Category Archives: Spring

Visiting the Amish Village

When I was six years old, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than by hanging out with animals, especially horses. I jumped at any chance I got to see them. And of course, like most young kids, I loved learning about new things from a hands-on experience. Well I’m not a child anymore (though my older, wiser siblings might disagree with this), but as an Aunt to five wonderful nieces and nephews, I have the opportunity to see their faces light up when running around a playground or petting a live animal much like mine did at their age. So when I got the chance the visit the Amish Village, I thought it would be fun to take my oldest nephew, Silas, along for the ride!

Strolling through the Village

When we first arrived at the Amish Village, Silas and I were greeted by a friendly staff member who assisted us in a quick registration before directing us to the Village. We were free to explore many different buildings that are part of their Amish community. Silas thoroughly enjoyed feeding the horses and roosters in the barn. And I loved that we were free to visit each area of the Village at our own pace. There were always staff members available to answer any questions we had about a particular tool or building but no one made us feel rushed. Silas and I checked out a real Amish buggy and got an up-close look at Amish farm tools and equipment in the blacksmith shop. After snapping a few photos in the Village, we headed toward the property entrance to meet our driver for the backroads bus tour.

 Our Backroads Bus Tour Excursion

While the animals may have been the highlight for my nephew, the bus tour was my favorite part of the visit! Our tour guide was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. She took us to parts of the county I had never seen before—and remember, I am Lancaster born and raised. We stopped at an Amish bakery along the way as well as a small Amish farm that sold handmade crafts and homemade snacks. I couldn’t resist a pint of fresh-squeezed lemonade for the ride. It was delish! We saw children riding through cornfields on carts pulled by miniature ponies, we passed buggies, and we drove through the rolling hills of Lancaster County’s countryside for about 90 minutes. It was quite picturesque, and everyone on the tour thoroughly enjoyed the experience. NOTE: The backroads bus tour is not recommended for children under five.

After we arrived back at the Amish Village, Silas and I decided to take one last look around the grounds. It was neat to see what an Amish schoolhouse looks like from the inside—Silas was very intrigued by the reading and math exercises displayed on the chalkboard. We made sure to check out the water wheel during our visit as well. Did you know that even today most Amish farms use a water wheel and windmill to operate a pump that provides water to animals in the barn? Fascinating stuff!

Planning Your Visit to the Amish Village

If you’d like to experience an authentic Amish property, Silas and I recommend visiting the Amish Village. It’s a great place for both kids and adults to learn in a fun, hands-on environment. They even offer a 25-minute farmhouse tour in addition to the bus tour we were on. You can find all of their tour package information and rates on the Amish Village website. Experience how the Pennsylvania Amish really live today!

Emily Long 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.

Emily Long 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. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf
Emily Long 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. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf

An overnight stay with former Amish

I hopped in the car and drove east. The drive was familiar although the destination uncertain. This city gal left Downtown Lancaster and breathed a sigh of relief. I needed an escape from the emails and the meetings, from the loud music and bright lights. For one night I was offered an escape to the countryside to stay overnight with a former Amish family.

Much of my time outside of the city has been spent down in Pequea where I discovered trails, dipped in swimming holes, and climbed around the endless curves that make up its wooded roads. This time I was traveling to the flat, open farmland. The cornstalks stood at attention, swaying slightly in the evening breeze. Cows and horses dotted the grassy hills, as I called out in excitement, the same excitement that had existed in my childhood. As the sunlight dwindled, I followed my GPS not once, but twice past my supposed destination. I pulled over and checked the address, finding my location the good ol’ fashioned way by looking at mailboxes and fence posts for house numbers.

As I neared my destination, Stoltzfus Bed & Breakfast, I saw a large, white farmhouse with green trim that sat atop a hill and was nestled between farms. I pulled into the driveway and up past the house to park. I was greeted by one of the owners, Ginger Stoltzfus, a lovely, charming and bubbly personality, her smile kind and sparkly. She told me a bit of the mansion’s history. It was built in 1845 and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. My challenge was to find where freed slaves had hidden; this task, however, was completely forgotten as I took in my surroundings and the warm demeanor of my hosts. Sam Stoltzfus had joined us in the tour and we made it as far as the dining room table before I realized my complete neglect of this part of Lancaster County.

The three of us sat at the table, a map spread out in front of us, and a plan being formed for that evening and the next day. The day ahead, they assured me, could take me anywhere I’d like to go. Each time I was asked if I had been to one location or another, my response was “not yet,” to which Sam exclaimed, “We need to get you out of the city!” A few minutes into our planning, I knew this to be true.

