Category Archives: River Hills

A Breath of Fresh Air

Whether by bike or by foot, the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, located along the Susquehanna River, is a peaceful trail worth exploring during your next outdoor adventure in Lancaster.

After lunch at a picnic table by the Columbia Crossings River Trails Center, we walked over to Chiques Rock Outfitter’s outpost to rent bikes for our ride. They offered us two colorful new bikes, and we hit the trail.

After a short ride next to the road, we were surrounded by trees, bushes, streams and tall rock faces. The trail is pleasantly paved and flat which makes it a great ride for novice bikers, families, or those looking for a leisurely walk or jog. The peaceful path winds through Chickies Rock County Park and through a cool rock tunnel.

About two and half miles up the road, we were greeted by the smell of tasty food. The Trailside Trolley was set up along the trail, serving up hot dogs, pulled pork, pizza, ice cream, snow cones and drinks for those looking to fuel up before continuing on the trail.

Continuing on the trail, we passed through a meadow of colorful wildflowers as we approached Marietta. In the town of Marietta, riders have the option of taking the “Downtown Route”, passing by houses, shops, and local watering holes including McCleary’s Pub and The Railroad House Inn. For those who prefer not to ride through town, the trail cuts through a brief undeveloped trail, and rejoins that paved section around mile marker three.

On this day, we didn’t ride past this point, but if you choose to, you’re in for a treat. The trail continues along the river and through East Donegal Township Riverfront Park. Around mile marker nine, you’ll see the White Cliffs of Conoy – a great place to stop and take a picture or two. The developed portion of the trail ends at mile marker eleven in Bainbridge, PA.

Riding the trail round-trip will be a scenic 22 mile ride, however, if you’re looking for a shorter ride, there are multiple parking and access points along the way.

For more information about the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, stop by the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center before your adventure, or check out a map here.

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!

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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.

Sickman’s Mill Creek Tubing

Looking for a great way to spend the lazy, hazy days of summer? Head over to the southwestern side of the county and jump in the Pequea Creek! Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, Sickman’s Mill is a laid back way to spend any summer afternoon, perfect for children and adults alike.

Prior to arrival you can print and fill out a waiver form from the website, but other than that the day does not involve much planning- you simply go-with-the-flow. Upon arrival guests are provided canvas covered tubes (first come-first serve) and sent on their way. Once you are in the cool, refreshing water simply kick back and enjoy the scenery and the company of your crew. If you like, you may tether your tubes together with ropes provided by Sickman’s Mill or go solo.

The Pequea Creek alternates between sections of calm water and small rapid, providing the perfect ratio of relaxation and adventure. Depending on the water level and time of year, your trip duration can range from fifty minutes to an hour and a half (the creek gets slower as the summer progresses, however, the water can be a bit warmer). At the end of your float a shuttle van will pick you up and return you to the mill. Easy as that!

Local’s Tips:
– Call ahead or look online to check the water-level, weather conditions, and hours/events for each day.

– Be sure to wear sunscreen and bug spray- the creek winds through wooded areas in both the shade and sun.

– Wear water shoes, old sneakers, or strap-on sandals. The creek bed is very rocky and you may need to walk through a few areas is the water level is low.

– If you are bringing smaller children, it is recommended they be at least 6 years old for tubing and 12 years or older for kayaking. There are some life-vests available, however, you are welcome to bring your own along.

– The creek banks by the Mill are grassy and shaded, making for a great picnic spot. Pack your own lunch, or grab something to eat at the snack shack before or after your float.

 For More Information:
www.sickmansmill.com

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!

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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Covered Bridges of Lancaster County

Covered bridges are an iconic symbol that bring to mind a more simple time, a more simple way of life. Pennsylvania has approximately 219 covered bridges that have withstood the test of time, more than any other state. Lancaster boasts over 25 of those bridges, each with its own unique story.

The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather. Uncovered wooden bridges have a life span of only 10-15 years because of the effects of rain and sun. Thanks to the covering, we have many bridges that have been around a long time.

The longest covered bridge at 5,960 feet once spanned the Susquehanna River from Columbia to neighboring Wrightsville in York County. Built in 1814, it was unfortunately destroyed by high water and ice in 1832. But, many others remain, ready for you to discover and enjoy.

We’ve developed five driving tours of covered bridges in Lancaster County. For a PDF version, click here. If you prefer to use our Google Map tours, click here and choose the tour that most interests you. To learn more about our covered bridges, be sure to stop the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center to purchase the book, Covered Bridges of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

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A Day of River Therapy

I love the Susquehanna River, but I don’t spend as much time on or near it as I should, considering how close to home it is. One Saturday evening, I set out to remedy that by going on a Chiques Rock Outfitters’ 5:00 pm “Therapy Float.”

The Therapy Float is a guided trip on the Susquehanna River from the southern end of Marietta down to River Park in Columbia, where I parked my car at the Chiques Rock Outfitters rental shop.

I was equipped with a solo kayak, paddle, life jacket, and dry box for my camera. When we put our boats in the water, there were no others in sight, but we did spot a great blue heron fishing off a rock not far from shore. My guide, Ranae Tibbens, co-owner of Chiques Rock Outfitters, gave me a refresher on how to steer since it had been at least twenty years since I’d last been in a kayak. Then we were off to explore the river.

We paddled under the railroad bridge, where Chiques Creek empties into the river, to take a look at the water level and a new pedestrian bridge. As we headed out to the middle of the river, a bald eagle came swooping down over the water.  He came close enough overhead to be seen in detail, but I was too slow getting my camera out of the dry box to be able to get a good shot of him. He was very shortly joined by another, and we watched the two of them fly circles above the river and the shoreline for a few minutes, before flying away.

