Category Archives: Things to Do

Six Reasons to Stop by the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center

If you are traveling to Lancaster, PA be sure to plan a stop at our Visitors Center located right off of Route 30’s Greenfield Road exit. Inside you will find local information, clean restrooms and friendly faces there to welcome you. If these reasons alone aren’t enticing enough, here are a few more reasons why you should stop by our Visitor Center…

  1. A clean, safe stop

We know stopping with kids can be a process, so we try to always provide a family friendly environment. Our Visitors Center offers clean, spacious restrooms, plenty of parking, and outdoor picnic tables for a nice snacking area. So whether you are traveling with your crew, your dog, or just yourself you are sure to feel comfortable stopping. Plus, we are right off the exit so you don’t need to worry about traveling too far off the main route.

  1. Real people who give real directions and information

Our Visitor Centers’ staff are the best local guides to Lancaster that you could meet. They know all of the backroads where the best farm stands are, and can give you clear, concise directions to anywhere in the county. Whatever your question, they are sure to know the answer. They are experts on where to stay, what to eat, which show to see and even “how to become Amish” (they surprisingly get asked this a lot!).

  1. Maps, brochures, Special offers- oh my!

Sometimes when you are on the backroads of Lancaster, Siri just won’t cut it. It’s nice to have a map handy to get around, and we have them. We also have specific trails and programs you can follow catered towards your own individual interests. Try one of our Wine, Ale, Arts, or Outdoor Adventure Trails, or try to see every Covered Bridge in the County.

  1. Free locally roasted coffee

Driving can be a drag, so why not stop in for a free caffeine boost? Our Visitor Center supplies free coffee from Lancaster County Coffee Roasters with all the fixings. The beans are roasted right here in Lancaster to create signature blends such as “Starbarn” Red Rose Espresso” and “Old Amish.”

  1. Mr. Sticky’s Famous Sticky Buns

Located in the same parking lot as the Visitor’s Center, Mr. Sticky’s is a notorious local favorite. Fair warning, as all locals know these sticky buns are “extremely addictive” and also amazingly delicious. Grab one as a sweet treat to go with your coffee to revive you from your drive.

  1. Our Art Gallery & Gift Shop

Our Visitors Center includes a beautiful, naturally lit gallery which features local artists from around Lancaster County. From paintings, to pottery, to hand stitched quilts and quillows, the work in the Visitors Center gallery is superb. Our gift shop also features locally made goods ranging from sea-salted caramels all the way to handcrafted furniture. You are sure to find the something to take back home with you.

So next time you come this way, stop in and say “hello,” we can’t wait to see you and share everything we can with you about our beautiful Lancaster County. We may have humble roots, but we love to brag about all that there is to do around here. If you can’t wait to come explore check out our Getaway Guide (order here) or sign up for our e-newsletter to stay in the know.

Top Things to do in April in Lancaster, PA

Spring fever has officially arrived, and Lancaster begins to bloom into April with plenty of activities for everyone. With the warmer weather, the farmland is turning from rich browns of turning the soil to green and gold of crops beginning to poke through the ground.

The spring also brings great things to do in Lancaster, from getting outside and active, to performances, beer and food. Keep reading for our guide to the biggest events in Lancaster this April.

Get Outside + Active!

Get outside – whether you’re taking a hike through one of Lancaster’s amazing parks or exploring a tectonic cave, it’s the perfect season to come out of your winter hibernation and stretch those muscles. It’s also the perfect time to enjoy our covered bridges or rail trails on your bike.

Want to stretch out, but hiking and spelunking isn’t quite your idea of an adventure? Maybe yoga and wine in a barn is more your thing. Don’t forget to pack your yoga mat!

Have little ones traveling with you who need to get some energy out, but it’s raining? Check out Sky Zone – a Trampoline Park. If you happen to be traveling over Earth Day, you can celebrate with crafts, snacks, and jumping at their Dr. Seuss Lorax event.

