Pros: Wonderful food, beautiful scenery, lots of activities, great weekend getaway
It is hard to believe that this is my 100th review on epinions. I wanted to pick something special to review to mark this momentous occasion and what better than one of my favorite places on earth - Pennsylvania Dutch Country! I spent four of the best years of my life in Lancaster, PA attending Franklin and Marshall College. Following graduation, I have visited several times, most recently a few weeks ago. Although it has been several years since I graduated undergrad, the fondness in my heart for all things Amish has not wavered. Below is a list of ten of my favorite things to do while visiting the Lancaster area.
1. Eat Amish Food
For those of you that don't know, Amish food consists of down home goodness like fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes, noodles, vegetables, home made bread, and fresh pie. They also make absolutely fabulous breakfasts of pancakes, eggs, french toast, bacon, sausage, biscuits -- you name it! Amish food is simply divine and no trip to Lancaster is complete with out a visit (or multiple visits) to an Amish restaurant. To experience a family style Amish meal, I highly recommend Plain n Fancy. For those uncomfortable eating with strangers, Miller's Buffet provides a great alternative.
2. Visit the Strasburg Railroad Museum
The Strasburg Railroad Museum is located a few minutes south of Lancaster in the charming historic town of Strasburg, PA. The museum is home to 100 trains and cars from the 1800s and early 1900s. The museum is very educational and entertaining. It has always been a huge hit with my family members - young and old alike. While in Strasburg, you should also...
3. Have Lunch Aboard the Strasburg Railroad
Near the Strasburg Railroad Museum, you will find the Strasburg Railroad. The train is a coal powered steam engine that offers rides daily. Passengers can choose to purchase a first class, coach, or open air ticket. Even better, for a very reasonable price, one can purchase a seat in the dining car and have a delicious meal (the RR offers lunch, dinner, and wine/cheese programs). A group of my friends and I had lunch on the RR to celebrate a good friend's birthday once and it was a fabulous time. The food was good and the experience of eating in such a historic train and atmosphere was very special. Finally, one last thing to do before you leave Strasburg...
4. Play a Round of Mini Golf at the Gold Course at Village Greens
The Gold Course at Village Greens has consistently been voted the best mini golf course in Lancaster County. Personally, it is by far the best mini golf course I have ever encountered. My friends and I played it often while in college and insist on revisiting it every time we are in the area. On my most recent trip to the area, I introduced Chelledun to the wonder that is the gold course and she too was impressed. The Gold Course consists of 23 holes and plays like a real golf course full of par threes and fours. It is not uncommon for a novice to score over 100. The holes are very challenging and are set in an absolutely beautiful garden setting complete with flowers, water falls, swans, and hanging bridges. This is an absolute can't miss activity!
5. Visit a Working Amish Farm
Lancaster County offers many working Amish farms that provide tours and educational programs. The Amish Farm and House on Covered Bridge Drive in Lancaster is a particular favorite of mine. I took a group of first graders there once as part of a community service program offered at my college and it was a great time. Guests are allowed to tour the Amish house, farm, and one room schoolhouse. The tours allow visitors to get a glimpse of Amish life and learn about the Amish system of beliefs. Amish Village is another excellent place to get a feel for the Amish way of life.
6. Visit the Ephrata Cloister
Founded in 1732, the Ephrata Cloister is one of this country's earliest religious communities. Currently, the Cloister is a National Historic Landmark and open to the public for tours. The Cloister consists of a small cluster of buildings that form the religious community including a physician's house, the carpenter's house, a stable, a farm, the religious buildings and a cemetery. The tour offers a great history lesson and really allows the visitor to get a feel for what life was like in early America in a religious community.
7. See a Show at the Historic Fulton Opera House
Located on Prince Street in Lancaster City, the Fulton Opera House is a historic landmark that was originally opened in 1852. It is the nation's oldest continually operating theater and continues to put on excellent shows each year. Newly renovated in the 1990s, the interior of the theater is absolutely gorgeous. I saw the Christmas Story at the Fulton Opera house and was thoroughly enchanted. Upcoming shows at the Fulton include Thoroughly Modern Millie, West Side Story, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, Fiddler on the Roof, and Treasure Island.
8. Visit the Lancaster Farmer's Market
Located on Market Street in downtown historic Lancaster, Lancaster's Central Market is the nation's oldest, publicly owned, continuously operating farmer's market. The market itself is a historic brick building with tall towers that highlight the downtown area. The market is open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 6:00 a.m. in the morning until early afternoon. Inside the market one will find over 70 merchants offering fresh produce, flowers, meat, and baked goods. Personally, I am a HUGE fan of the baked goods (in particular the sticky buns) and think it is an excellent place to get good fresh food.
9. Weave Your Way Through Cherry Crest's Amazing Maize Maze
Located in Ronks, PA each year Cherry Crest comes out with a new exciting theme for its famed corn maze. This year's theme is the Wild Wild West. The maze and surrounding farm provide hours of fun entertainment. In addition to the the maze, the farm also includes a fudge shop, picnic areas, wagon tours, and farm animal center. Overall, this is a great place for some family fun!
10. Take a Driving Tour and Visit the Small Country Towns
Towns like Intercourse, Bird in the Hand, Paradise, and Blue Balls are what make Lancaster County so wonderful. Drive around the country for any length of time and you will be amazed by its beauty and charm. In each town you will find cute quaint little country shops and restaurants and I am always amazed by the feeling of tranquility I get each time I visit.
Go Visit Today
Lancaster County is truly one of my favorite places in the world - it has good food, nice people, and beautiful scenery. Go visit today and see what all the talk is about!