Tag Archives: Lancaster County

Courtesy of Cameron Estate Inn & Restaurant

A Romantic Leap Get Away!

Whoever gets paid makes that plans. That’s the deal Cheryl and I have for date night. I got paid so I made the plans. I wanted a quiet get away. A place where we could have a fabulous dinner and hear each other talk. Casual elegance is a good description for what I had in mind. In addition, I wanted to be able to walk to dinner and back to our room where ever that may be.

We’d been talking about Cameron Estate Inn and Restaurant in Mt. Joy because our daughter will be getting married at the estate next January. We’d been there for dinner a couple of times and after each visit I thought it would be wonderful to be able to simply walk upstairs and spend the night. I called, made a dinner reservation for Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and booked the Donegal Garratte room on the third floor.

We arrived just before 6:00 p.m. At check-in they let us know our dinner table was ready and that we could come down at any time. We meandered upstairs, changed and made our way to the restaurant. The Inn, an early American mansion set on a 15 acre estate is absolutely adorable. It’s decorated with antiques and feels like a step back in time. There’s a sense of authenticity about it.

The hostess who was also the waitress remembered us from the last time we’d been there and that was some time ago. She seated us at a corner table in the sunroom so were surrounded by windows on two sides. Our view looked out over the estate. We got to watch it get dark and the lights around the mansion come up. It was awesome.

We started off with a ten year old 2006 Kendal Jackson Reserve, a Cabernet Sauvignon. The menu was incredible, as always.  From past experience we knew whatever we chose would be wonderful. The hostess recommended the pepper encrusted Lamb Porterhouse and the crab cakes. I got the lamb. Oh my goodness, it was amazing. It came with roasted vegetables and an unbelievable cherry reduction. Cheryl had the crab cakes. She loves crab cakes but these were over the top. I wrapped up with Crème Brulee and Cheryl had a hot chocolate spice cake that was to die for.

As the sun went down and the lights came on the estate took on a romantic glow. There was just enough light for a walk. We strolled along the foot paths and stopped momentarily on a small bridge to watch the light bounce off the stream and the water rush by.

We collapsed in a high four poster bed in our room at the end of the hall on the third floor. The next morning breakfast; a choice of quiche, pancakes and yogurt parfait was served at 8:00. Afterward we took another walk around the estate, we put our things together and made the 25 minute drive home.

It was a wonderful overnight stay. We didn’t go far. The Estate was both historic and romantic. There were people around but it wasn’t crazy. The staff was cheerful and engaging. Whether you are local or from out of the area a stay at the Cameron Estate Inn and dinner in the restaurant is a perfect choice for an overnight get away.

Photo courtesy of Hands-on House, Children's Museum

Hands-on Fun to Cure Cabin Fever

When it’s not quite warm enough to play outside, but cabin fever is setting in, Hands-on House, Children’s Museum is the solution!

We ventured out on a dreary Sunday and set off for Hands-on House, located off of Oregon Pike in Lancaster. I had been there as a child and volunteered there years ago, but this was my first time visiting as a parent. With as curious as my daughter is, I was excited to see how she would respond to the learning-through-playing activities featured in the museum.

The first area, “Right in Your Own Backyard” explores the sights and sounds found in nature, primarily ones found in Pennsylvania. At first, my daughter who is almost 4, didn’t exactly know what to do. After we showed her she could climb up into the tree house or catch and measure fish, she began branching out and led the way to the next activity.

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Left: Catching fish in “Your Own Backyard” Top Right: Creating at masterpiece at “Art-rageous” Bottom Right: Gathering our produce in “Corner Grocery”

She led us to the next exhibit “E-I-E-I Know,” where she was drawn to the wall of corn that we could pick and distribute to market stands, restaurants and farm animals. This activity, along with many throughout the museum, required reading, and parents are highly encouraged to get involved. Along with the words, many activities incorporate images which help to develop pre-reading skills. This activity also involved lots of counting as we filled each corn order. What makes this children’s museum different from others is how the exhibit designer draws inspiration from Lancaster County, “E-I-E-I Know” being the perfect example. Children can learn about farm life in Lancaster County and how goods like milk and eggs get from the farm, to the grocery store, and to our fridge.

