Category Archives: Kids & Family

fall in lancaster

Autumn in Lancaster County

It’s time to put the flip flops and shorts away and dig out the warm socks and comfy sweatshirts.

Here in Lancaster, the air is growing cooler and the leaves are changing color. It feels like Lancaster was made for this time of year. The air is crisp and the landscape is breathtaking. It’s refreshing and peaceful.

Come visit us and see for yourself. Treat yourself to a weekend getaway.

While you’re here you can tour our covered bridges, enjoy a leisurely hot air balloon ride over the vast farmland, stop at road side stand or farmer’s market for seasonal produce, enjoy some family-fun Halloween activities or just sit back and relax.

From seasonal attractions to fall fairs and harvest festivals, we got it all. Check out our list of events. Something is sure to catch your eye!

P.S. Do you want to know the best weeks to see our fall foliage? If so, click here to see Pennsylvania’s Weekly Fall Foliage Report.


Fall in love with Lancaster

I love fall! It’s my absolute favorite season of the year. That’s yet another reason why I love Lancaster; it is a quintessential fall destination. The countryside is beautiful and there’s lots of fun fall activities for all to enjoy. Here are my Top 5 favorite fall activities in Lancaster County:

1. Hiking

Lancaster County offers many unique parks for your hiking and biking pleasure. Fall is the perfect time to soak in the beauty of leaves changing color, plus the temperature is perfect- the mornings are chilly and the afternoons are comfortably cool. My personal favorite spot to hike is to Chickies Rock, which is a “light to moderate” hike. Once you reach the top, you see a stunning view of the Susquehanna River and the surrounding farmland.

2. Lancaster City Cafes

When I think of fall, I think of putting on an over-sized sweater with a big scarf, drinking a cup of coffee, and reading a good book. Whether you want to get work done or meet up with friends, spend a relaxing afternoon in one of Lancaster City’s numerous cafes. My personal favorite is Prince Street Cafe, located across the street from the Fulton Theatre. The food is great and the hot beverages will warm up your heart and your fingertips.

3. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is a great place for families to have a fun-filled day. The farm features a corn maize, a courtyard, and a barnyard with numerous activities. One can pet a llama, learn about farming, and go for a ride down a giant slide. A fun play area is also available for younger children. Oh, and don’t be surprised when you hear a loud train whistle – the Strasburg Rail Road steam engine passes right through the farm! It’s an incredible sight to see!

4. Haunted Attractions

For those of you who enjoy adding some thrill into your fall season, Field of Screams and Jason’s Woods are just two of many great Halloween attractions in the area.

5. Lancaster City Ghost Tours

Spend an evening walking around Lancaster City by candlelight. Explore the mysteries of one of America’s oldest cities. Experience the haunting tales of phantoms, unsolved mysteries, and star-crossed lovers. This 90-minute tour will be sure to send shivers down your spine!


Unexpected Surprise: Lancaster Symphony Orchestra

Lancaster County is known worldwide for the Amish culture. I’ll be honest, when I was moving here for college from Center City Philadelphia, that’s about all that I knew about Lancaster – the Amish, Dutch Wonderland, and Shady Maple. While all of those are true, and are all great to experience, I’ve come to love all of the unexpected surprises that Lancaster has to offer.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that this past Saturday evening was the first time that I experienced this particular surprise, but there, I’ve said it. I was invited to see Hollywood Heroes and Villains performed by the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra at the Winter Center for Performing Arts at Millersville University. Let me tell you – the performance was amazing, and our orchestra rivals the only other one I’ve seen live, the Philadelphia Orchestra. The symphony typically offers its classical music events, but this was the start of a new popular music series, POPS.

In this particular show, they performed both the dark side and the bright side of new and old favorite “hero vs. villain” stories like Batman, The Hobbit, Wizard of Oz, Frozen, and Star Wars. The conductor, Stephen Gunzenhauser, set a fun tone for the evening by walking out wearing a batman mask to conduct the first series of songs. Their tech team put together a video that was projected above the orchestra that allowed us to have an experience like you would have had back in the day when a pianist would accompany your movie in the theatre. The best part about this is that you’re overwhelmed by the passion of the orchestra. The sounds that you hear live all around you paired with the visuals seem to swallow you up.

I would highly recommend going to see the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra perform, whether you’re into classical music or not. If you are, you can pretty much see anything this season; if you aren’t, you might want to wet your feet with their POPS series. Some of the upcoming POPS concerts are: Sound of the Season Christmas at Hogwarts (December 18 & 20, 2015) and Broadway Our Way (May 14, 2016).


Back-to-School, Lancaster style

Come to Lancaster to get all your tax-free, back-to-school clothing and supplies. Since your coming to Lancaster anyway, might as well make it a fun family trip. From outlet shopping to family-friendly attractions and restaurants, why not make it a fun experience for everyone?

