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Bingo Blog


Lancaster County Car Bingo is here! This handy car game will turn “are we there yet?” into a thing of the past, as kids keep their eyes out for commonly spotted items around the county. The passenger parent can even play along for family fun as you explore Lancaster.

Whether you’re driving in the country or city or a little bit of both, keep your eyes out and cross items off as you find them. Traditionally, five items in a row (diagonally, straight across or up-and-down) equals BINGO, but if you want more of a challenge, try to find all 24 items on the card. Your car, your rules!

Some items can be found on signs, while others can be found in the fields or along the road.

Before you hit the road, download and print the bingo cards for your kids, and get ready for a fun-filled drive around the county.

For little ones (age 3-6)

For older kids (ages 7+) – Version A

For older kids (ages 7+) – Version B

Balloon Blog

A Mile-High View of Lancaster County

On a sunny, mild morning in June, I got to cross something big off my bucket list – “Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride.”

We arrived bright and early at the US Hot Air Balloon Team’s take off point in Bird-in-Hand, PA. Just as I got out of the car, they were inflating the balloon as the sun continued to rise. The trusty crew prepared for flight as we mentally prepared ourselves to be a mile above the farmland.

When the balloon was ready, we climbed into the basket (which was roomier than I expected). Our pilot, Lucas, introduced himself and reassured us that he was no stranger to the sky – he had flown over 2,000 times, in multiple locations in Pennsylvania and even internationally. Before I knew it, the balloon was floating off the ground, gaining height every second. Our cars and the cows in surrounding fields started to look like toys as we floated higher and higher.

The sky was absolutely beautiful – painted with oranges, pinks and blues. As we drifted with the wind, we saw the patchwork pattern of the farmers’ fields, with their perfect lines and contrasting browns and greens. We floated over familiar landmarks that Lucas pointed out along the way. The sights we typically see from car windows looked different and miniature from up above. Since the humidity was relatively low that morning, we were able to see all the way to Harrisburg and the Chesapeake Bay!


We climbed to a mile above the ground as we took in the sights. Since hot air balloons move with the wind, it felt as though we were barely moving at all – a true floating sensation.

After reaching our highest height, we drifted lower to float right above the tree tops. Dogs arked as we sailed over houses, and bunnies scampered through the gardens and fields. We watched the county wake up as traffic picked up on the main roads and people began working – stopping to wave as we sailed overhead.Our flight came to a close and Lucas prepared us for landing. He scoped out a spot among some houses in a small development and called the ground team to meet us there. Landing was as simple as bending our knees as Lucas steered us safely to the ground.


The ground team skillful packed up the balloon and basket, and as quickly as we came, we left – heading back to the take off point. To celebrate the flight, we enjoyed a mimosa toast and sticky buns. The connection between champagne and hot air ballooning is quite interesting. In the early days, pilots in France would carry champagne as a peace offering when they would land in farmer’s field, proving to the possibly confused farmer that they meant well and were, in fact, human.

The hot air balloon ride was an opportunity of a lifetime with breathtaking sights. If this is something lingering on your bucket list, I highly recommend taking flight with the US Hot Air Balloon Team in Lancaster County.


Over 50 Years of Music: Long’s Park Summer Music Series

Nothing to do this weekend? Got the Sunday night blues? Why not head over to Long’s Park for the Summer Concert Series– it’s free, it’s fun, and it’s guaranteed to get anyone dancing! The outdoor amphitheater is considered one of the best outdoor venues in Central PA. Built into the grassy hill of Long’s Park, listeners can sprawl out on the lawn with blankets and chairs, or sit along the top amongst the shady trees dotted with grills and picnic tables.

The performances are on Sunday evenings, beginning at 7:30 PM. This makes for the perfect time to pack a picnic dinner, or buy something from one of the various food trucks in the park. (We highly recommend the ice cream from Strasburg Creamery!) If you have little-ones in tow who can’t quite sit still for a whole concert- don’t worry the playground is at the top of the hill! They can burn off some energy before bed time, and you can still listen and enjoy the rest of the show. Also, don’t let possible bad weather deter you, rain or shine- the show goes on!

