Featured Story

Cherry-Crest

Fall Fun at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm

My 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, and I went with her daycare to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm for a half day field trip. Our group of preschoolers and toddlers were so excited to explore the farm. While there are over 50 farm fun activities included in the admission, the first thing they wanted to do was see the animals in the Farm Animal Center. From funny goats to friendly pigs, the kiddos giggled with delight and petted the animals with wonderment. Sophia’s favorite animal was the chicks; she was thrilled that she was allowed to hold them. With gentleness, she nuzzled them and held them close.

Even though the kids would have been completely content staying with the animals, we knew that there were a lot more age-appropriate fun things for them to see and do. Although the Farm is well-known for its Amazing Maize Maze (an incredible activity for older kids and adults), it also has many other wonderful activities such as the Farm Tour Wagon Ride and Wagon Express Ride, Hay Maze, jumping pillows, giant slides, giant sling slots, playground, Singing Chicken Show, and much more. Sophia’s favorites were the jumping pillows (like bouncy castles without walls), the giant slides, and the hay maze.

It didn’t take long to work up an appetite. While Cherry Crest offers hearty lunch and dinner menus of Angus burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, fries, salads and wraps, pizza, and more, we chose to pack our own lunches. Under a large tent with picnic tables, we enjoyed our lunches. It was the perfect moment… the day was beautiful, the sun was shining, the wind was blowing gently, and our bellies were full.

After lunch, we only had a few minutes before we had to leave. Since the Farm Animal Center was so close to where we were eating lunch, the children all wanted to go back to see their barnyard friends one last time. Of course, Sophia made a bee line to the chicks. (She asked if she could take one home with her… I’m sure you can guess my answer.) Before we left, each child was allowed to pick their own small pumpkin to take home. What a special and unexpected surprise!

We had a great time. My only complaint… I wish that we could have stayed longer!

If this place sounds like fun to you, keep in mind that Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is a great place for field trips, company picnics, corporate events, and teambuilding. You can even ride the Strasburg Rail Road to the farm if you’d like!

This place is perfect for any age and is the perfect a Fall day excursion. Don’t miss their freshly made cider donuts and farm fresh roasted sweet corn – yum!

Click here to learn more about Cherry Crest Adventure Farm: www.cherrycrestfarm.com

waterplayground

Overnight at the DoubleTree Resort Lancaster

My friend Jessica and I decided to introduce our 4-year-old girls to “girls night out.” We thought an overnight stay in a hotel would be a blast. We knew the girls would enjoy a swimming pool and we wanted some luxury, so we landed on the DoubleTree Resort Lancaster.

One thing I love about the DoubleTree Resort is their signature chocolate chip and walnut cookie that greets you at check-in (so delicious, warm, and gooey!). We were not disappointed – as soon we were handed our room key, we got our cookies. My friend Jessica has a gluten-free diet… she thought she was going to lose out on the coveted treat, but to her surprise, they offered her a nice selection of her favorite gluten-free cookies of which she could choose any one she wanted. Nicely played, DoubleTree!

We walked through the beautiful hotel lobby and rode the elevator to our floor. Our kiddos ran ahead of us eager to find our room. As soon as we located the room and opened the door, the girls each claimed a bed and began jumping up and down while Jessica and I allowed our bags to fall off our shoulders and onto the floor. We breathed a sigh of relief. The fun can now begin!

Within a few minutes we out in our swimming suits and headed to the pool area. What a cool place! They have a “grown up” pool area that includes a hot tub and a “kid-friendly” area that is 0-4 feet and has fun, age-appropriate water playground. We laughed and played for over an hour. Then we grabbed fresh towels to dry off and headed back to our room for a pre-bedtime snack. Before long, the kiddos dozed off, so Jessica and I watched TV from the comfort of our beds.

The next morning we headed down to Cafe 24 Hundred for breakfast. We chose the breakfast buffet which featured everything you’d hope to see or have for breakfast. The girls downed their breakfast and chocolate milk like it was their job while Jessica and I enjoyed our breakfast slowly and sipped our freshly brewed coffee. The food and the servers were fantastic!