Suggested outlet shopping:

  • Tanger Outlets: Buy directly from more than 60 brand name manufacturer and designer stores featuring Brook’s Brothers, Gap, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, and more. 20% Off Coupons (limited time only!)
  • Rockvale Outlets: Shop at more than 90 brand name factory direct stores including Carter’s, Hartstrings, Disney, Under Armour, Gymboree Outlet, and more. FREE Coupon Booklet

Suggested  fun and educational attractions:

Suggested restaurants:

Back-to-School shopping tips:

  • Before shopping, know what you need and what you already have on hand. Not sure what you need? Check out this list from
  • Make a list and set a budget — then stick to it.
  • Shop around for the best deals; most can be found online even before getting in your car.
  • To save money, check out consignment stores and/or browse
  • Get your kids involved; decide in advance what items they can choose and which ones must involved compromise.
  • When it comes time to packing lunches, think reusable and plan a menu in advance.
  • Enjoy the process!

(Image courtesy of

stras blog

Strasburg: A Town with History, Part 1

Strasburg, pronounced ‘Strazburg’ names itself as the most historic town in PA Dutch country dating back to 1693. Some think Strasburg has a strong Amish background, which it does, but this town was founded by Frenchman Pierre Bezaillion. Who knew!

I lived in Adamstown all my life (Northern Lancaster County) and I have never been to Strasburg. My parents took my sister and brother to the Strasburg Rail Road™ before I was born  so I was more than excited to experience the rich culture and heritage of this Lancaster town.

As I turned off of Rt. 30’s shopping strip (Tanger and Rockvale Outlets are awesome, btw) onto a country back road I was eased by the calm, winding roads and ready for this day trip to unfold. Since Strasburg is known for trains, I had to get a feel for it. As I walked up to the Choo Choo Barn I was greeted by Krisiti, daughter of Tom Groff (artist and ‘operator’ of Choo Choo Barn). As you enter the model train layout room it could be mistaken as a set for an “I Spy” book. This space is impressive and very detailed. Tom hand crafted all animations and sets! Kristi mentioned her father, Tom uses all found objects to create the displays. Now until January 3 the Choo Choo Barn will be open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Heads up: Animations refer to any movement in the layout. Since none of the displays are from model sets, movements are hand wired by Tom and his father when the space originally opened in 1961.

Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches is conveniently located in the same shopping area as The Choo Choo Barn so I made my way into the rail road inspired Isaac’s. This restaurant serves delicious sandwiches, soups, and salads. My favorite sandwich is the Rainbow Parrot. This sandwich is loaded with savory corned beef, melted Muenster, topped with a heap of coleslaw, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions between toasted pumpernickel. The portions are large and the service is quick at Isaac’s. Isaac’s in Strasburg is open Monday through Thursday 10:00 AM till 9:00 PM, Friday and Saturday 10:00 AM till 10:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM till 9:00 PM.

Local history: The original Isaac’s was located inside Central Market Mall in Lancaster City since 1983. Now they have over 15 restaurants in the Central PA location.

After Isaac’s, I stopped by The Barn at Strasburg Bed and Breakfast. This country chic bed and breakfast in a renovated barn is the perfect mix of Lancaster; urban and rustic. This tucked away B&B is private and luxurious space. Erin & Jeff Hoenshell, hosts of the B&B are wonderful and do a great job at keeping the space a Lancaster oasis. The Master Suite is equipped with an oversize whirlpool tub & king size bed. The Garden Suite is furnished with a pillow-top queen bed and features a romantic, claw-foot bathtub. The Shaker Suite is inspired by the uncluttered & simplistic styles of those historic craftsmen, retains the most noticeable attribute of the original structure. For availability, click here.

Did you know: The barn served as the location for a stone mason’s business nicknamed by the locals as “The Brickyards.” Plenty of cut & dressed stones (some still partially buried) give proof to that.

Next activity on the itinerary was the Ghost tour of Strasburg. This one hour tour takes you back to the historic times of Strasburg. Kim, our tour guide, experienced encounters with the spirits of Strasburg working at the historic Strasburg Inn and when she was leading her first ghost tour. Locals hear the clops of horse hooves trotting down Main Street. Further down Main Street, we stopped at the well-known Gonder Mansion.  Annie Gonder, the “crazy sister-in-law”  still haunts by scaring men of the house. This tour balances history and haunting of Strasburg, making it a truly enjoyable and spooky time. The Strasburg tour is held Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM. On Saturdays at 8:00 PM there is a ghost hunting tour where they take EMF meters to wake the spirits!