Sam and Ginger are determined to direct their guests to the best the area has to offer, providing them with the ultimate Lancaster County experience. Sam and Ginger both grew up Amish, Sam locally and Ginger in York County. I trusted their judgment in all things Amish, although I knew I was not the typical guest they usually entertain. They told me I could pet calves and eat ice cream, buy dry goods for my upcoming camping trip, or have dinner with an Amish family. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go… all I knew was that I needed food. My stomach was growling. Prepared with a list of restaurants, a description for each, and directions, we let my tummy do the talking. It took me to a local diner, one of Sam and Ginger’s favorite places.

Enter the scenic drive through the countryside, the juxtaposition between modern day lifestyle and a simpler way of life. I passed an Amish family plowing their garden, a young boy perched atop a horse with a second child guiding, the rest of the siblings ready and prepared to sow the earth. Around the next bend, I passed a group of “English” teenagers smoking and gathered around a motorcycle, slightly disheveled and appearing bored. A bit further down, a young, pig-tailed Amish girl ran towards the road, waving enthusiastically. Something simple and beautiful, I thought, as I waved back.

My dinner was no less extraordinary. However, I felt much like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: totally out of my element, stepping into some alternate reality. Clad in fake Wayfairers and noisy bangles, I took my seat and ordered an iced tea. My meal consisted of a cheeseburger with coleslaw. A regular, Roger, caught me laughing at a text message and struck up conversation. He sat one booth away, but we faced one another as we dined and laughed. He had chicken with a side salad. Soon I said my goodbyes and was on the road again, headed back to test out the air conditioning I had been eyeing up during the tour.

As darkness set in, I used the flashlight cleverly attached to my room key to guide my way towards the house and found my way to my room. I flipped on the switch, tossed off my shoes, and tested out the bed. Covered in a beautiful quilt, I slipped down into the sheets: pure heaven. The sheets were incredibly soft, the pillows just right. I had a TV, but no bother, I was inspired to keep it simple that evening. I read through Sam and Ginger’s Welcome/Guest Book. I peeked through the organized book of things to do in the area, imagining for a moment I was on really vacation. This would be a nice place, I thought, as I dozed off to the hum of the cool, condensed air.

The morning was no less homey. Breakfast was served promptly at 8:30 AM, and I was dying for a cup off coffee from the fancy machine Ginger had pointed out the day before. I hopped in the shower, pleasantly surprised to find a massaging showerhead, perfect for that kink in my neck I had developed over the last days of sitting in front of my computer. As I toweled off, I noticed the little touches around my room. Local goat’s milk lotion, beautiful furniture, and hand-painted signs. I made my way downstairs to the breakfast room table, surprised to see two more guests. I knew they were there, but I hadn’t heard a peep. Skip and Terry were from Maryland and here to spend some time in an area where people lived a simpler lifestyle. I guess we all needed to get away.

Breakfast was amazing and the coffee hit the spot. Ginger had left cheese off my side of my frittata, thoughtful of my random dietary issues we had discussed the night before. Amish nut butter, a delicious traditional cheese spread, sausage, and venison scrapple. The majority of the ingredients came from friends or neighbors aside from the potatoes, but I didn’t care. It was incredible. The Stoltzfus’, Ginger’s mother, Skip, Terry, and I sat around the table talking about our plans for the day, telling a little bit about ourselves, and sharing a meal together much like friends and family. After the plates were cleared, Skip and Terry said good-bye, and I headed upstairs to pack my bag.

The care with which Ginger and Sam had taken to expose the beauty of their historic home, uncovering wooden beams and pitted bricks, was the same care they gave to me to reveal the potential of my stay. As they led me from room to room, the mansion to the carriage house, I could see the love and care they bestowed upon their property. It was no accident they bestowed the same love and care onto me. I had assumed I’d just be spending the night in a different bed, with some air-conditioning, and a warm, morning shower. Instead I felt at home, with friends and family to share a meal with, a little ginger cat to rest in my lap, and laundry list of things I wanted to do in the area the moment I had time to spare.

Jocelyn Park moved to Lancaster in 2012 from Media, PA. Having traveled to various cities around the world, this one felt more like home than ever. When not planning creative events and blogging for Transplant, Jocelyn is a freelance graphic designer throwing good vibes and design out into the world around her.  www.jocelynpark.com | lancastertransplant.com

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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Zip line your way to adventure and fun

Refreshing Mountain is a family-friendly, all-inclusive retreat facility with a large outdoor pool, sports fields, sand volleyball courts, indoor gyms, hiking trails, high ropes courses, zip line courses, a giant swing, archery, paintball, and more. While everything about this place is amazing, my goal was focused: to conquer the high ropes and zip line courses.