Speaking of grocery stores, the “Corner Grocery” area was a hit, and appeared to be a favorite of other visitors as well. Children can pick a grocery list, featuring both words and pictures, and find the items including produce, seafood, meat, dairy, dry goods and bakery items. Much like a real grocery store, after all the items on the list have been gathered, it’s time to check out at one of the two check-out stations with computers where children can scan the bar codes to ring up their groceries.

Our last stop in the museum was “Marty’s Machine Shop.” This exhibit gave us a look into how factories and assembly lines work, and was by far the highlight of my little one’s day. Oddly enough, this was also a favorite of my sister and me when we visited as children! The process begins with the creation of a “Whatcha-ma-giggle” which is shown step by step with pictures and words. The “Whatcha-ma-giggle” passes through quality control before heading off to be packaged. The last station dives into reusing versus recycling. While that concept was a little mature for my daughter, it was a clever way to take the items from the end of the assembly line back to the beginning while teaching sorting and picture recognition.

We wrapped up our visit with their Pop-in for Play program, “Art-rageous,” which was the perfect activity for my artsy child. The Pop-in program was included with admission and could be done at any time during the 2-hour program period, hence the pop-in. Using construction paper shapes and glue, children were able to put together an “art-rageous” creation. An example was provided but it was really up to the children to design their own art project. My daughter was so proud of the art that she had created. She could not wait to show everyone what she had made.

After discovering our inner artist, we were definitely ready for dinner and a nap. Don’t miss the exhibits we didn’t get a chance to explore during our visit; “Face Painting Porch,” the “Post Office” and “Mostly Make Believe.”

Hands-on House is geared towards children aged 2 to 10, and is stroller-friendly for families with infants. Admission is $9.50 for children and adults. Family memberships, starting at $99 per year, are available for families planning to visit more than one or twice.

Photo courtesy of Hands-on House, Children's Museum

Photo courtesy of Hands-on House, Children’s Museum

Tips:
– Check out their hours prior to your visit. Public hours vary day by day and by what time of year you are coming.

– Be sure to eat before you go! Hands-on House does not allow food or drink inside the building and energy is definitely needed for all the playing and exploring involved.

– Wear comfortable shoes. Since parents are highly encouraged to play and learn with their children, seating areas are limited.

– Visit rain or shine! The “Play Garden” is open year-round, weather permitting, for fresh-air fun.

-The Pop-in for Play programs are an added bonus as they are included with your admission. Be sure to check out the schedule before visiting.

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A Tuesday Tradition

Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday… All are names for the day before the first day of Lent.

Here in Lancaster County, we celebrate this Tuesday with FASNACHTS, delightful treats that aren’t your run-of-the-mill doughnut.

This tradition stems from the need to use up the lard, sugar, butter and eggs prior to the beginning of Lent since these lavish items were typically given up. Not to be confused with a standard glazed or powdered sugar doughnut, many fasnachts are made with mashed potatoes and fried in animal fat making them less sweet, but extra delicious!

Growing up in Lancaster County, I fondly remember the days of coming home from school to see a box of fasnachts on the kitchen counter, never really understanding the rhyme and reason behind them. Now, much like pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, this is a tradition I can’t pass up. I stopped by Lancaster Central Market on my way in to work for my fasnacht from one of the bakery stands who were displaying rows and rows of fried perfection. It was just as delicious as I remember – slightly crispy on the outside with a fluffy center. I prefer ones rolled in powdered sugar, but am sure other variations are just as tasty.

