Category Archives: Kids & Family

Things to Do Blog_August

10+ Things to Do in Lancaster County in August

There’s still plenty of time to enjoy the splendors of summer in Lancaster County. Plan some last minute fun with the kids before school starts or enjoy a weekend girlfriend’s getaway.

Kid-Friendly Festivities:

Happy Birthday to Kitchen Kettle Village’s beloved gingerbread man mascot, Yummie! Join Yummie and his friends for a family fun birthday party, featuring a petting zoo, pony rides, pedal cart rides and samplings of Kitchen Kettle’s tasty jams, pickles and more. This event is best suited for children 10 and under. Before the festivities begin, party-goers can enjoy a breakfast buffet filled with Lancaster County favorites. Tickets are required for the pre-party breakfast, and can be purchased online.

Thomas is coming back to town – Thomas the Tank Engine™ that is! August 27th through September 4th, 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 August and November Day Out with Thomas™ events online.

For the Art-lovers:

If you’re a fan of arts and crafts, you’ll love the art show line up this month in Lancaster County.

Shank’s Mare Outfitters hosts their annual Art & Outdoor show on August 6, featuring local artists who will be displaying and selling their works along the Susquehanna River. Local non-profit outdoor, historic, and cultural organizations will also be displaying information on their activities and programs. Show-goers can enjoy activities throughout the day.

Drawing 700 crafters from throughout the United States and Canada, the Rotary Club of Lititz Craft Show will be held along East Main Street, Broad Street and in Lititz Springs Park on August 13.

A weekend of art comes to Mt. Gretna, August 20 and 21, and features a plethora of artists, exhibitors, live music and delicious food options. Stroll the show grounds as you take in art of all kinds and activities for all ages.

Educational Family Fun:

From history to the arts and science, there are plenty of fun ways to learn in Lancaster County.

Little history buffs will love the Stories-on-the-Porch series at Rock Ford Plantation, August 3, 10 and 17. Geared towards children 3 to 7, this free program features a Rock Ford volunteer in 18th century period dress reading a story on the porch of the mansion. Following the story, children will enjoy a game or craft and light snack.

The First Friday in August brings art to the North Museum of Nature & Science with their new exhibition. The STEAM Art Gallery features creations by local artists whose work is inspired science and nature. Kids can connect with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and the exhibition with a scavenger hunt activity. On August 5, guests can experience the museum after hours, interact with the artists and enjoy light refreshments during the First Friday Exhibition Opening.

Brews Galore:

Beer lovers will love the ale-centric festivals scheduled in Lancaster this month.

Columbia celebrates brews with Rivertown Hops on August 6 along Locust Street. With over 40 brewers, live music and food vendors, Rivertown Hops promises an afternoon of beer sampling and tasty food.

Lancaster City celebrates ales, ciders, stouts and more during the annual Lancaster Craft Beer Fest on August 27 in Binn’s Park. Last year’s festival featured 64 breweries (both local and natioanlly know), food vendors and live music, combining for an afternoon of fun in Downtown Lancaster.

Going Once, Going Twice:

Mud Sales and auctions are back with three consignment sales in August.

To benefit the work of the Mennonite Central Committee, the Gap Relief Sale will be held on August 13 at the Solanco Fairgrounds. This annual community auction features quilts and a variety of items, plus delicious food available for purchase.

On August 20, the Intercourse Fire Company Consignment Auction will be held at the Intercourse Fire Company. The following weekend, the Bareville Fire Company Consignment Auction will be held in Leola at the Bareville Fire Company.

And that’s just the short list! For a complete list of the events happening in Lancaster County in August and beyond, visit our online events calendar. Happy travels!

Bingo Blog

B-I-N-G-O!

Lancaster County Car Bingo is here! This handy car game will turn “are we there yet?” into a thing of the past, as kids keep their eyes out for commonly spotted items around the county. The passenger parent can even play along for family fun as you explore Lancaster.

