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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!

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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).

GoodNPlenty

Delicious PA Dutch Food is plentiful here

The other day I realized that I have never experienced Pennsylvania Dutch food, which is odd since I grew up near Lancaster County. If you are even slightly familiar with the Lancaster area, you know that food is part of the culture. Because I love food, I decided to give it a try. I invited my friend Jason to go with me to Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant and Bakery.

Good ‘N Plenty is a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant with two dining options and a bakery. We had the choice of traditional dining or an all-you-can-eat, family-style dining (family-style dining is the most popular). There was no question about it. We were hungry and ready to try something new – family style dining was the clear choice!

Family style dining is one of the most unique dining experiences I have ever had. We walked into a huge, open room with rows of long tables. Each table had seating for 12 people. The hostess seated us next to a young couple and shortly after another couple joined us. As we waited for the meal to be brought to us, the table had a few of Lancaster’s favorite appetizers such as chow chow and pepper cabbage along with fresh baked bread accompanied with fresh apple butter. As we ate the appetizers, we got to know the others at our table. Both couples were from out of town visiting Lancaster County, one from Georgia and the other from New York.

After a few minutes of learning more about each other, bowls among bowls of food were brought to our table. Everything you could imagine of the home cooking variety was placed in front of us including meats, vegetables, and my personal favorite, mashed potatoes. The food was delicious. After everyone at our table helped themselves to the endless amount of food, it was time for dessert. Our waitress brought five different desserts to the table, including pies, homemade ice cream, and cheesecake.

Choosing my favorite part of our dining experience is extremely hard to do. Family dining is a unique experience that everyone should try. Good ‘N Plenty did a great job preparing delicious Pennsylvania Dutch food that was served hot and quickly replenished when empty.

After dinner, be sure to stretch your legs by walking out back and visit the petting zoo!

lancastergram_winner

2015 #Lancastergram Winners

And the 2015 #Lancastergram winners are…

FIRST PLACE:  atglennite
SECOND PLACE: 
wlmgoeshere
THIRD PLACE: 
photo_guy_robert_buzzard

RUNNERS UP:
bydavepidgeonphoto
christina_721
chadharnish
ck_images
dave_berk
kennykinter
jmacneillphoto

- See more at: http://www.discoverlancaster.com/instagram-contest.asp#sthash.DKFhST6W.dpuf

And the 2015 #Lancastergram winners are…

FIRST PLACE:  atglennite
SECOND PLACE: 
wlmgoeshere
THIRD PLACE: 
photo_guy_robert_buzzard

RUNNERS UP:
bydavepidgeonphoto
christina_721
chadharnish
ck_images
dave_berk
kennykinter
jmacneillphoto

- See more at: http://www.discoverlancaster.com/instagram-contest.asp#sthash.DKFhST6W.dpuf

This past summer for a period of seven weeks, we invited residents and visitors to post unique Lancaster-specific photos on Instagram using the hash tag #Lancastergram. All the photos that were tagged properly, fell in line with contest rules, and were taken within the defined time frame were entered to win amazing prizes. During the seven weeks, over 6,000 photos were submitted. The contest judges were faced with a difficult challenge… to select the Top 10. The Top 10 were then reveal at Tellus360 on First Friday, September 4. On that same day, Rick Gray, Mayor of Lancaster City, proclaimed September 4, 2015, #Lancastergram Day!

Without further adieu, here are the 2015 #Lancastergram winners…

FIRST PLACE:  @atglennite
SECOND PLACE:  @
wlmgoeshere
THIRD PLACE:  @
photo_guy_robert_buzzard

lancastergram_winner
lancastergram_second

 

 

 

 

 

lancastergram_third

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUNNERS UP:
@bydavepidgeonphoto
@christina_721
@chadharnish
@ck_images
@dave_berk
@kennykinter
@jmacneillphoto

Check out www.discoverlancaster.com/instagram-contest.asp to:
- See Runners Up photos and the Weekly Top Picks photos
- Read the #Lancastergram Day Proclamation
- Learn more about the awesome prize packages the winners received

Be sure to participate in next year’s contest. You never know…. your photo might be picked!

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An avant-garde take on theatre

Lights dim. The crowd hushes. Then suddenly beams of light flood the aisle of the breath-taking St. James Episcopal Church. Show time!