After breakfast we headed back to our room to let the girls watch cartoons while we each took a nice long shower. Sadly, though, it wasn’t long before we had to pack up our things and start our day. We had a great night’s sleep and the girls had a fun time together. This is definitely something we’d do again with the girls.

Next time you’re looking into hotel for an overnight stay, I highly recommend the DoubleTree Resort Lancaster. I understand why it’s considered a premier meeting destination and family resort. The friendly service and host of on-site amenities – including a golf course, two restaurants, state-of-the-art fitness center, and indoor water playground – promise a great stay for everyone. Plus, the resort is only minutes from Lancaster’s most popular attractions.

To learn more about the DoubleTree Resort Lancaster or to book your stay, go to www.doubletreelancaster.com.

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amish

FAQ about the Amish

Below are frequent and interesting questions we, the Visitors Bureau, are asked by visitors to Lancaster County. Have you ever wondered about the answers to these questions?

Q: Do you have electricity?
A: Yes, most of us in Lancaster are not Amish.

Q: Are you Amish?
A: No.

Q: Can I become Amish?
A: Sure, but it’s not easy and it’s less appealing once you know all that’s involved.

Q: Can we drive in Lancaster County?
A: Yes.

Q: What type of clothes do we need to wear when we visit?
A: Your normal, everyday clothes are fine. However, you may want to check the weather report to be sure you’re dressing comfortably.

Q: Are motorcycles allowed?
A: Yes, and we even have places you can rental motorcycles for the day.

Q: Where is Amish Town? What is the fee at the gate to get into Amish Town?
A: There is no such thing as Amish Town. The Amish live throughout Lancaster; they live, work, and play among us.

Q: Do you have hotel or motels in your area? Are we able to stay overnight in the area?
A: Yes, of course! Check out our extensive list.

Q: Can I have an water front room?
A: Only if a small lake counts. We are not near the ocean. The largest body of water in Lancaster is the Susquehanna River.

Q: Can I meet or will I see Lebanon Levi?
A: No. All the Amish reality shows on TV are actually fake. Sorry.

Q: Can you give me an address to find a covered bridge?
A: No. You’ll just have to follow directions or look at a map.

Q: Is there really a town called Intercourse?
A: Yes. Click here to learn its history.

Q: Can an Amish horse and buggy to pick me up at the train station and take me on a tour of Lancaster County?
A: No, but you can take a horse and buggy ride or a guided tour, visit a replica of an Amish Village, and walk through a replica of an Amish home. Click here to see more.

To learn more about the Amish, click here.

old-candle-barn

Every candle you can imagine

MMMMMmmmm, you can smell it from the parking lot. That wonderful, warm, inviting cinnamon apple pumpkin spice smell that says “welcome!” and “make yourself at home.”  It’s the lovely aroma that always makes me want a pumpkin latte, some mum plants on my porch, and my wool scarf. That lovely aroma only got better as I walked into the Old Candle Barn. It is seriously one of my new favorite places. Forget big chain stores, the Old Candle Barn is family owned and operated, and is the real deal! Hand-made right on the premises, their candles feature that extra special local Lancaster flair that make them unique and special.

Jar candles, hand-dipped tapered candles, pillars, votives, even flameless candles made with real wax for a realistic look; every kind of candle imaginable. During my visit, I learned that a popular new trend is the “lumpy” candles. Also hand-made on the premises, they feature a more rustic and visually interesting look that pairs well with a display of fall leaves and gourds or even winter greens and berries. Most of their popular fragrances are inspired by baked goods – apple pie, pumpkin pie, vanilla sugar cookies, and cinnamon spice – all which invoke nostalgic memories of happy holidays with family and friends.

I was surprised to learn that in addition to an amazing selection of candle fragrances, potpourri, and fragrant oils, The Old Candle Barn also features a broad selection of seasonal home décor, furniture, rugs, and lovely accessories that make you want to redecorate your home – as soon as possible!

