative brochures, maps, and expert advice

Do you want to find out what Lancaster County has to offer? We can help! From brochures and maps to advice from our experts, we’ve got you covered. Our friendly travel consultants can assist you by offering restaurant suggestions, helping with last-minute lodging needs, and giving directions to special, out-of-the-way places.

3. Art Gallery

Our Art Gallery displays a wide variety of local art ranging from quilts to pottery to paintings. Best of all, it’s all available for purchase.

4. Marketplace

Browse our marketplace filled with Lancaster County items from popular places such as Intercourse Canning Company, Kitchen Kettle Village, Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant, and more. This is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir (or a tasty treat!) before or after your stay in Lancaster.

5. Amish Countryside Tour

Enjoy a 90-minute Amish Countryside Tour operated by Amish Farm & House. Sit back and relax as you wander deep into Lancaster County’s heartland and learn about the area’s history, culture, and Amish lifestyle. Open Memorial Day (end of May) through October 31.

6. Mr. Sticky’s Homemade Sticky Buns

Directly outside of the Visitors Center, you will find delicious and downright addictive sticky buns. Be sure try one before you head out. Here’s a coupon! Open March throughDecember.

For more information about our Visitors Center, hours of operation, and directions, click here.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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Snow Tubing: Not Just For Kids (But They’ll Love It Too)

I didn’t have snow pants. I didn’t have gloves. But that didn’t stop me from reveling in my first snow tubing experience at AvalancheXpress. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Here’s what you need to know:

Hot chocolate bar. First things first—there is a hot chocolate bar where you can add your own toppings including sprinkles, whipped cream, smashed up M&Ms and Oreos, and (most importantly) AS MANY MINI MARSHMALLOWS AS YOUR HEART DESIRES.

Racing is a thing. There are 8 lanes at the top of the hill. You can pick a hill next to your friend, launch at the same time, and race to the bottom. If you’re tubing with your lover (also a thing), you can pick a wide lane and hold onto each others tube as you speed to the bottom. If this can’t save a relationship I don’t know what can.

Tow rope-lines. The worst thing about sledding growing up was walking back up the hill. The struggle is real. Not at AvalancheXpress, however. There are two powered rope-lines that will pull you (in tube!) back up to the top of the hill. Of course, fitness buffs can choose to walk up if they choose; it’s a good way to wear your kids out. But being pulled up backwards feels almost like a fun ride in and of itself.

To get to the bathrooms you have to pass right by the hotel bar. Self explanatory, yes?

FIRE. At the bottom of the hill (protected by nets and bumpers for those exuberant tubers) are four fire pits, complete with chairs. It’s the perfect spot to stop between downhill trips to warm your hands and thaw your face. And if tubing isn’t your thing, it’s the perfect place to watch the fun.

Night tubing. Did I mention I did all of this at night? AvalancheXpress does night tubing from 8-10 PM (weekdays & Sundays) and 9-10 PM (Fridays & Saturdays). It’s so worth it. I only had to stand in line once, with about 5 people in front of me. There were very few children. Plus, hurtling through the darkness?? Nearly indescribable.

Make no mistake, this hill is BIG. It was intimidating at first, then immediately addictive. I couldn’t stop laughing each time I flew down, and by the end of the night, I wasn’t sure if my face hurt from the cold or from smiling.

About the author: Erin moved to Lancaster from upstate New York. She enjoys exploring Lancaster’s flourishing arts and literary scenes. Learn more about Erin at erindorney.com or follower her on Twitter at @edorney.

Made by hand (and passion)

Eldreth Pottery was started over 30 years ago in a dank cellar by Dave Eldreth, who at the time, was a full-time teacher trying to supplement income to support newly born twin daughters.

Without much money, he was motivated to make things work. His first potter’s wheel was an improvised conversion of a washing machine. His first pottery kiln was borrowed. He dug his own clay from a local Southern Lancaster County quarry. With many years and many fortunate twists along the way, Eldreth’s determination, ambition, and creativity drove his company’s growth.