Children of Eden is a musical written by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell) and is under the creative direction of PRiMA-affiliated director, Kristen Brewer. This show, loosely based on the stories from the Book of Genesis, is a heartfelt musical dealing with the difficulties of parenting, breaking generational patterns, and the power of second chances. The vocals are dynamic and emotionally-fueled. PRiMA’s production utilizes the whole space creating an enriching and unique experience. Children of Eden sheds a positive light and insight to the hiccups in life. There’s only two more performances: September 13 or 20 (Sundays, 2015) at 7:00 PM. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this show!

PRiMA Theatre is celebrating their fifth year providing “fresh theatrics” for a multitude of audiences. Their avant-garde take on theatre and performance environments has impressed many. PRiMA Theatre’s upcoming performances will be a contemporary spin to the holidays. On the weekend of Halloween, join PRiMA for a “chic cabaret featuring songs from the Great White Way’s darkest characters.” In the middle of December, “Experience a world premiere immersive theatrical event in this limited engagement. Meet legendary holiday figures as they create chaos and fun at the Snow Queen’s Party.” For more information, visit primatheatre.org.

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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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My favorite place for PA Dutch Specialties

If you’ve traveled to Pennsylvania Dutch Country you may have heard about the custom of putting seven sweets and seven sours on the table at mealtime. The idea of putting such variety on the table is to provide a varied and balanced diet to a hard working family.

If you think it is hard to come up with seven sweets and seven sours for a meal, look no further than Intercourse Canning Company. Located at 13 Center Street, just off the Old Philadelphia Pike in Intercourse, PA, this store features everything you need to set a PA Dutch inspired table.

When you walk in the door you will be greeted by their helpful staff and rows upon rows of colorful jars filled with amazing new things to try. Intercourse Canning Company offers over 300 varieties of canned goods and other products and has samples for you to test of many of their top sellers.

My family is partial to their pickled beets and Jalapeno Pepper Jam. However, to get the true PA Dutch experience you must try the chow chow and the apple butter, two staples of Lancaster County cuisine. Boxes and rows of jellies, relishes and salsas fill the aisles just waiting to go home with you.

I can a little bit myself, but I learned even more on my visit. Did you know that Napoleon was a big part of canning history? Intercourse Canning Company offers lessons in canning history with their educational video which runs every day. They also have a demonstration kitchen which showcases their Amish canning kitchen cooks whipping up batches of homemade goodness for your table from April through December.

Not sure you have room in the car for that case of canned deliciousness? No worries, Intercourse Canning Company will ship to your home or a friend’s home. And if you eat up all that great Amish Meatloaf sauce (trust me, it is amazing) you can order some from your comfy couch using their online ordering at their website.

I highly recommend that you visit Intercourse Canning Company and plan to spend at least an hour browsing and tasting your way through the store. In addition to canned goods they have candy, homemade noodles, gourmet mixes, and delicious coffee (ever have Whoopie Pie coffee before?). If you have holiday shopping to do, Intercourse Canning Company makes it really easy on you with gift baskets and smaller sizes of jars if you want to make your own.

Though my family was just there in mid-summer, we plan to go again closer to Christmas since their stock and specialties change with the seasons. Next time I go I’m going to make sure I pick up two jars of their Amish Sweet Mustard. It goes great with my kids’ favorite snack of bologna and cheese. Definitely give it a try!

icc_2

covered bridge

Covered Bridges of Lancaster County

Covered bridges are an iconic symbol that bring to mind a more simple time, a more simple way of life. Pennsylvania has approximately 219 covered bridges that have withstood the test of time, more than any other state. Lancaster boasts over 25 of those bridges, each with its own unique story.

The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather. Uncovered wooden bridges have a life span of only 10-15 years because of the effects of rain and sun. Thanks to the covering, we have many bridges that have been around a long time.

The longest covered bridge at 5,960 feet once spanned the Susquehanna River from Columbia to neighboring Wrightsville in York County. Built in 1814, it was unfortunately destroyed by high water and ice in 1832. But, many others remain, ready for you to discover and enjoy.

We’ve developed five driving tours of covered bridges in Lancaster County. For a PDF version, click here. If you prefer to use our Google Map tours, click here and choose the tour that most interests you. To learn more about our covered bridges, be sure to stop the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center to purchase the book, Covered Bridges of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

covered_bridges

chiques rock

A Day of River Therapy

I love the Susquehanna River, but I don’t spend as much time on or near it as I should, considering how close to home it is. One Saturday evening, I set out to remedy that by going on a Chiques Rock Outfitters’ 5:00 pm “Therapy Float.”

The Therapy Float is a guided trip on the Susquehanna River from the southern end of Marietta down to River Park in Columbia, where I parked my car at the Chiques Rock Outfitters rental shop.

