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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
aussieandfox

A Prince, a Fox, and a Queen Walk Into a Room

I am currently working towards my Ph.D. in American and Urban Studies and I spend a lot of time writing, photographing, and (most importantly) eating my way across New York City, the subject of my dissertation. I have a go to restaurant in most neighborhoods – establishments at all price points that feature every type of cuisine imaginable. One of the greatest myths is that dining in Manhattan is expensive; it doesn’t have to be.  All of this to say… I like food, a lot! I am willing to try (just about) anything once.

Don’t hate me, but I will be the first to admit that I was slightly hesitant about the available options for dining in Lancaster. Where would I find that magical spot with character and coffee to write? Who would do brunch well? Who would not only have fresh food and craft cocktails, but would also offer great happy hours and affordable dining options? Little did I know that some of my favorite culinary spots would turn out to be right here in my own backyard!

My Prince
Starting with the Prince Street Café. Have you ever sat at one of their window seats on a snowy day? Have you ever left with a piece of art you just had to have from the
6 x 6 show by Infantree? Have you ever had an unforgettable meeting there that turned out to be about much more than the coffee? (You will want to answer yes, yes, and yes by the way.) My daytime drink of choice is a London Fog (warm or iced) – Earl Grey tea steeped in vanilla steamed milk. While it sounds like a simple concoction, no one makes that drink the way that Prince Street can and no one makes it well iced. Believe me, much to the chagrin of my friends, I have asked baristas all over the country to try and replicate it.  Nothing can come close. So, good coffee (and tea)… check. Character… check. Spot for potential romance…check.

The Dapper Fox 
Now to brunch!  How does candied grapefruit with whipped Mascarpone and blackberries, chicken and waffles, and a Bloody Mary sound? Not hungry yet? How about a Crab Benedict and a Pear Bellini? Aussie and the Fox does both brunch and cocktails extremely well. As a matter of fact, some of my most memorable cocktails have been mixed there. You will discover that I have a weak spot for anything with Gin, St. Germaine, or Chartreuse in it. I still reminisce about both their Berry Basil Smash and their Frankenstein. Their offerings change seasonally and incorporate the freshest of ingredients. Plus Aussie and the Fox now features occasional movie nights and a cozy atmosphere, perfect for snuggling up and sharing a plate with someone on a cold winter night.

Fit for a Queen 
Since I like to do a lot of my work from cafes, I have had the pleasure of experiencing breakfast, brunch, and lunch at Commonwealth on Queen. However, it was a special experience on a Saturday evening with Chef Nick Furrow this past fall that really “wowed” me. The restaurant, which is typically closed for dinner, opened its doors for an Italian pop-up dinner event, “Mangiare Bene.” Chef Furrow personally greeted each table and explained his menu choices.

Plus the event was BYOB as is their weekly Sunday brunch. Red wine, fresh local food, and good company, there is simply nothing better. The Commonwealth on Queen team is also fabulous at photography. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to check out their Snickerdoodle Belgian Waffles and other fabulous drinks.

Just like photography, food (and drinks) will play a major role in this column each week. I will return to these favorites in much more detail, but will also feature some of my other beloved haunts such as John J. Jeffries, Sa La Thai, Checkers Bistro, and Pour in future entries.  While admittedly I am a city girl, I also promise to include culinary choices throughout the county too.

http://urbansocialblend.org/2/category/aussie%20and%20the%20fox/1.html

lancasterauthentic

Don’t be Dutch, be Authentic

G. Robert Wagner is a part of the fabric that makes Lancaster County authentic and unique. Born and raised in Lancaster City, he is the descendant of Pennsylvania “Dutch” or German ancestors that settled this location.

Wagner had just graduated from college when he was assigned to illustrate the official Lancaster County Seal in 1976 for the Bicentennial. What a start to a successful career in design!

After years in the design business, Wagner decided he wanted to put his efforts into expressing what he loves and what makes his heart sing: the charm of Lancaster County.

It started with a simple idea: When you shop in Lancaster county, wouldn’t it be nice to take home something created by a local artist?

All designs are inspired by local or traditional artwork such as patterns on an Amish quilt. All shirts are designed and printed locally by G. Robert Wagner.

There are many places to find shirts and posters by Authentic Lancaster including:

1. Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant & Gift Shop, 3121 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, PA 717-768-4400
2. Shady Maple Smorgasbord & Gift Shop, 1324 Main Street, East Earl, 717-354-4981
3. Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop, 542 Gibbons Road, Bird-In-Hand, 717-656-7947
4. Lancaster Central Market, Old Lancaster Square, Lancaster, 717-285-4795
5. Amish Farm & House, 2395 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 717-394-6185
6. The Amish Village, Route 896, Strasburg, 717-687-8511

Look for the Lancaster Authentic label and take home a part of the heritage from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

photos

The Beauty and Diversity of Lancaster on Instagram

Due to the recent success of Discover Lancaster’s #Lancastergram contest on Instagram, this past fall the Ephrata Merchants Association and the Historic Ephrata Cloister decided to launch #Ephratagram, a photography contest (also on Instagram) designed to showcase the beauty and diversity of Ephrata. During the contest, Instagram users tagged their favorite Ephrata photographs with the #Ephratagram hashtag. Three local photographers blindly judged the 238 entries that were submitted. The judges scored all entries and selected ten finalists and five honorable mentions. All fifteen photos are featured here and will be on display at the Historic Ephrata Cloister during the month of February. The winning photographs will remain on display for the rest of 2015 at various Ephrata businesses. The grand prize winner has been featured on a special note card set that the Ephrata Merchants Association has been selling at local businesses to benefit area non-profits.