After browsing through the store, I took a few minutes to explore the candle making area. While this is not technically an “exhibit” (meaning, it’s not always in operation), you can still see the large drums of wax, the metal “trees” where the hand-dipped tapered candles hang, and the small round molds where the votives are made. But, if you’re lucky, you might just see candle-making in action!

So, if you’re looking for that perfect gift, little (or not so little) indulgence for yourself, or just a simple candle to welcome the season, make sure to check out the Old Candle Barn in Intercourse, PA!

art-walk

Annual Fall ArtWalk in Downtown Lancaster

Art Walks have a long history in the City of Lancaster. Back in 1965, the first art walk was organized by the Community Gallery, now the Lancaster Museum of Art. The event was called Art Sunday and occurred on the first Sunday in October. It was a special day for promoting local artists and galleries, and included both city and county venues. Arts venues were fewer and farther between at that time. Downtown was a quieter place and there were no First Fridays. Thanks to the Community Gallery/Lancaster Museum of Art, Art Sunday continued every year and became well-established in the yearly calendar of events. Over time, Art Sunday grew and became more diversified in the types of venues participating.

Leap forward to 2014, and ArtWalk buzzes with energy two times every year. One ArtWalk in the spring, and one in the fall. This year’s Fall ArtWalk features 35 stops within 4 square blocks. You could say Lancaster’s art community is highly concentrated in the center of town.

The best part about ArtWalk is it’s yours to shape as you wish. Some people go for the exhibitions, some go for the activities, and everyone plots their lunch/coffee/ice cream breaks in between.

There are 35 stops, which can feel daunting, but you truly can do all of the stops. But don’t get hung up on the achievement, the day will unfold with unexpected surprises along the way. Linger in the galleries as long as it feels right. ArtWalk is meant to be a contemplative tour. No hurrying necessary.

Seek out the stops that offer a lot of activities such as the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen who on this instance have a blacksmithing demonstration in their back lot on Saturday. Inside they’ll have a group exhibition titled Unmasked, and they’ll also have fraktur, and needle felting demonstrations.

From there you can head to Building Character for more demonstrations in their courtyard, scoot down the Market Street alley to Hidden Treasures to shop an outdoor arts market, and walk across Prince Street to Isadore Gallery to see pottery by Angela Suehr and paintings by Steve Wetzel, one of the highlight exhibitions of the weekend.

Now you’re on Gallery Row, so continue south on Prince Street to see the Gallery at PA College of Art & Design, City Folk, Freiman Stoltzfus Gallery, Liz Hess, Red Raven Art Company, and Christiane David Gallery. You get the idea. This town is a buzz with things to do during ArtWalk.

For a full listing of activities, events, and exhibitions, visit LancasterArtWalk.org or follow the hashtags #lancartwalk and #lancphotowalk on Twitter and Instagram.

cloister1

The Ephrata Cloister’s unique story

My dad, a history buff, and I decided to spend the morning together. Because of the busyness of life and work, we have to be intentional about getting together when we have free time. Since we both love history, we regularly pick interesting historic locations to explore and experience together. Not entirely sure what to expect, we signed up for the walking tour of the Ephrata Cloister, a National Historic Landmark founded in 1732. I always admired the beauty of the buildings and the lush grounds on which they set, but I didn’t know the story behind it all. Today’s visit was going to change that.

We gathered in a room with the rest of our tour group to watch a brief movie about the Cloister’s origin and history. We learned that the Cloister was one of America’s earliest religious communities and was founded by German settlers seeking spiritual goals rather than earthly rewards. Conrad Beissel, founder of Ephrata, was the key player in the development of this unique and strict religious community. The community consisted of celibate Brothers and Sisters and a married congregation of families. This community was at its peak from 1740-1750 when about 300 members worked and worshiped together. Their daily schedule, sleeping and eating routines, and simple clothing were beautifully bizarre and wonderfully intriguing. If you love history, I suggest clicking here to reading more about the history of this interesting place.

