Category Archives: Spring

A Mile-High View of Lancaster County

On a sunny, mild morning in June, I got to cross something big off my bucket list – “Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride.”

We arrived bright and early at the US Hot Air Balloon Team’s take off point in Bird-in-Hand, PA. Just as I got out of the car, they were inflating the balloon as the sun continued to rise. The trusty crew prepared for flight as we mentally prepared ourselves to be a mile above the farmland.

When the balloon was ready, we climbed into the basket (which was roomier than I expected). Our pilot, Lucas, introduced himself and reassured us that he was no stranger to the sky – he had flown over 2,000 times, in multiple locations in Pennsylvania and even internationally. Before I knew it, the balloon was floating off the ground, gaining height every second. Our cars and the cows in surrounding fields started to look like toys as we floated higher and higher.

The sky was absolutely beautiful – painted with oranges, pinks and blues. As we drifted with the wind, we saw the patchwork pattern of the farmers’ fields, with their perfect lines and contrasting browns and greens. We floated over familiar landmarks that Lucas pointed out along the way. The sights we typically see from car windows looked different and miniature from up above. Since the humidity was relatively low that morning, we were able to see all the way to Harrisburg and the Chesapeake Bay!

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We climbed to a mile above the ground as we took in the sights. Since hot air balloons move with the wind, it felt as though we were barely moving at all – a true floating sensation.

After reaching our highest height, we drifted lower to float right above the tree tops. Dogs arked as we sailed over houses, and bunnies scampered through the gardens and fields. We watched the county wake up as traffic picked up on the main roads and people began working – stopping to wave as we sailed overhead.Our flight came to a close and Lucas prepared us for landing. He scoped out a spot among some houses in a small development and called the ground team to meet us there. Landing was as simple as bending our knees as Lucas steered us safely to the ground.

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The ground team skillful packed up the balloon and basket, and as quickly as we came, we left – heading back to the take off point. To celebrate the flight, we enjoyed a mimosa toast and sticky buns. The connection between champagne and hot air ballooning is quite interesting. In the early days, pilots in France would carry champagne as a peace offering when they would land in farmer’s field, proving to the possibly confused farmer that they meant well and were, in fact, human.

The hot air balloon ride was an opportunity of a lifetime with breathtaking sights. If this is something lingering on your bucket list, I highly recommend taking flight with the US Hot Air Balloon Team in Lancaster County.

A Museum for Every Interest

Lancaster has many museums that offer valuable insight into history, culture, and mankind. You can visit an Underground Railroad center, tour a PA German living history village, or meander through the home of the 15th president of the United States.

Here are a few unique museums that top my list:

National Christmas Center Family Attraction & Museum 
Set aside a couple hours to walk through amazing life-sized exhibits that celebrate the history and traditions of the holiday. Don’t miss the 1950’s Woolworth’s 5 & 10 re-creation that showcases vintage Christmas toys and merchandise displayed in a realistic store setting.

Demuth Museum
Check out the rotating exhibitions and tour the restored 1700’s home and painting studio of Lancaster’s most famous resident and world-famous artist, Charles Demuth. Did you know that Demuth’s famous piece, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (1928), is housed in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art?

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Discover the colorful history and dramatic technology of Pennsylvania’s railroad industry, plus see a world-class collection of 100+ historic locomotives!

National Watch & Clock Museum
This museum is recognized as the largest and most comprehensive horological collection in North America. While it may seem boring to some, it’s NOT! Come experience for yourself a fun and fascinating journey into the world of timekeeping, beautifully illustrated by more than 12,000 treasures of time.

Robert Fulton Birthplace
Tour the early home of pioneer steamship builder, artist, inventor, and engineer – ROBERT FULTON!

American Military Edged Weaponry Museum
With more than 5,000 specimens, this museum has one of this country’s most comprehensive collections of U.S. military knives and artifacts used by the American servicemen.

Click here to see more museums.

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Get Your Passport to Lancaster County

There’s so many great places to discover in Lancaster! You can visit Lancaster a dozen times and still find something new to enjoy. Here’s something that will make your trips even more fun and rewarding.

Lancaster County Wine, Spirits & Ale Trail

1. Pick up a passport at the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center.

2. Take your passport (and ID!) with you as you make your way across Lancaster, sampling locally crafted potables along the way. Learn a little, drink a little. Learn some more, drink a little more.

3. Get your passport stamped at each participating location, and with a minimum of 4 stamps, turn it in at the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center for a free t-shirt!

This trail is meant to be a fun, social way to soak up Lancaster’s drink culture, not a drunken pub crawl. By all means, indulge! But be respectful and be responsible.

