Tag Archives: Things to Do

Lancaster’s Labor Day Weekend Guide- 2017

For many folks, Labor Day Weekend is the unofficially end of the summer. However, there is still plenty to do in Lancaster before you pack your white pants away and dive into the school year… From Friday, September 1 through Monday September 4, look forward to everything from fine wine and original art to family bike rides and live music.

Special Events:

September 1–3
Long’s Park Art Festival
This year is the 39th Annual Long’s Park Art Festival in beautiful Long’s Park. Over 200 artists from 30 states will be exhibiting their art including photography, painting, jewelry, sculpture, digital, fiber, metal, and wood art, as well as furniture. A bistro area in the park will be serving up local food, wine and craft beer.

September 1
First Friday in Lancaster
There’s nothing like a First Friday in Lancaster! Join in Lancaster’s highly popular arts extravaganza from 5 to 9 pm. Discover innovative exhibitions, performances and perhaps a few surprises as you downtown Lancaster.

Local Labor Day Sales:

September 1-4
Tanger Outlets- Lancaster Grand Opening
The Tanger Outlets have added 25 new stores that will be opening Labor Day weekend. This event will feature not only great shopping, but also food trucks, face painting, giveaways, and more. 

August 31 – September 4
Labor Day Sidewalk/ Tent Sales at Rockvale Outlets Lancaster
Visit Rockvale Outlets for great deals from a variety of name-brand stores. The tent sale will close one hour before the center.

Family Fun:

September 1-4
Duke’s Lagoon
End the summer with a splash! Duke’s Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland closes for the season after Labor Day weekend, so don your swimsuit one last time and head on over while you can.

September 1, September 2
Music and Fireworks at the Lancaster Barnstormers
Friday night the Lancaster Barnstormers take on the Somerset Patriots at 6:30 PM in Clipper Stadium followed by a post-game concert by “Credence Clearwater.” On Saturday night both teams face-off again at 6:30 PM, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

September 2
Lititz Bikeworks’ Taste of Lititz Bicycle Tour- Family Style
This bike ride combines salty and sweet with a bit of history, departing at 2 PM and running until 6 PM. It is kindly suggested that riders make reservations one week in advance. Tours are limited to 10 riders, ages 12 and up. Includes bike, helmet, water, pretzel/chocolate tastings.

September 3
Nikki’s Sunday Picnic Scooter Tour
Enjoy a leisurely 50cc scooter ride through the back roads of Amish country. Ride past Amish farms and schoolhouses, and possibly pass a few buggies along the way to a scenic location, featuring a historic covered bridge to enjoy a locally prepared picnic basket lunch. Ride departs at 11 AM.

Sip and Savor:

September 1
September Wine by the Vine
Visit the Vineyard at Grandview from 6-8:30 PM for wine, music by John Grisbacher, and food from JoBoy’s Brew Pub served on the deck.

September 2
Nissley Lawn Concert: The Flyboys
The Music in the Vineyards is an open-air lawn concert held at the Nissley Winery. Bring a picnic and some lawn chairs or a blanket, and enjoy an evening of local music and wine. Must be 21 to attend, bring photo I.D.

September 1-4
Get your grill on!

Everyone loves a good cook-out for Labor Day, try serving some of our locally produced meats and vegetables at your party. Fresh foods can be picked up at Central Market on Friday September 1 from 6 AM – 4 PM, and Saturday September 2 from 6 AM – 2 PM, or at many of the various farm stands around the county.

Top 25 Things To Do this Summer

Summer fun is plentiful in Lancaster, PA – whether you’re looking for family fun, outdoor adventure or great ways to spend the evening.

Start planning your summer visit with our list of 25 things to do this season:

1] Fly through the trees on the Ziplines at Refreshing Mountain.

2] Discover new music at an outdoor concert.
Nissley Vineyards hosts concerts on Saturday evenings (adults only), and Long’s Park holds family-friendly concerts on Sunday evenings.

3] Explore the county by bike with either a self-guided or guided tour with Intercourse Bike Works.

4] Stroll around Downtown Lancaster during Music Friday with live performances scattered throughout the city.
Held on the third Friday of each month.

5] Relax while floating down the creek with Sickman’s Mill Creek Tubing.

