Lancaster County PA Things to Do

mfpark

We are heading to Lancaster County, PA for a quick long weekend trip.  

Looking for good places to eat and things to do.  Two adults and one 11 year old daughter.


tjohn

A lot of Lancaster County is closed on Sundays.

Also, where are you staying and what days will you be there?

Personally, I'm not a fan of the Pa. Dutch tourist traps, so I can't speak to those.

We had a nice dinner at the Lancaster Brewing Company.  Be warned that weekends will be crowded.  I thought the John Wright restaurant in Wrightsville looked interesting but my family was all restauranted out by then.  Cafe Chocolate in Lititz is an interesting lunch place.  In fact, Lititz is worth a visit - Wilbur Chocolate Factory, Julius Sturgis pretzel bakery and a quaint town area.

Lapp Valley Farms Ice Cream and Emma's Gourmet Popcorn are fun to visit plus they are located in real Amish farm areas.


driftwood

This is not an activity unique to Lancaster but ... we LOVE mini golf at Village Greens in Strasburg.  Fun courses, incredibly beautiful setting. [villagegreens.com]  And also, a ride on a steam locomotive train (open air car) at Strasburg Rail Road.


max_weisenfeld

Second for Lititz. Cute and walkable.


qrysdonnell

We liked Lancaster Brewing, also it's in Chester County, but if you like beer I'd also visit Victory brewing in Downingtown, PA. They have a nice store and good food as most breweries do. We didn't realize it was in the area and we passed it while in transit elsewhere, but had to make a stop!


tjohn
qrysdonnell said:
We liked Lancaster Brewing, also it's in Chester County, but if you like beer I'd also visit Victory brewing in Downingtown, PA. They have a nice store and good food as most breweries do. We didn't realize it was in the area and we passed it while in transit elsewhere, but had to make a stop!

I don't see a Chester County location. 


Lancaster Brewing Company
302 N Plum St.  Lancaster, PA
Ph 717.391.6258  


Nancy

I camped out in Lancaster for a week about 10 years ago with my then about 11 year old.  We went to Lititz and it was cute and there was a cafe with a chocolate fountain and we toured the candy company.  We also went to the cheesey "Amish Experience Theatre" which is still there on the Plain and Fancy farm.  It was better than I thought it was going to be, but I like cheesy roadside attractions  I did not like the Lancaster food, though.  It was expensive and heavy and flavorless.  Someone told me that there are small restaurants where you eat with an Amish family or something and the food is better.  The big buffets were disappointing, We found a Tai restaurant we liked better and Sonic which was a novelty back then.  My son's favorite activity was the Laserdome (http://laserdome.com/) which is a huge white dome in the middle of a field somewhere near Lancaster where you can play lasertag and some other games.  We went there almost every day or night. I also arranged a private two hour horseback riding tour of Amish backyards and a covered bridge.  Going out of Lancaster for the day, we went to Hersey Park, The Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia (I think) and took a kayaking lesson on the Susquehanna river. There is also a deserted village or something else historical that I really wanted to visit, but the Laserdome trips canceled that out. There is lots to do--get all the brochures available everywhere when you get there so you don't miss something not mentioned in this thread.


qrysdonnell
tjohn said:


qrysdonnell said:
We liked Lancaster Brewing, also it's in Chester County, but if you like beer I'd also visit Victory brewing in Downingtown, PA. They have a nice store and good food as most breweries do. We didn't realize it was in the area and we passed it while in transit elsewhere, but had to make a stop!
I don't see a Chester County location. 


Lancaster Brewing Company
302 N Plum St.  Lancaster, PA
Ph 717.391.6258  


I was talking about Victory, which is in Chester County. Sorry for the awkward sentence, bad editing on my behalf!



Coffeegretchen

Strasburg Railroad is fun. Right near there - if you're train fans, is the Toy Train Museum and the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. The Strasburg Creamery in town makes delicious ice cream and waffle cones. My kids enjoyed Dutch Wonderland when they were about that age or younger. No big coasters, but lots of stuff for younger kids to ride, and a water park.



mrincredible

I agree about the Strasburg Railway and the Creamery. The Creamery also makes good breakfast and lunch (I dont like the chicken salad though). 

The Farmers Market in town is worth an hour or two. It's only open Friday and Saturday though.

Isaac's sandwich shop right near the market has lots of fun sandwiches all named after birds. The Tufted Titmouse isn't on the menu anymore but you can still order it.



tjohn

The corn maze at Cherry Crest Farm is a lot of fun.  You can catch the Strasburg Railroad and ride to the museum while you are there.


tjohn

The lake at Mt. Gretna is a neat retro-swimming lake.  Good for a hot day.  http://mtgretnalake.com/

Plus there is an art festival in Mt. Gretna on 8/18-19.

Finally, the Cornwall Furnace if worth a visit if you have any interest in colonial iron-making.


ml1

we visited Lancaster several years ago and stayed at the Lancaster Arts hotel.  We liked the cocktail lounge and restaurant there, which is called the John J. Jeffries.  There was also a pretty good Thai restaurant around the corder called Sukhothai.

The hotel itself is very cool.  The building was built in the 19th century as a tobacco warehouse. 

http://www.lancasterartshotel.com/


Patricia

Visited that area two years ago for the first time, and felt like such a snob -- had not realized Lancaster is a "real" city -- art galleries, nice museums, some really good restaurants, colleges, minor league baseball, etc. 


mfpark

Report Back:  We had a lovely long weekend, even with all the rain. 

Some things we did:

Stayed in Brandywine rather than Amish country.  More hotel availability in the season, and much lower cost for the rooms.  Added to our driving, but worth it for us.

Spent Friday afternoon in Lititz.  Enjoyed the Lititz Historical Society museum a lot--great personal tour and learned a ton about Moravians in the region.  Had a lovely dinner at the General Sutter Inn--eclectic menu and great beers on tap.  My wife and daughter had Chicken Tikka Masala which was surprisingly subtle and good.  I had a grilled cheese featuring Brie and leeks, with a satisfying Tomato Bisque.  The shops in town are kind of touristy but upscale and fun.  Hit the Chocolate Cafe and it was good chocolate but no better than some places in Morristown where we live.  Missed Wilbur Chocolate--past closing time for the store, and the factory is being converted to condos (!).

Really enjoyed the Strasbourg Railroad.  It is very well maintained and operated, lots of good history, fun ride through the cornfields.  Had an okay time at the Lancaster Mennonite Information Center. They have a kitschy recreation of the Biblical Tabernacle but it was kind of fun to see.  When the Mennonite docent ended with the Priestly Benediction prayer in English I almost joined in with "Kein Y'hi Ratzon" to point out his inappropriate appropriation of my faith, but I held my tongue.  They also had some decent movies on Amish and Mennonite life in America.  

Found a great Amish craft store with tons of quilts--Riehl's Quilts and Crafts in Leola (near Bird In Hand).  

Staying in Brandywine had another benefit.  We were close to Longwood Gardens, where we spent Sunday.  If you have not been, go.  Even in an all-day rain it was awesome.  Acres of indoor plantings, spectacular fountains and fountain shows coordinated to music, decent cafe.


DaveSchmidt

Thanks for the update, mfpark. Glad you got a taste of the Brandywine Valley. I grew up just across the Delaware line, and my dad’s first job was at Longwood.

We were reminded of Strasburg and the accompanying model train museum on our own recent trip, which included a stop at this impressive one-man display:

https://www.roadsideamerica.co/




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