Whether you’re driving in the country or city or a little bit of both, keep your eyes out and cross items off as you find them. Traditionally, five items in a row (diagonally, straight across or up-and-down) equals BINGO, but if you want more of a challenge, try to find all 24 items on the card. Your car, your rules!

Some items can be found on signs, while others can be found in the fields or along the road.

Before you hit the road, download and print the bingo cards for your kids, and get ready for a fun-filled drive around the county.

For little ones (age 3-6)

For older kids (ages 7+) – Version A

For older kids (ages 7+) – Version B

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Skip the Traffic, Take the Train!

While Lancaster County is a year-round vacation destination, the summer is definitely considered peak season for out of town travelers. That means lots and lots of cars on the road. So whether you are traveling to Lancaster from New York City, Harrisburg or Philadelphia, maybe next time you visit you want to skip the traffic and take the train!

Kid-Friendly
Did you know that if you’re traveling with kids, up to two children, ages 2-12, can receive a 50% discount on the lowest available fare? Kids under the age of two ride FREE! And it’s much easier to travel with kids when they can move around a bit, without the constraints of their car seat. They will enjoy snacking, coloring, and just watching the world whiz by (and maybe even laying across two seats and napping if the train isn’t too busy). Oh, and did I mention there’s not pulling off the highway to find a bathroom? Just walk to the end of your car, and do whatcha gotta do!

Earth-Friendly
Lancaster County is known for our green spaces, with loads of rolling farmland. We depend on the earth for our number one economic driver, agriculture. So, we like to take good care of the earth. Another great perk of riding the train is that you’ll be traveling green! Amtrak trains are 11% more energy efficient that planes and 31% more efficient than cars.

Traveler-Friendly
Whether you’re visting for just the weekend or taking a 2-week vacation, there is plenty of space to store your baggage on Amtrak trains. So pack the extra sunscreen and a few extra pairs of “just-in-case” shoes, because when you travel on Amtrak you get two carry-on bags plus two personal items for FREE. Then, when you arrive at the station, you’ll be able to easily rent a car or taxi to get to your destination.

Now if only we could get a horse-and-buggy rental at the Lancaster station… maybe on your next trip…

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Willow Valley Celebrate 50th Anniversary

Many guests that come to Lancaster County have fond memories of visiting Willow Valley as part of their trip. Opening in 1966, Willow Valley Inn included thirty guest rooms and a family restaurant with 100 seats. Today, Willow Valley is blessed in having expanded to farmers markets, a bakery, additional hotels, a golf course, a supermarket, senior living communities, and real estate development company. It started as a small, hospitable part of the community, and has grown into a tradition of excellence.

On Saturday, June 26, I took my family to celebrate the past fifty years, and say cheers to the next fifty. We arrived and the kids could tell immediately that it would be a fun event, because from the road before we even pulled into the parking lot, we could see the bouncy houses set up. True to the sense of community that Willow Valley instills, the local volunteer fire department was parking cars, so we were able to donate to them.

Of course the first thing we did was line up for the bouncy houses – there was a castle that both my 3 and 4 year old enjoyed. The second one only my 4 year old did. It was a race to climb to the top of the tall slide – he handled the climb like a champ. Let’s just say we waited in that line quite a few times.

Next we stopped by the ticket booth to get some tickets for face painting, balloon animals, pony rides, and other activities. And, can you guess what we did next? Yup… jumped in the bouncy castle again. We grabbed food at two of the food trucks (I chose the Urban Olive – featuring Mediterranean cuisine, and the kids and my husband chose the Dough Heads Waffles, which I must admit I snagged a few bites of – so delicious!).

As the evening wore on, I knew there would be campfires and fireworks, but we really wanted to visit one of our close family friends who is a resident at Willow Valley’s Retirement Community. I also knew that all that jumping and excitement would probably mean that our kids wouldn’t make it until then before falling asleep.

We made the short drive from the event to Pat’s apartment. She is like a grandmother to our kids, so of course everyone was excited all over again. My husband and I joked that Pat’s apartment is better than our house – she has a beautifully landscaped rear patio courtyard, where she was sitting and reading when we arrived. It is so quiet and peaceful (when there aren’t 3 and 4-year-olds running around) back there.

