Tag Archives: Strasburg

The Bible Comes to Life!

On a hill near Strasburg, PA sits a beautiful theater, specializing in bringing stories from the Bible to life. Sight & Sound Theatres® brings tales from scripture to the stage with vivid costumes, captivating musical numbers, live animals, and sets and production that will take your breath away.

This year, Sight & Sound Theatres® presents Jonah, a whale of a tale (pun intended) featuring the prophet Jonah, his run from God, and consequences of his actions.

My family, including my theater-loving four year old, got the opportunity to see the show for ourselves. Upon arriving at the theater, my daughter was amazed at the beauty and size of the facade, lobby, and stage, as we made our way to our seats. The stage is epic, wrapping around the room, providing additional space for action to happen.

We settled in to our seats and prepared for a magnificent 2 hours and 30 minutes. I won’t dive too deep into the story itself, but I will say, the performance was spectacular! The effects, especially the scenes underwater and at the dock at Joppa took our breath away, and had my daughter on the edge of her seat.

The show is best experienced for yourself. For tickets, be sure to visit Sight & Sound’s website here.

Exciting news for 2018 – Sight & Sound Theatres® will debut their newest show – Jesus.  If you can’t make it to Jonah this year, be sure to put Jesus on your list for 2018!

* Photo and videos courtesy of Sight & Sound Theatres®

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

Scooting around Lancaster’s Back Roads

On a beautiful fall day, the Discover Lancaster team took to the back roads of southern Lancaster County, not by car, buggy or bus, but by scooter! We met at Strasburg Scooters for a unique adventure, and were excited to see the fall foliage, covered bridges and farmland from a new perspective.

After a safety lesson and a few practice laps around the block, our group set off for our three-hour Covered Bridge tour, ready for the sights that were waiting to be discovered. Our scooters buzzed as we made our way up and down rolling hills. The foliage glowed in the warm sun. The wind, especially as we made our way through open roads, made for a chilly ride, but the experience made braving the cold worth it.

As we buzzed towards our first stop, we were guided around the curves and wooded back roads, dotted with beautiful fall-colored trees. Our guide signaled our first stop at a covered bridge, where we got off our scooters for a history lesson and a photo opportunity. After warming our hands and observing the architecture of the bridge, we hit the road again, headed towards our next two stops, a vista then an Amish farm.

Our guide knew the backgrounds well, and our caravan was greeted by Amish children at each schoolhouse we passed. When they heard the scooters coming around the bend or over the hill, they ran to the fence, greeted our guide and scrambled to collect the candy he tossed to them.

We pulled in to the Amish farm house and had the opportunity to tour their barn, meet the horses and learn more about Amish lifestyle and tradition. It was a great chance to learn more about the Amish, before hitting the road for our last stop.

Our final stop before heading back to base was another covered bridge, slightly narrower than the first, with more history to learn about. After snapping a few group photos to commemorate our adventure, we followed our trusty guide back to the starting point.

While our ride was quite cold, we were thrilled by journey we took around the county. If you’re looking to see the farmlands and the less traveled back roads, check out Strasburg Scooters. During the summer, they host a variety of tours including the Covered Bridge Tour, Date Night Tour, Bridge and Beer Tour, Amish Country Mystery Tour and more. Their fall tours include a Spooky Scoot, while winter features Scootin’ with Santa.

Tips:
– Be sure to check the weather and dress accordingly. We anticipated cooler weather and dressed in layers plus brought hats and gloves and even hand warmers! If you warm up along the way, there is space in the seat area of the scooter to store extra layers.
– Have your camera or phone charged and ready. Historic bridges and beautiful views await, and you’ll want to be sure to capture them when you stop to enjoy.
– Ask questions! The Strasburg Scooter guides have a wealth of knowledge about the bridges, Amish farm life, and the county itself, and are happy to share information along the way.
– If you don’t feel comfortable driving a single seat scooter, opt for a Scoot Coupe which look like small convertibles. They have three wheels for extra stability, and seat two people.

Ten Things to Do in Lancaster County in June

Signs of summer are popping up across Lancaster County. From fun with the kids now that school is out to spending time outdoors in the warm sunshine, here are ten exciting events and things to do in Lancaster this month.

A Day at the Railroad

Railroad fun and history are ever-present in Strasburg this month for the young and young-at-heart.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s special exhibit for 2016, “Safety First! The Evolution of Railroading Safety Practices,” explores how technology and practices helped to improve the safety of railroad workers. For those who love railroading history, this is just the place for you! Along with the special exhibit, the museum also features historic locomotives, a working restoration shop and more. Admission to this year’s exhibit is included with museum admission. The exhibit is open during regular museum hours and will be on display until December 31, 2016.