Several photographers who had “finalist” photos for both #Lancastergram and #Ephratagram contests have also been featured by @DiscoverLancaster – specifically, @SethDochter and @Dave_Berk. Seth and Dave can be found documenting local landmarks throughout the year and at all times of the day. The Instagram community in Lancaster is very active, sponsoring Photo Walks and meet-up events throughout the year.

For this – the Locals Love Lancaster blog – the photography is just as important to me as the words. I use Instagram as a way to showcase where I live, my personality, and interests. Feel free to follow along @urbansocialblend.

Remember to use the hash tags #localslovelancaster and #discoverlancaster. We can’t wait to see your photos!

greystonemanor

Overnight in Bird-in-Hand

Being newlyweds with busy schedules, my husband, Ashlin, and I make it a point to getaway at least once a month. This month we decided to stay local, so I reserved a night at Greystone Manor Victorian Inn in Bird-In-Hand.

Pulled in different directions that day, my husband and I decided to meet at the B&B. I was the first to arrive.

When I arrived, I was immediately greeted with a freshly baked cookie and a tour of the B&B which included a convenient refreshment bar where Ashlin and I could help ourselves to hot coffee, tea, and snacks at any time during our stay. After the tour, I settled into our room (#3), which was so spacious and cozy. It was beautifully decorated with a set of stained glass windows directly in back of a massive wooden canopy bed (seriously, I have never seen a bed more majestic looking!). I took advantage of the time I had before Ashlin arrived to watch some TV (we don’t have cable at our house), so this was a treat.

Once Ashlin arrived, I showed him around and we made plans for the rest of our weekend. Then, tired from our day, we called it a night and crawled into our bed. The bed had the most comfortable pillows ever (hello, memory foam)!

The morning came too quickly, and we had no desire to leave those memory foam pillows. But once we both work up and got dressed, we made our way downstairs for breakfast.

Angela, the innkeeper, greeted us with a big smile and told us all about breakfast. It was a massive buffet full of fresh fruits, muffins, pastries, and a bunch of other goodies from Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market, located right down the road from them. I had such a hard time picking what I wanted. Everything looked scrumptious! In addition to the buffet, Angela also offered us freshly made bacon & cheese quiche. It was which was unbelievable!

After breakfast, Angela said we could look around the house and see the open rooms… I never turn down the chance to be nosy. I loved every single room I saw, each had their own unique Victorian character.

We absolutely loved our getaway at Greystone Manor and will be telling our friends to take their own getaway there, too.

Abby Hollinger and her husband, Ashlin, live in Lancaster County. They enjoy outdoor adventures, overnight getaways, and spending time with friends and family.

creativereuse

Creative indoor fun… and shopping

Lancaster Creative ReUse (LCR) is like heaven for crafters and creators. It’s filled with an inexpensive yet vast array of everything from buttons to wallpaper. It’s the Good Will or Salvation Army of the craft world. LCR is a non-profit creative supply thrift shop and Open Craft Table. LCR’s nonprofit mission is to inspire creativity, increase access to the arts through affordability and to encourage reuse.

One thing I love about this place is that while I rummage through the shop, my daughter can hang out at the Open Craft Table and for only $2 she can make her own craft(s). It is stocked with a variety of up-cycled materials, scissors, and glue for kids to create anything they dream up. This time, Sophia painted a flat, wooden swan cut-out, dressed “her” in several cut-up pieces of fabric, and hot-glued a magnet on the back… the perfect project for display on our kitchen fridge.

LCR is easy to find and they have plenty of on-site parking. Best of all, the staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable.

This place is a treasure that everyone should know about it. I  highly recommend that you check it out.

skyzone

Indoor fun at a trampoline park

Sky Zone is the world’s first indoor trampoline park featuring an array of fun, fit, and low-impact activities. They pride themselves in being the inventors of “fun fitness” and the “wall to wall” jumping experience. Now, Lancaster has its own Sky Zone – YAY!

My 4 year-old daughter loved their Toddler/Preschool time. It was time dedicated to her age-group – no “big” kids allowed. She had a blast with other kiddos her age. The staff was very friendly and did a great job interacting with the kids. The kids started in the free-play area and ended in the foam pit jump zone.

In addition to Open Jump and Toddler/Preschool time, Sky Zone also offers dodge ball, Sky Slam (basketball), Skyrobics, and they host birthday parties and team building events. Plus, they have a sensory-friendly jump time – pretty awesome! It’s clear that people of all ages and abilities can come here to get a great workout.