Getting out of the kayak during the trip is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. We pulled up on an exposed stretch of pebbles, then waded out to a rock to examine someone’s 100+ year old script signature etched into the surface. We also examined the bore holes at the base of the rock, worn by the action of small pebbles in the current over time. Some rocks on the river seem to be more hole than rock, honeycombed by friction of stone and water. After taking photos from the top of the rock, we climbed down and waded back to our boats, thankful for the traction of water shoes on slippery rocks.

Shortly before sunset, we stopped at the boat launch by John Wright Restaurant for a few minutes then we took our time crossing to the other side of the river. We stopped often to take photographs of pink and orange light reflecting off of the bridge piers and the water.

When we pulled our boats in at the launch at River Park again, I was pleasantly exhausted and happy to have explored a couple of miles of the beautiful river in our backyard.

To learn about other water activities in Lancaster, click here.

Tubing down the Pequea Creek

Myself and a few coworkers decided to check out Sickman’s Mill Tubing. Yes, tubing. Something that none of us had done in years. Let me say, we had a blast!

After driving on winding back roads through beautiful Lancaster County, we found our destination. The large, beautiful stone mill greeted us as we entered the property. The mill, adjacent barn, fresh country air, and the nearby creek – full and flowing – made us feel like we were stepping into one of the adventures of Huckleberry Fin.

We were greeted by Trina, whose family owns the property. She was kind and hospitable. Excited to go tubing, we signed the waiver forms and headed to the barn to pick up our canvas-covered tubes. There we were instructed on what to expect during our tubing adventure.

As we entered the creek, we felt the cool water surround our legs – it felt wonderful. Once we climbed into our tubes, the water did the rest. From calm water to mini rapids, we spent approximately an hour drifting along the two mile stretch of the tree lined Pequea Creek. We laughed a lot and enjoyed relaxing together. As we neared our exit, we jumped off our tubes and ascended up the small hill toward the meeting point. There the shuttle van conveniently picked up us (and our tubes) and returned us to the Sickman’s Mill property. I highly recommend wearing water shoes or old sneakers, sunscreen, and bug spray for this trip; and it would be good to bring a towel and a change of clothing.

We were pleasantly surprised by the other offerings that Sickman’s Mill has in addition to tubing. If you’re looking for a longer experience, you can sign up for their reservation-only kayak tube trip that lasts anywhere from 3-5 hours with a distance of about 7 miles. You can also enjoy a self-guided tour of the 4 1/2 story mill. Hungry? No problem. You can bring a picnic or buy food from their reasonably priced snack bar. If you’re planning a trip to Lancaster, you can rent their onsite, air-conditioned A-frame house which has 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, and can up to 12 people comfortably.

Sickman’s Mill has everything you need for a getaway – lodging, water activities, and beautiful scenery.

For more information, hours of operation, and pricing, visit www.sickmansmill.com.

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The perfect destination for retirement living

I’ve been working at St. Anne’s Retirement Community for seven years now. Seven! How time flies. This is my first “real” job out of college. In my initial interview when asked “have you ever worked with older people before” [my 40-something year old boss was referring to our Residents] I replied “why of course! I work with people your age all the time!” After the howling laughter subsided from our entire senior management team who were in the interview, I returned from lobster red to my normal shade of skin color, and they unanimously decided that I was perfect for the job – PHEW!

I came to settle in Lancaster after graduating from Messiah College, and after joining the St. Anne’s team. Originally, however, I’m from Ipswich, MA, a beautiful little shore town north of Boston. So, why did I choose to stay here? The same reason that many folks are choosing to spend their retirement years here – Lancaster is awesome!  And here’s why:

People: No. I’m not being cliché, it’s true. Everyone is so nice here. People smile, they lend a helping hand, and whether they’re a “native” or not, they’re easy to make friends with!  Many folks have vacationed in Lancaster for years and it’s the compilation of those happy memories that bring them to settle down here.

Variety: There are so many choices in Lancaster. From small city charm, to country farms, to gourmet restaurants to the local diner… there’s something for everyone.

Weather: While we still have 4 seasons, they’re not nearly as extreme as one might find in New England, and we don’t have hurricanes like Florida, or droughts like the mid-west. The majority of our days are bright and sunny. The farm land is green, the sky is blue, and – as long as it’s not manure spreading day – the air is fresh!

Location: Lancaster is within a few hours drive of Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Pittsburgh. Which means we’re conveniently located to major airports, attractions, and all that comes with that. On the other hand, if you’re more into the great outdoors, we’re also close to the Chesapeake Bay, Raystown Lake, Poconos, and Blue Mountains.

Health Care: Lancaster General Hospital, Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Center, Hershey Hospital, and other health facilities are all within minutes of downtown. In Lancaster County, there are also 17 non-profit Continuing Care Retirement Communities that offer a continuum of health care services while also providing excellent accommodations and amenities.

Cost of Living: Everything from real estate to groceries are more affordable in Lancaster compared to many larger cities. For those of you who are number crunchers, I also hear the tax benefits for older adults living in PA are better than average.

What’s great about St. Anne’s? We like to say we’re the “Just Right” community. We’re not too big, not too small  – approximately 250 Residents call us home. We’re not too fancy, but our campus is still beautifully decorated, maintained, comfortable and home-like. As a continuing-care community, St. Anne’s offers a variety of floor plans in independent living Cottages, Villas, and Apartments as well as Personal Care, Skilled Nursing Care, and Rehabilitation. Our Residents enjoy maintenance-free living so they can continue to be involved in wellness, volunteerism, and other life-enriching activates. As a non-profit organization, our Residents and our Mission will always be a priority.

Want to learn more about St. Anne’s Retirement Community? Visit: www.stannesretirementcommunity.com
Want to learn more about retirement options in Lancaster?  Visit:  www.exploreretirementliving.org

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