Featured Story

minihorsefarm

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!

aqs2015

Spring means AQS Quiltweek®

After such a cold and snowy winter, spring has finally arrived. The dreariness of winter made my trip to Lancaster for the AQS Quiltweek® event in March even more exciting this year. Even though the weather was still cold and gray, the Lancaster County Convention Center was blooming with warmth and color like a magical spring day.

It’s my tradition to stop at Lancaster Central Market before the event to grab a chocolate whoopie pie and a cup of coffee. I didn’t break with tradition. I enjoyed the moist cookie and creamy filling as I waited in line for the event. [NOTE: They do not allow food or drinks in the exhibition or sales areas, so be sure to finish your whoopie before you go in!]

For the second year in a row, Katherine Rupp, the Marketing Director of the American Quilter’s Society, gave me a tour of the exhibits and pointed out some local winners in the quilt contests. Pennsylvania is always well represented in the winner’s circle. It’s exciting to see my fellow local quilters do so well in the competitions.

One of my favorite quilts this year was by Sue Reno of Columbia titled “Jack in the Pulpit.” The quilt reminded me of spring when all the woodland plants come out of hiding. My favorite exhibit was Cherrywood’s “WICKED,” based on the book and Broadway show, Wicked. It showcased small quilts made with their signature green colored hand-dyed fabrics.  Seeing the collection hung together was striking.

If you are not a quilter yourself, you still have plenty of reasons to visit a Quiltweek® event. Quilts are pieces of art and represent hand-craftsmanship at its finest. Like a fabric art gallery, a quilt event like this showcases the traditional bed quilt next to the modern art quilt and allows the viewer to think for themselves what the world “quilt” really means.

Not only are the quilts varied and exciting, the vendors have lots to offer as well. From jewelry and beauty items to household tools and the most up-to-date sewing machinery, there are sorts of things to try out, try on, and take home with you.

If you are a quilter or someone who loves working with fabric and thread in any fashion, you definitely will want to spend an entire day getting inspiration and ideas from these wonderful artisans. The supply of fabrics and threads is endless. Stocking up is always a good idea because with this special show comes special sales prices.

Every year I leave Quiltweek® with a renewed zest for my fabric stash and vow I’ll make more quilts than ever. I hope you visit AQS Quiltweek® next year and enjoy all it has to offer!

Amish children

Amish Nicknames

Some visitors unfamiliar with the Amish see their conservative dress and lifestyle and, for some reason, think the Amish are a serious, austere group of people who rarely smile or laugh. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our Amish friends love to laugh and joke, and their sense of humor is especially exhibited in… nicknames.

One category of nicknames derives from physical or personality traits. Examples are Big Ben, Brownie Eli, Black Sam, Chubby Jonas, Skinny Davie, Porky Dan, Shorty Abner, Toey Steve, and Limpy John. The color of their hair or beard gave the names to Red Elmer, Pinky Eli, Sandy Crist, and Whitey Manuel. I especially like “See More Sam,” whose eyes were set wide apart.

Perhaps more interesting are names based on personality. “Balky John” was stubborn; “Boom Daniel” liked to bellow loudly; “Lummicks Amos” was clumsy; “Coonie Jonathan” liked to hunt; and “Doggie Aaron” loved dogs. An Amish friend informed me that “Coonie’s son married Doggie’s daughter.”

Another set of nicknames comes from funny or memorable incidents associated with a person. “Gravy Dan” earned his nickname because “at a threshing dinner he once poured gravy instead of cream in his coffee.” Another Amishman received the name “Stover” because he once moved a stove from one farm to another, and charged for the service at both ends! “Slinky” got his name from when he played baseball in the schoolyard and scrunched himself down like a slinky when he was at bat. And then there is “Pepper Yonnie,” who got his name when he put some pepper on the heat stove after a hymnsing, and made people sneeze. He apparently cleared the room!

Occupation often figures into a nickname. ”Butter Jake” made and sold butter, “Elevator Ike” invented a farm elevator, “Crusher John” worked in a stone quarry, “Jockey Joe” traded horses, and “Lawyer John” seemed to have skills in legal matters, even though he was not a lawyer.

