Favorite Lancaster County Attractions
Beth asked yesterday about recommendations for visitors to Lancaster County.
I mentioned two of my favorite towns, Strasburg and Churchtown. Strasburg is a bit more on the beaten path, Churchtown a bit more off.
Strasburg in particular has a lot of beautiful historic stone and brick homes from the 1700s and 1800s (I lived here for a summer so got to know it fairly well). A walk down Strasburg’s (albeit often busy) main street is a remarkable experience. We don’t have homes like this in NC where I grew up.
Rick helped with a few ideas, suggesting among others Fisher’s Variety store in Georgetown, and a nearby restaurant. He also recommended keeping an eye out for Amish yard sales. Richard promoted the beautiful natural side of the County.
With summer having just arrived and some folks no doubt heading to Lancaster, I thought it would be a good question to ask. What are your favorite places to visit, or things to do in Lancaster County?
Photo credit: Todd Gehman
I’m not sure if i have enough time and space on Amish America for this topic, but ill write down a few things that i wouldn’t miss while i were in Lancaster. First if you love classic american food wrapped in a stainless steel shell built around 1959 or so then you will need to stop over at “Jennies diner” in Ronks. This diner is right off of route 30 and if you have trouble finding it just look for the 18 wheelers and cars parked in its large parking lot, surrounded by farmland. This diner only takes cash and sometimes you have to wait to get inside, but if you go during the off hours you will not regret it as the food is fantastic. “Jennies” has been a local favorite for decades. Another really great place to eat is a place called “the family cupboard” located off of route 340 in Bird in Hand, great Amish style food with all the favorites from Lancaster county. Want to do something a little different try renting out a scooter at country roads cycles in bird in hand. I know the owner and if you mention my blog Amish Stories he will take $5.00 off your bill. I found this place because i did a blog post called “Lancaster on 2 wheels”, and ill be doing a part 2 very soon because i just went down again to rent another scooter. The owner is a good guy who will give you a map which has some of Lancaster’s covered bridges that are fairly close to where the scooter rental is. I had so much fun riding around touring the country side, and you can feel and experience more of your surroundings on a scooter or bike. Ill post more of my favorite towns and places of interest later in the afternoon. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon Pennsylvania.
Thanks so much for starting this discussion. I’ve not been to Lancaster in many years and my last several visits( way back in the 90’s) were to a Dominican Monastery on Lititz Pike in the city of Lancaster – if anyone wants to visit a small Catholic chapel while there this one is simple, but lovely. The monastery rings their bell for prayer several times a day and during the holidays, at noon rings Christmas Carols with from the bell tower.
Hoping to talk a friend into a visit next summer – her being a teacher it has to be during the busy summer season and we’ll be there just 3 ngts, so I’ll be saving all the suggestions.
We will be looking for a B&B or farm to stay – recommendations much appreciated.
Blessings on your day!
My husband was born raised in Lancaster County, but finds it very touristic and commercialized now, compared to growing up there in the 50′-60’s. If the reader is looking to view Amish without the touristic hipe, we’d recommend Big Valley in Mifflin County. We have a bnb on a back road, and the majority of our guests are coming to see the “one-suspender” Amish at work in their fields and visit their quaint shops. It’s a very relaxed valley with beautiful views and untarnished with tourist attractions. Some of the Amish produce stands are just an old shed on their farm, a sign along the road for brown eggs might lead you to their home kitchen where if no one is home you just put your money in the box and take a carton of eggs with you. Very unique and unbelieable to the city folks who visit! My husband still does business in Lancaster County, mostly with the Amish, delivering cattle to their farms. When we come to visit relatives, a trip to Shady Maple buffet in New Holland is a must! or Yoders is good also. Oregon Dairies is a great place to stop at also.
Claudia, where is Mifflin County? I would much prefer to be off the beaten track, rather than Lancaster. Could you send me the name of your B&B, please? firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you & God Bless.
Lancaster County favorites
My husband and I absolutely love the area and plan on retiring there in a few years. Strasburg/Bird In Hand/Paradise area is one of our favorites; especially off the beaten path. Growing up in Maryland, Amish country was a special day trip each summer. I’m dismayed at the “development” along Lincoln Highway but if you get off that beaten path, you can still experience what Lancaster County is all about. Beautiful little villages, farmland right out of heaven. We have a couple of favorite destinations when we visit including Shady Maple Market in East Earl. If you’ve never been, you are in for quite an experience. Some day I plan on doing all of my shopping there! They do offer online orders and I’ve done this several times. Also love the town of Lititz and the Wilbur Chocolate Factory. Take the tour and don’t forget to pick up some of the best, smoothest chocolate on earth … Wilbur Buds. Last but not in the least is Central Market in Lancaster city. Recently renovated, it’s a throwback to the way our parents and grandparents shopped if they were city dwellers. The supermarket of their time. Okay, I’m ready to hop in the car and make a trip up from Virginia Beach!!!