Performances range from Classical to Rock, Brazilian to Gaelic, and Folk to Blues, covering all genres of music. Guaranteeing any listener to find something they like- or try them all and expand your musical horizons. Certain Saturdays throughout the summer feature performances by talented local musicians. We recently had the opportunity to attend the concert on Sunday, July 10 featuring The Suffers from Houston, Texas. To quote one man sitting behind us who called a friend between sets “You have to come check these cats out!” The performance was wonderful, The Suffers put on a show full of soul, brass, and swing. It got everyone up dancing, young and old a-like.

Music can bring together the community, and it is great that Lancaster continues to organize this free summer series for everyone to enjoy.

The 2016 schedule can be found here.


Local’s Tips:

1. Bring a blanket or chairs to sit on during the show.

2. Get there a bit early, the amphitheater can fill up so it is best to claim your spot in advance.

3. Pack a picnic, deck of cards, or a Frisbee to entertain kids until the show starts.

4. The program is put on by sponsors and donations, if you would like to donate, be sure to have some cash on hand to give to the “sweeps” before the show starts.

5. Don’t forget bug spray!

Brunch Blog

Countryside Breakfast or Downtown Brunch?

Rise and shine – it’s time to start your day in Lancaster County! Treat yourself to the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast or brunch – which will you choose?

For a Countryside Breakfast:

A traditional breakfast featuring eggs, home fries, pancakes and other favorites can be found at many of the local PA Dutch restaurants and buffets. Try a little bit of everything with an all-you-care-to-eat smorgasbord or order off the menu of tasty classics.

Here are some favorite breakfast spots across the county:

Shady Maple: features two hundred feet of deliciously authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. Be sure to try one of their house-made doughnuts or pastries!

Oregon Dairy Country Restaurant & Buffet: serving a full breakfast menu Monday through Sunday plus a breakfast buffet Friday, Saturday and Sunday

DJ’s Taste of the 50’s: classic breakfast dishes served in a vintage diner setting

For a Downtown Brunch:

Brunch is a delicious early afternoon meal typically served on Saturday and Sunday, and featuring dishes that combine the best of lunch and breakfast. Tasty brunch spots are popping up across Downtown Lancaster, serving up brunch burgers, quiche, chicken and waffles, and cocktails.

Explore Lancaster City and stop by one of these great brunch spots:

Annie Bailey’s: a traditional Irish pub serving classic Irish breakfast items and savory lunch burgers and sandwiches

Aussie and the Fox: blending American and Australian cuisine and creating delicious brunch dishes and cocktails

Prince Street Café: serving breakfast or lunch all day, along with hot and cold espresso and coffee drinks

Bon appetite!

Things to Do Blog - July

Ten Things to Do in Lancaster County in July

Summer is officially here! Whether you’re in Lancaster for a weekend getaway or family vacation, or you’re a local looking for something new to experience, there’s a lot going on this month across the county.

An Evening of Live Music:

July evenings are best spent at one of the many outdoor concerts throughout the county. Friday, July 8 and 22, Oregon Dairy hosts Summer Music on the Deck, their free music series that begins at 7:00 PM. Concert-goers can enjoy delicious ice cream from the Milkhouse Ice Cream Shoppe while listening to relaxing tunes.

Saturday evenings, music fills the lawns of Nissley Vineyards for their Music in the Vineyards series. Music-lovers can enjoy a picnic supper and the wine produced at the vineyards during the concert. Concerts run every Saturday from July 23 to August 20.

Cool Off on the Creek:

Cool off on a hot July day as you float down the Pequea Creek. Sickman’s Mill Creek Tubing offers two mile tubing tours where you can relax in a canvas tube and take in nature’s beauty.