Then there was “Chicken Elam,” who owned a chicken farm, and “Chickie Dan,” who worked for him. “Cherry John” used to sell cherries, but was known as “Butcher John” when he had that occupation. “Junkie Jake” likes to buy and sell antiques and collectibles. And of course, “Horseradish Sam” gets his name from selling ground horseradish in jars.

The newest name I learned about had to do with an Amishman who milks Dutch Belt cows, which are black cows with a white “belt” running down their middle. Because these cows are black with white in the middle, the farmer has gotten the name of (what else?)… “Oreo Alvin.”

wolf_sanctuary

Lancaster’s Wolf Sanctuary

There are three sounds I’ve heard in my life that I will never forget: the sound of my mom singing “Day is Done” (don’t ask); the sound of pebbles washing back into the waves on the beach in Riomaggiore, Italy; and the sound of 45 wolves howling at once.

These 45 wolves live a mere 15 miles away from my house, at the Wolf Sanctuary in Speedwell Forge. The sanctuary is a non-profit organization that maintains a natural environment for rescued wolves and wolf-hybrids, educating visitors about wolf culture and the plight of these species – many of which are extinct or endangered.

The day that I visited the sanctuary was muddy. I changed into the boots that I keep in the trunk of my car (doesn’t everyone?). Shortly after, a busload of boys aged 13-16 showed up as part of a school field trip. Now, I have two younger brothers, and I remember ages 13-16. Not pretty! As I walked around for an hour that day, I not only observed the wolves, learning about their histories, personalities, and behaviors. I also observed the students, fascinated by their fascination, respect, and interest in learning about these regal creatures.

If a wolf sanctuary can keep 20+ teen/preteen boys interested, I’m willing to bet almost everyone will love the experience. The sanctuary is volunteer-run and open year-round, offering public tours on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays (visit their website for registration details). They also run special events, including full moon tours which draws hundreds of people and includes a bonfire and fundraisers like the upcoming Music and Art with the Wolves (May 9, 11am-3pm). If you go, here is my advice:

  • Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy.
  • Go in the winter if possible. The wolves are more active and their coats are full when it’s cold.
  • Bring a camera.
  • Bring all of your friends.

And lastly, ask your tour guide to try to get the wolves to howl together. This is how they communicate with each other within and between packs. To be honest I have never heard a more haunting and beautiful sound.

RAW

Reading Art Works, the perfect venue

Surprises are few and far between when you have lived in the same place for your entire life; especially when it comes to aspects of culture you love like food, wine, and entertainment, but recently I was pleasantly surprised. The revelation: a trip to a local event rental and art gallery space called Reading Art Works (RAW).

Located just outside of the historical section of Reading, PA, RAW impresses from the second you walk through the door. Owners Janice and David Telstar are celebrating RAW’s 8th year in business in the old Pattern Works building, originally known for producing railroad engine parts. When they bought the building it suffered from typical abandonment issues: stained floors, broken windows, leaking roofs, and an overall state of decay. What they have done with the place is astonishing. David combined his love for refurbishing old items and carpentry with Janice’s 30+ years of event planning knowledge to create a space that screams “industrial chic.” Beautifully restored sliding garage doors separate the available studio spaces (available for rent starting at $350) while David’s furniture creations, ranging from birdhouses to high top tables made from old shutters, leave no doubt in any potential renter’s mind of the infinite possibilities available at RAW.

Simply put, this space is gorgeous. With its two levels, RAW can hold events for up to 800 people including holiday parties, weddings, photography shoots, and more. The space lends itself to the imagination, and with the help of the on-site interior designer, Karen Weinberger, any event can be transformed into your wildest dreams. Karen is a talented self-taught artist, and RAW is home to her event décor business, British Brat @ Studio #5.  She offers Decor Rental and Design Services to assist RAW customers in fulfilling their vision of a picture perfect day, all while keeping your budget intact. Decor Rental items include lounge areas, chalk boards, old windows, new crystal chandeliers and much more.  In addition Karen can design and customize ceremony backdrops, create ceiling decor, photo backdrops, etc. You can see some her work on RAW’s facebook page.

