There’s no better time to delight in Lancaster County’s bounty than early autumn. Plentiful harvests yield piles of colorful produce at roadside farm stands and farmers markets, are a cause celeb at local wineries and breweries, and keep jam kitchens busy preserving the tastes of summer. All this makes a Lancaster weekend getaway a time to delight in the delicious flavors of the season.
The region is a feast for the senses, from the lush landscape to be explored by bicycle or Amish buggy or even hot air balloon, to the wealth of artisans and craftspeople showcasing their wares in quilt and furniture shops, craft shows, and art galleries.
And with cornfields stretched to their highest heights, the county is not only a patchwork of green, but the verdant fields also make for a puzzling challenge as visitors attempt to navigate Cherry Crest Adventure Farm’s corn maze or engage in any of the 50 farm-themed activities.
Beginning a weekend adventure with a Friday night celebration in Lancaster City or one of the county’s small towns is a great way to get a lay of the land.
The city of Lancaster hosts both a First Friday art gallery and restaurant event as well as a Music Friday event on the third Friday of each month. Both are a glimpse into the hip culture scene that lands Lancaster at the top of livable city lists.
Arriving on a second Friday? Head to the chocolate-pretzel-beer town of Lititz, voted one of American’s coolest small towns. The Second Friday festivities feature the town’s tastiest restaurants, funkiest galleries, and sweetest shops. On a fourth Friday, Columbia is the place to be, with its plethora of antique shops and art showcases.
Town events mark the fall season
Each of these towns also will be hosting special events this fall. The annual Fall Artwalk in downtown Lancaster, Oct. 3–4, is a self-guided stroll of more than 100 galleries, museums, and shops that has been a favorite for 50 years. The annual Lititz Craft Beer Fest on Sept. 27 features a homebrew championship contest and more than 100 different craft beers from more than 50 local, regional, and national breweries. And, the annual Bridge Bust in Columbia on Oct. 3 is a unique event where more than 300 arts and crafts vendors line the historic Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge over the Susquehanna River. This year, Columbia also will host a Fall Feast and Biergarten event Oct. 24, featuring dozens of food trucks.
No visit to Lancaster County is complete without carrying the best flavors home. If you come for a weekend, make a trip to Central Market the Saturday morning priority. For weekend visitors, Saturdays are also great days to explore the county’s roadside farm stands, or to visit the preserved delights of Kitchen Kettle Village in the hamlet of Intercourse. Note that these destinations are all closed on Sundays.
To learn more about the area’s Amish heritage, be sure to visit The Amish Farm & House, which also offers van tours of the area, and The Amish Village with its one-room school and other elements of Amish life.
Saturday afternoons and evenings are made for tastings. The region boasts a number of craft breweries, wineries, and even a distillery. Many, like Waltz, Grandview, and Nissley, offer tours and have tasting rooms. Some wineries also feature concerts in the vineyards. And, for fans of Elizabethan England, the Mount Hope Vineyard even hosts the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire on its grounds.
Among the many lodging options is the Eden Resort, with more than 300 rooms and suites, restaurants, and onsite activities — it even has a “reconnect” package for couples. The Fulton Steamboat Inn is among the most unusual of Lancaster accommodations and offers nautical or Victorian-themed rooms, as well as Huckleberry’s Restaurant and Tavern.
Sundays in Lancaster County are made for brunches, which offer a chance to delight in a farm-to-table experience at many local eateries. Burn off those calories with a hike or bike in the county’s extensive nature preserves and parks, or paddle down the Conestoga or Susquehanna rivers. With your workout done, before you head home, be sure and stop by the Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia to design your own ice cream flavor — maybe something to celebrate the season. Pumpkin Pie, anyone?
For more information:
Lancaster Co. Tourism: discoverlancaster.com
While you’re waiting to create your own ice cream flavor at the Turkey Hill Experience, explore the exhibits, like this original dairy delivery truck.