When it was time to expand into a larger space, he went to see the local banker, who as luck would have it, just started collecting Eldreth’s pottery. The banker believed in the vision, and put money behind the ideas.

Eldreth recounted a few other serendipitous stories including the time he hired a mason to build a salt-kiln. The mason abruptly quit because he didn’t want to do that kind of work. Devastated, Eldreth thought his plans to set up a pottery factory were doomed from the start. Fortunately, his neighbor turned out to be a distinguished engineer who built the kiln, and then wouldn’t accept payment for his work other than “the first four pots that come out of the kiln.”

Now with about 35 talented artists and three locations, Eldreth Pottery is a renowned name in the pottery business showcasing creativity in salt glaze, redware, and stoneware. They’re known for many different items and varying styles sure to fit everybody’s tastes. Their most popular pottery are painted birdhouses, and their annual limited edition carved Santas.

Every piece is made by hand in Lancaster County. All of the pottery is one-of-a-kind as every single item gets hand-painted.

The showroom and factory in Oxford at 902 Hart Road is stocked to the brims with high quality ceramics. You can also get a tour of that factory generally anytime between 10:00-3:00 PM from Monday to Friday. Watch the pots being made or glazed by the studio artists. Explore the studio space, which includes old clay molds, kiln room, potter’s wheels, etc.

If you’re visiting the Oxford location in early May, don’t miss their annual Open House, which includes demonstrations, kids’ pottery wheel activities, pig roast, and more.

Eldreth Pottery also has a showroom in Strasburg at 246 N Decatur Street. If you’re looking for a good time of year to visit there, go on the second weekend of November to catch their annual Holiday Open House to see all of the new limited edition Santa creations.

Either way, seek them out. Reconnect with craft that’s locally made by hand. Eldreth’s passion is contagious, and I think you’ll find his pots as inspiring as his story.

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Cars, motorcycles, buses… and a Kissmobile

My husband and I recently made a trip to the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum and were totally amazed by the themed areas and the variety of transportation vehicles on display there.

I should say up front that I am not a car person. I like them as well as the next person I guess, but I’m not crazy into them (I prefer trains actually), so I was a little worried that I’d spend a couple hours being bored while my husband “the car guy” enjoyed the museum.

Let me tell you, I had no reason to worry. The AACA Museum has plenty to keep anyone fascinated. From a replica Drive-In theater (can you find the bathing beauty?) to a full size diner, the museum is full of the history that everyone can find something to enjoy.

The AACA Museum opened in 2003 as a separate entity from the Antique Automobile Club of America, but the two organizations work together to expand the knowledge and enjoyment of antique automobiles, motorcycles and buses. The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute; it changes exhibits throughout the year and includes special activities for Halloween and Christmas.

On our trip we were lucky enough to see the Indian Nation: Indian Motorcycles & America exhibit and the Motoring Mysteries of the Far East – A Curious Collection of Asian & Pacific Vehicles display. Yes, you read that correctly, motorcycles and non-American cars! The AACA Museum prides itself on variety and wants to offer something for everyone. The special collections change several times a year so there is always something new to see.

The exhibit called From Sea to Shining Sea features a changing collection of American vehicles from the 1800’s to the 1970’s with dramatic scenery, a gas station reproduction, a drive-in, and the Floinn Cafe Diner. There are interactive features in many of them with sound and video recordings, and they are adding iPads to certain exhibits to provide even more interaction and information.

The museum doesn’t just feature cars; they also have motorcycles and The Museum of Bus Transportation. They have twelve full-size buses on display… it’s so fascinating to see how buses have evolved over the years. Also featured is a model train display of O Gauge trains, many with buttons you can push to make the scenery move and light up.

There is a children’s play area downstairs where toy trucks and cars are set up for kids to play with, and there are two antique cars they can have their picture taken in. Refreshment machines and rest rooms are available which make this the perfect place for families to take a rest before heading out to explore more.