Explore History in Lancaster

Lancaster’s unique heritage and rich history is tucked into a variety of attractions – and this month, there are three special events you won’t want to miss.

Hop on board for this craft beer tasting event in a unique venue – the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Enjoy viewing tons of historic trains – yes, the real things, not just models, while you taste 20+ local and other craft brews.

Get ready for high tea at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum – you’ll enjoy a tour and then a Victorian Tea and a light lunch served in the historic 1856 Landis Home. If you have a little one with you (who might enjoy cookies and tea) head to the children’s event, Tea with Kitty Hand at the historic Rock Ford Plantation. This fun and informative event is open to boys and girls, recommended for ages 5-12.  Reservations are required for both of these events, so plan accordingly!

Enjoy the Arts

There are plenty of shows in Lancaster that you won’t want to miss in April, including Blackbird playing at the Fulton Theatre, JESUS playing at the Sight & Sound Theatre, Whose Wife is it, Anyway? playing at the Rainbow Comedy Playhouse, Showboat at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, The Home Game and Magic & Wonder: Dream playing at the Bird-in-Hand Stage.

You also won’t want to miss Straight No Chaser – the Speakeasy Tour playing at American Music Theatre on April 10 – where the captivating sound of ten voices come together to make extraordinary music.

Also, if you love the symphony, but are on a budget, check out the free Lancaster Symphony Orchestra Open Rehearsal at the Fulton Opera House on April 5. Seating is limited, and on a first come first served basis, so register today!

Shop ‘til you Drop

Enjoy some local culture at one of our Amish Mud Sales where you’ll find bargains on things like furniture, livestock, produce, baked goods, antiques, housewares, and more. In addition, you’ll get a sense for Lancaster’s community and tradition.

Looking for more unique shopping? Head to Adamstown for the Spring Antiques Extravaganza where you’ll find more than 3,000 antique dealers. You’re sure to find something special, even if you go without a specific need in mind!

Whatever you choose, Lancaster has so many things to do in April. For even more events throughout the year, let our Events Calendar be your guide!

Top Five Things to do in Lancaster, PA for First Time Visitors

If this is your first visit to Lancaster, PA – we welcome you with open arms and warm Pennsylvania-Dutch hospitality. If you are eager to learn what all the fuss is about, we have compiled a list of five great things to do while you are in town. These activities are “classic” Lancaster at their core. They help to make up what Lancaster is all about and have led to the development of so many of the wonderful experiences and traditions around the County.

  1. Visit Amish Country

When we say “Lancaster” you say “Amish.” These two often go hand in hand, being that Lancaster, PA is home to one of the largest Amish populations in the United States. Our county is known for its rolling hills, beautiful farmland, and relaxing way of life. Try taking a buggy ride with Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides or Ed’s Buggy Rides to have a truly authentic experience on the back roads. If you prefer to move at a faster pace, opt for a scooter ride through the countryside with Strasburg Scooters. Attractions like the Amish Farm & House, the Amish Village, and The Amish Experience are also great places to learn about the plain lifestyle. You can see first-hand what an Amish home or one-room schoolhouse looks like plus learn traditions and customs of this unique culture.

  1. Stop by Lancaster’s Central Market

Located in our beautiful and bustling downtown, Lancaster Central Market is the country’s oldest continually operating farmers’ market. Open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, this market is the perfect place to see the combination of diverse cultures and cuisines that make up Lancaster County. Be sure to pick up some locally-grown produce, freshly-baked goods, meats, or cheeses to take home with you. If visit doesn’t coincide with Market days, don’t worry, there are plenty of other farmers’ markets around the County which you can visit.

  1. Try some traditional PA Dutch food

Traditional PA Dutch food is truly a treat. Prepared from scratch with simple, hearty, ingredients, you can taste the love in every bite. From chicken pot pie, to pork and sauerkraut, or shoofly pie to whoopie pies you are sure to find something to indulge in while you are here. Our many PA Dutch restaurants like Miller’s, Good ‘N Plenty, or Shady Maple, offer all the traditional dishes for you to sample and enjoy. Not sure what you will like? Check out some of our recommendations and explanations here.