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Pat mentioned that the next time we come, we need to give her advance notice so that she can rent out the bowling alley, where we can spend the evening bowling and eating the delicious burgers at the clubhouse. We talked about the kids and what we’d been doing, that we’re starting to teach our kids how to swim – and she mentioned that there is a pool in the basement of her building, and we could come anytime to swim with her. We joked again with her that she’s not really retired, she’s just living at an all-inclusive resort.

The kids (and Pat) started winding down, so we headed home. It was definitely a fun day that the kids are still talking about – they are hoping to “go again next year” (I’ll have to recommend that they make this an annual event rather than every 50 years!). If they do, we may just have to keep the kids up late and enjoy the fireworks. Happy 50th, Willow Valley!

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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!

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A Refreshing Flight through the Trees

Lancaster County is full of unexpected attractions to experience and things to see. Beyond the farmland are rolling hills, an ideal home for a woodland retreat such as Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center.

I traveled off of the roads I was familiar with, igniting my sense of adventure. Upon arriving and getting out of the car, I was greeted with fresh mountain air that was slightly cool after a passing spring shower. Let the adventure begin!

There is really so much to do at Refreshing Mountain. For those who are daring and not afraid of an off-the-ground adventure, they have two zip lining courses – the Challenge Adventure course and Aerial Excursion Course. I opted for the Challenge Adventure course because that course features five zip lines PLUS nine rope course elements. They certainly don’t use the word “challenge” lightly – the rope course elements tested my balance, strength and mental stamina but in the end, I’m glad I set fear aside and tried them. From swinging from one platform to another on a foot propelled swing to a challenge they call “the monkey vine,” I think I can safely say this is the closest thing to tightrope walking that I will ever do. After conquering half the challenge elements, it was time to fly through the trees.

If you’d rather spend more time zipping from tree to tree, the Aerial Excursion Course features seven zip lines, double the length of the Challenge Adventure course, along with three sky bridges.

With a harness, helmet, and knowledgeable guides, I felt safe even 60 feet off the ground. The zip lining tour guides were kind and not only ready to teach, but also to answer questions as we went along. They gave clear instructions which helped me feel confident and safe.

For those who’d rather stick to adventure of the ground, there are plenty of things to experience including a hands-on reptile exhibit, playground, swimming pool, pedal cars and more. New for this year, Refreshing Mountain is offering three different Adventure Packages which give families or groups the option to do a variety of activities. Each package features three to four activities that highlight different aspects of nature and adventure.

The Explorer Package includes the Climbing Tower, Pedal Cars, Paintball Targets & Archery.

The Discovery Package includes the Hands-on Reptile Exhibit, GPS Nature Hunt, Sling Shots & Archery.

The Horse Rides & Farm Animal Experience includes the opportunity to pet, groom and learn safety around horses, a hand-led horse ride and time with other farm animals.

My experience was both exhilarating and refreshing as I got to try something new while enjoying nature’s beauty. The thrill of flying through the trees is best experienced by discovering it for yourself! Learn more about Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center and book your excursion today.

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

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.

Fall and Winter Pursuits DWW

Spend Your Thanksgiving Break in Lancaster

In an area that is filled with a tight-knit community of locals and business owners, Lancaster during the holidays lights up with excitement and warmth. It’s the truth, when residents are happy they radiate that happiness creating a magnetic draw to visitors. With this being said, explore Lancaster and feel the magic and energy through the streets and through these events!

When should you start getting into the holiday spirit? The day right after Thanksgiving, of course! No, seriously, when the weather gets cold you must find a way to stay warm with spirit!

On November 27, break your norm of Black Friday Shopping (who wants to wait in all the lines anyways?) Relax, enjoy your time off and go on a family outing! At 6:30 p.m., bundle up and join us at the Mayor’s Tree Lighting and Tuba Christmas. Want a traditional way to view the holiday window displays? Hop on a Horse Drawn Wagon Ride from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.