The studio spaces on the first floor are spacious with radiant light shining through the building’s restored windows. The art gallery featured on the first floor is breathtaking on its own. Presently adorned with pieces by a local Philadelphia artist, Kathleen Shaver, the space is clean, modern, and leaves you with a sense of sophistication and creativity. If the first floor left me breathless, entering the loft sent me to heaven. The short staircase to the second floor leads into an open room with hardwood floors, industrial beams, and gorgeous light through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Walking around this loft, even devoid of event decorations, would give any past, present, or future bride chills. I could not stop thinking about the possibilities for such a space and neither can David. We spent an hour talking about his ideas for expansion, some including the addition of gardens and decks; let me tell you, these ideas will only amplify the success of this business.

With its unique location, interior aesthetic, and personable staff, I highly recommend Reading Art Works to anyone looking for gallery space, event space, or even a wedding location. You would be crazy not to take advantage of the natural sunlight, the exceptional artwork, and the simple industrial beauty that RAW has to offer. I can only thank David and Janice enough for enlightening me to such a wonderful surprise so close to home!  Visit RAW’s website at http://readingartworks.com.

avalanchexpress

Snow Tubing: Not Just For Kids (But They’ll Love It Too)

I didn’t have snow pants. I didn’t have gloves. But that didn’t stop me from reveling in my first snow tubing experience at AvalancheXpress. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Here’s what you need to know:

Hot chocolate bar. First things first—there is a hot chocolate bar where you can add your own toppings including sprinkles, whipped cream, smashed up M&Ms and Oreos, and (most importantly) AS MANY MINI MARSHMALLOWS AS YOUR HEART DESIRES.

Racing is a thing. There are 8 lanes at the top of the hill. You can pick a hill next to your friend, launch at the same time, and race to the bottom. If you’re tubing with your lover (also a thing), you can pick a wide lane and hold onto each others tube as you speed to the bottom. If this can’t save a relationship I don’t know what can.

Tow rope-lines. The worst thing about sledding growing up was walking back up the hill. The struggle is real. Not at AvalancheXpress, however. There are two powered rope-lines that will pull you (in tube!) back up to the top of the hill. Of course, fitness buffs can choose to walk up if they choose; it’s a good way to wear your kids out. But being pulled up backwards feels almost like a fun ride in and of itself.

To get to the bathrooms you have to pass right by the hotel bar. Self explanatory, yes?

FIRE. At the bottom of the hill (protected by nets and bumpers for those exuberant tubers) are four fire pits, complete with chairs. It’s the perfect spot to stop between downhill trips to warm your hands and thaw your face. And if tubing isn’t your thing, it’s the perfect place to watch the fun.

Night tubing. Did I mention I did all of this at night? AvalancheXpress does night tubing from 8-10 PM (weekdays & Sundays) and 9-10 PM (Fridays & Saturdays). It’s so worth it. I only had to stand in line once, with about 5 people in front of me. There were very few children. Plus, hurtling through the darkness?? Nearly indescribable.

Make no mistake, this hill is BIG. It was intimidating at first, then immediately addictive. I couldn’t stop laughing each time I flew down, and by the end of the night, I wasn’t sure if my face hurt from the cold or from smiling.

elitetravel

Beginner’s guide to planning group travel effectively

Back in July, my friend Alyssa was asked to organize a group trip to New York City for her church. She was asked to step in at the last minute because the original group leader, a woman with previous travel planning experience, was having some health problems and did not feel up to the job this year. Not wanting to disappoint the 30 church members who had already reserved a spot for the trip, Alyssa took on the responsibility with about five months remaining to complete the tour arrangements.

As you may have predicted, Alyssa ran into a few challenges along the way. Her predecessor had selected a suitable date, made a list of possible tourist destinations in NYC, and gathered a few quotes from local tour bus companies…that was about it. After a moment of panic, Alyssa got to work comparing different group rates and making reservations. Her trip is just around the corner now, and it seems that she was able to piece together a pretty interesting trip for her church. But Alyssa’s experience as a first-time group travel planner got me thinking: how many other people had an experience like hers? What did they do? What questions did they have? What should they have done differently?

So I decided to look into the topic and do my best to provide a short guide for anyone who is new to planning group tours. Since I’m not a group travel pro myself, I spoke with Dawn Dornes, a representative from Elite Coach, who was kind enough to answer my questions and offer some very helpful advice on the subject.