6] Watch Fourth of July Fireworks light up the Lancaster sky.

7] Celebrate trails and the great outdoors.
The National Trails Day Celebration will be held at the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail on June 3.

8] Snap a photo and enter the
#Lancastergram contest.
#Lancastergram is Discover Lancaster’s annual photo contest hosted on Instagram with great prizes for winning photos. The contest begins on June 26 and ends on September 4.

9] Dive into Lancaster’s rich history with a Historic Lancaster Walking Tour.

10] Splash in Duke’s Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland®.
This water playground is great for kids 12 and under especially on a hot day.

11] Take your family out to the ball game to see the
Lancaster Barnstormers.
Fireworks and concerts after select games.

12] Find fresh picked produce at a local roadside stand or market.

13] Meet Thomas the Tank Engine™ when he comes to Strasburg Rail Road.
Day Out with Thomas™ takes place June 17-25.

14] Find your way through the maze and enjoy farm themed fun at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm.

15] For a little friendly competition, go for a round of mini golf.

16] Cheers to craft brews at Lancaster Craft Beerfest.
Held on August 26 in Downtown Lancaster.

17] Spend a day at Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach for swimming, picnicking, and fun.
Located 25 miles north of Lancaster County.

18] Camp out and toast a marshmallow or two at a local campground.

19] Sip wine and learn more about libations at local wineries.

20] Zip along the back roads by scooter on a memorable tour.
Strasburg Scooters offers a variety of tours daily.

21] Whether in a cup or in a cone, cool down with tasty ice cream… 

22] Or make ice cream of your own at the Turkey Hill Experience’s Taste Lab.

23] Join in the celebration of culture, diversity, and the City of Lancaster.
Celebrate Lancaster is held on June 30 with music, food vendors, pub areas, and fireworks.

24] Browse fine arts and crafts at an outdoor craft show.
Including Long’s Park Art Festival, Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show, and Lititz Outdoor Art Show.

25] Experience Lancaster in authentic fashion by staying on a farm.

For more exciting happenings, check out our events calendar.

Girl’s Night at Art and a Bottle

Looking for a new girl’s night activity or a stress-free creative outlet? Look no further than Art and a Bottle in Lititz.

My sister and I were invited to attend one of their paint night classes where we would be painting a popular fall piece – four jars with fall-colored flowers. When we arrived, we checked in and settled at our table with a bottle of wine. The staff encourages those attending to bring wine, snacks, and beverages to enjoy during the class, which is nice to have since the classes last from two to three hours.

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Art and a Bottle provides the painting supplies, from the paint and canvas to aprons and paint brushes. Before we even started to paint, the instructor told us a little more about the painting we would be completing and described the brushes we were going to use. This was a HUGE help for someone who isn’t very art savvy (that would be me).

When we were ready to put paint on the canvas, the instructor skillfully guided us through mixing colors and gave us painting tips and techniques that would help even a beginning artist or someone with no painting experience create a painting similar to the example. Between instruction, music played and instructors walked around to answer questions as we painted. The instructor encouraged creativity and suggested ways we could make the painting our own – from different flower colors to spelling a different word on the jars.

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The two hour class flew by, and we finished our beautiful hand-painted creations that we were able to take with us that evening. The class was fun, stress-free and a great way to hang out with my sister, while creating a painting I am proud to hang in my home.

In addition to paint night classes, Art and a Bottle also hosts open studio hours, where you can create a canvas painting, drink coasters, photo boxes and more! The studio can also be reserved for events such as birthday parties, bachelorette parties, family gatherings, etc.

For more information and to take a look at their upcoming class schedule, visit artandabottle.com.

Take Flight Over Lancaster County

Ready for takeoff? Looking to see Lancaster from new heights? Take flight with Smoketown Helicopter Tours for an adventure with breathtaking views.

Excited for a new voyage, two co-workers and I arrived at Smoketown Helicopter Tours located next to the runway at Smoketown Airport. We met the owners who gave us the safety run-down. Then we loaded in to the helicopter and prepared for flight, popping on our headsets and getting our cameras ready to roll.