Made in Lancaster Shopping Trail

1. Pick up a passport at the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center.

2. Travel across the county, scoping out, sizing up, and getting a taste of some of the best locally crafted goods Lancaster has to offer. You’ll find countless shops, kitchens, workspaces, and storefronts all over the county, whose owners and proprietors put the love for their craft into every item that walks out the door.

3. Get your passport stamped at each participating location, and with a minimum of 6 stamps, turn it in at the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center for a free t-shirt!

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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Amish Farm and House

If you’re looking for fun and education in one great location, check out the Amish Farm and House on Lincoln Highway. Although you might pause when you arrive – because it shares a parking lot with a Target store and shopping plaza – once you step onto the property you’re transported from the hustle and bustle of today to another time… a time when life was simple. The juxtaposition helps you appreciate what Lancaster County once was (and portions still are), and how times have changed. This destination is great for all ages, and features all aspects of Amish life, including guided tours through a staged Amish home, school house, wood shop, blacksmith shop, pump house, and barnyard. You can try your skills on an Amish scooter, or take a buggy ride through the property and over a covered bridge. In the fall, there is a corn maze. You can also go the “extra mile” and take a bus tour through the local farm land.

Being an animal lover, and having two small children, I frequent this destination just to see the farmyard. Playful goats leap and bound through their play place, ducks and chickens roam freely, sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs, peacocks, and other livestock provide constant entertainment for youngsters and young-at-heart alike. Ironically, my son’s favorite place is the herb and vegetable garden, for no other reason than it’s paved with white rocks…. and at 1 ½ years old, white rocks are the Best. Thing. EVER. Don’t worry – I don’t let him take them home with us, but making him part with his handful of rocks is typically cause for a highly theatrical and slightly embarrassing baby meltdown. Luckily, the rocks are soon forgotten when we see the baby sheep just down the path.

In the wood shop, you can see a local wood carver making unique crafts. The smell of the wood shavings is earthy and inviting. Be sure to ask him about the giant sling shot he has attached to the top of his minivan! Maybe you’ll even get lucky and he’ll launch a water balloon over the farm for you. (He’s a local celebrity)

If you choose to participate in all the activities provided by the Amish Farm and house, you could spend several hours there… or, if you’re like me… you can enjoy a pleasant stroll around the barnyard in about 45 minutes, stop for a few “selfies” with the lamas, and still make it home for snacks and nap time. Whether you live near or far, this is a great destination and I highly recommend it.

Scientific and Spectacular

The newly renovated North Museum of Nature and Science is a fascinating place for all ages. In my early 20’s, I was learning, having fun, and genuinely interested in the exhibits and collections. This space holds a new SciDome Theater, Nature Explorer Gallery, Nanotechnology exhibit, mineral collection and mid-Atlantic region bird collection.

Photography by Alysha Laird

Photography by Alysha Laird

As you walk into the North Museum, you are welcomed by their baby t-Rex and a massive globe displaying active weather patterns. To the right of the globe, you enter SciDome Theater, a touch digital system that projects high definition video and images onto a 41-foot aluminum dome. SciDome could be compared to a planetarium, but one difference is the type of shows. This theater expanded its programming to earth science shows to give guests a new experience on topics they would never have seen in a planetarium. Right now, SciDome is showing One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure, Super Volcanoes, and Magic Treehouse: Space Mission. The imagery in SciDome is astonishing; shows give real life perspectives in a movie-like experience. On June 20, SciDome will be presenting shows daily!

Photography by Alysha Laird

Photography by Alysha Laird

Past SciDome Theater, you enter the Nature Explorer Gallery, a combination of former Discovery Room and Live Animal Room. This gallery is filled with displays of unique shells, rocks, insects, and fossils. Children can examine different objects in nature like horns, furs, and space in the hands-on section of this gallery.

The most unique portion of this gallery is a tie between the bird call drum kit and the functioning beehive. The bird call drum kit collaborates creativity with nature. You might find your child has a hidden musical talent with this interactive piece! If you’re not a beekeeper, you don’t find yourself getting too close to beehives. With the functioning beehive display, you are able to examine how the bees interact and watch how they sustain the hive! To the left of the Nature Explorer Gallery, the Live Animal Room is occupied with unique reptiles, arachnids, and amphibians and with the help of the staff you can interact with these animals and learn more about them.

The nanotechnology exhibit is a small portion of the first floor but it is fascinating! This exhibit highlights the application of nanotechnology in our everyday life in basic terms. Past the nanotechnology exhibit is the featured Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas. This exhibit is organized by American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, The Field Museum, Chicago, Houston Museum of Natural History, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Science. This exhibit will be on display until June 21.