Thomas is coming back to town – Thomas the Tank Engine™ that is! June 18 through June 26, Strasburg Rail Road® will host their Day Out with Thomas™ event, featuring a train ride with Thomas, storytelling and more. Thomas won’t be traveling alone, as his friend Percy will be joining in the festivities too. Tickets can be purchased for the June, August, and November Day Out with Thomas™ events online.

Live Music Galore

Outdoor music performances are plentiful in June, and what better time to enjoy the warm summer air and toe-tapping tunes.

Looking for something to do on Sunday nights this summer? Grab a picnic dinner and lawn chairs and head over to Long’s Park for their Summer Music Series. Beginning on June 5, live music will be performed at the Long’s Park Amphitheater that will have you dancing along. Admission to these family-friendly, outdoor concerts is free.

Another exciting celebration of music is Kitchen Kettle Village’s Music for Everyone Festival, held on Saturday, June 18. Enjoy various live music performances as you stroll around and browse the village shops.

Celebrate the City and Towns

Join in the festivities as Intercourse and Lancaster City are celebrated with fun and even fireworks!

Intercourse Heritage Days will be held June 17 through 18 to celebrate the history and heritage of the town. Hosted at Intercourse Community Park, this festival includes activities for kids, a pie baking contest, musical entertainment, a reptile show and more. The Taste of Lancaster Food Showcase will feature local restaurants and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine that plays a role in the area’s heritage. A fireworks display will wrap up Saturday’s festivities.

As a celebration of culture and diversity in the growing City of Lancaster, Celebrate Lancaster will take place on Friday, June 24. Enjoy more than 20 food vendors, live music on two stages and beer & wine, with festivities wrapping up in the evening with a fireworks display.

Beer & Wine… Oh my!

Whether you prefer to sip chardonnay or relax with a brew, here are two wine and beer centric events for your June afternoon.

From the creators of Lancaster Craft Beerfest, comes SIP Wine in the Park, an afternoon of wine tasting the Lancaster City’s Musser Park. Tasting Tickets are on sale now for this June 18 event, and admission includes a commemorative sampling glass plus samples from around the world, live music, and food sampling.

The newest beer fest in town is the Ephrata Brewfest, to be held on Saturday June 25 at the Whistle Stop Plaza in Ephrata. Ales, IPAs, stouts and more will be available for sampling from local up-and-coming breweries including Wacker Brewing Company, Lancaster Brewing Company, St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company and more. Live music and food vendors round out this event which is sure to be a good time.

Relax on the River

With the cold weather behind us, the outdoors are just waiting to be explored. Take some time this month to experience water sports on the Susquehanna River.

Combine biking and paddling for a day of adventure along the river. Chiques Rock Outfitters, conveniently located at various points along the river, offers kayak, canoe and bike rentals. To ultimately cure your lingering cabin fever, opt for an hour long bike ride on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail then trade your bikes in for a kayak for a three hour ride on the river back to where you started. The trail is fairly flat and winds through wooded areas for a shady, leisurely ride.

With a variety of events in June, Shank’s Mare Outfitters offers a few different ways to experience the river. Whether you’re a novice or a paddling pro, Shank’s Mare offers stand-up paddle boarding classes, some even incorporating yoga in to the mix, and kayaking classes and tours. Follow an evening of paddling with a dinner along the river with one of their evening kayaking tour events.

Speckled Hen Coffee

Tucked between the historic bed & breakfasts and train attractions of Strasburg is a quaint café by the name of Speckled Hen Coffee. Excited to try something new, I ventured there for lunch and a caffeinated afternoon pick-me-up.

Speckled Hen Coffee is located on Main Street in Strasburg with ample parking for patrons. Upon entering the café, I noticed the crisp, clean décor and ample natural light. There is a patio out front for al fresco dining on the warmer days. A room next to the coffee bar and main dining area features a table with toys for children to play with while the parents enjoy their coffee. Speckled Hen Coffee features beautifully finished concrete floors with tables near the large windows where you can watch the occasional horse and buggy trot by.

Their breakfast menu including omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and house-made baked oatmeal (just to name a few) is served all day, but I was in the mood for lunch and opted for the Turkey Bacon Jam sandwich with a side salad and a latte. Not only was the latte beautiful, but it was also hot and rich – perfect! They source their coffee from Passenger Coffee, a coffee roasting company located in Downtown Lancaster which speaks to their passion for local products and the Lancaster County community.