After the movie we met our guide, Nick, and embarked on our walking tour. Nick was dressed as one of the Brothers. He was knowledgeable and witty. He took us through the restored buildings, provided insight into the culture of Cloister, and answered a plethora of questions. The Cloister not only has a rich and unique history, the architecture is amazing. The Brothers and Sisters who built and maintained these structures also created original music, printing presses, and fraktur (a style of lettering and a highly artistic and elaborate art form), all while living a strict religious life style that included sleeping on beds made of wood.

After our tour ended, Dad and I walked the grounds. We wondered through the cemetery and through several other buildings. It was a beautiful day! The sun highlighted the gorgeous and strong architecture of the Cloister (by the way-the beauty of the Cloister makes it an amazing wedding venue). Making our way indoors, we meandered through the free exhibit, then popped into the quaint souvenir store where we nosed around for a while – of course, buying a few items to remember our trip.

This landmark is currently administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and is open daily for reasonably priced tours and special events. On-going research continues so that visitors can learn more about Ephrata’s surviving legacy and the people who built it.

I would highly recommend taking time to visit the Ephrata Cloister next time you’re in Lancaster.

To learn more, go to www.ephratacloister.org.

cloister2

scooter1

Try seeing the countryside this way

I’m all about adventure; I want to have fun and try new things. Today was my opportunity to see the countryside on a scooter. Mind you, I don’t have a motorcycle license and I’ve never driven a scooter… but I was ready.

When my friend, Shelby, and I arrived at Country Roads Bicycle, Scooter & Motorcycle Rentals, we were greeted by Steve Horst, owner and lifelong motorcyclist. Shelby and I were giddy with nervousness and excitement. But – safety first! Steve paired us up with fitting helmets and tutored us on all the things we needed to know to drive the scooter – from ignition location to every safety precaution. Then the fun part started.

Shelby and I followed Steve to a adjacent parking lot for our driver’s safety course. Being a former motorcycle safety instructor, Steve is keenly aware of when/if a driver is ready for the road. After about 20 minutes and many laps around the parking lot, we were ready to rock and roll. Shelby and I pulled up to the stop sign, looked both ways, and pulled out onto Ronks Road… but only for a moment until we encountered the first back road. Ah, yes, countryside driving without being stifled by doors and windows! The wind brushed our arms, the sun kissed our faces, and we had the ride of our lives. We drove around without a map, just exploring. But, due to time restrictions, we were only out on the roads for about an hour. It was fun, thrilling… and now checked off my bucket list.

For an extremely affordable price, you can rent bicycles, scooters, and motorcycle for up to a day. If it’s your first time driving a scooter and you  feel nervous – come on Sunday and spend as much time as you’d like practicing in the large next door parking lot before heading out on the back roads.

I can’t wait to go again. Steve, I’ll be in touch!

scooter2

crossroads-antique-mall

Find the antique you’ve been looking for

Family, friends, and reminiscing about fun memories are some of the best things on Earth. Going antiquing is one way to combine all three of these things into one lovely package. So on a lazy, end-of-summer Saturday morning, I rounded up one of my best friends from college, Laura, and my sister-in-law, Sue, and we headed to Hershey to do a little sightseeing. Our main destination was Crossroads Antiques, conveniently located off Rt. 743 and Rt. 322 – one of the main “cross roads” through Hershey and only about 30 minutes from Lancaster.

Crossroads Antique Mall features two floors of antique amazingness! Over 85 unique vendors share the space in a co-op style antique market. The vendors each display their own antiques that they have collected from estate sales, personal collections, etc.

We barely set foot in the door when we started pointing out things that made us smile. “My dad had one of those!” “My mom loves those dishes!” “Oh my gosh, remember THESE? I was obsessed with these as a kid!” There is no limit to what you might find at the Crossroads Antique Mall. We spent over two hours perusing the rows and rows of curiosities including glassware and dishes, vintage games, toys, jewelry, furniture, hats, figurines, vintage memorabilia, posters, magazines, books, records (remember THOSE?) and everything else in-between. Even an antique prosthetic leg, which gave Laura quite a laugh, since she’s a physical therapist! “Imagine actually wearing that clunky old thing?”