The museum is planning several future exhibits such as 100 Years of Dodge beginning in September 2014, Lotus: The Art of Lightness coming in January 2015 and A Family Affair: Station Wagons coming in May 2015, but the real excitement is brewing over the Cammack Tucker Gallery being opened late in 2014. The AACA Museum will be home to the largest collection of Tucker automobiles in the world when this exhibit opens.

The museum has a gift shop full of items for every age and budget. From t-shirts to travel mugs, puzzles to postcards, and models to magnets, you can find it with a car or a bus on it.

I have to admit I highly enjoyed my trip to the AACA Museum and would recommend it to anyone. If you’d like to visit, the AACA Museum is open daily, but please check their website for hours, pricing and special events. Group events can be held at the Museum, and it is also a popular spot for weddings and car club events.

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A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of QVC

Do you like to “shop till you drop?” Of course! That’s one of the reasons why you love visiting Lancaster, right? You can always go home with some incredible deals from the outlets, markets, and gift shops. But we know that for the true shopaholics among us, the shopping doesn’t stop when you go home. You may enjoy searching for bargains online, in catalogs, and more. But I’m going to guess that one of your best go-to spots is QVC.

Just the sound of those three letters rolling off the tongue puts me in a happy, shopping mood. Well, let’s be honest. It puts us all in a shopping mood. Thankfully, Lancaster is home to a QVC outlet store, a distribution center, and we are next door to their Studio Park in West Chester, PA. Just recently, I got the chance to visit their expansive studio and take a behind-the-scenes tour with one of QVC’s wonderful guides. We had a blast!

Some Quick Facts

In order to really appreciate the size, reach, and quality of QVC’s production, it’s helpful to know a few statistics. QVC stands for “quality, value, convenience” and is the world’s leading video and e-commerce retailer. They broadcast live 24 hours a day, 364 days of the year. That’s right. So while you may be fast asleep, the team at QVC’s Studio Park is hard at work. QVC is available in 300 million homes worldwide through its broadcast programming in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, Italy and a joint venture in China. In 2013, they shipped more than 169 million products to these markets. Wow! I knew QVC was big, but I had no idea it was quite that big until I visited Studio Park.

You can read more about these impressive statistics on QVC’s fact sheet. But for now, I think you’ve got a pretty good idea of how vast their work is. So let’s talk about their fascinating tour!

The QVC Experience

Upon entering QVC, I was introduced to my tour guide, Joan, and we set off on our way. One of our first stops was in front of about ten TV monitors, showing a live feed of QVC’s programming worldwide and online. It was wild to think that QVC teams were filming in multiple countries and reaching people all over the world at the exact same time. After this, we enjoyed a short video that provided an overview of some of the things we were about to see throughout the studio. This was very helpful because it enabled me to recognize what certain pieces of equipment did and how they contributed to the overall production.

Our guide then led the group down a glass-lined hallway where we could see one of the network’s live beauty segments being filmed. It was so neat! I saw robotic cameras moving around, monitors showing the program hosts what shots to prepare for, large sets of lights, and more! We also saw the program guests and models on set. After that, we took a stroll down QVC’s “hall of fame.” This is where guests can learn about some of the network’s accomplishments and sales records that have been set over the years. Do you own a Halo portable cell phone charger? Well, this piece of technology has earned a coveted spot in the QVC hall of fame.

Up next was the prop room. Don’t you love how QVC films each of their segments in the perfect atmosphere? One of the ways they are able to do this is by using a variety of props to transform their studio into different spaces with distinct aesthetic appeal. But as you know, it takes a lot of props to ensure that every set has the right look for a 24/7 production. Studio Park is home to thousands of different props including pillows, chairs, beds, blankets, dishes, picture frames, and pretty much anything under the sun that might come in handy for a segment. I can imagine it would be pretty easy to get lost in this prop room for a day or two… maybe three.