  1. Shop for antiques and hand-crafted goods

Here in Lancaster we like to make things by hand, the old fashioned way. We value quality, crafted goods that are passed on to generations and hidden gems scoured from our many antique stores. Each item has a story, and more than likely someone around to tell you about it. If you are looking for the perfect piece to add to your home be sure to head out to Adamstown to check out the many antique malls, markets, and auctions.  Downtown Lancaster also offers a number of artisans and galleries for you to explore on Gallery Row.

  1. See a show

Lancaster is home to a number of theatres with performances ranging from musical, to dramatic, to comedy, or even spiritual. While in town you can visit the largest faith-based theatre in the United States, Sight & Sound Theatres®or catch a broadway caliber musical at the oldest working theatre in the United States, The Fulton Theatre.

If this isn’t enough to keep you busy while you are in town, there is plenty more to do! Stop by our Visitors Center for more ideas and recommendations. We are positive that you will want to come back again to do some more exploring, when you do we will be ready with more suggestions. If you want to learn more of what all there is to do in Lancaster, check out our Getaway Guide (order here) or sign up for our e-newsletter to stay in the know.

Guide to Hotel Pools in Lancaster

Where to splash and swim indoors and out, and then spend the night.

Many of our hotels in Lancaster, PA offer visitors (and staycationers!) a chance to hang out poolside, and the opportunity for your little ones to play in a zero depth a splash zone. After a long day exploring Lancaster, hotel guests can lounge outside (or indoors), or take a lap or two in the pool.

Below is a look at some of Lancaster’s best hotel pools for beating the summer heat or to get your energy out during the winter blues.

Note: The below list is in alphabetical order.

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[1]  AmishView Inn & Suites
Enjoy your stay in an upscale hotel where you can draw back your curtains and see the lush Amish farmland, and to top it off, you’ll love their indoor pool, fitness center and whirlpools

[2]  Best Western Plus Intercourse Village Inn
With some much to do in Lancaster, save some time to take a dip in the indoor pool and hot tub. Located in the heart of Intercourse, you can conveniently stay within walking distance of many of the local attractions and shops.

[3]  Bird-in-Hand Family Inn
With both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, the Family Inn is the perfect place for an active family, no matter the season of travel. In addition, your family will love the tennis and basketball courts, and more.

[4]  Circle M RV and Camping Resort
If you’re truly up for an adventure, enjoy 104 acres of land surrounded by the Conestoga River, mini-golf, pitch and putt golf, and an indoor water park.

[5]  Clarion Inn at Historic Strasburg
Take a dip in the outdoor heated pool at the Clarion Inn, right in the heart of Lancaster County. If you are looking to visit Sight & Sound Theatres, the Strasburg Rail Road, or Lancaster’s Outlets, this is an ideal location.

[6]  Comfort Suites Manheim/Lancaster
Centrally located between Hershey & Lancaster’s attractions, and right up the road from the largest indoor sports complex in the U.S., the indoor salt-water pool will be the perfect addition to your stay.

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[7]  DoubleTree Resort by Hilton – Lancaster
Your kids will love the indoor water playground – complete with slides, dump buckets, and water sprayers – also featuring a shallow wading area with a frog slide and rainbow sprinkler. And don’t forget to grab a warm and gooey DoubleTree Cookie when you check in!


[8]  Eden Resort & Suites
If you’re looking for a little luxury with your family fun, the Eden Resort is the hotel for you. Enjoy both a heated indoor and outdoor pool and Kidz Water Zone spray park. In addition, the lighted outdoor ping pong, billiard, and shuffle board tables, basketball court, Boccee, and putting green will add even more chances for fun.