Laura made two fantastic purchases – an irresistible Hershey Chocolate cook book, with every recipe even more tantalizing than the one before it. She also found a vintage brand name purse that was in excellent condition, at a great price. Sue and I were simply satisfied with our fun adventure and together-time.

If you’re looking for a great day trip destination near Lancaster be sure to stop by the Crossroads Antique Mall to make some new memories while enjoying the old.

stoltzfusbnb

An overnight stay with former Amish

I hopped in the car and drove east. The drive was familiar although the destination uncertain. This city gal left Downtown Lancaster and breathed a sigh of relief. I needed an escape from the emails and the meetings, from the loud music and bright lights. For one night I was offered an escape to the countryside to stay overnight with a former Amish family.

Much of my time outside of the city has been spent down in Pequea where I discovered trails, dipped in swimming holes, and climbed around the endless curves that make up its wooded roads. This time I was traveling to the flat, open farmland. The cornstalks stood at attention, swaying slightly in the evening breeze. Cows and horses dotted the grassy hills, as I called out in excitement, the same excitement that had existed in my childhood. As the sunlight dwindled, I followed my GPS not once, but twice past my supposed destination. I pulled over and checked the address, finding my location the good ol’ fashioned way by looking at mailboxes and fence posts for house numbers.

As I neared my destination, Stoltzfus Bed & Breakfast, I saw a large, white farmhouse with green trim that sat atop a hill and was nestled between farms. I pulled into the driveway and up past the house to park. I was greeted by one of the owners, Ginger Stoltzfus, a lovely, charming and bubbly personality, her smile kind and sparkly. She told me a bit of the mansion’s history. It was built in 1845 and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. My challenge was to find where freed slaves had hidden; this task, however, was completely forgotten as I took in my surroundings and the warm demeanor of my hosts. Sam Stoltzfus had joined us in the tour and we made it as far as the dining room table before I realized my complete neglect of this part of Lancaster County.

The three of us sat at the table, a map spread out in front of us, and a plan being formed for that evening and the next day. The day ahead, they assured me, could take me anywhere I’d like to go. Each time I was asked if I had been to one location or another, my response was “not yet,” to which Sam exclaimed, “We need to get you out of the city!” A few minutes into our planning, I knew this to be true.

Sam and Ginger are determined to direct their guests to the best the area has to offer, providing them with the ultimate Lancaster County experience. Sam and Ginger both grew up Amish, Sam locally and Ginger in York County. I trusted their judgment in all things Amish, although I knew I was not the typical guest they usually entertain. They told me I could pet calves and eat ice cream, buy dry goods for my upcoming camping trip, or have dinner with an Amish family. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go… all I knew was that I needed food. My stomach was growling. Prepared with a list of restaurants, a description for each, and directions, we let my tummy do the talking. It took me to a local diner, one of Sam and Ginger’s favorite places.

Enter the scenic drive through the countryside, the juxtaposition between modern day lifestyle and a simpler way of life. I passed an Amish family plowing their garden, a young boy perched atop a horse with a second child guiding, the rest of the siblings ready and prepared to sow the earth. Around the next bend, I passed a group of “English” teenagers smoking and gathered around a motorcycle, slightly disheveled and appearing bored. A bit further down, a young, pig-tailed Amish girl ran towards the road, waving enthusiastically. Something simple and beautiful, I thought, as I waved back.

My dinner was no less extraordinary. However, I felt much like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: totally out of my element, stepping into some alternate reality. Clad in fake Wayfairers and noisy bangles, I took my seat and ordered an iced tea. My meal consisted of a cheeseburger with coleslaw. A regular, Roger, caught me laughing at a text message and struck up conversation. He sat one booth away, but we faced one another as we dined and laughed. He had chicken with a side salad. Soon I said my goodbyes and was on the road again, headed back to test out the air conditioning I had been eyeing up during the tour.

