A joy to visit, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is best known for its Amish communities. As you drive the back roads, you’ll pass lush farmlands and the occasional horse-drawn buggy. Stop at delightfully named towns like Lititz, Bareville, Blue Ball, Intercourse, Bird-In-Hand, Fertility, Paradise, and the city of Lancaster to sample fabulous farm products, visit chocolate and pretzel factories, or shop at antique or outlet stores. As for parks, how about a ballpark, an amusement park, and a wolf park?
Lancaster Airport is in south-central Pennsylvania, 11 nautical miles northeast of the Susquehanna River. The airport is surrounded by several major airports and their corresponding airspace; flight following is recommended. Take care to avoid the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area and always get the latest notams before departure to avoid violating temporary flight restrictions. The airport has two large, crossing runways; review these airport procedures before departure. At the airport, Fiorentino’s Bar and Grill offers good Italian food, indoor and outdoor seating, and runway views.
Choose from several scenic drives through the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, which includes some 29 covered bridges. Or, hit the Lancaster County Winery Trail and sample local vintages. If you brought the kids, take Highway 30 to Dutch Wonderland, a family-friendly amusement park, and The Amish Farm and House, a quaint farm with year-round tours and artisans onsite April through October (Chris will amaze you with his whittling skills). Outlet malls along the highway include Tanger and Rockvale.
But to get a better feel for the area, I prefer the stops along Old Philadelphia Pike. In Bird-In-Hand, try the apple butter at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm. Next, head to Plain and Fancy Farm, where you’ll find a plethora of activities like tours and buggy rides, along with a country store. Save your appetite for Smokehouse BBQ and Brews—love those burnt ends and smokehouse chili! Less than four miles east of Bird-In-Hand is the town of Intercourse. Kitchen Kettle Village features live music and more than 40 merchants, from the Jam and Relish Kitchen to locally made art, cheeses, Pennsylvania Dutch quilts, and locally sewn personalized teddy bears, to name-brand favorites like Brighton Collectibles and Minnetonka moccasins. Sleep right here at the Inn and enjoy free perks like breakfast at the Kling House Restaurant, a dozen fresh-baked cookies on Sundays, crackers and jam in your room, plus a travel mug you can bring to the village for free coffee or tea at select stores.
There’s more to explore north of Lancaster. You can visit the Ephrata Cloister, whose residents have preserved the traditions of William Penn’s holy experiment since 1732. Next, walk around the town of Lititz (also known as “America's coolest small town"). You might smell chocolate, because Lititz is the world headquarters of Wilbur Chocolates. Duck in for a taste, learn how these treats are made, and take home a tin of the wildly popular “Wilbur Buds.” Balance sweet with salty and head over to America’s first pretzel bakery. You can take a tour and learn how to twist a pretzel at the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, opened in 1861 and still going strong. Other locally owned shops include a bookstore, kitchen gadgets and cooking classes, gourmet foods, and oils and balsamic vinegars. Tour the Lititz Historical Foundation and Museum, feed the ducks in Lititz Springs Park, or drive 6 miles north to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, home to some 45 displaced canines. The park and wolf sanctuary are good choices for Sundays, when many shops are closed. The Speedwell Forge B&B is right next door. In town, choose the Lititz House Bed and Breakfast, a room on the second floor of the historic General Sutter Inn, or a modern Rockblock Penthouse upstairs.
In Lititz, whether you fine-dine at the General Sutter, boost a cold one at JoBoy's Brew Pub across the street, or take a break at Café Chocolate, save room for a slice of tomato pie. It’s fresh, local, and authentic, just like everything else in Lancaster County.
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