Howl at the Moon:

Lancaster County is home to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, where the Speedwell Wolves live and thrive. Each month, the sanctuary hosts their Full Moon Tour, held on the Saturday closest to the full moon. July’s event will be held on the 16th beginning at 7:30 PM. Visit the wolf packs at your own pace, relax by the bonfire and maybe even howl at the moon.

Find Fresh Produce:                                                                    

Farm fresh produce is plentiful in Lancaster County during the summer months. A variety of crops including tomatoes and corn can be found at local farmers markets and roadside stands across the county. If you’re visiting on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday, stop by Lancaster Central Market in Downtown Lancaster for lunch, baked goods, local produce and so much more. Held on Saturdays in Lititz, the Lititz Farmers Market is an open air market held on North Water Street. This small town market features a variety of goods in a festive, community atmosphere.

Kid-Friendly Favorites:

With school out for the summer, it’s time for kid-approved family fun. Lancaster County is home to lots of kid-friendly things to do and see including Dutch Wonderland and Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Dutch Wonderland is a safe, family-focused amusement park, designed with kids in mind. The park features rides like the train, small rides for younger children and their iconic roller coaster in addition to their water playground, Duke’s Lagoon.

For farm-centric family fun, head over to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Kids of all ages will enjoy activities including a petting zoo, corn maze, a hay chute slide and so so much more. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is open Tuesday through Saturday.

It’s Show Time:

Two childhood favorites are coming to local live theaters this summer. Mary Poppins comes to life at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre this month, with familiar and uplifting tunes. Enjoy this enchanting story along with one of Dutch Apple’s buffet and dinner options.

Gretna Theatre, right outside Lancaster County in Mt. Grenta, PA, is bringing the epic musical adventure, Disney’s Tarzan, to life. High-flying adventure is in store at this summer theatre, July 14 through 24.

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

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Skip the Traffic, Take the Train!

While Lancaster County is a year-round vacation destination, the summer is definitely considered peak season for out of town travelers. That means lots and lots of cars on the road. So whether you are traveling to Lancaster from New York City, Harrisburg or Philadelphia, maybe next time you visit you want to skip the traffic and take the train!

Did you know that if you’re traveling with kids, up to two children, ages 2-12, can receive a 50% discount on the lowest available fare? Kids under the age of two ride FREE! And it’s much easier to travel with kids when they can move around a bit, without the constraints of their car seat. They will enjoy snacking, coloring, and just watching the world whiz by (and maybe even laying across two seats and napping if the train isn’t too busy). Oh, and did I mention there’s not pulling off the highway to find a bathroom? Just walk to the end of your car, and do whatcha gotta do!

Lancaster County is known for our green spaces, with loads of rolling farmland. We depend on the earth for our number one economic driver, agriculture. So, we like to take good care of the earth. Another great perk of riding the train is that you’ll be traveling green! Amtrak trains are 11% more energy efficient that planes and 31% more efficient than cars.

Whether you’re visting for just the weekend or taking a 2-week vacation, there is plenty of space to store your baggage on Amtrak trains. So pack the extra sunscreen and a few extra pairs of “just-in-case” shoes, because when you travel on Amtrak you get two carry-on bags plus two personal items for FREE. Then, when you arrive at the station, you’ll be able to easily rent a car or taxi to get to your destination.

Now if only we could get a horse-and-buggy rental at the Lancaster station… maybe on your next trip…


Willow Valley Celebrate 50th Anniversary

Many guests that come to Lancaster County have fond memories of visiting Willow Valley as part of their trip. Opening in 1966, Willow Valley Inn included thirty guest rooms and a family restaurant with 100 seats. Today, Willow Valley is blessed in having expanded to farmers markets, a bakery, additional hotels, a golf course, a supermarket, senior living communities, and real estate development company. It started as a small, hospitable part of the community, and has grown into a tradition of excellence.