Bakeries and churches across the county will be making fasnachts for the occasion including Oregon Dairy, Achenbach’s Pastry, Bird-in-Hand Bakery and Shady Maple. Stop by and try one for yourself!

Happy Fasnacht Day!

national toy train museum

Strasburg: A Town with History, Part 3

My next stop in Strasburg: The National Toy Train Museum

I was stunned. This museum is huge and filled with a variety of trains, displays, and model layouts. Resembling a Victorian Era California railroad station, it exhibits trains from mid-1800s through present and holds one of the largest collections in the world. This space is covered by famous train manufacturers like Lionel, American Flyer, Marklin, and more.

While walking through the museum, I appreciated the artistic and intricate model displays and their unique paint colors. The toy train industry has mastered the art of incorporating pop culture into their work. Lionel, for instance, saved Walt Disney from going bankrupted by purchasing a copyright to produce the original Walt Disney character-themed trains. Guess who has an original collection? You guessed it – The National Toy Train Museum! Lego also produces a model display for the museum which changes yearly.

After spending a couple hours exploring the museum, it was time to visit another noteworthy Strasburg location – the beautiful and historic 1786 Limestone Inn Bed and Breakfast.

084Growing up in an older farm house, I have grown fond of the beauty and character of older spaces; this was no exception. This B&B was built by Jacob Pfoutz in 1786 and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and the Lancaster County Historical Sites Register.

As I walked into the side door, I received the warmest of welcomes from Denise, the innkeeper. Denise and her husband had their eye on the home long before they purchased it. These two are passionate about history and Lancaster County as a whole. The primitive, yet comfortable décor create the perfect aesthetic. If you want to learn about Lancaster County, past and present, this is the place for you! Denise is always happy to share detailed facts about the area.

Strasburg is filled with many more places to see and stay. It is a hidden gem filled with unique and historic spaces. Here are more attractions and lodging options to check out when you are in Strasburg:  Eldreth Pottery, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Verdant View Farm Bed & Breakfast, Village Greens Miniature Golf and White Oak Campground. Check out the Historic Strasburg facebook page for updates.

Have fun discovering Strasburg for yourself!


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.

stras blog

Strasburg: A Town with History, Part 1

Strasburg, pronounced ‘Strazburg’ names itself as the most historic town in PA Dutch country dating back to 1693. Some think Strasburg has a strong Amish background, which it does, but this town was founded by Frenchman Pierre Bezaillion. Who knew!

I lived in Adamstown all my life (Northern Lancaster County) and I have never been to Strasburg. My parents took my sister and brother to the Strasburg Rail Road™ before I was born  so I was more than excited to experience the rich culture and heritage of this Lancaster town.

As I turned off of Rt. 30’s shopping strip (Tanger and Rockvale Outlets are awesome, btw) onto a country back road I was eased by the calm, winding roads and ready for this day trip to unfold. Since Strasburg is known for trains, I had to get a feel for it. As I walked up to the Choo Choo Barn I was greeted by Krisiti, daughter of Tom Groff (artist and ‘operator’ of Choo Choo Barn). As you enter the model train layout room it could be mistaken as a set for an “I Spy” book. This space is impressive and very detailed. Tom hand crafted all animations and sets! Kristi mentioned her father, Tom uses all found objects to create the displays. Now until January 3 the Choo Choo Barn will be open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Heads up: Animations refer to any movement in the layout. Since none of the displays are from model sets, movements are hand wired by Tom and his father when the space originally opened in 1961.

Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches is conveniently located in the same shopping area as The Choo Choo Barn so I made my way into the rail road inspired Isaac’s. This restaurant serves delicious sandwiches, soups, and salads. My favorite sandwich is the Rainbow Parrot. This sandwich is loaded with savory corned beef, melted Muenster, topped with a heap of coleslaw, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions between toasted pumpernickel. The portions are large and the service is quick at Isaac’s. Isaac’s in Strasburg is open Monday through Thursday 10:00 AM till 9:00 PM, Friday and Saturday 10:00 AM till 10:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM till 9:00 PM.

