Category Archives: Kids & Family

May Things to Do

Ten Things to Do in Lancaster County in May

The flowers are blooming and the weather is getting warmer. It’s May in Lancaster County! With the longer days come exciting events and things to do, whether you’re visiting for a day or a week.

Fruity Festivals:

Strawberries and Rhubarb are being celebrated this month at foodie-approved festivals.

Kitchen Kettle Village’s annual Rhubarb Festival will be held May 20 and 21 to pay tribute to this spring vegetable. This family-friendly festival features live music, a Rhubarb Race Car Derby, and a Rhubarb Dessert Contest. Stroll around the village, sample rhubarb-centric treats, and browse a variety of shops.

To celebrate strawberries, Country Barn will host their first annual Strawberry Festival on May 28th to celebrate the harvest of this colorful fruit. Foodies and families can enjoy activities, home-made ice cream and strawberry dishes, wagon farm tours and a strawberry contest while visiting this working, family-owned farm.

Take in a Show:

From spiritual to comical, there’s a variety of shows on stage this month that will have you awestruck or dancing in the aisles.

For the music-lover, Million Dollar Quartet debuts at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, and tells the story of the recording session that brought Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins together for the first and only time. It’s a blast from the past that will have you tapping your toes beginning May 6 and running through June 19.

From the silver-screen to the stage comes Ghost: the Musical at the Fulton Theatre, running through May 14. If you’re looking for a captivating, romantic musical with Broadway-caliber performances, this one is for you.

Show Off Your Team Spirit:

If the thrill of an exciting sporting event is more your style, May brings exciting games to Downtown Lancaster and Spooky Nook Sports.

Cheer on the US Women’s National Field Hockey Team as they take on Chile in a test series at Spooky Nook Sports on May 14, 17 and 19. This series is a great opportunity to support the team as they prepare for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

For the soccer fans, professional soccer returns to Clipper Magazine Stadium May 22 and 24. The Harrisburg City Islanders will play Bethlehem Steel FC (May 22) and Toronto FC II (May 24) in Downtown Lancaster to kick off the first two of five matches at this stadium this season.

Experience the Art Scene:

Lancaster’s art scene is blossoming and the spring ArtWalk is the perfect time to experience local independent galleries. This event features a self-guided tour of downtown galleries, special demonstrations, meet-the-artist events, children’s activities and more, taking place May 7 through 8.

Step Back in Time:

History buffs can step back in time with a visit to one of Lancaster’s many historical attractions.

19th century baseball comes to life with Strasburg Rail Road’s® Vintage Base Ball Day on May 14. Hop aboard a steam train which will take you to Verdant View Farm for a baseball game played by old-fashioned rules.

Travel back to the 1700s at Ephrata Cloister, one of America’s earliest religious communities. This Mother’s Day, you can experience the tasks performed by mothers during this period with hands-on activities like making butter, spinning thread and writing with a quill pen.

LancasterHistory.org brings World War II to life during their Encampment on May 21 through 22, where you can explore vintage military vehicles, talk to the troops and view artifacts and photographs. The recreated camps complete with tanks, truck, tents and troops will transport you back to the 1940s for an immersive historical experience.

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

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.

christmas center watch museum

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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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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.

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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!

LSO

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).

backtoschool

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 RealSimple.com.
  • 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 Craigslist.com.
  • 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 FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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.

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