Tag Archives: Farm

October in Lancaster Travel Guide: Halloween & Harvest

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are beginning to fall, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re starting to see pumpkins and fall wreaths made of burlap pop up in our towns, and the farmers getting ready to harvest out in the fields. Our children are animatedly choosing their Halloween costumes and talking about the fall treats we’ll bake. However you plan to celebrate fall, October is the perfect month full of activities and events that you’ll enjoy whether your preference is Halloween or harvest.

Check out our October Travel Guide below:

Halloween

  1. Howl at the Moon
    Pack your blanket, hotdogs, and marshmallows for the bonfire, and learn about the wolves that live in Lititz during the Full Moon Tour at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.
  2. Lancaster’s Haunted History 
    This is no hocus-pocus – you’ll hear authentic ghost stories told at the actual sites of the hauntings. These walking ghost tours take place nightly in October.
  3. Enjoy Spook-tacular Family Fun
    Put on your costumes, pack up the mini-van and head on over to Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings where you’ll see Duke the Dragon in his Halloween best. Don’t forget to trick-or-treat with the dinosaurs!
  4. Take an Eerie Three-Wheeled Tour
    Take a hauntingly fun tour of the back roads by scooter withStrasburg Scooter’s Spooky Scoot. Available October 13-14, 20-21, & 27-28. Rider’s tip: pack warm gloves and a scarf.
  5. Award-winning, Spine-tingling Chills
    When it comes to terrifying thrills, visit USA Today’s Best Extreme Haunted Attraction Field of Screams is the place to be. You can also visit the haunted hayride, attractions, and houses at Jason’s Woods.

Harvest

  1. Annual Harvest Breakfast
    Kick off the harvest season at Lancaster Central Market with everyone’s favorite Harvest Breakfast, featuring farm-to-table food, live entertainment, and family fun.
  2. Pick the Perfect Pumpkin
    Head to one of our many fields to pick the perfect carving pumpkin, and enjoy apple cider and hayrides. If you’re not in to carving pumpkins, perhaps you can head to an apple orchard and bring home some fresh apples to douse in caramel for the perfect fall snack.
  3. Fall ArtWalk
    Immerse yourself in Downtown Lancaster’s art scene at Fall ArtWalk. This self-guided tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 7-8.
  4. Head Outdoors with a drive, a Hike or Bike Ride.
    Grab your favorite pumpkin flavored hot beverage from one of our local coffee shops, and then head out to get lost on our winding backroads and experience the beauty of fall.
  5. Fall Fairs & Festivals
    Explore traditional fall on the farm with Fall Farm Days at Amish Farm & House or Harvest Days at Landis Valley Museum. Try some local brews with Stoudt’s Oktoberfest events, or if you’d rather go back in time, dress up in your best medieval garb and visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. And don’t miss our full list of our County Fairs and Farm Shows.

When in Amish Country…

Driving along the country roads in Lancaster County, you are bound to see and share the road with plenty of horse and buggies, but have you ever thought about what it’s like to travel in one? Growing up in Lancaster County, I’ve wondered what this alternative form of transportation is like. I finally got the chance to find out with a buggy ride at Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides, located just outside of Bird-in-Hand.

My daughter, who has been fascinated with horse and buggies since she could look out the car windows, came along on this adventure with me. The weather the morning of our ride was absolutely perfect, with abundant blue sky and even a refreshing breeze. Aaron & Jessica’s was quite easy to find, as it’s located right off of Old Philadelphia Pike, neighboring Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant and Amish Experience Theater (a convenient stop for after your buggy ride to learn more information on the Amish or a home-style meal).

We met our driver, Ben, as we climbed up into the buggy and took a seat on the benches that are along the windows of the buggy. It was certainly cozy, but with the open windows it was quite comfortable.

As we hit the open road, Ben told us more about his family and Amish background, and introduced our horse, Al, who walked and trotted along the country road. As we passed fruit trees and fields of alfalfa wheat and corn, Ben talked more about the farming customs here in Lancaster County. He was happy to answer questions that we had along the way, and was enjoyable to talk to. My daughter was taking in the sites, looking out the windows as we rode down the driveway towards the farm we were stopping at.

Upon pulling up to the farm, we were greeted by a young Amish girl who told us about the homemade cookies, honey mustard pretzels, root beer and fresh squeezed lemonade they had available for sale that day. To satisfy our sweet tooth, we chose a bag of fresh chocolate chip cookies and a root beer. The cookies looked delicious, and we couldn’t wait to take a bite.

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While on the farm, Ben told us about Amish farms, houses and little more about family life. Even though I have lived here the majority of my life, I learned so much about the Amish community from Ben, and was so thankful he was willing to share his stories.

We headed back to the roads, chatting, learning and enjoying a cookie along the way. The farm looked beautiful from the road, especially with the clear skies and green fields. At 8 to 10 miles per hour, traveling by horse and buggy is significantly slower than traveling by car, but it was far less bumpy than I anticipated. Nature provided us with refreshing “air-conditioning” as Al trotted along the road.

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The buggy ride was a unique experience, and a must do if you’re looking to learn more about life on the farm. We went on a 30-minute ride which was an ideal amount of time for a young child, but Aaron & Jessica’s does offer longer rides that include a tour of the farm. Reservations aren’t required for regular rides, but they must be made for private tours.

Learn more about Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides and stop by for a buggy ride next time you’re in Lancaster!

Amish Farm and House

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

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

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

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

Roadside Stands & Local Farmers

Growing up in the farm country of Lancaster County. Moving to suburban Philadelphia and New York City for 20 years. Working on Wall Street. Traveling the world as a consultant.