On Saturday, June 26, I took my family to celebrate the past fifty years, and say cheers to the next fifty. We arrived and the kids could tell immediately that it would be a fun event, because from the road before we even pulled into the parking lot, we could see the bouncy houses set up. True to the sense of community that Willow Valley instills, the local volunteer fire department was parking cars, so we were able to donate to them.

Of course the first thing we did was line up for the bouncy houses – there was a castle that both my 3 and 4 year old enjoyed. The second one only my 4 year old did. It was a race to climb to the top of the tall slide – he handled the climb like a champ. Let’s just say we waited in that line quite a few times.

Next we stopped by the ticket booth to get some tickets for face painting, balloon animals, pony rides, and other activities. And, can you guess what we did next? Yup… jumped in the bouncy castle again. We grabbed food at two of the food trucks (I chose the Urban Olive – featuring Mediterranean cuisine, and the kids and my husband chose the Dough Heads Waffles, which I must admit I snagged a few bites of – so delicious!).

As the evening wore on, I knew there would be campfires and fireworks, but we really wanted to visit one of our close family friends who is a resident at Willow Valley’s Retirement Community. I also knew that all that jumping and excitement would probably mean that our kids wouldn’t make it until then before falling asleep.

We made the short drive from the event to Pat’s apartment. She is like a grandmother to our kids, so of course everyone was excited all over again. My husband and I joked that Pat’s apartment is better than our house – she has a beautifully landscaped rear patio courtyard, where she was sitting and reading when we arrived. It is so quiet and peaceful (when there aren’t 3 and 4-year-olds running around) back there.


Pat mentioned that the next time we come, we need to give her advance notice so that she can rent out the bowling alley, where we can spend the evening bowling and eating the delicious burgers at the clubhouse. We talked about the kids and what we’d been doing, that we’re starting to teach our kids how to swim – and she mentioned that there is a pool in the basement of her building, and we could come anytime to swim with her. We joked again with her that she’s not really retired, she’s just living at an all-inclusive resort.

The kids (and Pat) started winding down, so we headed home. It was definitely a fun day that the kids are still talking about – they are hoping to “go again next year” (I’ll have to recommend that they make this an annual event rather than every 50 years!). If they do, we may just have to keep the kids up late and enjoy the fireworks. Happy 50th, Willow Valley!


When in Amish Country…

Driving along the country roads in Lancaster County, you are bound to see and share the road with plenty of horse and buggies, but have you ever thought about what it’s like to travel in one? Growing up in Lancaster County, I’ve wondered what this alternative form of transportation is like. I finally got the chance to find out with a buggy ride at Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides, located just outside of Bird-in-Hand.

My daughter, who has been fascinated with horse and buggies since she could look out the car windows, came along on this adventure with me. The weather the morning of our ride was absolutely perfect, with abundant blue sky and even a refreshing breeze. Aaron & Jessica’s was quite easy to find, as it’s located right off of Old Philadelphia Pike, neighboring Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant and Amish Experience Theater (a convenient stop for after your buggy ride to learn more information on the Amish or a home-style meal).

We met our driver, Ben, as we climbed up into the buggy and took a seat on the benches that are along the windows of the buggy. It was certainly cozy, but with the open windows it was quite comfortable.

As we hit the open road, Ben told us more about his family and Amish background, and introduced our horse, Al, who walked and trotted along the country road. As we passed fruit trees and fields of alfalfa wheat and corn, Ben talked more about the farming customs here in Lancaster County. He was happy to answer questions that we had along the way, and was enjoyable to talk to. My daughter was taking in the sites, looking out the windows as we rode down the driveway towards the farm we were stopping at.

Upon pulling up to the farm, we were greeted by a young Amish girl who told us about the homemade cookies, honey mustard pretzels, root beer and fresh squeezed lemonade they had available for sale that day. To satisfy our sweet tooth, we chose a bag of fresh chocolate chip cookies and a root beer. The cookies looked delicious, and we couldn’t wait to take a bite.