From the minute I ordered my sandwich, I couldn’t wait for the first bite… and it was flawless. Melted Gouda, turkey and bacon jam were married between two perfectly pressed pieces of wheat-berry bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Chips are offered as a side, but the fresh, tender lettuce they source from Meck’s Produce paired with their delicious balsamic dressing made me forget chips even existed. They take pride in their food by using fresh, local products and making many items in house, like their bacon jam.

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Turkey Bacon Jam sandwich with a side salad… Yum!

After a savory lunch, I was longing for something sweet. The pastry display was filled with sweet treats from macaroons to coffee cake. I opted for one of their special desserts this spring, lemon-lavender cake. The lavender created a floral aroma while the lemon added a refreshing element. It was a uniquely delicious treat, especially on a bright spring day. Also inspired by the flowers of spring, they have added a lavender latte and lavender and rose sodas to their menu for the season.

Lemon Lavendar Cake

Lemon Lavendar Cake

 

During my visit I had the honor of chatting with the café’s co-owner about the inspiration behind the café and its name. Their love for celebrating what makes everyone unique, their community and coffee inspired the name “Speckled Hen Coffee.” They show their community spirit through hosting Music Fridays to showcase local musicians and partnering with Zolé Art Factory to host paint nights to bring coffee, art and people together.

I can’t wait to visit Speckled Hen Coffee again, especially for their Wednesday Burger Night to experience their selection of gourmet burgers and dessert options. Did I mention they have house-made desserts AND Carmen and David’s ice cream?

Whether it’s time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even just a quick cup of coffee, check out Speckled Hen Coffee for yourself!

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

Kid-friendly Strasburg day trip

My 4-year old daughter Sophia, 4-year old nephew Ethan, and sister Sherry, joined me on a trip to The Shops at Traintown in Strasburg. We started our day at The Choo Choo Barn – Traintown U.S.A. where we experienced one of America’s largest and most engaging custom model train displays, then had a scrumptious lunch at Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, and ended the day by eating homemade ice cream while watching fudge being made at Uncle Leroy’s Ice Cream and Candy Kitchen.

Have you been to The Choo Choo Barn? It’s fascinating! It features more than 1,700 square feet of special model train displays with more than 150 hand-built animated figures & vehicles, and 22 operating trains. The layout represents many Lancaster sights and sounds, such as an Amish barn raising, Dutch Wonderland, and the Strasburg Rail Road. Sophia and Ethan were mesmerized by all the moving parts, small details, and fun surprises (the lights in the room turn off and the stars come out – you’ll have to visit to understand what I mean). For older kids, the Choo Choo Barn provides a check list of items to find throughout the display – kind of like “Where’s Waldo” if you remember those books. The Choo Choo Barn also has a great gift shop. The kids spent about 15 minutes looking around, deciding what their souvenirs would be. The prices were reasonable, so letting the kiddos choose a memento was an easy decision.

We were starving by the time we finished at The Choo Choo Barn, so we walked a few doors down to Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches – a Lancaster favorite. In addition to being a bird-themed restaurant (click on this link to find out more), it is also train-themed – how cool is that? This uber kid-friendly restaurant is perfect for the whole family, and the food is delicious! Being a vegetarian, it can be challenging to find variety when eating out, but Isaac’s is the exception. I got the Black-Eyed Susan (grilled black bean burger with ranch dressing, cheese, fresh tomatoes and lettuce in a soft cheddar wrap) and it was great! Don’t look at the dessert menu unless you’re still hungry; their amazing and decadent desserts WILL lore you in every time.

To end our day, we walked a short distance to Uncle Leroy’s Ice Cream and Candy Kitchen. We each indulged in a scoop of ice cream. I had Almond Joy – delish! While we ate, we roamed around the store and tried all the FREE SAMPLES of fudge and brittles. Everything we tasted was so fresh and the flavors were creative and unique. Before long, the onsite magic started: the boiling sugar concoction in the large cauldron-like pot was poured on to a table topped with a large marble slab. We watched the whole process of fudge being made, from start to finish. It took about 30 minutes. The best part? We got to taste the fudge straight from the marble slab. THE. BEST. EV-ER. I highly recommend the fudge and brittles at Uncle Leroy’s – he knows that he’s doing!