Moving back to Lancaster County gives one an interesting perspective. Of course, even though we lived and worked in New York City and Philadelphia, we’d make frequent trips back to Lititz where my wife and I grew up to visit family. It always felt like a step back in time – more simple, relaxed, friendlier.

I’ve crested 55 and lived here again for just over 10 years. Our youngest daughter goes off to college in a few weeks. Those 20 years out of the area were our family and career building years, not only full of excitement and adventure but sky-rocketing stress, high anxiety and a struggle to master the world. It wasn’t until I got laid off from a very good job, that we decided we wanted a simpler life and moved back to Lancaster County.

One of the things I love about Lancaster County are the roadside farm markets. They’re all over the place. I intentionally drive past my favorite stand on the way from home from my current job at Garden Spot Village. Sometime I’ll stop and simply get a homemade whoopie pie for less than a dollar. That’s right – less than a dollar! Often I’ll pick up fresh fruits or vegetables that came out of the fields surrounding the stand. It’s amazing.

Dinner last night was salad topped with shrimp so I stopped for fresh greens, peppers, carrots and broccoli to add to the shrimp in the fridge. It’s great to know that what you’re eating is organically grown, fresh and wholesome. And this particular weekend, Friday and Saturday, held a special surprise! Fresh Peach Sundaes for .99 cents. Oh yeah! Three scoops of Turkey Hill Ice Cream, topped with fresh peaches that were just washed, peeled, sliced and finished off with a swirl of whipped cream. It was heavenly. Is that crazy or what? Where else do you find fresh hand-dipped sundaes for .99 cents? Certainly not suburban Philadelphia or New York City, I can tell you that!

Having grown up in Lititz, roadside farm stands were just a common thing, something I drove past and ignored. It’s only been in the last several years that I’ve discovered how amazingly incredibly they are. Not only are the baked goods, cheeses and produce wonderfully farm fresh, the families that run them are extremely friendly and helpful. And sometimes they do crazy things like fresh peach sundaes for 99 cents.

If you live in Lancaster County or you visit regularly, do yourself a favor and add visits to local farm stands into your routine. If you’re visiting be sure to stop and check some out. You’ll be glad you did. If you’re feeling like life is too complex, full of unreasonable responsibilities and way too stressful, you might want to do what we did: take a step back in time and make Lancaster County home. For us life got a lot simpler and happier and Lancaster holds that same potential for you. And then, well, maybe a roadside farm stand might be right next door! Imagine the possibilities and adventure of a simpler life!

To read more about Garden Spot Village, go to www.gardenspotvillage.org/blog.

 

A VIP Tour that’s available to all

I embarked on the Amish Experience’s Amish V.I.P. (“Visit in Person”) Tour along with our Public Relations Director, Joel Cliff.  The V.I.P. tour is a fantastic opportunity to visit with our Amish neighbors in a more personal and intimate setting.

When I first heard the tour was three hours, it seemed like a long span of time, but when the tour was finished I couldn’t believe how quickly the time went.  I was engaged throughout the entire tour, as was even the youngest member of our group, a 6-year-old girl from Canada.

We boarded a very comfortable 14-seat air-conditioned bus and our driver and tour guide, Joanne, began our journey with some background on the Amish community and their history in the area.  Our first stop was at Esh’s dairy farm, where owner Jake showed us how they milk cows and told us all about life on the dairy farm.  Our young little Canadian even had the opportunity to bottle feed one of the calves.

We toured the barn where we saw buggy horses and work mules, then headed to the quilt shop where they sold gorgeous handmade quilts and other beautiful gifts.

Our next stop was at the Leola Buggy Shop to see how buggies are made and refurbished.  It was really neat to learn about the types of buggies, the various features that can be ordered, and the differences between Mennonite and Amish buggies.

Our final stop was an Amish home where we warmly welcomed by Steven and his family.  We toured the kitchen and common area, then had the opportunity to sit in the living room to listen to stories and ask whatever questions we wanted:  “Do you pay taxes?”  “How long do the kids go to school?”  “Do you still do barn raisings?” etc.  This was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the tour – I mean, how many people have the chance to sit and talk with an Amish family and realize that, in a lot of ways, they are just like you and me?

Throughout our tour, Joanne kept us entertained with fun facts, answered our questions, and told us how she came to live and work in Lancaster County.  (Originally from Long Island, she visited Lancaster on her honeymoon and fell in love with the area … for more details, ask her yourself!)  The other guests – visiting from Long Island, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Canada – couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the outing.

If you would like to learn about the Amish, and see how they live, work and play firsthand, then book your Amish V.I.P. Tour today at www.AmishExperience.com.

Top 3 ways to experience autumn in Amish Country

1. A hot air balloon ride
What better way to experience the leaves turning and the fields being harvested than from above? You’ll be able to see for miles from a hot air balloon with Balloon Rides Daily by the United States Hot Air Balloon Team. You’ll be able to see clusters of trees that are turning yellows, oranges, or bright & deep reds, and fields that are perfectly manicured. This is probably the most breathtaking way to create memories of Lancaster County in ANY season!

2. A scooter ride
This is probably one of the most unique ways to tour Amish Country. You can experience the sights and smells of Lancaster County while riding around the back roads on a scooter.

3. Harvest Events
Lancaster County has got lots of great harvest events. The Harvest Festival at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is great – Saturdays through October 30 – you can pick pumpkins, pick a ear of popcorn, and explore the Amazing Maize Maze that has turned from deep green to the warm, harvest shades of tan & brown. Check out our Events Calendar for more!

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