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While on the farm, Ben told us about Amish farms, houses and little more about family life. Even though I have lived here the majority of my life, I learned so much about the Amish community from Ben, and was so thankful he was willing to share his stories.

We headed back to the roads, chatting, learning and enjoying a cookie along the way. The farm looked beautiful from the road, especially with the clear skies and green fields. At 8 to 10 miles per hour, traveling by horse and buggy is significantly slower than traveling by car, but it was far less bumpy than I anticipated. Nature provided us with refreshing “air-conditioning” as Al trotted along the road.


The buggy ride was a unique experience, and a must do if you’re looking to learn more about life on the farm. We went on a 30-minute ride which was an ideal amount of time for a young child, but Aaron & Jessica’s does offer longer rides that include a tour of the farm. Reservations aren’t required for regular rides, but they must be made for private tours.

Learn more about Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides and stop by for a buggy ride next time you’re in Lancaster!

Things to Do Blog - JUNE

Ten Things to Do in Lancaster County in June

Signs of summer are popping up across Lancaster County. From fun with the kids now that school is out to spending time outdoors in the warm sunshine, here are ten exciting events and things to do in Lancaster this month.

A Day at the Railroad

Railroad fun and history are ever-present in Strasburg this month for the young and young-at-heart.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s special exhibit for 2016, “Safety First! The Evolution of Railroading Safety Practices,” explores how technology and practices helped to improve the safety of railroad workers. For those who love railroading history, this is just the place for you! Along with the special exhibit, the museum also features historic locomotives, a working restoration shop and more. Admission to this year’s exhibit is included with museum admission. The exhibit is open during regular museum hours and will be on display until December 31, 2016.

Thomas is coming back to town – Thomas the Tank Engine™ that is! June 18 through June 26, Strasburg Rail Road® will host their Day Out with Thomas™ event, featuring a train ride with Thomas, storytelling and more. Thomas won’t be traveling alone, as his friend Percy will be joining in the festivities too. Tickets can be purchased for the June, August, and November Day Out with Thomas™ events online.

Live Music Galore

Outdoor music performances are plentiful in June, and what better time to enjoy the warm summer air and toe-tapping tunes.

Looking for something to do on Sunday nights this summer? Grab a picnic dinner and lawn chairs and head over to Long’s Park for their Summer Music Series. Beginning on June 5, live music will be performed at the Long’s Park Amphitheater that will have you dancing along. Admission to these family-friendly, outdoor concerts is free.

Another exciting celebration of music is Kitchen Kettle Village’s Music for Everyone Festival, held on Saturday, June 18. Enjoy various live music performances as you stroll around and browse the village shops.

Celebrate the City and Towns

Join in the festivities as Intercourse and Lancaster City are celebrated with fun and even fireworks!

Intercourse Heritage Days will be held June 17 through 18 to celebrate the history and heritage of the town. Hosted at Intercourse Community Park, this festival includes activities for kids, a pie baking contest, musical entertainment, a reptile show and more. The Taste of Lancaster Food Showcase will feature local restaurants and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine that plays a role in the area’s heritage. A fireworks display will wrap up Saturday’s festivities.

As a celebration of culture and diversity in the growing City of Lancaster, Celebrate Lancaster will take place on Friday, June 24. Enjoy more than 20 food vendors, live music on two stages and beer & wine, with festivities wrapping up in the evening with a fireworks display.

Beer & Wine… Oh my!

Whether you prefer to sip chardonnay or relax with a brew, here are two wine and beer centric events for your June afternoon.

From the creators of Lancaster Craft Beerfest, comes SIP Wine in the Park, an afternoon of wine tasting the Lancaster City’s Musser Park. Tasting Tickets are on sale now for this June 18 event, and admission includes a commemorative sampling glass plus samples from around the world, live music, and food sampling.