[9]  Fulton Steamboat Inn
Savor the full service accommodations in addition to a heated indoor pool & whirlpool. And if it’s nice outside, head out to feed the ducks and koi in the pond, or spend the evening by the fire-pit on the patio, overlooking beautiful Lancaster County farmland.

[10]  Greystone Manor Victorian Inn
Enjoy a stay in a beautiful Victorian Mansion, built in 1883 on 2 park-like acres including beautiful gardens and a pool and hot tub. Greystone Manor truly offers a unique stay in a serene setting in Lancaster County.

[11]  Hampton Inn Lancaster
You’re sure to enjoy the seasonal heated outdoor pool and patio area, and less than a block away, you can relax on a paved walking trail with ponds, water fixtures, a playground, unique sculptures, and more.


[12]  The Hotel Hershey
For year-round fun, relax by the indoor pool, and don’t miss the spa, located in the hotel. Whether you want a couples retreat or a family fun vacation with Hersheypark as part of your trip, this is the hotel for you.

[13]  Lake-in-Wood Camping Resort
From an indoor heated pool and spa to a larger outdoor pool complex, your family is sure to remember your stay at Lake-in-Wood – featuring two fun playgrounds, a total fitness hiking trail, rec room, and paddle boats.

[14]  Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square
Located in the center of Downtown Lancaster, the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square is perfectly situated for a night on the town. After exploring the city that was recently named one of Forbes Top Ten Cities to Visit in 2018, relax in their indoor pool.

[15]  Tru by Hilton Lancaster East
Featuring an indoor heated pool, the new Tru by Hilton Lancaster East is perfect for the traveler who’s looking for affordable travel with upscale amenities. This hotel features a lobby with areas to let you work, play, lounge and eat, and a fully equipped fitness center.

Fun Family Weekend in Lancaster

A Fun Family Weekend in Lancaster, PA

Do you feel the need to escape the cabin fever of late winter and create memories with the ones you love? Looking for something close by? Easy to plan? We have just the thing for you! Conveniently located within a couple of hours from most cities in the Mid-Atlantic region, Lancaster, PA offers a combination of small-town charm, historical appeal, and vibrant city amenities that your whole family will enjoy.

We rounded up a list of recommendations for a 3-day weekend trip, removing the stress of planning from the equation. With a focus on quality family time together, hands-on learning, and partaking in the unique foods Lancaster offers, we hope that you find this weekend one to remember. If you’re more of a planner, and want to add your own twist on what’s recommended below, we’ve got the perfect Lancaster County Destination Guide for you – and it’s free!

Day 1: Friday Night in Lancaster

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We know you’ll appreciate staying in Marriott in Downtown Lancaster, as its location provides the perfect backdrop for the start of your weekend. There are over 60 delicious dining options and 80 shops all within walking distance. If you don’t want to spend too much time on your phone, scrolling through the whole list of restaurant options, we recommend Isaac’s Downtown Bar and Grill. It’s an award-winning, bird-themed restaurant featuring grilled sandwiches, homemade soups, fresh salads, and a fun, interactive Kid’s Menu. After dinner, take some time to unwind. There’s nothing quite like sinking into a comfy hotel bed at the end of a long week. Plus, you’re going to want to be well rested for your Saturday adventures.

Day 2: Saturday in Lancaster

Morning: For a great start to your day, grab a hearty breakfast at the Baker’s Table, which offers coffee, tea, pastries, and their spin on old-fashioned treats like whoopie pies. They also offer a crowd-pleasing breakfast buffet featuring homemade waffles, made-to-order omelets, and all-you-can-eat bacon. After breakfast, head to the Lancaster Science Factory, which is located in the same historic complex as the Baker’s Table cafe. The Science Factory features 65 interactive exhibits, workstations, and mini-labs, offering engaging, open-ended learning experiences for kids ages Pre-K through 8th grade.

