Tag Archives: Bird-in-Hand

Top 10 Things to Do in Lancaster: September Travel Guide

September brings the beginning of fall, cooler weather, pumpkin flavored goodies, and great events to Lancaster. It’s time for football tailgates and evenings at the farm show, as the days get a little bit shorter and the air gets a little bit crisper. Whether you’re a local discovering what’s in your own backyard or in town to explore during the weekend, you’ll find something that strikes your fancy and gets you in the mood for fall’s exciting offerings.

Check out our list of 10 things to do this month in Lancaster (just to name a few):

Kids will love…

The Corn Maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm | All Month
Find your way through the Amazing Maize Maze, an interactive corn maze filled with twists, turns, and clues along the way. Once you’ve found your way out of the corn, Cherry Crest Adventure Farm has loads of fun farm-themed activities, friendly farm animals, and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch to experience life down on the farm.

Day Out with Thomas™ at Strasburg Rail Road™ | September 16-24
Thomas the Tank Engine is back in town for railroading fun. Join Thomas and his pal Percy for a ride on the historic railroad, activities, and more. This is a “must-do” for families with little train lovers. They’re sure to remember the time they got to meet Thomas the Tank Engine himself.

Foodies will love…

The Whoopie Pie Festival at Hershey Farm | September 9
Celebrate this Lancaster dessert at Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn. Treat yourself to a traditional whoopie pie or try a more adventurous combo while you enjoy games, activities, unique craft vendors, and more. It’s the most delicious day of the month!

Fall Bluegrass Concert at the Vineyard at Grandview | September 9
Sit back and enjoy an afternoon in the vineyard featuring live bluegrass music, locally-crafted wines and brews, and tasty fare from local food trucks. Two great bluegrass acts, Porthouse Yard and Hog Maw, will provide lively entertainment to keep your toes tapping.

Restaurant Week in Lancaster City | September 18-24
Explore the diverse culinary offerings Lancaster City has to offer during Fall Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants offer deals from $10 to $40 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including some offerings created just for this week. Be sure to come hungry, and share your delicious moments using #LCRW2017.

Runners will love…

Run, Ride & Soar Weekend | September 8-10
Lace up your sneakers for the annual Run, Ride, and Soar weekend in Bird-in-Hand. Runners can participate in the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon or 5k, while bikers can take to the backroad for the Amish Country Classic Bike Ride. If you’d rather catch the action from above, the Amish Country Hot Air Balloon Fest features launches in the morning and evening for a birds-eye view of the farmland.

Shoppers will love…

Wool Frolic at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum | September 16
Are you a fan of knitting, crocheting, or other fiber arts? Find yarn of every texture and color, fleece, and more at this artsy event. Crafting demonstrations will be going on throughout the day, along with hands-on activities for kids.

Fall Antiques Extravaganza in Adamstown | September 28 – October 1
Find dozens of antique shops including outdoor markets as you explore the Antiques Capital in Adamstown. Browse the plethora of wares as dealers and shops extend their hours for this weekend. If you’re looking for that one-of-a-kind item, chances are you’ll find it here.

The whole family will love…

Tailgate Festival at Kitchen Kettle Village | September 15-16
Touchdown! Time to get in the spirit of football season at Kitchen Kettle’s sports-themed festival. There will be tons of tasty homemade tailgate foods to sample, activities for kids and adults to enjoy, and lively musical performances along the shop-lined paths of the village. If you’re in the competitive spirit, participate in their Pumpkin Whoopie Pie filling Contest to test your skills.

Fairs & Farm Shows | All Month
September brings fairs and farm shows to the communities throughout the county. Time for funnel cakes, Ferris wheels, farm animals, and fun! Enjoy the brisk evening air as you stroll down the midway at the following fairs this month: York (September 8-17), Denver (September 12-16), Solanco (September 20-22), Ephrata (September 26-30), and West Lampeter (September 27-29).

For a full list of September events, check out our events calendar.