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Our pilot, Garrett, started the helicopter as we braced for takeoff. Smoothly we sailed forward then began to gain height. The helicopter cruised over the farmland, towns, and familiar attractions as we snapped pictures and oh’ed and ah’ed at how little things looked from above and how far we could see. Even with the clouds that were rolling out from a morning shower, the views were spectacular – from the quilt work farmland fields to the city streets dotted with cars.

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As our tour came to an end, we landed back at the airport. We were all pleasantly surprised by how smooth the ride was. Garrett was a fantastic pilot, navigating us across the county with ease. We felt safe, which helped us enjoy the flight and take in the scenery.

Our group took the Taste of Lancaster Tour which covers many of the familiar sites across the country, from country to city. The tour took about 20 minutes, including take-off and landing.

Smoketown Helicopter Tours offers tours of different lengths, from the 4 minutes First Flight Tour to the 50 minute See It All Tour, which actually takes riders all the way up to Hershey, PA for a view of Hersheypark.

Want to see a specific location in the county? Smoketown Helicopter Tours can provide custom tours where you can fly over places near and dear to your heart (perfect for proposals, guys!).

This fall, take flight over the foliage. As the leaves begin to change, the view from above changes too. If this is something on your bucket list or you want to see Lancaster from a new perspective, take flight with Smoketown Helicopter Tours during your autumn visit.

For more information and to schedule your tour:
http://www.smoketownhelicopters.com/

Hands-on Fun to Cure Cabin Fever

When it’s not quite warm enough to play outside, but cabin fever is setting in, Hands-on House, Children’s Museum is the solution!

We ventured out on a dreary Sunday and set off for Hands-on House, located off of Oregon Pike in Lancaster. I had been there as a child and volunteered there years ago, but this was my first time visiting as a parent. With as curious as my daughter is, I was excited to see how she would respond to the learning-through-playing activities featured in the museum.

The first area, “Right in Your Own Backyard” explores the sights and sounds found in nature, primarily ones found in Pennsylvania. At first, my daughter who is almost 4, didn’t exactly know what to do. After we showed her she could climb up into the tree house or catch and measure fish, she began branching out and led the way to the next activity.

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Left: Catching fish in “Your Own Backyard” Top Right: Creating at masterpiece at “Art-rageous” Bottom Right: Gathering our produce in “Corner Grocery”

She led us to the next exhibit “E-I-E-I Know,” where she was drawn to the wall of corn that we could pick and distribute to market stands, restaurants and farm animals. This activity, along with many throughout the museum, required reading, and parents are highly encouraged to get involved. Along with the words, many activities incorporate images which help to develop pre-reading skills. This activity also involved lots of counting as we filled each corn order. What makes this children’s museum different from others is how the exhibit designer draws inspiration from Lancaster County, “E-I-E-I Know” being the perfect example. Children can learn about farm life in Lancaster County and how goods like milk and eggs get from the farm, to the grocery store, and to our fridge.

Speaking of grocery stores, the “Corner Grocery” area was a hit, and appeared to be a favorite of other visitors as well. Children can pick a grocery list, featuring both words and pictures, and find the items including produce, seafood, meat, dairy, dry goods and bakery items. Much like a real grocery store, after all the items on the list have been gathered, it’s time to check out at one of the two check-out stations with computers where children can scan the bar codes to ring up their groceries.

Our last stop in the museum was “Marty’s Machine Shop.” This exhibit gave us a look into how factories and assembly lines work, and was by far the highlight of my little one’s day. Oddly enough, this was also a favorite of my sister and me when we visited as children! The process begins with the creation of a “Whatcha-ma-giggle” which is shown step by step with pictures and words. The “Whatcha-ma-giggle” passes through quality control before heading off to be packaged. The last station dives into reusing versus recycling. While that concept was a little mature for my daughter, it was a clever way to take the items from the end of the assembly line back to the beginning while teaching sorting and picture recognition.

We wrapped up our visit with their Pop-in for Play program, “Art-rageous,” which was the perfect activity for my artsy child. The Pop-in program was included with admission and could be done at any time during the 2-hour program period, hence the pop-in. Using construction paper shapes and glue, children were able to put together an “art-rageous” creation. An example was provided but it was really up to the children to design their own art project. My daughter was so proud of the art that she had created. She could not wait to show everyone what she had made.

After discovering our inner artist, we were definitely ready for dinner and a nap. Don’t miss the exhibits we didn’t get a chance to explore during our visit; “Face Painting Porch,” the “Post Office” and “Mostly Make Believe.”