Afternoon: The best part about the Science Factory is that your pass is good all day, so you can come and go as needed. When everyone is tired and hungry, you can fuel up at Cork and Cap, also located in the same complex as the Science Factory. They’re known for their Pennsylvania Dutch fare, which they offer up with a contemporary, cosmopolitan twist. There’s no need to pack up the car and drive to multiple locations!

Night: After a long day of discovery, you can always head back to your hotel for a break and take a dip in the pool. If you ended up craving a late night snack, the Lancaster Sweet Shop has a selection of Stroopies and a large variety of ice cream flavors. Take our word for it: mixing ice cream with a local favorite like Stroopies, is a perfectly delicious way to cap off your busy day.

Day 3: Sunday in Lancaster

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Morning: Why not start off your morning at the Prince Street Cafe? Just a block and a half walk from your hotel, they serve a satisfying selection of egg sandwiches, breakfast wraps, smoothie bowls, coffees, and teas. After breakfast, we recommend taking a trip back in time to experience the historic Strasburg Rail Road. Only a 20-minute car ride away from Downtown Lancaster, you won’t regret climbing aboard an antique train car from the 1800’s as you witness the beautiful countryside pass outside your window. Be sure to get your tickets in advance to guarantee you get the seats that work best for you!

Afternoon: If you’re hungry before you hit the road toward home, The Fireside Tavern is a cozy spot located in Strasburg just minutes away from the railroad. The restaurant offers a great selection of casual dining fare for both kids and adults, and in the winter, you can enjoy the warmth of three working fireplaces.

We hope our ideas provide you with some inspiration for creating new memories with the ones you love, all while helping you beat those winter blues.

Forbes names Lancaster, PA as one of the “10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018”

Looking for a hip city to explore this summer or even for a weekend during the spring or fall? Why not pick Lancaster – who was just named as one of Forbes’ “10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018.”

What makes Lancaster so cool?

Tucked amongst the beautiful, iconic Amish farmland, Downtown Lancaster has a food scene that’s on the rise. Venture beyond the PA Dutch food for out-of-this-world Italian cuisine and wood-fire pizza at Luca – where Chef Taylor Mason combines the old-world charm and flavors of distant Italy with the ultra-local ingredients grown right here in Lancaster.

Be sure to make reservations ahead of time – the more popular dining times go fast!

Lancaster’s architecture is a big part of the charm. Passionate Lancastrians are transforming old warehouses and buildings to create new spaces for eating, drinking and entertainment. Thistle Finch Distillery and The Fridge are doing just that. Located in the former Walter Schnader Tobacco Warehouse, Thistle Finch is bringing of distilling to Downtown Lancaster, creating rye whiskey, white rye, gin, and vodka – then serving the spirits up in artfully crafted cocktails.

More of a craft beer enthusiast? The Fridge is a cozy bottle shop with an impressive selection of hard-to-find craft, micro, imported and local beer, located right behind the Lancaster Arts Hotel. Pair your beer with a slice of their flatbread pizza (because few things go better together), and cozy up by their fire or enjoy their outdoor space – depending on the weather.

Our vibrant art and theatre scene also adds to the coolness of Lancaster – with a plethora of live performances and galleries to tap into your artsy side. If you find yourself in Lancaster on the first Friday of the month, enjoy the extended gallery and boutique hours, and special performances and exhibits as you get swept up Gallery Row’s creative energy on First Friday.

Live theatre lovers will adore the historic, stunning Fulton Theatre – not just for its broadway-calibur shows, but also for its ornate architecture and rich history. The theater is full of character and stories, much like the shows that take place on its stage.

Outside the wide-array of offerings in Downtown Lancaster, families can experience life on the farm, breathing in the fresh air and even petting lovable animals. Find your way through the corn maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and watch the Strasburg Rail Road train chug by. You’ll love the fresh air and relaxing pace, while your kids will love all the hands-on, farm-centric activities – win win!