Before visiting Studio Park, I would have guessed that most of QVC’s tour guests were women. However, our guide explained that she sees a good mix of both men and women on their tours – the main difference is that most of the women love seeing the merchandise and catching a glimpse of their favorite hosts, while a majority of the men get caught up in the studio’s cutting edge production equipment and technology. If that’s the case, then the next part of my tour must be a very popular stop for the men visiting Studio Park. We walked by several production rooms where every QVC program is monitored. The technology here was unbelievable!

One of the last stops on QVC’s regular tour is the observation deck. This is the perfect opportunity to see one of your favorite program hosts filming a live segment. It also gives you the chance to see just how large the 58,000 square foot studio space is.

The All-Access Tour

For visitors who would like a closer look at what goes on behind the scenes at QVC, you can take part in their all-access tour. This tour puts you right in the action, and it is so much fun! I got to go on-set, visit the Talent Service Center, see a Green Room, and more. All-access visitors even get to enjoy lunch in the Studio Park Café with their tour guide. I love this aspect of the all-access experience because it gives visitors a chance to get to know their guide and ask additional questions about the QVC broadcasts.

Planning Your Visit to QVC

Tours are available seven days a week at 10:30 AM, Noon, 1:00 PM, 2:30 PM, and 4:00 PM EST. Admission is only $7.50 per adult and $5 for children ages 6 to 12 years. Reservations for this tour are not required for parties of nine or less. All-access tours are offered once a week on Fridays and require reservations. Admission for the all-access experience is $75 per person. More information about QVC’s tour packages can be found on their studio tour page. And don’t forget to stop in for a little shopping at the Studio Park store before you head home!

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Emily is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com.

Summer fun kicks off at Hersheypark

One sure sign of spring in Central Pennsylvania is the opening of Hersheypark for their annual Springtime in the Park. During this two weekend summer-preview event, my family always finds time to visit the park.

Our tram ride from the parking lot gave us a good view of the new Ticketing Services building across from the Chocolate World attraction. Guests must purchase their Hersheypark tickets before arriving at the main gate. Ticketing Services can also assist guests with reprints of online tickets if they have lost the originals or do not have a printer at home. We found that not having to wait for people to pay for tickets at the front gate made everything smoother and faster. What a wonderful improvement!

There is nothing quite like the first view of the Hersheypark carrousel to get you in the mood for fun. This classic Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel was made in 1919 and installed in the park in 1945. It features a 1926 Wurlitzer organ that plays traditional carousel music as well as special songs for patriotic holidays, Halloween, and Christmas. It is always our first and last ride of the day.

New to Hersheypark this year are three family rides: the Cocoa Cruiser roller coaster, the Sweet Swing family swing ride and a classic Teacup ride. Only the Sweet Swing was open when we visited, but by the time the park opens for the summer I’m sure we’ll be able to ride all three. My kids are really looking forward to riding the Cocoa Cruiser since the Trailblazer is still a little too scary for them.

Even though the park was busy we were able to ride the Monorail, the Dry Gulch Railroad, and many of the children’s favorite kiddie rides. We also had our favorite Turkey Hill soft serve ice cream from the Crossroads Creamery and delicious fries from Tower Fries.

After enjoying our ice cream we went to ZooAmerica to visit with the bears, otters and other North American wildlife. Admission to the zoo is free with your park ticket and it is a great place to let the kids unwind after all the excitement of the amusement park. Be sure to bring some quarters to feed the ducks. They walk right up to you as you feed them and the kids love it.

By the time we finished at ZooAmerica my little ones were tired of walking, so we left the park and stopped at Hershey’s Chocolate World to ride the free factory tour. Chocolate World is under renovation right now, but we still loved seeing the scenes from the factory and getting our free chocolate sample at the end.

What a great way to spend an early spring day. Can’t wait to go back in the summer!

A day of Hersheypark thrills

Dutch Wonderland, a premier amusement park located within the heart of Lancaster County, is geared toward families with kids up through 12 years of age.  Since my children are now teenagers and self-proclaimed thrill seekers, a visit to nearby Hersheypark – with its 11 exciting roller coasters and expansive waterpark – was in order.