Hands-on House is geared towards children aged 2 to 10, and is stroller-friendly for families with infants. Admission is $9.50 for children and adults. Family memberships, starting at $99 per year, are available for families planning to visit more than one or twice.

Photo courtesy of Hands-on House, Children's Museum

Photo courtesy of Hands-on House, Children’s Museum

Tips:
– Check out their hours prior to your visit. Public hours vary day by day and by what time of year you are coming.

– Be sure to eat before you go! Hands-on House does not allow food or drink inside the building and energy is definitely needed for all the playing and exploring involved.

– Wear comfortable shoes. Since parents are highly encouraged to play and learn with their children, seating areas are limited.

– Visit rain or shine! The “Play Garden” is open year-round, weather permitting, for fresh-air fun.

-The Pop-in for Play programs are an added bonus as they are included with your admission. Be sure to check out the schedule before visiting.

Downtown Lancaster Tips

Lancaster City is unique – you have to visit in order to understand. It’s exciting, it’s rich in history, heritage and the arts, and there’s an underlying hip urban vibe that permeates the community. The City boasts art in every form, restaurants and cafes, and boutique shops and hotels. Creativity, inspiration, and community envelopes this walkable City.

Come spend a day (or two) exploring. Below are a few insider tips that I believe will help you get the most out of your trip.

Tip #1 – Walk, don’t drive

Plan to walk around the City. Take your time and drink it all in. You won’t want to miss anything. From historic ghost signs to an off-the-beaten-path puppet theatre, this place has it all.

Tip #2 – Find a parking garage

Downtown Lancaster has many easily-locatable and easily-accessible garages. Although you may find street parking, chances are you’ll spend less money at a parking garage.

Tip #3 – Check gallery hours

If you like original art, check out Gallery Row located on the first and second blocks of Prince Street where you will find over 20 galleries. My tip – go online and check out gallery hours first. Not all galleries have the same hours.

Tip #4 – Take a back stage tour

Further down Prince Street, you’ll find what I like to call the “performing arts triangle.” To one side is The Trust performing arts center and directly across the street is The Ware Center; both are owned and operated by local colleges. Within a stone’s throw of these performance spaces is the majestic and historic Fulton Theatre.

These venues allow visitors to tour the facility even if you are not going to see a performance. The Fulton Theatre offers their backstage tour every Friday at Noon (the history is unique and the building is haunted). The Ware Center offers self-guided tours from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday and from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM on Saturday (this building’s architecture is amazing). The Trust Performing Arts Center hosts tours 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Tuesdays and Fridays and from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Saturdays (this building used to be one of Lancaster’s largest banks; ask to see the vault).

Tip #5 – Eat here; shop there

I suggest checking out the menus at Aussie and The Fox and at the Pressroom Restaurant (this place has a great outdoor seating area). Don’t miss Lancaster Central Market, America’s old continually operating farmer’s market, but note the hours: Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Saturdays from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

After grabbing a bite to eat, check out the 300 block of Queen Street where you’ll find great shopping and a quaint café – Commonwealth on Queen – that sells gourmet coffee and sweet treats from scratch. Be sure to stop at Mommalicious and Building Character.

Tour an Amish farm and house replica

During your visit to Lancaster County, if you want to learn more about the life and culture of the Amish, there’s plenty of entertaining and informative ways to learn about our plain neighbors.  One of the best ways to get a well-rounded view of the Amish culture is a classic Lancaster County destination, The Amish Farm and House.

The Amish Farm and House has been educating visitors since 1955.  With a wide variety of activities on site (A one-room schoolhouse, scooter run, farm animals, and a woodcarver to name a few!) in addition to their classic tour of a historic 1805 farmhouse, you’ll leave their property with a great overview of our living heritage!

 

Things We Love About the Strasburg Rail Road

There’s just something about real live steam locomotives.

My boys and I are drawn to them like a moth to a flame. Maybe it’s the grandeur of the gigantic steel machinery or the comforting sound of a steam whistle in the distance, but every year we are inexorably drawn to the Strasburg Rail Road to take a ride on the rails.