Local history: The original Isaac’s was located inside Central Market Mall in Lancaster City since 1983. Now they have over 15 restaurants in the Central PA location.

After Isaac’s, I stopped by The Barn at Strasburg Bed and Breakfast. This country chic bed and breakfast in a renovated barn is the perfect mix of Lancaster; urban and rustic. This tucked away B&B is private and luxurious space. Erin & Jeff Hoenshell, hosts of the B&B are wonderful and do a great job at keeping the space a Lancaster oasis. The Master Suite is equipped with an oversize whirlpool tub & king size bed. The Garden Suite is furnished with a pillow-top queen bed and features a romantic, claw-foot bathtub. The Shaker Suite is inspired by the uncluttered & simplistic styles of those historic craftsmen, retains the most noticeable attribute of the original structure. For availability, click here.

Did you know: The barn served as the location for a stone mason’s business nicknamed by the locals as “The Brickyards.” Plenty of cut & dressed stones (some still partially buried) give proof to that.

Next activity on the itinerary was the Ghost tour of Strasburg. This one hour tour takes you back to the historic times of Strasburg. Kim, our tour guide, experienced encounters with the spirits of Strasburg working at the historic Strasburg Inn and when she was leading her first ghost tour. Locals hear the clops of horse hooves trotting down Main Street. Further down Main Street, we stopped at the well-known Gonder Mansion.  Annie Gonder, the “crazy sister-in-law”  still haunts by scaring men of the house. This tour balances history and haunting of Strasburg, making it a truly enjoyable and spooky time. The Strasburg tour is held Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM. On Saturdays at 8:00 PM there is a ghost hunting tour where they take EMF meters to wake the spirits!

Don’t startle: Make sure you call or order your tickets online for this tour ahead of time. They do not take walk up guests. Also, wear some comfortable shoes and bring your camera. You might catch an orb or two in your photographs!

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Strasburg is a hidden gem filled with unique activities that will interest all ages. This town is rooted in its historic past creating an enriching environment. From railroads to ghost tours and much more to see and do, I will definitely be coming back!


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.

MV Formal Gardens

Enjoying and Protecting the Valuable Resources of Lancaster County

Lancaster County’s green pastures and cattle-dotted hillsides add to the peaceful experience of visitors from large cities and crowded suburbs. It was this fertile land, the natural
resources, and idyllic scenery that attracted the founders of the Masonic Village to its 1,400-acre location in Elizabethtown more than 100 years ago.

People have moved from 31 states to the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, a continuing care retirement community. Two of the reasons cited are an appreciation for the grazing beef cattle and the on-site orchard and Farm Market.

The Masonic Village Farm Market sells apples, peaches, nectarines, sweet cherries, tart
cherries, plums, and pears from its orchard, as well as canned and baked goods, premium dry-aged beef, and other items. In the fall, it offers pick-your-own apple and pumpkin dates.

Masonic Village residents and the local community also frequent the Orchard View Café. The café serves hand-dipped ice cream, milk shakes, sundaes, soda floats, hot dogs, hot soup, apple cider slushies, and weekly specials.

In addition to the orchard and Farm Market, this valuable land enables Masonic Village
visitors approximately eight miles of scenic walking paths to traverse, a Veterans Grove and Eternal Flame monument to reflect upon and Formal Gardens which serve as a backdrop for high school proms, family photos, and weddings (please check with our event planning department before scheduling a photo shoot).

“Land is the only true resource there is,” Frank Stoltzfus, supervisor of agricultural
production for farm operations at Masonic Village, said. “Everything we have comes from the earth in one way or another: food, clothing, shelter, energy, etc. We cannot make any more land, so it is imperative that we take care of every acre we are entrusted with.”