The antique cabinet museum, displayed on the bottom floor, holds a large collection of male and female birds native to the Mid-Atlantic region. Past the aisles of cabinets is one of the largest mineral collections I have ever seen.

Photography by Alysha Laird

Photography by Alysha Laird

After this experience, I realized the North Museum holds innovative and cutting-edge technology and exhibits. From SciDome Theater to the bird call drum kit, live animal room, and the nanotechnology exhibit I was truly impressed. This museum would be great for a day trip with your kids. After the museum, kids can play in Buchanan Park.

The North Museum summer hours are listed below.

June 1 – August 31
Monday – Saturday:
10 am to 5 pm
Sunday:
12 noon to 5 pm

The author of this post, Julie Press, is currently the Marketing Intern at Discover Lancaster. She encompasses the Lancaster brand. Growing up in a farm house in Adamstown, she identifies with the rustic, homegrown feel Lancaster brings. Now relocated only minutes away from Lancaster City, she feels a strong connection to the City’s creativity, culture, and innovation. Julie studies Public Relations at Millersville University.

 

The author of this post, Julie Press, is currently the Marketing Intern at Discover Lancaster. She encompasses the Lancaster brand. Growing up in a farm house in Adamstown, she identifies with the rustic, homegrown feel Lancaster brings. Now relocated only minutes away from Lancaster City, she feels a strong connection to the City’s creativity, culture, and innovation. Julie studies Public Relations at Millersville University. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/#sthash.E0rTYOAa.dpuf
The author of this post, Julie Press, is currently the Marketing Intern at Discover Lancaster. She encompasses the Lancaster brand. Growing up in a farm house in Adamstown, she identifies with the rustic, homegrown feel Lancaster brings. Now relocated only minutes away from Lancaster City, she feels a strong connection to the City’s creativity, culture, and innovation. Julie studies Public Relations at Millersville University. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/#sthash.E0rTYOAa.dpu

Outdoor Dining Experiences in Lancaster

The chatter, laughter, and warmth fills outdoor dining areas in Lancaster during this time of year. From local foods, live music, and tasty treats, everything seems to be more enjoyable outside. In this post, we’ll tell you about unique outdoor dining options for a night out with your friends, a romantic evening with your significant other, or a joyful time with your family.

Are you and your friends looking for a place to “chill” and enjoy some craft brews outside? Look no further than Lancaster Brewing Company. With an outdoor patio and a wide variety of beers, it’s a perfect place to quench your thirst and kick back. While you’re there enjoy some delicious food like the homemade artisan sausage dish.

If your friends are into roof spaces, check out Tellus360’s roof bar equipped with a plenty of seating and beautiful views. Tellus360 teamed up with local, 100% natural juice business, Rijuice, to create a line of signature cocktails. Take a look at the green roof grill menu, order a drink, and  enjoy the sunset!

Now, if you and your friends are into history and home brews you got to check out Bube’s Brewery in Mt. Joy. The Biergarten, the outdoor dining area, is one of the many remarkable spaces within Bube’s Brewery. This space is loaded with neat things, like a human-sized chess board, original boiler and smokestack used to create the steam power necessary to run the brewery.

For a couple’s night out, relax in Steinman Park, The Pressroom’s outdoor dining area. You’ll find  an oasis complete with a waterfall and plenty of shade. Enjoy their zing on American cuisine; we promise, it will be time well spent.

For an cosmopolitan eatery on Gallery Row visit Pour for fresh seasonal flavors, wine, beer and cocktails. Share one of their famous charcuterie boards in warm and artistic ambiance.

blog-templateFamily-friendly outdoor dining includes Loxley’s, a premier outdoor dining experience. On the grounds of the restaurant lies an extravagant tree house for the kids to explore, delicious flatbread pizzas, and absolute fun!page-loxleys

If you’re looking for more a meal in the country, check out Bird-in-Hand Bakery and Cafe. They recently opened a second story patio for their guests that overlooks Lancaster farmland.

There is no lack of outdoor dining experience here in Lancaster. From local favorites to “I never knew this was here,” these outdoor spaces add versatility and excitement any dining experience. Discover it on your own!


The author of this post, Julie Press, is currently the Marketing Intern at Discover Lancaster. She encompasses the Lancaster brand. Growing up in a farm house in Adamstown, she identifies with the rustic, homegrown feel Lancaster brings. Now relocated only minutes away from Lancaster City, she feels a strong connection to the City’s creativity, culture, and innovation. Julie studies Public Relations at Millersville University.