The day was fun, educational, insightful and totally suitable for youngsters. Next time you’re in Strasburg, be sure to visit Shops at Traintown.

isaacs

uncleleroys

An exceptional historical museum

Most people hate to see the flashing red lights of a railroad crossing and that long black and white arm dropping in front of them when they are driving through town. Not me, I’m delirious with happiness as I watch that beautiful engine approach from the distance. I’ll open my windows to smell that oily smell of metal and to hear the sounds of the cars swaying gently on the track. I sit there grinning like an idiot and enjoying the trembling of the earth as tons of freight moves in front of me while everyone else is tapping their fingers on their steering wheels wondering when it will be over. I’d be happy if it never ended, but they always do.

My husband is not the train person that I am. He thinks they are “OK,” but nothing to go crazy about it. I was a little concerned when we made our trip to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania that he might get bored. He’s a car guy – the faster the better. So I crossed my fingers that maybe he’d catch the train bug.

Located in Strasburg, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is the state’s official railroad museum hosting more than 130,000 visitors a year. The museum is operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania organization. It opened in 1975 and is the largest lineal train museum in the world! If you think it looks big from the outside, just wait until you go inside, you won’t believe what you will see.

My hubby and I went through the entrance doors and into the lobby area where we got our guide map and took a look at the model railroad set up for visitors to enjoy. As a former model railroader, I always love to see a carefully thought through layout, and I appreciate all the work that goes into maintaining one. On the lobby wall we found a timeline of railroad history in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.

From the lobby there is a set of double doors that lead you into a hallway that opens onto the Rolling Stock Hall. I will never in my life forget the moment those doors opened. I know that sounds dramatic, but the smell of trains – oil, coal, iron – just overtakes you as those doors open and you know you are about to experience the real thing. Entering the Rolling Stock Hall itself is like stepping back through time. In front of you are over 100 pieces of rolling stock – engines, cars, cabooses – all just waiting for you to get up close and personal. If you’ve only seen trains from a distance it can be quite a shock to see how big they really are up close. Ever wonder what it’d be like to stand in front of an oncoming train? You can do it here. I did; I stood right in front of a classic blue Conrail Engine with its headlight on. Got a picture of it too. It’d be awfully scary if it was moving. Several of the cars are open for inspection and museum guides are there to explain the purpose of the cars and their history. We spent time talking to the guides about the museum, the specific cars we were in and about railroading in general. Be sure to ask questions when you see these guides, I guarantee you will learn something new!

One of the highlights of our morning was going into Stewart Junction which is the museum’s Railway Education Center. Here children 8 years and older, and younger ones with a little help, can use a model railroad to learn how trains move freight in different situations. I myself got to run a train carrying coal. Boy it was challenging, but it was also a lot of fun. Stewart Junction also includes many interactive displays that teach about rail history plus there are books to read, wooden railroads to play with, and an amazing Lego display that kept my hubby’s attention for a good long time.  (When you go, see if you can find something from the movie Back to the Future…)

I don’t think you could ever see all there is to see inside the Railroad Museum, but we did finally venture outside to the Train Yard where a real turntable and more rolling stock can be seen. You can also view pieces that are undergoing restoration in the Train Yard. The Museum is currently in the planning stages of building a new roundhouse which will allow them to put a lot more stock under cover. That will certainly be something to see when it is finished.

We made our way back inside and after a last tour of the Rolling Stock Hall we stopped in the Whistle Stop Shop.  This has to be the best railroad gift shop ever with tons of books on railroad history, train related gifts and souvenirs for the kids. There was something for everyone of every age who loves trains.

So, did hubby become a convert?  Did he catch the train bug? Yep, he most certainly did! He is just as anxious as I am to go back for another visit. He still loves his cars, but he couldn’t deny the allure of a beautiful steam engine. (He really loved the Lego display, too.)

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is open year round and admission is charged, but their hours vary so be sure to check out their website for information. The main areas are handicapped accessible and there is a lot for children to see and do. Picnic tables are available in the area for lunching and the Museum is located directly across the street from the Strasburg Rail Road so it would be a great day trip for your family.

Riding First Class is something special

I love riding trains, especially steam trains. The slower pace lets you get a good look at the beautiful countryside as you move through; it a different experience than traveling by car on crowded interstates.

The Strasburg Rail Road offers an unusual experience to those who want to travel by train. Not only do they use steam locomotives, but they also pass through an area of Lancaster County that is largely farmed by the Amish. It is easy to imagine that you have stepped back in time when you board the train and see from your window farm fields being plowed with horses.