The farms and pastoral country sides of Lancaster County symbolize the hard work
of generations of caretakers of the land. The fruits of their labors are just one of many
reasons people love to visit, work and live in the county. Come experience it for yourself!

fallinlancaster

Fall in love with Lancaster

Fall in Lancaster County is beautiful!

For some of us, this time of year makes us feel nostalgic. Our childhood experiences – the sight of leaves changing color, the anticipation of jumping into a pile of fallen leaves, the feeling of cold days and warm sweaters, and the taste of hot cocoa — often flood our memories. For others, this season evokes feelings of romance. The cool weather brings thoughts of huddling by a cozy fire, cuddling under a warm blanket, and taking a romantic walk hand-in-hand.

No matter how you identify with the season, experience it with zest. Drink warm pumpkin lattes and hot apple cider. Pick your own pumpkin for decorating. Journey through a corn maze. See community members join together at their local fair. Dare to encounter scary Halloween attractions.

Lancaster County welcomes you to enjoy our Autumn – it’s everything you want.

 

strasburgrailroad

A visit to the Strasburg Rail Road

My son is just getting to the age where he’s starting to enjoy cars, trucks, and trains. He points them all out whenever we’re driving somewhere – “truck! bus! digger!” This past weekend, I took him to the Strasburg Rail Road to ride on a REAL train. We took him for Christmas this past year, but I think he was too young to fully appreciate the experience.

We arrived a bit before our train was scheduled to leave, so we rode on the Pint-sized Pufferbelly, which is a their miniature steam train ride. It used to be called the Cagney, but they’ve really expanded the route for it – it took a little over 20 minutes, and we got to see the engine use a turntable to turn around at one end, we went through a “tunnel,” and pretty much across the whole property. Definitely a great addition to our day.

Then we got on the big steam train, and every time the whistle blew, my son would get very excited and say “choo choo!” He loved seeing the horses and cows on farms that we passed, and interacting a little with the other children on the train.

I would definitely recommend a ride on the Strasburg Rail Road – they have a ton of options for types of ride this year – the Great Train Robbery, the Easter Bunny Train, Steampunk unLimited, and of course, Thomas the Tank Engine. See their website for more details on all of these great events.

amishcourtship

Amish courtship

There is no PA Dutch word for “dating,” but the Amish use the English word when they need it.

The Amish consider romantic relationships to be private, so courtship is practiced secretly, while parents look the other way until the couple comes to ask their permission for marriage.

Amish young people can choose whoever they want for their mate, but if they want to remain Amish themselves, they need to marry within the faith (or date someone who has intentions of joining the faith). Very rarely, a non-Amish person might join the Amish church to be able to marry an Amish person.

Dating often starts with a boy offering to take a girl home after a Sunday evening sing, which is one of the places young people socialize. When a couple is more serious, a boy can visit the girl at her house after her parents have gone to bed on a Saturday night when there’s no church on Sunday. They sit in the living room, where most parents require a light to be on, and visit, sometimes with other couples.

septembercheese

Wine and cheese, please

Whether it is their artisan wines, the spell of the old Farmhouse or the little piece of heaven by their natural spring pond, you will be captivated by your visit to The Vineyard at Hershey. From whimsical and refreshing whites to bold and flavorful reds, The Vineyard at Hershey handcrafts every bottle of wine for the enjoyment of new and and the most experienced of palates.

In the Tasting Room in the Farmhouse you will be invited to taste five of our wines for $3.00. No reservation is necessary. They also offer VIP Tour & Tasting packages and One-on-One time with their Winemaker (call for reservations). And, if you are not in a rush, you should plan to have a glass of wine and wander around the Vineyard or sit out on their deck and enjoy the beautiful view.

Along with handcrafted wines, they also offer a selection of locally made cheeses from September Farms. Each batch of September Farms cheese is made on their Honey Brook farm following time proven traditions for the hand crafting, hand waxing and aging of artisan-style cheese.

The Tasting Room is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11AM to 6PM. I hope you visit soon!

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