Don’t startle: Make sure you call or order your tickets online for this tour ahead of time. They do not take walk up guests. Also, wear some comfortable shoes and bring your camera. You might catch an orb or two in your photographs!

ghost tour of strasburg 003

Strasburg is a hidden gem filled with unique activities that will interest all ages. This town is rooted in its historic past creating an enriching environment. From railroads to ghost tours and much more to see and do, I will definitely be coming back!

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.


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.


Green Dragon: A Famous Friday Market

Driving down Rt. 272, you can’t miss the huge retro dragon perched above a sign that directs you to the Green Dragon Farmers Market and Auction. For more than 80 years it’s been a Lancaster County tradition for locals and visitors alike to spend their Fridays looking at 400 merchants, growers, and craftsmen on the 30 acre property.

Green Dragon has seven large market buildings, unique cottages, and outdoor vender tents. It offers both indoor and outdoor shopping experiences and a wide variety of products. From country cooking and produce to crystals and clothing, Green Dragon offers something for everyone. If you need a neat place to take your kids or if you’re hanging out with your friends and want to grab a bite to eat, check out Green Dragon.

What I like about Green Dragon is the diversity of products; it truly captures the essence of Lancaster. While inside, I enjoy walking around, watching people, and devouring a delicious sausage sandwich. Outside, my favorite cottages include: Hallelujah Hive (best honey you will ever try), India Moon Boutique (bohemian clothes and gemstone jewelry), All about Jerky (exotic jerkies from all different animals), and Cocalico Creek Country store (rustic chic).

Enjoy the spring and summer weather, plus get your exercise by walking through this unique place – all while soaking in the Lancaster County culture. You’ll discover something new each time you go!

Green Dragon is open from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM every Friday.


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.

Photography by Alysha Laird

Scientific and Spectacular

The newly renovated North Museum of Nature and Science is a fascinating place for all ages. In my early 20′s, I was learning, having fun, and genuinely interested in the exhibits and collections. This space holds a new SciDome Theater, Nature Explorer Gallery, Nanotechnology exhibit, mineral collection and mid-Atlantic region bird collection.

Photography by Alysha Laird

Photography by Alysha Laird

As you walk into the North Museum, you are welcomed by their baby t-Rex and a massive globe displaying active weather patterns. To the right of the globe, you enter SciDome Theater, a touch digital system that projects high definition video and images onto a 41-foot aluminum dome. SciDome could be compared to a planetarium, but one difference is the type of shows. This theater expanded its programming to earth science shows to give guests a new experience on topics they would never have seen in a planetarium. Right now, SciDome is showing One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure, Super Volcanoes, and Magic Treehouse: Space Mission. The imagery in SciDome is astonishing; shows give real life perspectives in a movie-like experience. On June 20, SciDome will be presenting shows daily!

Photography by Alysha Laird

Photography by Alysha Laird

Past SciDome Theater, you enter the Nature Explorer Gallery, a combination of former Discovery Room and Live Animal Room. This gallery is filled with displays of unique shells, rocks, insects, and fossils. Children can examine different objects in nature like horns, furs, and space in the hands-on section of this gallery.

The most unique portion of this gallery is a tie between the bird call drum kit and the functioning beehive. The bird call drum kit collaborates creativity with nature. You might find your child has a hidden musical talent with this interactive piece! If you’re not a beekeeper, you don’t find yourself getting too close to beehives. With the functioning beehive display, you are able to examine how the bees interact and watch how they sustain the hive! To the left of the Nature Explorer Gallery, the Live Animal Room is occupied with unique reptiles, arachnids, and amphibians and with the help of the staff you can interact with these animals and learn more about them.

The nanotechnology exhibit is a small portion of the first floor but it is fascinating! This exhibit highlights the application of nanotechnology in our everyday life in basic terms. Past the nanotechnology exhibit is the featured Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas. This exhibit is organized by American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, The Field Museum, Chicago, Houston Museum of Natural History, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Science. This exhibit will be on display until June 21.

The antique cabinet museum, displayed on the bottom floor, holds a large collection of male and female birds native to the Mid-Atlantic region. Past the aisles of cabinets is one of the largest mineral collections I have ever seen.

Photography by Alysha Laird

Photography by Alysha Laird

After this experience, I realized the North Museum holds innovative and cutting-edge technology and exhibits. From SciDome Theater to the bird call drum kit, live animal room, and the nanotechnology exhibit I was truly impressed. This museum would be great for a day trip with your kids. After the museum, kids can play in Buchanan Park.

The North Museum summer hours are listed below.

June 1 – August 31
Monday – Saturday:
10 am to 5 pm
12 noon to 5 pm
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.