I found your B&B in Big Valley and it is just lovely. I am a frequent visitor to Lancaster County and would love to go to Big Valley for a quiet retreat. Will be in touch soon to get more info.
No trip to Lancaster County is complete for us without a visit to Hayloft Candles on Groffdale Rd. This large store run by conservative Mennonites makes all of their own candles on site as well as homemade icecream. Outside they have a petting zoo (free!) and a nice lake where you can pack a lunch ad enjoy the surroundings.
Claudia – put up a link to your B&B. My SO and I were talking about taking a trip after I run my marathon in October to somewhere relaxing…sounds like the Big Valley would be right up our alley!
We love Strasburg! Haven’t been there in ages since we moved from southern NJ to KY. Also enjoyed spending time at Root’s Market. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Middletown, Colebrook, Manheim, and Elizabethtown, so I spent a lot of time in the general area. I miss those days. Good memories. 🙂
Link to BnB in Big Valley
Since a couple people have requested my link it is:
another link that might interest everyone is:
Our stone house was built in 1830 by the Weiler family who came here from Lancaster County. We’re also a working farm, raising the American Lineback Dairy cattle. Lots of our cattle have found new homes in Lancaster County and we have several bulls at Amish farms there also. So when traveling around Lancaster County, if you see the strange looking cows with a big stripe up their back and faces that look like they’ve applied mascara and eyebrow liner, you’re probably looking at a Lineback! We’ve supplied several to Oregon Dairies on Oregon Pike, so you should find them there. Also across the Lancaster border into Chester County is a farm with a large number of Linebacks, who have opened a dairy, Baily’s Dairy of Popcopson Meadow Farms. Their link is http://www.bailysdairy.com and they feature a lineback on their milk bottles. Both of us are also on Facebook.
Definitely go to Lapp Valley Farm in New Holland if you like ice cream. It’s the best I’ve ever had. They also have a stand at Kitchen Kettle Village. KKV is another one of my favorite places. They have amazing jams and jellies.
Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant- they now feature locally grown/raised produce, cheeses, meats. I have an Amish friend in the village that supplies some of these. I’ve been going to that restaurant since the early 1980s and I love it. They also have a great bakery. Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop off Gibbons Rd. is another favorite for baked goods.
Jennie’s Diner and Family Cupboard as another poster said are great as is Dienner’s.
Shady Maple Smorgasbord is something to be experienced. It’s especially good for breakfast. Their new marketing campaign is “The Greatest Show in Food.” It is.
Isaac’s Deli is a South Central PA chain that offers delicious sandwiches and an incredible tomato pepperjack soup.
Ye Olde English Shoppe and Tea Room: Great spot in Intercourse run by a couple of English ladies. Hard to get a seat- reservations highly recommended.
Roadside chicken BBQ. The smell alone is captivating. You’ll see these all over the County during the summer.
Stores: Kauffman’s, Leacock Shoe Store, Country Housewares, Miller’s Natural Foods, Homeland Variety are all Plain owned stores that I enjoy visiting.
One of my favorite spots happens to be 555 Wentzel Road, near Terre Hill. It it my own personal BNB at the moment. 🙂
Wow! So much to do in so little time. Thanks for opening this topic up again Erik, a lot of great ideas.
We love all of Lancaster County. We got engaged there and my wife wanted to honeymoon there
I know some folks are asking themselves, why is this guy from Lebanon county who is more obnoxious than Donald trump, and promotes himself more than Don King is trying to help me make the most of our trip to Lancaster county?. Well my friends i knew someone just like yourself, someone who didn’t have anyone to lead him in the right direction. Well i just made all of that up,lol because i always wanted to say that. But i am here to help, if you enjoy factory tours i would go over to the next county which would be York county for a tour at Harley Davidson off of route 30. The best part is that its all free, and you can see Harleys being made right in front of your eyes and here is their phone number for info 1-877-883-1450 . For shoo-fly-pie for me it must be the Dutch Haven http://www.Dutchhaven.com after all these years these guys are still the best, but the Bird in Hand bakery is great as well. If you have kids then i think they will really enjoy going to Dutch wonderland, I know i enjoyed going there as a child in the late 1960s. If you enjoy walking around in a quaint little town id try the town of Lititz, plenty of small shops and restaurants to check out. I know Erik has said to go to the southern part of Lancaster for more of that country feel, I agree with him but i would check out the northern part of Lancaster in particularly the small town of Terre Hill . In this community which is one of my favorite places to go has a good size old order Mennonite community, its also for me anyway a community that I’ve been focusing on a lot of late because of the old order Mennonites that live there. I am studying these sometimes over looked group of plain folks for my blog. Well I’m spent, and i hope i was able to help in some way. There is a lot to do in Lancaster county, and if you love its farmland and want it to stay that way, please join the Lancaster farmland trust while you are there http://www.Lancasterfarmlandtrust.com. That way you would be leaving something that’s very precious to all of us, the one big reason why you are coming and keep coming back…………. its farmland and beauty…….. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon Pennsylvania.