On November 28, this is where the new norm is put into place. Small Business Saturday! All over Lancaster, business owners open their doors to help you find unique, memorable presents for everyone on your shopping list. When shopping local, you essentially build relationships with the shop owners, so it makes future interactions more personable and helpful. The beauty of shopping local is you have a VERY slim chance of purchasing the same item for someone that they might already have. Give gifts that are genuine and one of a kind!

On November 29, have your eyes light up gazing at Christmas displays. Find the hidden Santa’s on the layout at Choo Choo Barn from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Walk through a Dutch Winter Wonderland from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. Warm up at the National Christmas Center and explore the 14 exhibits they have to offer.

Spend time this Thanksgiving breaking your norm and checking out the unique and festive events Lancaster has to offer.

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The author of this post, Julie Press, is currently the Marketing Intern at Discover Lancaster. She encompasses the Lancaster brand. Growing up in a farm house in Adamstown, she identifies with the rustic, homegrown feel Lancaster brings. Now relocated only minutes away from Lancaster City, she feels a strong connection to the City’s creativity, culture, and innovation. Julie studies Public Relations at Millersville University.

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A Museum for Every Interest

Lancaster has many museums that offer valuable insight into history, culture, and mankind. You can visit an Underground Railroad center, tour a PA German living history village, or meander through the home of the 15th president of the United States.

Here are a few unique museums that top my list:

National Christmas Center Family Attraction & Museum 
Set aside a couple hours to walk through amazing life-sized exhibits that celebrate the history and traditions of the holiday. Don’t miss the 1950’s Woolworth’s 5 & 10 re-creation that showcases vintage Christmas toys and merchandise displayed in a realistic store setting.

Demuth Museum
Check out the rotating exhibitions and tour the restored 1700’s home and painting studio of Lancaster’s most famous resident and world-famous artist, Charles Demuth. Did you know that Demuth’s famous piece, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (1928), is housed in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art?

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Discover the colorful history and dramatic technology of Pennsylvania’s railroad industry, plus see a world-class collection of 100+ historic locomotives!

National Watch & Clock Museum
This museum is recognized as the largest and most comprehensive horological collection in North America. While it may seem boring to some, it’s NOT! Come experience for yourself a fun and fascinating journey into the world of timekeeping, beautifully illustrated by more than 12,000 treasures of time.

Robert Fulton Birthplace
Tour the early home of pioneer steamship builder, artist, inventor, and engineer – ROBERT FULTON!

American Military Edged Weaponry Museum
With more than 5,000 specimens, this museum has one of this country’s most comprehensive collections of U.S. military knives and artifacts used by the American servicemen.

Click here to see more museums.

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Illusionist Brett A. Myers

A few weekends ago my 5 year-old daughter and I had the privilege of watching our friends, Illusionist Brett A. Myers and his wife, Labrina, perform at The Junction Center. This dynamic duo captured the attention of the audience from start to finish. Brett performed classic illusions such as a woman floating in the air and a girl disappearing before your eyes, plus he made a real bowling ball magically appear on stage, levitated an antique table, and much more.  What seems impossible is possible in Brett’s world of illusion. Labrina, his beautiful assistant and aerial acrobat, offered magic of her own throughout the show as she flew high above the crowd. During the performance, we were lucky enough to see a special guest appearance by their son, Starlin (caution: he is adorable!) Oh, and be aware, there’s always audience involvement and participation woven into their shows!

Brett and Labrina travel full-time performing illusions and sharing their passion for art, hope, and life. Currently they travel nationally and partner with theatres, community organizations and churches to produce their shows, but soon this fantastic act will have a permanent home in Lancaster.  Opening in April 2016, their new show MAGIC & WONDER will be live at the Bird-In-Hand stage.  More information regarding the show can be found at www.LancasterMagicShow.com and a finalized show calendar will be posted on www.Bird-in-Hand.com/on-our-stage.

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