I was equipped with a solo kayak, paddle, life jacket, and dry box for my camera. When we put our boats in the water, there were no others in sight, but we did spot a great blue heron fishing off a rock not far from shore. My guide, Ranae Tibbens, co-owner of Chiques Rock Outfitters, gave me a refresher on how to steer since it had been at least twenty years since I’d last been in a kayak. Then we were off to explore the river.

We paddled under the railroad bridge, where Chiques Creek empties into the river, to take a look at the water level and a new pedestrian bridge. As we headed out to the middle of the river, a bald eagle came swooping down over the water.  He came close enough overhead to be seen in detail, but I was too slow getting my camera out of the dry box to be able to get a good shot of him. He was very shortly joined by another, and we watched the two of them fly circles above the river and the shoreline for a few minutes, before flying away.

Getting out of the kayak during the trip is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. We pulled up on an exposed stretch of pebbles, then waded out to a rock to examine someone’s 100+ year old script signature etched into the surface. We also examined the bore holes at the base of the rock, worn by the action of small pebbles in the current over time. Some rocks on the river seem to be more hole than rock, honeycombed by friction of stone and water. After taking photos from the top of the rock, we climbed down and waded back to our boats, thankful for the traction of water shoes on slippery rocks.

Shortly before sunset, we stopped at the boat launch by John Wright Restaurant for a few minutes then we took our time crossing to the other side of the river. We stopped often to take photographs of pink and orange light reflecting off of the bridge piers and the water.

When we pulled our boats in at the launch at River Park again, I was pleasantly exhausted and happy to have explored a couple of miles of the beautiful river in our backyard.

To learn about other water activities in Lancaster, click here.

lancastergram

Through Our Eyes: 2015 #Lancastergram Contest

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt

Did you see that Lancaster made The New York Times this past week? The article featured some of my favorites: Lancaster Central Market, Prince Street Cafe, Thistle Finch Distillery, and PhotOle Photography. Entitled, “Amish Country Embraces Farm-to-Table,” the author praised some of our new businesses and art studios, joking that Lancaster had become more instagrammable than ever as a result. Why yes, we sure have! Did you know that the hashtag #Lancastergram currently has almost 17,000 entries? 

That is why I was particularly thrilled that The Times decided to highlight Ole Hongvanthong and his photography studio and store on West King Street. Like other Lancaster photographers, I initially discovered Ole through Instagram @photole_photography and was immediately intrigued by both his work and the restored cameras that he was selling. When I reached out to Ole, he was already familiar with my work on Instagram @urbansocialblend (which made my day) and offered to capture my likeness downtown.

I start with Ole because he is just one member of our very active and growing photography community here in Lancaster. Lancaster has a great support system, both professional and personal, for photographers at all levels of experience and with diverse interests. At a professional level, PCAD offers a degree and continuing education opportunities in photography, Sunshine Art + Design has a darkroom available for its members, and The Perfect Image has photography equipment available to purchase or to rent.  At a personal level, one can sign-up for photo walks at the Lancaster County Photography Meetup page or simply reach out to the many Lancaster photographers that you will see working offline or online. I have watched Nikki Weems in action at Lancaster Transplant events, seen Seth Dochter from the Amish Road Show capture the Ephrata landscape, and literally posed for Ole in Steinman Park. I have found that Lancaster’s photographers are more than willing to share their craft with you and help you in any way that they can.

You will also discover that Lancaster’s photography community is very active on Instagram and quite enthusiastic about showcasing the faces, places, and spaces that make our community so special to others. This is one of the many reasons that Discover Lancaster decided to launch the #Lancastergram photography contest last year and to publicly recognize those efforts.

And we are at it once again… from June 21 to August 9, Discover Lancaster, in partnership with consultant Paul Anater, will be sponsoring the second annual #Lancastergram contest! I am thrilled to be a part of the Locals Love Lancaster team and honored to be one of the judges for this year’s contest. I invite, encourage and challenge you to respond to our call for photographs. We are looking for local and visiting photographers, amateur and professional photographers, portrait and landscape photographers, and everyone in between, to participate this summer and to start tagging their Lancaster photos with the #Lancastergram hashtag. Be creative! I want to see Lancaster through your eyes and am particularly interested in new perspectives. Participating photographers will automatically be eligible to win amazing Lancaster County prize packages, be featured in a gallery show this fall, and recognized at a public event on September 5, 2015.  For official details and to read this year’s press release, please click here.

Click here to see Top Picks from each week of the #Lancastergram contest.

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