The Zip Line Canopy Tour at Refreshing Mountain has two courses from which to choose – the Challenge Adventure Course and the Aerial Excursion Course. The Challenge Adventure Course consists of five zip lines and the Aerial Excursion Course has seven zip lines, three sky bridges, and a surprise ending (you’ll have to experience it for yourself to find out). I went for the Aerial Excursion Course; I had to go big.

First things first, I signed the waiver and was fitted for a helmet and harness. Our tour guides seemed calm, cool, and collected… of which I was none. Though I love adventures, I always get nervous before hand… especially when heights are involved.

We ascended to the platform. The guides climbed like monkeys – like they were made to do this. Clearly this was second nature to them. Thankfully my harness and rope made me feel secure enough for my defenses to diminish. At all times the rope, securely connected to my harness, was attached to a pulley that road along the cable. I could pull the pulley along with me as I moved – like a dog on a leash. The pulley is key – because of that little piece of metal, we are able zip from platform to platform through the canopy of trees and not fall.

The first zip line was the scariest. Not knowing that to expect, I closed my eyes and with some hesitation, jumped. I went whizzing through the air like a flying squirrel. As I picked up speed, it wasn’t long before I saw the next platform quickly approaching. I extended my legs; my feet slammed into the wood platform. I made it. Safe and sound. One down zip line down; six more to go.

Later that day I tried my hand at the high ropes course. It was awesome! While at times I felt like I couldn’t conquer the challenge and sweat cascaded down the sides of my face, I stuck with it, and made it to the end. Nothing feels more gratifying.

My experience was incredibly exhilarating. I recommend that everyone try high ropes and zip line courses at Refreshing Mountain. If you’re afraid of heights like I am, remember, you are always strapped in and safe – so there’s no excuses.

To learn more about Refreshing Mountain or to book your aerial experience, to go refreshingmountain.com/ziplines.cfm.

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Long Johns, candles, animals, and more

You don’t often hear about Leola, PA, but nestled in the heart of PA Dutch Country is a quaint town worth visiting. My sister, our two kiddos, and I decided to spend the day in this town, discovering it’s treasures.

We started our day at Achenbach’s Pastry. They are known throughout the County for their baked goods, but particularly for their Long Johns (a long, almost rectangular, filled doughnut, often iced). But beyond their Long Johns, all of their pastries are amazing and, best of all, they contain no preservatives and are served straight from the oven to the customer… can’t beat that! From cinnamon buns and breads to pies and cakes, this place has it all.

The kids gravitated to the chocolate covered doughnuts, I chose a peanut butter Long John and a chocolate Long John (don’t judge me), and my sister picked out a cheese danish. With pastries in one hand and drinks in the other, we headed outside to sit at a picnic table. If the weather is poor, there are a couple indoor tables at which you can sit. Otherwise, head back to your hotel room or to your favorite indoor spot to devour your goodies. If you’re looking for made-to-order cakes (birthday, anniversary, graduation, wedding or otherwise), this is bakery you must check out.

After our sweet and satisfying breakfast, we headed to Hayloft Candles & Petting Zoo just down the road. As soon as we pulled in, the kids spotted the petting zoo. It was larger than I expected. It was clean, well kept, and the admission is free. We gave quarters to the kids so that they could buy food to feed to the animals. They were so excited to meet, feed, and pet the animals. In the middle of the zoo is an beautiful pond surrounded by a walking path. We walked around the lake, fed the ducks, then met the another animals. The zoo has goats, birds, ducks, bunnies, chickens, donkeys, a Scottish Highlander (a breed of cow), llama, peacock, kangaroo, and more. We enjoyed feeding the Scottish Highlander most. His tongue was so large and unusual – the kids giggled with delight as the mammoth animal licked the food from their hands.

After 45 minutes of free outdoor entertainment, we headed inside the store. It’s large! It has two floors filled to the rafters with home décor. From homemade candles of every size and scent to decorative wreaths, knick knacks, and postcards, they have everything. A shopping dream come true! They also have homemade ice cream and refreshments for purchase.

I would say that Hayloft Candles & Petting Zoo is a destination that everyone should put on their itinerary. The location is great, and the scenery beautiful, plus there’s so much to do… and buy.