As a mother, I appreciated how clean everything was kept. With kids running around and sweating, one can only imagine how dirty things must get. But this place was spotless. As soon as you arrive, be sure to read and sign their waiver (you can do that at the computers they provide for you). Once that’s done, you can pay for your jump time. Get this – each jumper gets a pair of socks. Yes, a brand-new pair of socks to wear while jumping. Another super sanitary way to keep things clean. Love it!

Now that we have Sky Zone Lancaster, you know where I’ll be taking my daughter and her friends when they need to get some energy out during these cold winter months!

kingscottage

A Cottage suitable for a King

No strangers to the bed and breakfast experience, my husband and I recently added an excellent inn to our list of favorite places, King’s Cottage Bed and Breakfast. Our stay could not have been more memorable – a historic inn, beautiful room, and welcoming inn keepers.

Owners and seasoned innkeepers, Janis Kutterer and Ann Willets originally hail from different directions of the east coast but found each other and quickly became friends in North Carolina. Twelve years ago, a much needed change prompted Janis and Ann to acquire the King’s Cottage property and since then they have become a leading bed and breakfast in the Lancaster area belonging to multiple organizations including the Select Registry.

With eight rooms, each decorated in a unique royal fashion and equipped with personal fireplaces, guests are sure to find the right fit for their night or nights away. Our room appropriately entitled “The Majestic Chamber” was simply that, majestic. We walked into the room and noticed immediately the large ornately carved king bed, a side table beautifully set for an “in-room” breakfast option, and a warm fireplace. However, the true star of this room was the en suite bathroom where a large double whirlpool tub plus shower awaited us. Ann and Janis quickly let us know this is the “romantic” room often frequented by honeymooners, couples celebrating anniversaries, and those looking for a luxurious night away. This was a first for us, never had we been treated to such luxury and service in an bed and breakfast.

After we took in the majesty of our room, we explored the inn then sat down with Janis and Ann who were more than eager to share their knowledge of the local community, things to do, and places to eat. While we talked, I enjoy a glass of wine and fresh pumpkin pie that the inn keepers made for their guests. We also snuggled with the inn’s resident pet greeter, Sampson. The hospitality and genuine nature of these two ladies makes you feel at home. My husband and I enjoyed learning about their history and that of the inn.

Most people enjoy the room and the local area, but what they really want is a good breakfast and the King’s Cottage does not disappoint. My husband and I were treated to a two-course meal starting with a parfait made with local fruits, Greek yogurt, and granola from a local bakery. However, the star of the meal was the french toast, beautifully constructed with fresh orange, orange liqueur, and topped with pecans and Lancaster maple syrup, it was unlike any french toast I have ever had. Combined with a nice cup of hot tea, we sat in bliss in the dining room and enjoyed the view from the large glass windows while Sampson snuggled at our feet.

Unique to the inn were the small nuances in personalized tea bags, warm coffee mugs, local crafts, and Lancaster chocolates found as you browsed the great living room and covered outdoor patio areas. In addition to these small surprises, Ann and Janis also offer spa packages with a multitude of massages and treatments to choose from.

This inn truly is spectacular and I highly recommend it as a stay for anyone looking for a downtown experience that still remains relaxing and very enjoyable.

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Live theatre and family fun

My wife and I took my six-year-old to see the Nutcracker at the Fulton Theatre, and we were blown away with the creativity. The Fulton does an amazing job selecting and producing their Family Theatre Series shows.

The dance numbers, slapstick comedy, and riveting action kept my son on the edge of his seat throughout the entire performance, and there was plenty of pop-culture references and subtle jokes for the adults in the crowd. The show moved at the perfect pace and held everyone’s attention the entire time.

If you can’t make it to the Nutcracker before it ends on December 27, there are other family-friendly shows coming up in 2015 including Cinderella (March), Little Women (May), and Peter Pan (June).

santaexpress1

Don’t miss Santa’s Paradise Express

I took my daughter and one of her friends to the Strasburg Rail Road for Santa’s Paradise Express. The kiddos, both 4-years old, were very excited about riding the train, but even more excited about seeing Santa himself. We boarded the train and waited about 5 minutes before the train whistle blew and we slowly took off. It wasn’t long before Santa and two of his helpers came aboard our car. It was a joy to see all the children’s eye light up. Santa greeted each child, posted for a seasonal iconic photo, and gave each an old-fashioned train which doubled as a pencil sharpener. After Santa, two tuba players made their way through our car playing happy holiday tunes, then a couple of carolers who insisted that we sing along with them in merriment.

While we had the opportunity to climb aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car, my kiddos wanted to warm up in the heated stationary Caboose while listing to a costumed character read Christmas classics. Afterward, the children made their way to Mrs. Claus who was at the station helping children finalize their letters to Santa.

This experience was wonderfully magical and fun. There’s no way that one can leave this place without a fond memory.

There’s only two days left to ride this train – December 20 and 21. Don’t miss out! Click here to learn more.

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