Top Priorities for Group Travel

Whether you are planning your first group tour or your twentieth, there are a few components that should be your top priorities.

  • Transportation – If you don’t have transportation, you won’t be going very far. The type of transportation you choose will depend on the number of people traveling with you. In some cases, you may be able to pile into a 15-passengar van or travel in a small caravan of cars and do the driving yourself. If you’re traveling with a larger group of people, you may require the services of a charter bus company.
  • Timetable – When asked about the appropriate timetable for arranging group travel, Dawn recommends that groups book their trips “no less than six months in advance to give folks plenty of time to plan and prepare. Long trips should be promoted 9-12 months in advance primarily because these trips cost a little more and people like to budget the expense.”
  • Know your Destinations – Although travel websites like Trip Advisor are fantastic resources for tour planners, Dawn warns against relying solely on these sites. “It’s important to know your destinations. Visit them if possible. Meet the sales staff.” If you are teaming up with a tour operator like Elite, reach out to them and ask about their experiences with the different attractions you are interested in visiting. It can also be helpful to contact the area’s group tour representatives for recommendations.

Best Ways to Save Money

Of course, a question that is always on people’s minds when preparing for group travel is “how can my group save money?” Most tourist attractions will offer some sort of discounted rate for groups. So if you are responsible for arranging every aspect of your trip, it’s highly recommended that you contact the sales team at each attraction to inquire about special group rates. Why not just look on their website? In some cases, a sales rep may be able to offer your group discounts or seasonal promotions that are not regularly listed on the business’s website.

Most attractions and restaurants typically offer a “tour operator rate” as well, which is an even lower price than a “group rate” and is only available for professional tour operators. “Sometimes, the more people in your group, the lower the price,” explains Dawn. “There may even be an opportunity to earn a complimentary package. Free is always a PLUS!”

Common Mistakes Made by Group Tour Leaders

What are some of the mistakes common among first-time group tour leaders? The folks at Elite Coach have noticed that timing is usually the biggest issue for new trip organizers. “It’s important to allow enough time from point A to B… the time it takes a car to drive is not the same for a motorcoach. What may take a family 10 minutes to do at a rest stop will take a bus full of people 20 minutes,” states Dawn. You should also account for traffic and traffic signals. “It’s surprising how much time this can eat up in your commute.” Allowing time for rest stops and other delays can help ensure that your group has plenty of time to spend at each attraction on the itinerary.

Travel Like a Pro

The best way to lead your first group tour effectively is to have a plan, ensure that everyone involved in your group’s transportation—especially your driver—is aware of the plan, and communicate with your travelers and destination personnel. If you’re arranging a trip for 25 or more people, it’s probably a good idea to partner with a tour operator who has years of experience planning group travel. “When a group leader calls one of our tour planners they want to know that we have handled every aspect of the tour on their behalf and all they need to do is put it into action,” says Dawn. “We like to make group leaders look like pros.” When passengers feel comfortable in their travel experience, they are more inclined to travel again with that particular group.

I hope these tips are able to make your group travel planning a bit less stressful. Though I regret that my friend didn’t have this information when organizing her trip to NYC.

If you are considering a group tour and would like to learn more about organizing a unique and exciting trip, be sure to contact Elite Coach for more information.

Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com.

central market

Lancaster in Love

Ok, on one hand, I am a romantic. I am guilty of singing along to cheesy love songs, crying at Hallmark commercials, and quoting the Moulin Rouge. On the other hand, I have never thought much of the commercial side of Valentine’s Day. I am a firm believer in presence versus presents and the importance of sharing priceless experiences with those we love. This holiday weekend, there are plenty of ways to both love Lancaster and experience Lancaster in love.

First, there is the Fire and Ice Festival in Lititz this weekend from February 13-16. See over 50 amazing ice sculptures, have fun at the Block Party and the Winter Wonderland Carnival, and support local charities while eating your way through the annual chili cook-off. I will be rooting for the Ephrata VFW and my good friend Rebecca Gallagher, owner of the Smithton Inn. Check out her 3Bs Chili – made with Beef, Bison, and Boniface.  If her chili is anything like her breakfasts, you will fall in love at first bite.