An authentic Amish experience

For an authentic Amish experience that’s guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of the entire family, be sure to visit the Lil’ Country Store and Miniature Horse Farm. There’s nothing cuter than a miniature horse and even cuter yet is that right now (as I’m writing this in May) three of the tiny horses have newborn babies; with two more foals on the way! These creatures are friendly as they are adorable and as we walked through the barn, they poked their sweet noses through their stall doors to say hello. I couldn’t help but smile as my 1 ½ year old son squealed with delight as one foal nuzzled his hand.

The barn houses about 8 mini horses (not counting the foals), two full size horses, and in the nearby pasture are some playful goats. You can browse the barn on your own and spend time interacting with the horses, as well as seeing the pony carts, two Amish buggies, and the tack used to saddle and bridle the horses for riding. For young horse enthusiasts, a private pony ride is only $5.50 per child! And for a more hands-on experience, you can call ahead to reserve a private workshop session where you get brush a pony, ride them, feed them, and learn about horse care. The workshops generally last about an hour, and (parents beware!) are sure to be so fun that they’ll inspire your child to add a pony to their Christmas list. You can also elect to try a ride in the single or double pony cart which takes you on a ride through the farm to the dairy area. You’ll be happy to know that for safety reasons, no pony cart rides venture onto the main roads. Also, please note, the weight limit for riding these little guys is approximately 70lbs. There’s no age limit, but for my son, I decided to wait until next year to let him ride, since as a rambunctious little boy his idea of fun would probably be to dive off the poor unsuspecting horse into the mud! Oy-vay!

The best thing about this particular location is that it’s located at the home of Henry and Linda Stoltzfus, an Amish family who opened their property to the public in 2009. It’s “as real as it gets” here in Lancaster County. To get to the farm, you drive through rolling acres of corn and tobacco crops, and as we pulled our car in to the driveway, we were greeted by three Amish children who were playing in the front yard of the home. The Lil’ Country Store is in the garage of the property, and features handmade gifts and crafts, as well as a variety of baked goods and a fan-favorite,he home-made root beer. You can enjoy taste-testing locally made cheeses and potato chips, or satisfy your sweet tooth with a whoopie pie or locally made ice cream. There’s also a wood shop on the property, and you can observe the men working as they create beautiful hand made furniture and accessories that are available for sale in the shop.

Before leaving I couldn’t resist purchasing a lovely equestrian-inspired leather bracelet, which will always remind me of our fun visit to the miniature horse farm. So whether you’re visiting with children, or just want to feel like you’ve been behind the scenes on a real Amish Farm, be sure to add this destination to your vacation plans!

Spring means AQS Quiltweek®

After such a cold and snowy winter, spring has finally arrived. The dreariness of winter made my trip to Lancaster for the AQS Quiltweek® event in March even more exciting this year. Even though the weather was still cold and gray, the Lancaster County Convention Center was blooming with warmth and color like a magical spring day.

It’s my tradition to stop at Lancaster Central Market before the event to grab a chocolate whoopie pie and a cup of coffee. I didn’t break with tradition. I enjoyed the moist cookie and creamy filling as I waited in line for the event. [NOTE: They do not allow food or drinks in the exhibition or sales areas, so be sure to finish your whoopie before you go in!]

For the second year in a row, Katherine Rupp, the Marketing Director of the American Quilter’s Society, gave me a tour of the exhibits and pointed out some local winners in the quilt contests. Pennsylvania is always well represented in the winner’s circle. It’s exciting to see my fellow local quilters do so well in the competitions.

One of my favorite quilts this year was by Sue Reno of Columbia titled “Jack in the Pulpit.” The quilt reminded me of spring when all the woodland plants come out of hiding. My favorite exhibit was Cherrywood’s “WICKED,” based on the book and Broadway show, Wicked. It showcased small quilts made with their signature green colored hand-dyed fabrics.  Seeing the collection hung together was striking.

If you are not a quilter yourself, you still have plenty of reasons to visit a Quiltweek® event. Quilts are pieces of art and represent hand-craftsmanship at its finest. Like a fabric art gallery, a quilt event like this showcases the traditional bed quilt next to the modern art quilt and allows the viewer to think for themselves what the world “quilt” really means.

Not only are the quilts varied and exciting, the vendors have lots to offer as well. From jewelry and beauty items to household tools and the most up-to-date sewing machinery, there are sorts of things to try out, try on, and take home with you.

If you are a quilter or someone who loves working with fabric and thread in any fashion, you definitely will want to spend an entire day getting inspiration and ideas from these wonderful artisans. The supply of fabrics and threads is endless. Stocking up is always a good idea because with this special show comes special sales prices.

Every year I leave Quiltweek® with a renewed zest for my fabric stash and vow I’ll make more quilts than ever. I hope you visit AQS Quiltweek® next year and enjoy all it has to offer!

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