Hersheypark is only a 20-30 minute drive from Lancaster County and is great fun for families of all ages.  In addition to the roller coasters and waterpark, it boasts numerous rides for younger children, live entertainment, games, gift shops and more.  Their one-price admission gets you access to everything for the entire day.

My kids love going to Hersheypark – in fact they’d probably go every day if they could.  The rides are diverse and thrilling, the games are fun, and the waterpark is refreshing.  From a parent’s perspective, there are plenty of shaded areas, lots of beautiful hanging plants, and an extremely clean environment.

Speaking of clean, when I was part of the Hersheypark management team years ago, the General Manager was passionate about maintaining the cleanliness of the park.  Whenever we managers were in the park, which under his leadership was quite often, it was our duty to make sure things were running smoothly and that any trash was picked up promptly.  There were many 90 degree days I spent wearing high heels and a suit, picking up sporadic pieces of trash in the park.

So for fun, I told my oldest daughter Maddie I was going to look for trash during our visit and count the number of pieces I saw.  There’s always SOME trash at amusement parks, right?  So any guesses as to how many pieces I saw?  ONE.  Yes, in an amusement park of over 120 acres, I only saw one piece of trash the entire day.

For for a fun and thrilling day with the kids, in a safe and clean environment, Hersheypark is the place to go.

As part of the Lancaster County tourism team, I feel we are extremely fortunate to have two world-class theme parks in such close proximity to each other, one suitable for families with children up through 12 years of age, and the other for more thrill seekers.

Hersheypark is open weekends through the end of September, then opens for seasonal hours & events around Halloween and the holidays.  At only 20-30 minutes away, it’s the perfect day trip during your stay in Lancaster.  For more information, please visit www.hersheypark.com.

Fun at the Whitaker Center

My first-grader loves math and science.  Considering I’m the only computer nerd on the entire eastern seaboard who didn’t excel at those particular subjects growing up (I was an English and History kind of student), the fact that my son checks out non-fiction after non-fiction book from his school library is a bit mystifying to me.

Me: “Why don’t you get one of those Arthur books? Nice little morality tales wrapped up in some light-hearted aardvark-based shenanigans!”

Him: “Naw. I’m going to get this book on lizards instead.”

Me: “Are you sure? That D.W. is quite the firecracker!”

Him: (Leaves the room shaking his head)

Harsco Science Center at the Whitaker Center for Science and ArtsWho am I to rain on his preferred educational interest parade? So a few weeks back, on a school in-service day, I took the short drive to Harrisburg with my boys to the Harsco Science Center at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts.  The science center has three floors chock full of hands-on science activities and exhibits that were engaging for everyone. Considering we had a 3-year-old, a six-year-old, and a 35-year-old in tow, that’s saying something.

The first (top) floor of the museum has some neat interactive exhibits with general science principals on display, as well as KidsPlace, an area for kids 5 and under, that had my pre-schooler working on tubes in a water table and performing on a “right-sized” stage.

The second floor of the Center is focused on health and wellness as well as the science of sound and motion.  While, at their age, the boys might not be taking home the finer points of the principles behind the Doppler effect, they certainly had fun pushing all the buttons and levers and seeing the results of their actions.

Harsco Science Center at the Whitaker Center for Science and ArtsHighlights from the bottom floor, from the Forces of Nature exhibit, included the ability to actually touch a home-brewed tornado, destroying our carefully constructed Lincoln Log homes with a mini earthquake, and seeing the real-time weather unfold on the Science on a Sphere exhibit; a five foot animated 3-dimensional globe .  The boys particularly enjoyed seeing the results of storm force winds on their Dad’s hair.  Friendly tip, hats are of no use in the Hurricane Chamber.

For a day of fostering my son’s budding love of science, and just plain having fun, the Harsco Science Center at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts was just the ticket.  I think even Arthur, or at the very least his friend the Brain, would agree.

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