As darkness set in, I used the flashlight cleverly attached to my room key to guide my way towards the house and found my way to my room. I flipped on the switch, tossed off my shoes, and tested out the bed. Covered in a beautiful quilt, I slipped down into the sheets: pure heaven. The sheets were incredibly soft, the pillows just right. I had a TV, but no bother, I was inspired to keep it simple that evening. I read through Sam and Ginger’s Welcome/Guest Book. I peeked through the organized book of things to do in the area, imagining for a moment I was on really vacation. This would be a nice place, I thought, as I dozed off to the hum of the cool, condensed air.

The morning was no less homey. Breakfast was served promptly at 8:30 AM, and I was dying for a cup off coffee from the fancy machine Ginger had pointed out the day before. I hopped in the shower, pleasantly surprised to find a massaging showerhead, perfect for that kink in my neck I had developed over the last days of sitting in front of my computer. As I toweled off, I noticed the little touches around my room. Local goat’s milk lotion, beautiful furniture, and hand-painted signs. I made my way downstairs to the breakfast room table, surprised to see two more guests. I knew they were there, but I hadn’t heard a peep. Skip and Terry were from Maryland and here to spend some time in an area where people lived a simpler lifestyle. I guess we all needed to get away.

Breakfast was amazing and the coffee hit the spot. Ginger had left cheese off my side of my frittata, thoughtful of my random dietary issues we had discussed the night before. Amish nut butter, a delicious traditional cheese spread, sausage, and venison scrapple. The majority of the ingredients came from friends or neighbors aside from the potatoes, but I didn’t care. It was incredible. The Stoltzfuses, Ginger’s mother, Skip, Terry, and I sat around the table talking about our plans for the day, telling a little bit about ourselves, and sharing a meal together much like friends and family. After the plates were cleared, Skip and Terry said adeiu, and I headed upstairs to pack my bag.

The care with which Ginger and Sam had taken to expose the beauty of their historic home, uncovering wooden beams and pitted bricks, was the same care they gave to me to reveal the potential of my stay. As they led me from room to room, the mansion to the carriage house, I could see the love and care they bestowed upon their property. It was no accident they bestowed the same love and care onto me. I had assumed I’d just be spending the night in a different bed, with some air-conditioning, and a warm, morning shower. Instead I felt at home, with friends and family to share a meal with, a little ginger cat to rest in my lap, and laundry list of things I wanted to do in the area the moment I had time to spare.

authentic-bnb

Looking for a Bed & Breakfast?

There are many wonderful places to stay overnight in Lancaster. From hotels to farm-stays to Bed & Breakfasts, Lancaster has it all. If you’re considering a Bed & Breakfast, here are some reasons to stay at an Authentic B&B:

  • We’re an association of over 30 B&B’s and Inns. We live here and are happy to share local insights with you. We know where to find the best sweet corn, tomatoes, and whoopie pies. The Amish and local business are our neighbors and friends. If you are looking for a locally-made broom, quilt, or new kitchen table, you can bet we’ve shopped for these same purchases, so we can help you. As your hosts, we’ll greet you with a smile. And since we own our B&Bs, you can be sure we’re available if you need us. We’re always on the lookout for new places, new experiences and fun… and we do it all for you!
  • We’ll serve you a great breakfast in the morning. If you like it, chances are good that you may even get the recipe so your stomach can stay on vacation long after you’ve returned home.
  • Need a place to stay at the last minute? Want to bring the kids? Mom? Fido? Stay in a mansion? In the country? In a log home? We’ll find a B&B that’s just perfect for you. We share an 800 number, so no matter your situation, can find a room for you.
  • Do you visit Lancaster often? Take advantage of our Passport program: stay at 3 participating members of the Association and after the 4th stay, get a $50 credit off your 5th stay. Plus the Passport program includes coupons and special savings.

So, the next time you’re looking for a place in Lancaster, be sure to give us a call!

Blog post written by Jan Garrabrandt, Innkeeper at The Artist’s Inn & Gallery.

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