Things to Do in February

The winter chill is still in the air, but that doesn’t stop the fun in Lancaster! From two exciting festivals to the first Mud Sale of the season, you’re sure to find something unique to make your trip one to remember.

Festive Festivals

Lititz presents their Fire & Ice Festival over President’s Day Weekend (February 17-20) featuring ice sculptures, great food, live entertainment and activities throughout the weekend. To contrast the frosty ice sculptures, a Chili Cook Off is held on Saturday alongside the Winter Wonderland Carnival and Vendor Fair.

The sweet, sweet sounds of roots and blues music will fill the air of Downtown Lancaster during the three day Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival, February 24-26. The 2017 lineup includes over 50 artists performing at 8 venues throughout the city. A variety of ticket options are available, from one to three day tickets along with VIP and Under 21 options.

Dinner with Your Sweetheart

To celebrate the day of love, join the Vineyard at Grandview for a five course wine pairing Valentine Dinner that will infuse your holiday with romance. Delicious dishes are paired with the vineyard’s wines made on location. Mark your calendars for February 10 and reserve your seats today.

For the craft beer lovers, the General Sutter Inn presents a Beer & Food Tasting dinner featuring Founders Brewing Company on February 27. For $38 per person, you’ll enjoy courses paired with brews that will have your tasty buds buzzing. With the popularity of this event, reservations are required.

If PA Dutch style cooking is what you’re craving, Bird-in-Hand Fire Company is hosting their first Chicken Pot Pie Dinner of 2017. They are serving up all-you-can-eat chicken pot pie, peas, pepper cabbage, rolls, desserts, and more from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM (or until they sell out) on February 25. It’s the perfect PA Dutch meal to fill your belly on cold day.

Bring Your Boots

Mud Sale season kicks off on Saturday, February 25 with the Strasburg Mud Sale. Whether you’re looking for great bargains on antiques, crafts, furniture and quilts or spectating and enjoying the wonderful food, be sure to remember your boots. These events are classically muddy as they are held as the ground begins to thaw.

Gimme Some Sugar

So sweet – it’s time for Maple Sugaring at Lancaster County Park. On-going demonstrations in the sugar bush of the park will be held on Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26. Learn about the process from tree tapping to boiling to making the sweet product into candy. Maple products will be on sale for you to take tasty treats home to share.

Arts & History  

Browse Charles Demuth-inspired art at the Demuth Museum’s annual exhibition featuring Lancaster area artists. “Valentines for Demuth” invites Lancaster area artists to create works inspired by his work, 1896 Valentine. Works will be on display from February 4 to 26.

Rock Ford Plantation invites children ages 4 and up and their parents to celebrate the first President of the United States, George Washington. Enjoy cake and ice cream with Mr. Washington, enjoy crafts and games, and learn why we continue to celebrate his birthday. Reservations are required for this February 26th event.

For a complete list of events in February and beyond, click here

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!


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.


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.

Up, up, and away!

Last night I set my alarm for 5:00 AM. I know, crazy right? But it was for a VERY good reason. Why would I wake up while it’s still dark? To get ready for a 6:00 AM start with the US Hot Air Balloon Team, of course!

If you have never been on a hot air balloon ride, I’ll let you know that you don’t have to get up before dawn to catch a ride – they also have evening flights. When we arrived at the field that they take off from (almost directly across from the Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market), the balloon was already beginning to inflate.

If you’ve never seen a balloon inflate, they use one or two large and powerful fans to push air into the balloon. You can even walk around inside the balloon as it is being inflated. Once the balloon has enough air in it to hold its shape, the pilot adds hot air to make it rise in the form of flames.

There were ten of us riding, including our flight pilot, Lucas, who was on his 2,084th (or somewhere around there) flight. He is definitely experienced enough for me to trust him flying me up about 1 mile over the beautiful farmland of Lancaster County.

