There are many vacation spots that are good for families with older children, but not all of them are good for toddlers & preschoolers. Lancaster County, however, is the perfect destination for a family of wee ones. Even the tiniest of babies will feel quite at home in this delightful patch of Amish country with plenty of modern amenities.
Our family of four went to the Mennonite Information Center for a showing of "Who Are The Amish?" It's a 30-minute, 3-screen feature that answers common questions about the Amish community in a fair and objective way.
Afterward, we jumped upon a private buggy ride via Abe's Buggy Rides. This was my favorite part of our weekend. Our driver Earl was a warm and communicative Amish man in his 50's. He had nine children of his own and told us quite a bit about his way of life. Fascinating.
We also spent an afternoon at the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Wristbands are $15 and provide you with access to a themed corn maze with clues, two bouncing pillows, a hayride, big slides, a chicken show, a small petting zoo, and much more! You can even bring your own picnic and eat it under a shaded veranda. Also - I was quite impressed to find a comfortable and well-stocked Nursing Mother's Room on-property, complete with rocking chairs, a changing table, diapers, and wipes!
On Independence Day, we whirled and screamed and laughed at Dutch Wonderland, a Kingdom for Kids. The amusement park is clearly designed for the pint-sized set. Kiddie rides abound and the shows have the perfect amount of cheesy predictability to be well-loved. Kayla said her favorite was the tiny roller coaster - she even put her hands in the air! Also, the bathrooms have miniature toilets and shortened sinks for easy access for little ones.
At the end of the day, we relaxed with root beer floats in our RV at Old Mill Stream Campground, which is directly next door to Dutch Wonderland. The campground is conveniently located to all of the attractions listed in this post (yay for saving on fuel costs!) and is a great weekend destination.
Have you ever been to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania? What did you like/not like about it?
Do you have any questions about the Amish culture? I'm going to be writing a post about my thoughts soon!
* Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau for providing passes for area attractions.
What wonderful memories! xoxoxo Last summer's 4th of July 2011 goes down as one of our best ever too! We miss you all.
I can't wait to read your thoughts on the amish. I love the whole idea of amish people/religion/etc. We have some local amish markets, which are run by the amish and provide some of their famous food items. We haven't been to Lancaster since we had children, but hopefully next summer we will go out there for a night or two. I'm sure my girls would love the buggy ride. I remember all the glorious rolling hills of green fields.
You guys should go to the SIGHTS n SOUND theater! It's so nice. They do plays of bible stories and bring out real animals! :) Also, the shady maple buffet is AWESOME!!!
Unfortunately, we're already in Ohio (just arrived last night). ;)
I'd love to return to Lancaster County again someday though...and the Sight & Sound Theatre is definitely on my "list."
I love your new header & your new color too! Just about everywhere you have featured makes me want to travel there one day. But this children's amusement park looks wonderful. I know Jake would love it. Maybe one day we will plan a whole vacation to PA!
I love Lancaster! I've traveled there both with my family a few times and with my husband's family. We would always go to the Millennium Theater. They reenact Bible stories beautifully! I'm always fascinated by the Amish way of life and love the wares that they sell!
I just googled "Millennium Theater" and I think it has changed names to "Sight & Sound Theatre." We almost went to see a production of "Joseph" there, but our 4-year-old insisted that it would be much too scary (she knows the Bible story...and doesn't like the part where the brothers throw J down the well).
Oh how I wish I were with you! I used to live in Lancaster County and sometimes I still get homesick although we moved in 1999! You should be able to get some good food from decent grocery stores while you are there! I don't know that there is a whole foods or traders joes or anything of that kind, but there are several private owned grocery stores like Darrenkamps and Ferguson and Hassler (Ferguson and Hassler is the only store I've ever been in that has a system so you can drive your car up to the door and they will load your groceries in the trunck for you!)
Let's see...other places I would visit would be Cherry Hill Orchards...we used to pick a lot of produce there and not just cherries! Apples, pears, etc. They have wonderful cider that I haven't tasted the like of since I moved away.
I would visit the Hans Herr House which is the oldest house in Lancaster Country and was built in 1719. I used to volunteer there. It does cost to get a tour of the house, but you are allowed to roam the grounds freely. They've rebulit most of the outhouses like the bake oven and the smokehouse and there are displays in the barn so you get quite a feel without paying for a tour although that's good too (but maybe not so good for toddlers!)
I would also visit Good's Store. It's a general merchandise store that's run by Mennonites. It's one of the most awesome stores ever in my opinion...plain, well made stuff and stuff that you would never find in a wal-mart. You probably wouldn't find shorts there, but you might find a nice dress!
And I would definately visit the Wilbur factory! It's located in nearby Lititiz and its is the best chocolate in the whole world. Wilbur buds are far superior to hershey's kisses (although shaped kind of similar) that they probably shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence!
I lived along amish for years and just accepted them for who they are. I think they're biggest attraction is their community. I'm not so about all the rules, etc., but I understand their value of community and I somewhat understand that they think they need the rules to keep that. I think its amazing how they take care of each other when any kind of disaster strikes a family and I think that Christians could take some notes on how its supposed to be done!
Oh and since I live far away from them in a neighborhood where everyone thinks its rather odd that I hang up my clothes on a clothes line outdoors to dry...I found it very validating to see lots of Amish clotheslines when I visited up there recently for a funeral!
Your synopsis of the Amish culture is similar to mine. The rules seem very rigid (and constrictive), but their sense of community is remarkable. I also admire their commitment to "simple living."
I actually have been there when I lived in Pennsylvania. You brought back memories with this post
I think this is admirable how they are able to live simply
I remember that their food was amazing
Wow....I just looked at your page again and saw your BEAUTIFUL new design!! I LOVE IT!!!! It fits you perfectly. The road behind you is an excellent symbol of your amazing life journey!
It's Tim's work. He is a man of many talents.
My family and I traveled to the east coast when I was in sixth grade. It was an amazing trip! Along the way, we stopped in Lancaster. I remember life seeming so simple and people being so happy there! It was a place that I will never forget!
My hubby is from Lancaster. He loved growing up there, it truly is a beautiful area with such a history. :)
Love, love, love the new header!! It seems so much more you! ;)
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sara! I agree that is more reflective of who I am - especially in my current season of life.
First, I love the new site design! The header is so fresh and your picture is gorgeous. The other picture was also pretty, but I think the new one is more "you" because you're smiling that beautiful smile!
We were in Lancaster County as kids, and I loved learning about the Amish. The Adventure Farm sounds like so much fun!
Thank you for the compliments, Sarah! Tim is the mastermind behind my new site design - and I am ecstatic about his work.
So fun! We love visiting Lancaster County.
What do you typically do when you visit there? I recommend Abe's Buggy Rides enthusiastically (especially if you're interested in learning more about the Amish culture).
I loved Lancaster...I became a Christian out in Amish country--so that area will forever be dear to my heart.
That sounds like another great place to add to my list of "someday" :)
The Amish really are interesting folks, we have a pretty big community about 2 hours north of us and my brother-in-law's dad does a lot of driving to far-flung places in a 15 passenger van filled with Amish folks so we've heard some interesting stories too! The Amish really do admire him though, his wife passed away in April of this year and a small group from the Amish community came to her funeral to honor them.
So fun! I have never been to Amish country! Your littlest one is getting tall!! The adventure farm sounds so fun and topping it off with root beer floats sounds like a perfect way to end the day!