Just when you think you know everything about Lancaster County, something new comes along. The scenery has never been more dazzling. The food gets tastier and more “comfort food-y.” The people are constantly dreaming up clever ways to welcome visitors.
This summer, Lancaster County is synonymous with family fun. If you and your kids like shopping, history, farm animals, bicycling, water play, and food, be sure to put a Lancaster area getaway on your summertime-fun list.
Taste and tour
What’s a birthday without ice cream? Turkey Hill Experience, in the charming town of Columbia, turns 5 years old this summer. The June 5 birthday party features games and prizes. Year-round, this restored silk mill offers tastings of delicious Turkey Hill ice creams and iced teas. Learn how ice cream is made, and milk a mechanical cow. Create your own virtual flavor and a commercial for your genius concoction, and then create a real pint of ice cream to savor.
“Nobody leaves without having a ton of fun and a bellyful of ice cream,” said Turkey Hill Dairy’s Andrea Nikolaus.
Kitchen Kettle Village began in the town of Intercourse as a family-garage jam and relish kitchen. Now, it’s a legendary shopping and entertainment spot. The May 20–21 rhubarb festival offers a parade of kooky characters and a rhubarb-car derby. An Aug. 6 birthday party features a free ventriloquist’s show, and, for additional fees, fun kids’ activities like cookie decorating, a breakfast, and interaction with ZooAmerica
“Dad can be in charge of the kids, and mom can shop if she wants,” said Kitchen Kettle Village’s Lisa Horn. Shop for purses, clothes, gifts, and — oh, yeah — the jams and relishes that started it all.
New and nearby is Intercourse Bike Works, a totally different bicycle shop and outfitter. Tour Lancaster’s stunning scenery from a bicycle seat, on roads curated for safety and accessibility. Find quality handmade gifts, like baby onesies printed with bicycles, or picture frames repurposed from bicycle-shop trash. Reserve your family’s spot in an intimate Amish dinner tour, and enjoy a meal with a gracious Amish family.
“Parents are in awe of the fact that their kids are running around an Amish farm, having a blast,” said Rebecca Branle, co-founder of the venture with her husband, Mark.
Peek into Pennsylvania German life
The Landis Valley Museum plunks you into the heart of an intriguing time and place. Get to know first-hand the lives of rural 18th- and 19th-century Pennsylvanians. See how tinsmiths, gunsmiths, and blacksmiths plied their trades. Visit village homes furnished in turn-of-the-20th-century fashion. This year’s weather vane exhibit reveals the whimsical, essential tools that farmers used for weather forecasts in the age before Doppler radar. Kids can do military drills with wooden muskets during the July 23–24 Civil War Days.
Ask all the questions you like about Amish life and traditions at The Amish Village. Stroll through rooms typical for Amish families, from the sitting room that also hosts worship services to the summer kitchen where all those farm-fresh goods are canned. Kids love feeding the farm animals. From the village, tour the countryside by bus or, new this year, by Jeep. On Saturdays this summer, stop in the Amish schoolhouse, where a teacher will give short lessons in speaking Pennsylvania Dutch.
“It’s summer, but you can still learn,” said the Amish Village’s Amber Dienner.
Bring the kids
You have tots. You have teens How to satisfy everyone? Welcome to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm, in Ronks. “There’s stuff for young kids and teenagers and mom and dad and grandpa and grandma to do,” said Cherry Crest’s Brian Groff.
The 5-acre corn maze, a Lancaster County mainstay since 1996, opens July 2. Dozens of additional attractions include a petting zoo, a baby chicks’ hatchery, pedal karts, wagon rides, and ball cages.
Come back in the fall for night-time maze tours and real-life smashing pumpkins.
With more than 35 rides, attractions, and shows, Dutch Wonderland is the perfect place to spend time together as a family. Cool off in Duke’s Lagoon water play area and make discoveries on Exploration Island, where dinosaurs come to life.
Stay within steps of the castle doors at Old Mill Stream Campground at Dutch Wonderland. The park is open weekends starting April 30, daily Memorial Day through Labor Day, and most weekends through December.
Warmth. Comfort. Friendly service. After a day experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes of Lancaster County, you deserve a rest. The Eden Resort & Suites, a Best Western Premier hotel, is an extensively renovated family attraction in itself, with two award-winning restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, and
expanded fitness center. The outdoor recreation complex has something for everyone, including a playground and water zone for kids, plus bocce, ping pong, basketball, putting green, and more. High-tech electronics make everyone happy.
From downtown Lancaster, with its restaurants, galleries, and museums, to the countryside, it’s hard to beat a getaway to Lancaster County this summer.
Before you go
Lancaster Tourism: discoverlancaster.com
The Amish Village farmhouse bedroom includes the traditional green shades and Amish quilt.