Our stomach’s began to rumble, so we packed in the car and headed to The Back Page Restaurant, only a stone’s throw away. What a surprise! We didn’t know what to expect going there, but what we found was a casual sports bar with a great beer selection, a spacious family-friendly seating area, an adjoining game room complete with billiards, air hockey, video games, and a patio with a fully equipped Tiki bar. The atmosphere felt comfortable and welcoming. We chose to pile into booth near the game room. Deciding to give their appetizers a try, we ordered Garlic Herb and Mozzarella Crustini, Quesadillas, and Beer-Battered Onion Rings. Everything was absolutely delicious and reasonably priced. Between myself, my sister, and the kids, we devoured every last bite.

We had a blast together and enjoyed the treasures we found in Leola. Be sure to put this town on your “must do” list for the next time you visit Lancaster County!

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An afternoon stroll through Intercourse

One of my favorite places to visit in Lancaster County is the Village of Intercourse. Yeah, it has a funny name, but it also has some of the best little shops to visit, especially if you love taste testing great food and seeing beautiful handcrafts.

Kitchen Kettle Village is a huge draw to this location and, with over 40 shops, there is a lot to see. My favorite shop is the Jam and Relish Kitchen where they can, bottle, and jar jams, jellies, relishes, salsas, and more for you to take home. If you like to taste-test samples, this will be one of your favorite places since nearly every item for sale is open for you to try. Online ordering is also available.

A short walk from Kitchen Kettle Village is the Old Candle Barn. Don’t let the name fool you, they have much more than candles. There are tons of home decorations, lamps, and linens waiting for you to look through. The shop is changed seasonally, so no matter when you visit, you will find something wonderful to take home with you. The candle selection is marvelous and includes soy candles which are fragrance and dye free.

If you are a quilter you must visit Zooks Fabric Store. I’ve been getting my quilting fabric from them for over 25 years. They have a fine selection of popular commercial brands plus Kona cottons and the hard-to-find Amish solids you need to finish that Sunshine and Shadow quilt you’ve been making.

Cross the street and you can visit the Intercourse Pretzel Factory. A free tour is offered when the factory is in operation; otherwise, you can sample and buy a wide variety of freshly made pretzels. Both hard and soft pretzels are made in the factory and all are delicious.

If taste-testing is your favorite hobby, then you definitely want to visit the Intercourse Canning Company. A huge selection of canned goods waits for you in a rainbow of colors and flavors. Previously housed in an older building, the Canning Company has moved to Center Street, but is still within walking distance of the heart of Intercourse.Cooking demos are offered at certain times and a video history of canning is also available.

Near the Intercourse Canning Company is Stoltzfus Meats and Deli. This is a great place to pick up a snack of some lebanon bologna and farmer’s cheese and a nice cold drink. Be sure to pack a cooler in your car to take home a pound or two of their great meats and cheese for later. They also feature Amos’ Place Restaurant if you need more than a snack.

I know you are curious… so here’s the scoop on the village name. The Village of Intercourse was founded in 1754 and the word intercourse at that time was used to reference fellowship or a social gathering. Since the village is also the place where two main roads cross it makes a lot of sense that it was named Intercourse. But if you’d like to think that this piece of history is all wrong and it means something else, well, there will be a lot of t-shirts to support your theory in the gift shops, so have fun!

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.

Come here to learn more about the Amish

Did you know that the Amish have a horse-drawn trailer that contains benches, hymnals, and all the other items necessary for Sunday church services at one another’s homes? Or, did you know that the Amish are often bi-lingual, speaking English, German, and “Pennsylvania Dutch?”

For those inquisitive and curious minds who want to learn more about the Amish lifestyle and culture first-hand, a great place to check out is the is the Amish Experience. Located on route 340 in the heart of Amish country, this educational destination is the only location of its kind in Lancaster County to be named a “Heritage Site” by the Lancaster County Historical Society. And, unlike other museums or destinations, The Amish Experience is surrounded on all sides by farmland beauty; rural, rolling farmland, horses, cows, cornfields, and even a fruit market that set the scene for what guests will enjoy during their visit. The Amish Experience is also a perfect option for your Sunday itinerary because many other Amish destinations are closed.

So, on a sunny Sunday in June, I surprised my out of town guests with a visit to the Experience. As we toured the grounds, we enjoyed walking through rows of vegetables and herbs which are part of the museum garden. We learned that many guests had never seen what a beet, sweet pea, or potato plant actually looked like, and we enjoyed listening to the excited laughter of children when they saw a real tomato growing on a vine. We enjoyed seeing (up close) a laundry line of colorful Amish clothing, fresh from the wash, and hanging out to dry in the warm summer air. And, yes, even an Amish phone booth!