And that’s just the beginning – get info on Lancaster’s latest and coolest by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter, and stay in the know.

Resource: Abel, Ann, “The 10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018,” Forbes

Things to Do in March in Lancaster, PA

March is in like a lion, out like a lamb, and filled with great events in Lancaster, PA! With indoor events and shows for those blustery days and outdoor Easter events for when the sun comes out, this month has things to do for all weather conditions and occasions.

Start the month with a tasty meal. Lancaster City Restaurant Week kicks off the month, running through March 4, with delicious meals at various restaurants throughout Downtown Lancaster. For every time of day and budget, you’re in for a memorable meal.

In the mood for tons of great live music? Mosey down to Lancaster for the weekend (March 9-11) for Lancaster Roots & Blues. This festival is back for its fifth year, returning with a line-up packed with stellar soul, blues, funk, roots, and folk performances at nine different venues in Downtown Lancaster. While you’re venue-hopping, pick your poison – caffeine or cocktails – at one of our coffee shops or fine dining restaurants to keep you going through the late night hours.

For the history and museum buffs, March 11 marks Charter Day – the day that William Penn received the royal charter for what we now call Pennsylvania. To commemorate the occasion, three of Lancaster County’s museums and historical attractions are open, free of charge.

– Dive into the past at Ephrata Cloister, for a look at life in a religious community from the 1700s.

– Landis Valley Village Farm & Museum brings the 1800s PA German world to life.

– The Railroad Museum of PA offers locomotive fanatics the chance to explore the history of the railroad, trains and more.

Break out your boots – its Mud Sale season! These annual auctions are one of the best ways to experience Lancaster County life, as many auction-goers and auctioneers are Amish. Wander the aisles of goods up for grabs, including lawn equipment, shrubbery, housewares, hand-stitched quilts, crafts, and even the kitchen sink. Whether you’re looking for a bargain or maybe just good PA Dutch eats and to experience a slice of Amish culture, you’ll find it on Saturday at a Mud Sale.

March is the perfect time for quilters and quilt admirers to visit Lancaster, PA. This month brings AQS QuiltWeek to Downtown Lancaster for four days (March 21-24) of workshops, exhibits, vendors and contests, all focused around the art of quilting. In need of sewing supplies, inspiration or instruction? This event has everything a quilter could ask for! Plus, many of the fabric stores around the area have sales and extended hours for even more shopping.

Speaking of shopping, Tanger Outlet’s Mommy and Me event, to be held on March 28 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, offers up an afternoon of kid-friendly fun. Kids will love the games, craft activity, and guest appearances from Cylo from the Lancaster Barnstormers, Duke from Dutch Wonderland and Nano from Go ‘N Bananas. Moms will love the tasty bites from Saladworks and Chick-fil-a, and the chance to win a $100 Tanger Gift Card (especially if she wins!).

Hop on over to Lancaster for family-friendly Easter events. The Easter Bunny is in town for breakfast at Kitchen Kettle Village and a train ride on the Strasburg Rail Road – two wonderful ways to celebrate Easter as a family. Kick off the weekend with a local egg hunt, then relax with the family over brunch or Easter dinner.

For even more events throughout the year, let our Events Calendars be your guide!

A Guide to Quilting in Lancaster, PA

Whether you’re new to quilting, an expert quilter or purely an admirer, Lancaster County is a hub for the craft with a wealth of fabric stores and places to buy handmade quilts for your home.

Quilts can be passed down from generation-to-generation, reminding us of the past. They can keep us warm when winter’s chill rolls in, and add a pop of color to a wall as a decorative item. No matter what you use it for, these works of art are meant to be seen.

Whether you create your own quilts or are shopping for a handmade gem made by a local crafter, Lancaster’s quilt scene can be explored and experienced in many ways.

Just For Fabric:

Browse the aisles of expertly organized fabric to find inspiration for your next project. Fabric stores are plentiful in Lancaster County, full of classic and modern prints along with basic solids of every color. Don’t forget your thread and notions!

