Tag Archives: Lancaster County

stras blog

Strasburg: A Town With History

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!

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The author of this post, Julie Press, is currently the Marketing Intern at Discover Lancaster. She encompasses the Lancaster brand. Growing up in a farm house in Adamstown, she identifies with the rustic, homegrown feel Lancaster brings. Now relocated only minutes away from Lancaster City, she feels a strong connection to the City’s creativity, culture, and innovation. Julie studies Public Relations at Millersville University.

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!

valentinesday

Heart-shaped goodies for your sweetie

Valentine’s day is FILLED with hearts. Heart shaped cards, lollipops, chocolates and whoopie pies! Why hearts? Cupid is to blame! As the Roman god of love, he scampered across mythological times, shooting unsuspecting mortals through the hearts with love-laced arrows. Once hit with an arrow, love was inevitable.

So head on over to the Bird-in-Hand Bakery & Creamery, and get your heart-shaped whoopie pies and old-fashioned sugar cookies for your loved ones to show them that you “love them with all your heart.”

While you’re at the bakery, you can also check out their famous wet-bottom shoofly pies, oversized apple dumplings, fresh pumpkin pie, moist red velvet cake, donuts, ice cream and more!

uncleleroys

Uncle Leroy’s has super sweets

Uncle Leroy’s is known for it’s delicious homemade fudge, but they’ve also got something special going on for Valentine’s Day – Chocolate covered strawberries!

At Uncle Leroy’s, you’ll experience friendly service, eight flavors of the world’s best fudge, 16 flavors of ice cream (served on homemade waffle cones!), caramel apples, caramel corns, nut brittles, and many other fresh candies. From the minute that you walk in the door, your nose will be delighted, and your mouth will be watering – the smells of chocolate, fudge and fresh waffle cones.

I always like to watch as the fudge is poured out onto the marble table, and worked into a “fudge loaf.” You won’t be able to resist picking up some sweets for yourself, as well as some for your sweetie!

wilbur

Chocolate Buds for your sweetie

If you ever find yourself in the quaint town of Lititz, you will find yourself smelling the sweet smell of chocolate. What a delicious factory to live close to! Not only is the Wilbur Chocolate Factory located in Lititz, but there are also the Candy Americana® Museum and the Candy Store. The manufacturing plant is located directly above the store, so when you walk in, you can listen to the curious sounds of the factory above!

You can enjoy any of the Wilbur items, chocolate specialties, and other confections in the store. You can also watch while they make their own hand-made fudge (tiger butter is one of my favorites). They even still offer free Wilbur Bud samples!

This is a sweet place not only to buy chocolates for your sweetie, but to take them for an afternoon out. Surely they’ll enjoy picking their chocolates out at the old-fashioned candy store.

valentinesprintable

Print your free PA Dutch Valentine

I’m always looking for a way to send Valentines Day cards with my son that don’t include candy, because I feel slightly guilty giving chocolate away to small children. I recently saw something that made me recall my days of elementary school, and when we used to play M.A.S.H. and make fortune tellers (also known as “cootie catchers”). Then I thought, why not make one of these into a valentine?

I’ve decided to share my PA Dutch Valentine Printable with you, along with step-by-step instructions, in case you weren’t privy to (or just can’t recall how to) making these paper games. Instead of getting a “fortune” when you choose your final number, you get a PA Dutch Saying about love/friendship!

Here’s how to make yours:

First, print out the PDF, and use either a paper trimmer, or scissors to cut on the dotted line (this is designed to be 8.5″ x 8.5″).

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Next, fold it in half both ways, making a good crease (photo below). When you unfold the second time, your creases will make a cross or an ‘x’ on the paper.

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Put the paper on the table printed side down, and fold each corner in to meet the middle.

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Then flip the paper over so that the PA Dutch icons and numbers are facing the table, and fold each corner again into the middle (photo below). When you are finished, all your numbers will be on one side, and the PA Dutch icons will be on the other side. Your fortune teller will be in a perfect square.

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Next, flip your paper and fold it both ways to make nice creases.

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Finally, slide your fingers into the fortune teller as shown in the first photo below, one thumb and index finger under each PA Dutch icon. Fluff the sides up until it looks like the second photo below.

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Last, enjoy the game! Instructions on how to play below!

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If you’re not quite sure on the instructions to play, you can follow this simple method of the game!

Player A: Asks “choose a PA Dutch icon.” (Holding the game closed so that Player B only sees the four icons)
Player B: Chooses one of the four icons. (for example, Buggy)

Player A: Spell out “Buggy,” holding the game with your thumb & index fingers of each hand, alternate pinching on “B,” pulling on “U,” pinching on “G,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose a number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 3)

Player A: Count to “3″ while pinching on “1″ and pulling on “2,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose another number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 5)

Player A: Open the flap with the number 5 on it, and read the PA Dutch Saying under the flap to reveal Player B’s valentine!

*If you want to extend the game, you can repeat the middle step a few times (choosing three numbers before opening the flap).

 

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