I should put in a plug for Amos Hoover’s Muddy Creek Farm Museum. Google “Muddy Creek Farm Library” for the map.
This little museum (Amos also has a really nice collection of old Amish and Mennonite and even Hutterite books) is not well known, but certainly of interest to those who are looking into the history of the Amish/Mennonites.
And it is located on a nice little hill with about a 300 degree view of the surrounding farms. The road going up there is called “Katze Boucle Weeg,” PA Dutch for “Cat’s Back Road.”
And for a plug for an upcoming feature, right in Paradise, we are working on an Amish/Mennonite Heritage Center, hopefully to open by next summer. Included in the plans are an authentic reproduction of a 16th century torture chamber, complete with a rack. Probably a tongue screw as well.
And of course, some of the more beautiful sides of Amish/Mennonite history. 🙂
My two large post look like 2 huge bookends,lol. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon county.
Richard, Please let me know how to get on “Amish Stories” as I am unable to find it.
Erik, Have you ever thought of getting a group of Amish America fans together for a trip to Lancaster County?
Also wanted to mention Deiner’s Restaurant on Rte. 30 in Paradise -“where the locals go” – I think it is onwed by either Amish or Mennonite and the food is the best!
Morinne, i think some folks have tried clicking my name which should be working. I tried it myself just now and this feature on Erik’s site does not seem to be working now?. Regardless here is my web address for Amish Stories- http://www.Amishstorys.co. I’m not sure what is going on, so maybe Erik could fix it at some point. Richard from Amish Stories.
Couldn’t agree more with the posters who mentioned Jennie’s Diner. I’m planning to return there myself next month.
Intercourse Canning Company – right in the main area of Intercourse, with a huge selection of canned goods and samples galore! You can even see them canning through a big glass window that goes to their kitchen area.
I got a balloon ride for mother’s day so we’re going up there next month to use it! Balloon rides depart in Bird-in-Hand and are done by the US Hot Air Balloon Team. Can’t wait!
I’d like to hear some feedback on the best buggy ride/driving tours. I was considering Aaron & Jessica’s buggy rides this time, but I haven’t toured with them before.
Out at the Red Caboose in Strasburg they have a photo studio that will do portraits of your family in Plain clothes – that was great. We also took a buggy ride there last year.
White Horse Inn in Gap has a fantastic Chicken Pie! And there is a thrift shop across the street [and down a ways] that sells plain clothes. It’s also a fantastic thrift shop and is run by the Mennonite Central Committee. I bought actual Amish baby clothes and dressed up some teddy bears who are now decorating my house!
Thanks for all your suggestions – I’m taking copious notes and plan to visit some of your recommended spots!
And Morrinne ive never been to Deiners restaurant, but i did know the uncle of the owner who used to live part time in Pinecraft Florida during the year.I met him about 21 years ago, and his name was Andy Deiner and has passed on now. He lived with his wife in Intercourse,Pa, and i had paid him a visit a few times when i was in Lancaster during that time. A great guy and a very friendly person. Andy was Mennonite so im sure the folks who own the restaurant are as well. Richard from the Amish Settlement of Lebanon county.
Clicking my name now seems to be working to go to Amish Stories. Thanks Erik if you worked on that in any way.Richard
Hey, if we’re doing the best of Lancaster County I would love to see a best of Elkhart/LaGrange someday. One of my friends and I are thinking of taking a day trip there next month…would the Amish businesses be open on Saturdays? She’s been there before but if anyone has some great out of the way suggestions I would love to hear them
My family & I recommend Rocky Acre B&B
We have stayed about 20 times during all seasons. My second choice is Verdant View.
The latter may be easier to get a room, and it is closer to Amish homes. They have Amish neighbors, and close proximity to Cherry Park Farms & Stroudsburg Railroad.
Both places are wonderful, we have enjoyed both.
I like the railroad museum in Strasbourg as well as all the small markets scattered about. Litiz is interesting as well as Lancaster itself, but not necessarily because of the Amish. I typically ride my bike about the area, so I try and get off the beaten path as much as possible.