The newest beer fest in town is the Ephrata Brewfest, to be held on Saturday June 25 at the Whistle Stop Plaza in Ephrata. Ales, IPAs, stouts and more will be available for sampling from local up-and-coming breweries including Wacker Brewing Company, Lancaster Brewing Company, St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company and more. Live music and food vendors round out this event which is sure to be a good time.

Relax on the River

With the cold weather behind us, the outdoors are just waiting to be explored. Take some time this month to experience water sports on the Susquehanna River.

Combine biking and paddling for a day of adventure along the river. Chiques Rock Outfitters, conveniently located at various points along the river, offers kayak, canoe and bike rentals. To ultimately cure your lingering cabin fever, opt for an hour long bike ride on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail then trade your bikes in for a kayak for a three hour ride on the river back to where you started. The trail is fairly flat and winds through wooded areas for a shady, leisurely ride.

With a variety of events in June, Shank’s Mare Outfitters offers a few different ways to experience the river. Whether you’re a novice or a paddling pro, Shank’s Mare offers stand-up paddle boarding classes, some even incorporating yoga in to the mix, and kayaking classes and tours. Follow an evening of paddling with a dinner along the river with one of their evening kayaking tour events.


A Refreshing Flight through the Trees

Lancaster County is full of unexpected attractions to experience and things to see. Beyond the farmland are rolling hills, an ideal home for a woodland retreat such as Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center.

I traveled off of the roads I was familiar with, igniting my sense of adventure. Upon arriving and getting out of the car, I was greeted with fresh mountain air that was slightly cool after a passing spring shower. Let the adventure begin!

There is really so much to do at Refreshing Mountain. For those who are daring and not afraid of an off-the-ground adventure, they have two zip lining courses – the Challenge Adventure course and Aerial Excursion Course. I opted for the Challenge Adventure course because that course features five zip lines PLUS nine rope course elements. They certainly don’t use the word “challenge” lightly – the rope course elements tested my balance, strength and mental stamina but in the end, I’m glad I set fear aside and tried them. From swinging from one platform to another on a foot propelled swing to a challenge they call “the monkey vine,” I think I can safely say this is the closest thing to tightrope walking that I will ever do. After conquering half the challenge elements, it was time to fly through the trees.

If you’d rather spend more time zipping from tree to tree, the Aerial Excursion Course features seven zip lines, double the length of the Challenge Adventure course, along with three sky bridges.

With a harness, helmet, and knowledgeable guides, I felt safe even 60 feet off the ground. The zip lining tour guides were kind and not only ready to teach, but also to answer questions as we went along. They gave clear instructions which helped me feel confident and safe.

For those who’d rather stick to adventure of the ground, there are plenty of things to experience including a hands-on reptile exhibit, playground, swimming pool, pedal cars and more. New for this year, Refreshing Mountain is offering three different Adventure Packages which give families or groups the option to do a variety of activities. Each package features three to four activities that highlight different aspects of nature and adventure.

The Explorer Package includes the Climbing Tower, Pedal Cars, Paintball Targets & Archery.

The Discovery Package includes the Hands-on Reptile Exhibit, GPS Nature Hunt, Sling Shots & Archery.

The Horse Rides & Farm Animal Experience includes the opportunity to pet, groom and learn safety around horses, a hand-led horse ride and time with other farm animals.

My experience was both exhilarating and refreshing as I got to try something new while enjoying nature’s beauty. The thrill of flying through the trees is best experienced by discovering it for yourself! Learn more about Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center and book your excursion today.

Current Stories


Bring on Back-to-School!

Lancaster County is back to school, and the crisp days of autumn are right around the corner. Everyone is settling back into routines of homework,... Read more


Sickman’s Mill Creek Tubing

Looking for a great way to spend the lazy, hazy days of summer? Head over to the southwestern side of the county and jump in the Pequea Creek! Open... Read more

Bingo Blog


Lancaster County Car Bingo is here! This handy car game will turn “are we there yet?” into a thing of the past, as kids keep their eyes... Read more

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