My husband and I took a rare trip without our children to the Strasburg Rail Road to treat ourselves. I’ve ridden the rails at Strasburg many times in my life, but I had never traveled in the First Class Parlor car before. I will be to be the first to say that there is nothing at all wrong with riding Coach or in the Open Air cars. It is a comfortable way to travel, and the fact that the windows are open thrills the kids. However, we wanted to do something different this time. This time we rode in the beautifully decorated, air-conditioned First Class Parlor car.

We dressed the part as well. We are both involved in the Steampunk movement so we have the formal attire once required for the Parlor car in days gone by. (Believe me shorts and t-shirts are just as welcome. Children are welcome too; we just didn’t have ours along on this particular day.) We got our tickets and passed the time until our 2 PM train by poking around in the various shops on the property.

The First Class Parlor car was at the end of the train; when we stepped inside we were definitely impressed. Gleaming polished wood, leather chairs and gleaming glass with fine details filled the car. It was just beautiful and on this trip we had the whole car to ourselves. At one end of the car there was a bar area where a smiling attendant waited for us to take our seats.

There were many seating options available with and without tables, for singles or pairs. We chose to sit at a small table facing each other, but we changed seats numerous times during the trip to see various things out the window and take pictures. The conductor stopped by to take our tickets and the attendant brought us a menu to review as we waited for the train to leave the station. We reviewed the menu, and though the whoopie pie appealed to me greatly, we opted for the fruit and cheese plate along with our favorite mixed drinks.

We rode silently just enjoying the time to relax and take in our surroundings. As parents of two young children, this type of quiet rest does not come often. The end of the first leg of the journey is in a town named Paradise; here the train stops so the engine can relocated to the other end of the train in order to take everyone back to Strasburg.

As our ride drew to an end, my hubby and I settled our bill with the attendant, finished the last grapes and bits of cheese, and we descended the stairs back to the real world.

If you travel to Strasburg Rail Road, I highly suggest you treat yourself to a ride in a First Class Parlor Car. It is a bit more expensive, but it is also an experience that you will remember for a long time. Children are welcome, food and drink purchase is optional and the air-conditioning can be very welcome in the middle of the summer. Check out the Strasburg Rail Road’s website for their operating schedule and more information on their special excursions.

An enjoyable “scoot” around town

When I told my husband we were going on a scooter tour of Lancaster County, he was both thrilled and nervous.  Thrilled because he thought it would be fun, and like me, he has yet to experience Lancaster from a tourist’s perspective.  Nervous because he wasn’t quite sure of my ability to safely operate a scooter (I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “precision driver” – if you could see my front car bumper you would understand).

However, when we arrived at Strasburg Scooters, his worries were quickly laid to rest.  Our instructor, and partner in the business, Marc Crusemire did an outstanding job of getting me and the other riders comfortable with the scooter and making sure we were competent riders.  After a quick lesson and a few laps around the block, we were ready to go.

For the next three and a half hours, we toured some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen.  Marc kept laughing at me because at every stop sign all I could say was “wow” (Marc put me second in the scooter line up since I was the least experienced).  We rode by farms, quaint road side stands, and lush fields showcasing flowers of every color.  We passed between 8-10 buggies along the way, and every time we did we received a friendly wave and smiles from the drivers.

We saw cows, horses, chickens, sheep, bison, and even a deer farm.  We stopped at four very old and beautiful covered bridges, where we received a brief history lesson from our guide, and had the opportunity to take photos.  I learned that not only does Pennsylvania have the most covered bridges of any state, but Lancaster County has the most covered bridges of any county within the state.

Our group was a good size – there were seven of us – and included a local couple and one visiting from Massachusetts.  We rode single file, and Marc always kept a close eye on the group.  He had lots of fun facts and anecdotes to share on the tour, along with his great sense of humor.  He was the consummate host and instructor.

Near the end of the tour, we stopped at an Amish dairy farm to take a quick tour and briefly speak to the owner, who was busy in his woodshop making bird houses.  We saw buggy horses, field work horses, lots of cows, of course, and two calves that were only three days old.  A few of the owner’s small children were laying in the shade in the front yard and eagerly waved to us. Riding the scooter was a lot of fun, and I can’t even begin to describe the beauty I saw everywhere I went.  Words can’t do it justice, so I recommend you go and see it for yourself.  I can honestly say it is one of the coolest things I have ever done, and will definitely recommend it to all my friends and family members who visit this beautiful destination.  If you want to experience Lancaster County in a fun and unique way, this tour is definitely for you.

In addition to the tour I enjoyed, Strasburg Scooters has four other tours from which to choose.  For more information, visit www.strasburgscooters.com.

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