Looking for a unique culinary experience? Several local restaurants are hosting pop-up BYOB dinners this Valentine’s Day.  Tomato Pie Café in Lititz will feature a special Prix Fixe dinner with local chef Katie Horst on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Commonwealth on Queen is hosting a four-course dinner from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Saturday in Downtown Lancaster.

Rather have brunch? Have you been to Wynridge Farms yet? This weekend is the perfect excuse. The site features a tasting room, their own craft beer, cider, and soda, and a rustic backdrop for weddings and special events. You will fall in love with the view alone. Their “Celebrate Love” event not only features dinner on both Friday and Saturday nights, but also a brunch on Saturday morning. Check out the gallery of pictures below from my tour of the site and click here to view the menu.  I also do not want to forget Pour. Their Valentine’s brunch this Sunday features everything from banana pancakes to fresh-squeezed mimosas.

Want to stay in on Valentine’s Day and avoid the crowds? The Lancaster Central Market will have everything you need to cook a special breakfast, lunch, or dinner that features local favorites. I have often created my own pop-up meal by stopping first at Central Market for fresh produce, breads, meats, and cheeses. I will then grab a bottle of “Family Reserve” olive oil from the Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom, a bottle of Baron red wine from Waltz Vineyards, and dark chocolate truffles from Cafe Chocolate. It may be cold outside, but the location for a private pop-up dinner is only limited by your imagination.

Both Cafe Chocolate and Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom even have special products available to purchase this Valentine’s Day. Seasons has a Valentine’s Day sampler that includes Blood Orange Fused Olive Oil, Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar, and a recipe card to make a delectable chocolate cake with both ingredients. Yum! So, no excuses! If you are looking to partner any experience this weekend with amazing food, Lancaster has got you covered.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans this weekend in Lancaster? How do you like to celebrate? A show at the Fulton? Music at Tellus360? An outdoor adventure at one of our County Parks? Are you going out or staying in? We want to hear from you! Tag your favorite photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with #LancasterinLove and let us hear your weekend story! We may feature the 10 best on the site next week!

Click here to see Andrea’s blog.

P.S. Just in case you were looking for a soundtrack for the weekend…Here is Billboard’s current list of the 50 greatest love songs. I swear I was not singing along to David Cassidy as I wrote this.

exploreretirementliving

Enjoying the New “Non-Retirement” in Lancaster County

Nowadays, everyone says 30 is the new 20… 40 is the new 30, and so on…. Well, I’m going to take that one step further and say 62 is the new “Non-Retirement” age.

Joe works as an accountant, and is gearing up for tax season; his neighbor, Emma, is an associate pastor who leads her local church part time, and also volunteers with a local soup kitchen.  Their neighbor, Karen, takes extended birding vacations throughout the country to follow migration patterns and grow the extensive list of species she’s seen.  George and Shirley tutor local Spanish families in English as a second language, and several of their neighbors volunteer at the local “re-uzit” shop.  Lauren and Sue enjoy their swimming classes every morning, and also participate in Zumba classes on Thursdays.   Sounds like any neighborhood in America, right?  Well, you might be surprised to learn that this is also becoming a typical scenario of your average residents of Lancaster County’s retirement communities – which is why a team of Lancaster County retirement community leaders are advocating for change in the way America views the word “Retirement.”

No longer does Retirement mean sitting in a rocking chair twiddling one’s thumbs. Nor does moving to a “Retirement Community” mean life suddenly stops and one is instantly “old.” National trends show many younger families and individuals – in their low-to mid 60’s – are choosing a community lifestyle over the stress and hassle of home-ownership.  They’re also opting for the lifestyle of adventure, freedom, and companionship that comes with a full-time activities planning staff, maintenance staff, and community of friendly neighbors. Karen loves being able to travel freely without having to worry about leaving her house unattended, or coming home to an overgrown lawn.  And, as an added benefit, continuing care communities offer the peace of mind that health care services will be provided in the future, if needed.

As an employee at St. Anne’s Retirement Community for nearly eight years, I’ve witnessed this trend first-hand.  “Life’s short – why spend it mowing grass and picking leaves out of your gutters!” says one Resident with a laugh.  She continued to say how she detests shoveling, and has thankfully traded in all that “wasted time” for time that she’s now able spend doing what she wants – volunteering with our pastoral care department and providing spiritual support to other community members.