Fisher’s Houseware and Fabric (Paradise, PA)

Mook’s Fabric Outlet (Leola, PA)

The Quilt Ledger (Christiana, PA)

For Both:

Looking for a one-stop shop? For those who sew, find fabric, notions, thread and patterns. If you’d rather purchase a fully made, ready to cuddle quilt – they have those too. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to browse. There’s lots to look at!

The Old Country Store (Intercourse, PA)

Log Cabin Quilt Shop & Fabric (Bird-in-Hand, PA)

Family Farm Quilts & Fabric (Intercourse, PA)

Just For Quilts:

Handmade and stitched with care, you’ll find beautifully made quilts as you wander the shops below. They can range from simple colors and classic shapes to vibrant and abstract patterns. Amish, Mennonite, and local artisans create these masterpieces – some even still sew them by hand. Smaller goods like quillows (quilted pillows that fold out to a blanket), wall hangings, bags, and table runners are great for those who may not have space for a large quilt.

The Quilt Shop at Miller’s (Ronks, PA)

Country Lane Farm Amish Quilt Shop (Leola, PA)

Village Quilts (Intercourse, PA)

Riehl’s Quilts (Leola, PA)

Tip: Don’t hide your beautiful quilts away. They can be displayed on a rack or hung on the wall, and even used as a warm bed spread or a cozy cover when cuddling up on the couch.  Many are machine washable, using a mild detergent and possibly a color catcher if the quilt features white and rich reds. Some actually get better with use.

Quilting Events:

To get a taste of local life, swing by a Mud Sale in the spring or early summer. Many of these annual auctions feature handmade quilts, made by Amish and Mennonite crafters. Bid on your favorites or just check out the offerings while enjoying some tasty PA Dutch classics, like freshly made donuts and chicken corn soup.

Quilters will gather at Lancaster County Convention Center in March for AQS QuiltWeek® – the annual convention featuring workshops, exhibits, contest, vendors and more. In need of sewing supplies, inspiration or instruction? This event has everything you will need when it comes to quilts. Many of the quilt and fabric stores offer sales and extended hours during the convention.

Want to Learn How to Quilt?

Get your feet wet and learn to basics or perfect your sewing skills. The Old Country Store in Intercourse offers a variety of learn to sew and quilting classes, where their skilled instructors walk you through a project you can be proud of. Who knows – you may even find your new favorite hobby!

Resource: photos taken at the Old Country Store, tip courtesy of Jan Mast

The Wacky Town Names of Lancaster County

As you drive through Lancaster County, you may come across some towns with tongue-and-cheek and just plain wacky names. Or maybe you saw the video of the Chicago news anchor fumbling over the pronunciation of “Lititz”.

How did these names come to be? We’re digging through the history books to find where these unique names originated, giving a rhyme and reason to the names that make us giggle.

Lititz

The town of Lititz traces its name back to Germany, where the founder – Count Nicholas Ludwig – hailed from. The Count left Saxony, Germany, and settled in this area of the state in 1741 with Moravians who were seeking religious freedom. The name “Lititz” was inspired by a Bohemian Castle near Kunvald that held the name “Litice.”

Resource: Venture Lititz

Blue Ball

While this name may make us chuckle, its origins are pretty straight-forward. The town is named after an 18th century inn, located in the town. The owner hung a blue ball on the building, referring to the inn as “The Sign of the Blue Ball.” The name stuck – and the rest is history.

Resource: WGAL

Paradise

Welcome to Paradise – Paradise, PA that is! Two people, Joshua Scott and Mary Ferree, are commonly credited with the naming of this town. While standing in the middle of the road, Joshua Scott stated that the town should be called Paradise because of the beauty he saw around him.

Mary Ferree’s story, on the other hand, has a little more legend involved. After fleeing France, Ferree and her family received a land grant for the acreage in PA. Her family arrived and lived peacefully among the Native Americans who called this area home. Legend has it that upon arrival, Mary said “this is truly a paradise,” giving the town its name.