Riding in an open air car through the Lancaster County countryside with the familiar clickety-clack noise of the passenger cars rumbling beneath us is a comforting and fun summertime tradition. There are lots of thing to love.

  • They love seeing one of the steam engines in all its restored glory pull into the station and drop off passengers.
  • They love flipping the bench in the open air car so they can be facing the “right way” going to Paradise as well as the trip back to the Strasburg station.
  • They love hearing the Ghost Whistle.
  • They love asking me if we can stop at the picnic spot halfway through the ride, although they’re always disappointed with my, “Not today,” response.
  • They love seeing the farms whip by. I enjoy knowing that they’re beginning to appreciate the inherit beauty of PA Dutch Country.
  • They love that I’m a sucker and buy them kettle corn when we arrive back at the station at the Strasburg Rail Road at the end of the day.
  • I love seeing the big smiles on their faces. What more can you ask for?

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Rainy day things to do in Lancaster County

Whether you come in the bright sunshine or come to a rainy Lancaster County, we’ve got tons of great things to do! Rain is a good thing for Lancaster, as it helps us to provide the freshest summer produce and ripest, juiciest fruit at our numerous farm markets and roadside stands.

So, if you find yourself here in Lancaster County, looking for something to do on a rainy day, here are some suggestions for you:

Learn about the Amish

Lancaster County has a number of Amish Homesteads, tours, and the Amish Experience Theatre, where you can learn about the lifestyle of the modern Amish, see a farmhouse, and travel the backroads and country lanes where the Amish live.You can also take a buggy ride if it’s not raining too hard – you’ll be covered by the buggy, and you can experience riding through farmland the way the Amish do!

Check out our Trains

Head to Strasburg, and you can learn everything there is to learn about trains, an even ride on an authentic steam train! The Choo Choo Barn, National Toy Train Museum and Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will all paint a picture of the colorful history of Pennsylvania’s railroad industry. Then head to the Strasburg Rail Road for a ride on their regular cars, or even the dining car!

Watch it being made, or make it yourself!

Want to see how things are made in Lancaster County? A rainy day is the perfect time to head indoors to see things being created from start to finish, and even create some things yourself! Head to Intercourse Pretzel Factory or Julius Sturgis Pretzel House and learn to twist your own pretzel! Check out Kitchen Kettle Village, where you can see the women making jam, or even make your own jam on their Cannin’ and Jammin’ Tour. Head to Wilbur Chocolate Factory and watch the candy makers at work hand-dipping homemade marshmallows into luscious Wilbur Chocolate, or make the short drive to the Hershey Story Museum, where you can take a chocolate making class in their Chocolate Lab. Or you can head downtown to the Bead & Pottery Works to paint your own piece of pottery or create jewelry.

Museums and Historic Sites

I know what you’re thinking – I don’t want to spend a whole day in museums. You’ve obviously never been to our museums on a rainy day in Lancaster County! If you’ve got little ones with you, head to the Lancaster Science Factory, where they have tons of hands-on activities for kids of all ages. Lancaster has tons of art museums and galleries, both Downtown and around the County. Historic sites include the Christiana Underground Railroad Center, Cornwall Iron Furnace, the Demuth Museum, Ephrata Cloister, the National Watch & Clock Museum, President James Buchanan’s Wheatland, and Rock Ford Plantation.

Theatre

What better to do on a rainy evening in Lancaster County than head to the theatre! We have a few dinner theatres including the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre and the Rainbow Dinner Theatre. For Broadway caliber shows, head Downtown to the Fulton Theatre. Sight & Sound Theatre is known around the world for their shows, and American Music Theatre has excellent concerts and shows. So pick a theatre, and be swept away in the show!

Shopping

We’ve got tons of shopping opportunities, from Antiques to Artisans, farmer’s markets to furniture, and local shops to sweets & treats, as well as Rockvale & Tanger Outlets. You’ll be sure to find whatever it is you’re looking for, or even things you’re not looking for, as souvenirs to remember your trip to Lancaster County. And if you decide that all you want to do is curl up with a good book, head to DogStar Books for a great new read!

There are tons of other things to do on a rainy day, so just check out our website for more things to do! As always, if you have any questions about what’s going on while you’re here, you can contact us on our pages on Twitter or Facebook, and don’t let a little rain keep you in your hotel!

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