If you, or someone you know, is considering the costs and benefits of community living, don’t wait! There are so many wonderful options in Lancaster County, you’re sure to be surprised at the array of features and amenities that make each community unique and appealing to “younger-older adults.” Also, as an added value, Lancaster County offers lower cost of living rates than many metropolitan areas such as New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.  “Plus, the people are much friendlier,” says another St. Anne’s Resident.

Check out www.Exploreretirementliving.org  for a listing of non-profit continuing care retirement communities in Lancaster County, or www.StAnnesRC.org to learn more about St. Anne’s Retirement Community.

amishvillage

Visiting the Amish Village

When I was six years old, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than by hanging out with animals, especially horses. I jumped at any chance I got to see them. And of course, like most young kids, I loved learning about new things from a hands-on experience. Well I’m not a child anymore (though my older, wiser siblings might disagree with this), but as an Aunt to five wonderful nieces and nephews, I have the opportunity to see their faces light up when running around a playground or petting a live animal much like mine did at their age. So when I got the chance the visit the Amish Village, I thought it would be fun to take my oldest nephew, Silas, along for the ride!

Strolling through the Village

When we first arrived at the Amish Village, Silas and I were greeted by a friendly staff member who assisted us in a quick registration before directing us to the Village. We were free to explore many different buildings that are part of their Amish community. Silas thoroughly enjoyed feeding the horses and roosters in the barn. And I loved that we were free to visit each area of the Village at our own pace. There were always staff members available to answer any questions we had about a particular tool or building but no one made us feel rushed. Silas and I checked out a real Amish buggy and got an up-close look at Amish farm tools and equipment in the blacksmith shop. After snapping a few photos in the Village, we headed toward the property entrance to meet our driver for the backroads bus tour.

 Our Backroads Bus Tour Excursion

While the animals may have been the highlight for my nephew, the bus tour was my favorite part of the visit! Our tour guide was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. She took us to parts of the county I had never seen before—and remember, I am Lancaster born and raised. We stopped at an Amish bakery along the way as well as a small Amish farm that sold handmade crafts and homemade snacks. I couldn’t resist a pint of fresh-squeezed lemonade for the ride. It was delish! We saw children riding through cornfields on carts pulled by miniature ponies, we passed buggies, and we drove through the rolling hills of Lancaster County’s countryside for about 90 minutes. It was quite picturesque, and everyone on the tour thoroughly enjoyed the experience. NOTE: The backroads bus tour is not recommended for children under five.

After we arrived back at the Amish Village, Silas and I decided to take one last look around the grounds. It was neat to see what an Amish schoolhouse looks like from the inside—Silas was very intrigued by the reading and math exercises displayed on the chalkboard. We made sure to check out the water wheel during our visit as well. Did you know that even today most Amish farms use a water wheel and windmill to operate a pump that provides water to animals in the barn? Fascinating stuff!

Planning Your Visit to the Amish Village

If you’d like to experience an authentic Amish property, Silas and I recommend visiting the Amish Village. It’s a great place for both kids and adults to learn in a fun, hands-on environment. They even offer a 25-minute farmhouse tour in addition to the bus tour we were on. You can find all of their tour package information and rates on the Amish Village website. Experience how the Pennsylvania Amish really live today!

Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com.

Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf
Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf

Current Stories

amishfarmhouse

Amish Farm and House

This destination is great for all ages, and features all aspects of Amish life, including guided tours through a staged Amish home, school house,... Read more

centralmarket

Downtown Lancaster Tips

The City boasts art in every form, restaurants and cafes, and boutique shops and hotels. Creativity, inspiration, and community envelopes this... Read more

Photography by Alysha Laird

Scientific and Spectacular

The newly renovated North Museum is a fascinating place for all ages. This space holds a new SciDome Theater, Nature Explorer Gallery,... Read more

Sign up for our Email Newsletter

Get event invitations, exclusive contests, deals, coupons, and trip ideas - right to your inbox, every month.

Sign Up

Order your free 2014 Getaway Guide!

The 2014 Getaway Guide is packed with information on where to stay, where to eat, where to have fun, where to shop — you name it!

Order Now