Katze Boucle Weeg and other PA Dutch road signs
Interesting suggestions here, thanks to everyone who’s shared. Lindsay, northern Indiana businesses will generally be open on Saturdays as well. A thread for N. Indy businesses would be a great idea, I’ll try to cook something up.
Mike, thanks for mentioning Hoover’s library and “Katze Boucle Weeg”. I’ve actually got a photo of one of the signs from a few years ago: https://amishamerica.com/lancaster-count-2/
By the way, any idea why only a few roads in the county are in PA Dutch? I’ve asked a few people but have never gotten a good answer.
My Lancaster hot spots
I especially Miller’s Health Food Store off Stumptown Road, The Leacock Coleman Supply Center, and the shoe store just up the road from the Leacock Center. For good food the Kling Family Restaurant and Jennie’s Diner can’t be beat!!
Our new favorite place for breakfast is Katie’s Kitchen on Rt. 896, between Rt. 30 and Strasburg. The employees are mostly Amish and they have the best fried potatoes, homebaked bread, and the most delicious homemade strawberry jam! Another good breakfast spot is the Intercourse Village Restaurant, in front of the Best Western Hotel.
For dinner we like the Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant & Buffet; Shady Maple Smorgasbord; Yoder’s Restaurant & Buffet on Rt. 23 in New Holland; and a new place that’s a little out of the way but well worth it for the quality, quantity, and price – The Dutch-Way Restaurant & Buffet on Rt. 41 in Gap ( there’s another one on Rt. 422 East in Myerstown ).
As for our favorite places to go, we love Root’s Farmers Market & Auction ( only open on Tuesdays! ) at 705 Graystone Rd, Manheim; Saturday’s Market ( huge farmer & flea market ) at 3751 E. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown; all of the Mennonite run Gift & Thrift and Re-Uzit shops throughout the area; the quaint little shops and especially Zook’s Fabrics on the main street in Intercourse; and of course the wonderful Mud Sales and Benefit Auctions held at various times and locations.
But our very favorite thing of all is to just ride around the beautiful farmland and soak up all the neat sights, sounds, and smells.
Debbie, we pass Katie’s Kitchen when we’re in Strasburg and have wondered and now I know and we will try for sure! Do you live in the area? I’m taking note of your suggestions for future reference. We hope to make Lancaster County our home when my husband can finally retire. Absolutely in love with the area. We feel at peace when we arrive and hate to leave!
Robin, we feel the same way – never want to leave, and we’re also hoping to retire ( atleast part of the time ) in Lancaster County. So as you can see we don’t live there, yet, but atleast we’re only 2 1/2 hrs away in southern New Jersey. I see that you’re from Virginia Beach so that’s got to be quite a long ride! We enjoyed your area the few times we’ve been, though. I remember walking on the boardwalk and every five minutes one of the naval jets came in for a landing right over top of us! Of course that was at the height of the Iraqi war so that’s probably why. But still, nothing or nowhere can beat Lancaster, right?
Pa German Road Names
Erik, I would guess that one reason might be that a large part of the county was first settled by other than Amish or Mennonites. The Peter Martin cottage is located on a farm originally established by the early Welch settlers. Another reason might be that the Amish and Mennonites would not name a road to avoid pride. Some of the original names have also been replaced with the English translation, Katze Boucle Weg being one of them. I believe the signs currently show Cats Back Road. I walked across the Katze Boucle one night with some Old Order friends after a wedding so this area holds some memories for me. I recently enjoyed a short tour of the Muddy Creek Farm Libary and museum with Amos Hoover as my guide. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch and a visit with Amos at Raymond Zimmerman’s house, right beside the old Pike meeting house on 322 not farm from Ephrata. If we mention favourite places in Lancaster county we should also mention the Ephrata Cloisters. I have enjoyed many good meals in Lancaster County but can’t exactly recommend them because they have all been at friend’s homes.
Lancaster Co. Road names
On the lack of PA Dutch road names, I would guess the general Anglicization that occurred over time is the reason the roads are called “Road” rather than “Weeg”. But there are plenty of remnants of German-named roads here. For example, I live on Wentzel Road, obviously a German name, even if not Amish or Mennonite. There is Sensenig Road, Martin Road, Groffdale Road, Horst Road, etc and etc. This is in the Mennonite part where I live. I dont know too much about the Amish part of the county. I did see a “Weeg” down that way recently, but cant remember what it was.
One other aspect of Lancaster County roads that visitors need to be aware of is that the road can change names for no obvious reason whatsoever. You, for example, can be on Hahnstown Road (“Hahn” is German for “rooster”) just east of Ephrata and it suddenly turns into Church Street. No signs or anything to tell you that. Your GPS may not know that either. 🙂