We went up pretty quickly, I was surprised. It’s funny – I’m not someone who would say I’m afraid of heights, but I’m also not super fond of them – but riding up in a hot air balloon, you almost don’t feel like you’re moving, because you’re going gently with the wind. It does get a little chilly up there in the morning, so you definitely want to bring a sweatshirt or light jacket. Lucas told us that later in the summer you probably don’t need that because it gets hot and humid so quickly in the mornings.

Something that I’ll always be amazed at, that was just accentuated by being up so high above it, is Amish farmland that looks like a patchwork quilt despite not using modern technology to plow the fields. The rows are so straight, and because the properties are all right next to one another, you get lines that are going different directions, and some fields that are still brown, and some that are green. It’s truly amazing.

At one point, Lucas flew low enough over some trees that my friend Kristen & I could grab some leaves off the tops – it was awesome. We waved to lots of people below on the ground, as we descended. We landed on an open field in farmland, and a few of the local Amish kids came running over to see the balloon that had landed in their back yard. The ground crew started pulling the ropes to get the balloon down, while Lucas pushed the air out from the bottom.

Once the balloon was packed back into the trailer (who knew such a HUGE thing could fit into a trailer tied to the back of our van?), we drove back to the launch site, and had breakfast with a mimosas toast. It’s definitely an experience that I would recommend, and make sure that when you take a flight, especially if it’s with Lucas, that you let them know you read about it here!

To learn more, visit their website: www.ushotairballoon.com

5 Reasons Lancaster is an RV destination

Country villages, unforgettable landscapes and the simple joys of Amish life are just three of the many reasons to visit Lancaster County by RV. The family-centered attractions of Pennsylvania Dutch Country make it easy to bring the kids along on your journey. Here are five fascinating reasons to start planning a Lancaster County adventure for the whole family.

  1. Kitchen Kettle Village, a delightful collection of vintage homes filled with goody-filled shops, is located in Intercourse, PA. Take the family on a buggy ride, stop for a memorable lunch at the Kling House Restaurant and purchase local specialties as you stroll through the village shops. Be sure to take the kids to the Bake Shop for freshly-baked cookies and whoopie pies!
  2. It wouldn’t be a Lancaster County adventure without a side trip or two to photograph the area’s many covered bridges. Enduring structures like the White Rock Forge Covered Bridge near Quarryville and the Forry Mill Bridge over Chickies Creek near Marietta draw photographers from all over the world. CoveredBridgeSite.com contains an excellent guide to Lancaster County’s historic bridges.
  3. Take the Old Philadelphia Pike to the village of Bird-in-Hand to experience the joys of a farmers’ market. Vendor stalls line the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market every weekend year-round, and their hours are expanded during warmer weather. Comfortable indoor shopping in a quaint setting with something everyone in the family will enjoy — the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. An RV travel tip: just five minutes out of town you’ll find Country Acres Campground, a highly-rated RV paradise waiting to be your home away from home.
  4. Follow Lincoln Highway over rolling hills dotted with neat and prosperous Amish farms to find Flory’s Cottages and Camping in the borough of Ronks, PA. Not only will your RV camping family enjoy the serenity of this rural campground, they’ll also love such local attractions as Lapp’s Wooden Toys and Furniture on Irishtown Road.

We’ve barely scratched the surface on why RV travelers should be planning a Lancaster County road trip! Whether your family comes for the quaint villages, glorious scenery or exceptional lessons in history, Pennsylvania Dutch Country doesn’t disappoint. There’s a Lancaster County adventure for the whole family waiting for you in South Central Pennsylvania.

Guest post by: Joe Laing, the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty’s Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their RV Camping Pictures.

Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord

I’ve been visiting Lancaster County for over 30 years and most of my time has been spent in the village of Bird-in-Hand. The Amish family whom I’m friends with have a farm there, and I’ve eaten more meals at Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord than probably any thirty-something south of the Mason-Dixon Line. People often ask me what my favorite Lancaster County restaurant is, and my answer is always Bird-in-Hand. There are other restaurants in the county that do a few things bigger and better, but overall I find Bird-in-Hand to be the best. The food is always fresh and made from scratch (more on that later). I have many fond memories of eating there with my parents, my wife, and my Amish friends. On top of it all, they have some of the nicest and friendliest servers I’ve experienced in any restaurant in any place. Several of them know my wife and I and always make us feel at home with lively conversation. The servers are very competent and many have worked at the restaurant for 15 years or longer. They provide a level of customer service that is second to none anywhere in the United States.

Paul Smucker built the restaurant in April 1968 as a coffee shop/snack bar for his adjacent Family Inn (then called Bird-in-Hand Motor Inn). In 1970 it was expanded to a 145 seat restaurant called the Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant. In the 1990s, after Paul’s sons John and Jim took control of the Bird-in-Hand Corporation, a buffet was incorporated. In February 2005 the restaurant expanded and a very large buffet was installed. The dining room now holds 350 and the banquet and conference facilities can accomodate and additional 300. The restaurant features many historic photos of the village as well as the evolution of the Bird-in-Hand Corporation, which owns several hotels in the area (including the adjacent Bird-in-Hand Family Inn), a bakery, a deli and some other local ventures. The Smucker family homestead sits across Route 340 from the restaurant and the restaurant and bakery serve many dishes from old Smucker family recipes.

Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant specializes in family meals and traditional Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. The restaurant features buffet and a la carte dining, and the a la carte portions are large. The restaurant is sizable and is popular among both tourists and locals. There is typically a short wait at lunch and dinner and also during breakfast hours during busy seasons. During peak tourist season the waits can be much longer depending on the time of arrival. The restaurant also features banquet services for meetings and special events. Many of the more popular dishes such as cold salads, ham loaf and desserts are available to take home in large quantities.

OK, so here is my list of must haves at Bird-in-Hand. These are some of the dishes that I think they have perfected:

Scrapple– a big, thick deep fried or grilled slab that is served with two eggs, toast, syrup or ketchup. If you’re especially hungry, get some of their excellent home fries. By far, the best scrapple I’ve ever had.

At breakfast I highly recommend the hot chocolate with whipped cream- it takes me back to my childhood. They also have outstanding coffee (we always stock up on bags of their coffee to take home).

Creamed Dried Beef over toast with home fries and French Toast with link sausage are my wife’s breakfast favorites, and they are delicious.

At lunch or dinner I always typically order at least a cup (sometimes a bowl) of Chicken Corn Soup: it is fantastic, the best I’ve ever had, and that includes home made from an Amish kitchen. A great pairing would be a chicken salad sandwich on a pretzel roll or a broiled crab cake on a pretzel roll. Also watch for their daily features and daily Pennsylvania Dutch specialties; a particular favorite is Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie (aka Bot Boi-known as Chicken and Dumplings in the South). It is typically served all you can eat with a trip to the salad bar, but I can never manage more than one platter. Their vegetable selection varies daily and all are great tasting and fresh, however, since they are made from scratch daily by different people, taste varies. Some days the buttered noodles are better than others, I guess it depends on who is doing the cooking. If you are feeling a bit hungrier I highly recommend the smoked pork chops, the breaded veal cutlet,  the Salisbury steak, the baked ham loaf, beef pot roast, and the Lancaster County baked sausage. These are all great and very filling.

For dessert, be sure to try the wet bottom shoo fly pie (best I’ve ever had- comes from the Bird-in-Hand Bakery right down the block) and the red velvet cake. Another favorite is the Apple Dumpling served with ice cream or milk- it’s big enough to be a meal in itself. They also have to die for berry cheese streusels during the spring and summer. All of their desserts can be found at the Bakery and many of them can be purchased in the restaurant to take home from a refrigerated Bird-in-Hand Bakery to Go case.

For more on the history of the Bird-in-Hand Corporation and an interview with Jim Smucker click here for an article from the Amish Country News.

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