Resource: Amish Country News & Lancaster Online

Intercourse

There are a couple theories behind this cheeky town name. The first theory comes from an old race track located on Old Philadelphia Pike, called “Entercourse.” Some think that the name “Entercourse” evolved to “Intercourse” and became the town name in 1814.

The second theory stems from the two famous roads that intersected in the town, one running east and west from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and one running from Erie to Wilmington. Because of this, the town was called “Cross Keys” which may have eventually became “Intercourse.”

The third theory concerns the language used during the town’s early days, when the word “intercourse” described fellowship and social support in the community. The town name of Intercourse would have described the comradery of the town.

Resource: Intercourse Heritage Days

Bird-in-Hand

Have you heard the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” Legend has it that the saying played into this unique town name. Two men were surveying the highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster. Needing a place to stay, they found an inn (a simple log hut), quoted that saying, and stayed for the night. The inn became known as “The Bird-in-Hand,” giving the town its name.  The sign outside the inn depicted a man holding a bird, which made it easy for travelers to find.

Resource: Bird-in-Hand

Roots & Blues Festival Round-Up

When you think Blues or Jazz music you think of somewhere like Memphis or Louisiana, right? Did you know that Lancaster has its own Roots & Blues Festival? And it is kickin’…

Held in March, this annual festival is back for the 5th year in a row to grace the city with its musical presence. Roots and Blues features over 50 artists from around the world at eight different venues throughout downtown Lancaster. Whether you are an avid Blues fan, or just a casual listener all are welcome to attend!

You can purchase tickets for the whole weekend, one- or two-days, or even one-venue. (If you would like to see any performances on the mainstage you must have a general admission ticket). Tickets are available in advance and it is recommended to purchase them ahead of time… this event is pretty popular among locals and visitors alike.

Ridiculous. #vonsmith #lancaster #rootsandbluesfestival

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The festival showcases all different types of musical genres from Blues, Jazz, and Rock ‘n Roll, to Reggae, Bluegrass, Ska, and even Celtic! Needless to say, there is just about something for everyone to enjoy.

Be sure to take a look at the artists performing a head of time so you can plan a schedule of what to see where. Downtown Lancaster is very walkable, so you should have no trouble getting from one venue to the next to see a performance.

We do recommend you dress in layers; it can be cold here in Lancaster in early March, but the venues can get crowded so you will want to be able to shed your jacket. Also, don’t be afraid to don your fringy boots, embroidered peasant top, or your favorite leather jacket- this is a music festival after all and the City of Lancaster is brimming with creative energy. Feel free to flaunt your personal style.

If listening to all that music makes you hungry, there are plenty of places to grab a bite Downtown. Lancaster has loads of ethnic eats, pub fare, and good ol’ American favorites. Some of the venues, like Tellus360 also serve food so you can dine while you listen. We recommend you try the pizza at the Federal Taphouse, and grab a beer while you are there – the Taphouse features 100 beers on tap. If you are in the mood for something cultural try Sa la Thai Restaurant on North Queen Street. For more upscale dining visit Carr’s or The Pressroom– both are delicious. (All are within walking distance of the festival venues).

The Roots and Blues Festival is a great way to experience live music and break out of the winter doldrums. Come for a day, or for the weekend and celebrate the roots of American music and explore all that Lancaster City has to offer.

Locations to purchase tickets in person:

Stan’s Record Bar – 48 N. Prince St., Lancaster, PA 17603 | 717-397-5200 | *Cash Only

CI Records – 226 N. Prince St., Lancaster, PA 17603 | 717-391-7865

The Record Connection – 555 N. Reading Rd., Ephrata, PA 17522 | 717-733-1641

Iko’s Music Trade – 2300 E. Market St., York, PA 17402 | 717-755-2752

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