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. – See more at:
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. – See more at:

Outdoor Dining Experiences in Lancaster

The chatter, laughter, and warmth fills outdoor dining areas in Lancaster during this time of year. From local foods, live music, and tasty treats, everything seems to be more enjoyable outside. In this post, we’ll tell you about unique outdoor dining options for a night out with your friends, a romantic evening with your significant other, or a joyful time with your family.

Are you and your friends looking for a place to “chill” and enjoy some craft brews outside? Look no further than Lancaster Brewing Company. With an outdoor patio and a wide variety of beers, it’s a perfect place to quench your thirst and kick back. While you’re there enjoy some delicious food like the homemade artisan sausage dish.

If your friends are into roof spaces, check out Tellus360′s roof bar equipped with a plenty of seating and beautiful views. Tellus360 teamed up with local, 100% natural juice business, Rijuice, to create a line of signature cocktails. Take a look at the green roof grill menu, order a drink, and  enjoy the sunset!

Now, if you and your friends are into history and home brews you got to check out Bube’s Brewery in Mt. Joy. The Biergarten, the outdoor dining area, is one of the many remarkable spaces within Bube’s Brewery. This space is loaded with neat things, like a human-sized chess board, original boiler and smokestack used to create the steam power necessary to run the brewery.

For a couple’s night out, relax in Steinman Park, The Pressroom’s outdoor dining area. You’ll find  an oasis complete with a waterfall and plenty of shade. Enjoy their zing on American cuisine; we promise, it will be time well spent.

For an cosmopolitan eatery on Gallery Row visit Pour for fresh seasonal flavors, wine, beer and cocktails. Share one of their famous charcuterie boards in warm and artistic ambiance.

blog-templateFamily-friendly outdoor dining includes Loxley’s, a premier outdoor dining experience. On the grounds of the restaurant lies an extravagant tree house for the kids to explore, delicious flatbread pizzas, and absolute fun!page-loxleys

If you’re looking for more a meal in the country, check out Bird-in-Hand Bakery and Cafe. They recently opened a second story patio for their guests that overlooks Lancaster farmland.

There is no lack of outdoor dining experience here in Lancaster. From local favorites to “I never knew this was here,” these outdoor spaces add versatility and excitement any dining experience. Discover it on your own!

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.


An authentic Amish experience

For an authentic Amish experience that’s guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of the entire family, be sure to visit the Lil’ Country Store and Miniature Horse Farm. There’s nothing cuter than a miniature horse and even cuter yet is that right now (as I’m writing this in May) three of the tiny horses have newborn babies; with two more foals on the way! These creatures are friendly as they are adorable and as we walked through the barn, they poked their sweet noses through their stall doors to say hello. I couldn’t help but smile as my 1 ½ year old son squealed with delight as one foal nuzzled his hand.

The barn houses about 8 mini horses (not counting the foals), two full size horses, and in the nearby pasture are some playful goats. You can browse the barn on your own and spend time interacting with the horses, as well as seeing the pony carts, two Amish buggies, and the tack used to saddle and bridle the horses for riding. For young horse enthusiasts, a private pony ride is only $5.50 per child! And for a more hands-on experience, you can call ahead to reserve a private workshop session where you get brush a pony, ride them, feed them, and learn about horse care. The workshops generally last about an hour, and (parents beware!) are sure to be so fun that they’ll inspire your child to add a pony to their Christmas list. You can also elect to try a ride in the single or double pony cart which takes you on a ride through the farm to the dairy area. You’ll be happy to know that for safety reasons, no pony cart rides venture onto the main roads. Also, please note, the weight limit for riding these little guys is approximately 70lbs. There’s no age limit, but for my son, I decided to wait until next year to let him ride, since as a rambunctious little boy his idea of fun would probably be to dive off the poor unsuspecting horse into the mud! Oy-vay!

The best thing about this particular location is that it’s located at the home of Henry and Linda Stoltzfus, an Amish family who opened their property to the public in 2009. It’s “as real as it gets” here in Lancaster County. To get to the farm, you drive through rolling acres of corn and tobacco crops, and as we pulled our car in to the driveway, we were greeted by three Amish children who were playing in the front yard of the home. The Lil’ Country Store is in the garage of the property, and features handmade gifts and crafts, as well as a variety of baked goods and a fan-favorite,he home-made root beer. You can enjoy taste-testing locally made cheeses and potato chips, or satisfy your sweet tooth with a whoopie pie or locally made ice cream. There’s also a wood shop on the property, and you can observe the men working as they create beautiful hand made furniture and accessories that are available for sale in the shop.

Before leaving I couldn’t resist purchasing a lovely equestrian-inspired leather bracelet, which will always remind me of our fun visit to the miniature horse farm. So whether you’re visiting with children, or just want to feel like you’ve been behind the scenes on a real Amish Farm, be sure to add this destination to your vacation plans!

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