The homestead tour was fascinating. Even as a resident of Lancaster, I learned numerous things about the Amish that I had never known before. Our favorite part of the tour was the Schoolhouse, where we were able to learn from our tour guide while sitting in authentic desks donated from an actual schoolhouse in the neighboring town of Strasburg. We also got to browse through a real Amish Hymnal and see workbooks that Amish children would use.

A unique part of the Amish Experience is the theatre show “Jacob’s Choice,” which brings to life the story of an Amish teen who is struggling with his decision to join the church. The show boasts surprising special effects, and a story that is certain to touch the hearts of all who see it.

As we got in the car to head home, I couldn’t help but think of the “Jacob’s Choice” story, and ponder the similarities that we, as human beings, share, regardless of what lifestyle we choose or what path we walk. We all experience joy, sorrow, and the pursuit of happiness – whatever that may be. And while sometimes we have our differences, the more we learn about other ways of life, the more we realize that we’re all in this together.

A different mode of transportation

Since moving to Lancaster a few years ago, I have gotten accustomed to seeing Amish horses and buggies. I have often looked at the little faces staring out the back of the carriage as I drive past and thought “I wonder what it would be like to live a slower pace of life?” I got a small glimpse into this world recently when I hopped aboard a buggy for a private tour of the Amish countryside.

I met up with my group at Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides in Bird-in-Hand. As we waited for our driver, we got an up close and personal introduction to the horses that pull the buggies and wagons. Most of them are Draft horses which weigh about 1,000 lbs and can pull about 3 times their weight. They are much larger in person than I realized, but they were definitely relaxed and docile around the crowd of people who had congregated around them to pet them and take photos.

Our driver, Levi, arrived and helped us into the buggy and introduced us to Kate – our horse. We were even allowed to have Teddy Bear, our friend’s dog, join us on our ride. (Yes, this tour is pet friendly!) With that we were off on our journey through the country. The first thing I noticed about riding in a buggy was how cool it was. In 80-something degree weather with no air conditioning and a partially enclosed buggy, I expected to be a little warm, but it was cool and comfortable as Kate trotted along at a mere 8-10 miles per hour. As we heading to our first stop on the tour, Levi gave us some information about the Amish. I was surprised and slightly embarrassed at how little I know about them. Levi explained that Lancaster County is home to the oldest and largest community of Amish in the state of Pennsylvania. The Lancaster County Amish are “old order” and are traditionally more restrictive about modern technology than other groups such as the Mennonite. I was surprised to learn that there is a new group of Amish who drive and use some modern technology. Levi also explained to us that most of the local Amish are big into using solar panels so as not to have electricity in their homes.

We saw the solar panels in use at the first stop on our tour, a working dairy farm. The Amish family who owns the farm does everything by hand or with non-electric tools. We walked through the barn where the dairy cows were all lined up in their stalls and relaxing. We also saw the huge tank where the fresh milk is stored before it is picked up by truck and shipped off for processing by a larger company. I couldn’t believe how much milk the farm produces each day. The cows are milked twice daily and the milk is picked up by truck every other day, that’s a lot of milk!

After our farm tour, we piled back into the buggy and rolled along more beautiful back country roads to the Countryside Road-stand. This is a nice stop for groups to stretch their legs a bit and get a snack.  Of course when I saw a sign reading “Homemade Soft Pretzels” I jumped right in line. They also had homemade root beer which I had to try. Both were delicious! Since we had some time to look around, I wandered around to check out the playground, petting zoo, and gift shop. The Road-Stand sells a lot of items that would make nice gifts to take home such as quilted items, crafts, and homemade apple butter. My souvenir was a pretzel to take home for later!

As we traveled back to Aaron & Jessica’s, Levi talked about growing up and working on his uncle’s dairy farm, his children and grandchildren, and Amish life in general. He was open to just about any question and curiosity our group had about Amish life and culture. He even joked about silly questions some visitors have asked in the past. (One that made me laugh was a lady asking him if Amish wear undergarments since she’d never seen any hanging out to dry!) I feel like I learned a lot about local Amish culture and people during my buggy ride. It was nice and refreshing to leave my fast-paced and busy life behind for one morning. Mind you, I won’t be converting to Amish any time soon, but I definitely left Aaron & Jessica’s feeling relaxed!

Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides offers several types of tours through Amish towns and farmland.  If you’re visiting them any time soon, check out their website for discount coupons!

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