6/3/10 - Made reservation at the HIE in Lititz for 3 nights starting 6/17, as work schedule has been rough.
6/14/10 - Modified reservation as would get there too late to appreciate the fine room after work. Decision was made to start from home Friday morning (6/18 - only 1 hour+ from South Jersey). Already had a list of places to check out via yahoo travel, but others via the visitpa web site (and links from there...) to have various options for the weekend.
6/22/10 - Post trip view for all. We used the schedule function to show the when and where of what we actually did, and left the "unscheduled" for another time...or for you! Check out helpful hints on the trip plan for info. Hope you enjoy your fine weekend or vacation stop as well! Chuck and Beth
Up early to pack and made sure we had all our travel info (on-line plus got a free mailing from PA Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau earlier - LOL...must have clicked an "easy" info button somewhere during our planning....!). It was called "Wake Up in Lancaster County" magazine, and extremely helpful with maps, places, etc. during our entire trip. You'll see them for free when you get there (anywhere), too.
We plotted our course to go to Strasburg first, taking a southern route (322) to avoid the Philadelphia area through Chad's Ford, Brandywine and passed by Longwood Gardens via Route 1 near Kennet's Square, to county route 41 heading west. Nice road and scenery to boot. Right into Strasburg via 741.
On approach to Strasburg, we saw the steam locomotive passenger tour train (Strasburg Railroad) on route for a fine ride, but this was a kids weekend with "special" Thomas the train for kids, so we avoided (very crowded). Across Rt. 741 is the "Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania" and this was awesome! Restored locomotives (steam, diesel and electric!), passenger and freight cars from yestercentury all over for a fine USA history lesson. Started with a 12 minute film focussing on railroad history, then off to see the exhibits. We were there more than two hours, and were still engaged (but hungry too). This is a fine venue for all and worth a look during anyone's lifetime! Now that's a GG-1 as I remember from childhood!!!
We followed up with a fantastic lunch at the country store and creamery! Lean corned beef (#4) and the special pulled pork sandwich were awesome, as was the ice cream for dessert. It's a deli, so you order and pick up...have a seat at an open table. If you're in Strasburg, PA, this is a great place to eat and also get some Amish goodies at the store attached.
It was about 2pm as our check-in time at HIE-Lititz was 4pm, so we went to Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, PA! It was Berry festival weekend (6/18-19), and there were lots of free samples of jams, salsas and smoothies (Amish Style), shops to explore, plus live music. Do make this a place to visit on your trip, as there is a variety of Amish goods for all.... You do get a quick flavor of what PA Dutch Country is all about! We got a fine 40" Barn Star (with Menonite info origin explanation) to commemorate our visit! LOL, I'm not building a barn! But it is a fine outdoor home decoration for us!!
The HIE-Lititz was recommended and is a very fine hotel we stayed throughout the weekend. A fine Jacuzzi suite and hot breakfast better than most, included. Fine pool, spa and other perks as well.... Got situated and enjoyed the R&R.
Dinner was ok at "Good and Plenty", as we drove back toward Bird in Hand from the HIE. We got there about 7:30 (as most places in Amish Country won't seat you after 8pm!) However, have at least 10 people for your party (including kids), as the dinner for two adults was overwhelming "family style". Light breakfast and lunch necessary day two, LOL!. Fried chicken (good), baked ham slices (ok) and not so great fish were the entrees, plus various hot and cold Amish sides. By the time dessert was offered, I just tried the a small dish of rice pudding (good). Too stuffed is the best way to describe.... We went downstairs to the gift shop after dinner and got some decent valued gifts for loved ones and us! Check it out if you're there.
After still feeling the affects of the "family style" dinner, ate light at the complimentary breakfast at HIE. They had scrambled eggs (watery), bacon (not crisp) and biscuits (don't know) as the Hot entree, but I had just a taste and went with a bowl of cherios with banana and then a scrumptious warmed cinnamon bun. The choices were good and better than most places we've been.
Got a road coffee and off for some exercise at the state park on the Susquehanna river. Took about 30 minutes from the hotel, as we drove south through Lancaster city. We parked at the Overlook trailhead and proceeded to explore, Hawk Point overlook of the river. Quite a few turkey vultures we saw, as they just seemed to glide and circle in the river breeze. There are bald eagles, hawks and ospreys (not seen) too, in the area as well as Peach Bottom power plant (saw), but real nice view for sure. We followed the Overlook trail to Wissler's Run overlook and once again got some cool views and pics. Then hiked our way back via the Fire, Holly and Pine tree trails, stopping at Landis House to check out the history and then park access road back to the car. Nice park and worth the visit...we've been to many PA state parks and this was mid-range in terms of sights...Ricket's Glen (H2O falls) and Hickory Run (Boulderfield and Lehigh Valley Overlook) are still the champs so far!
Off again to Wheatland to see the 15th President's mansion. Got there in time for the 12pm tour, which included a cool video prior to start with info about the family, home and other exhibits in the gift shop area. Our guide was very knowledgable and the yestercentury mansion was worth the tour of about an hour (no pics allowed inside). This is something worth seeing as there is more than Amish culture in the area.
Off toward Bird in Hand via 23 to 462 to 320 for lunch at Family cupboard. Beth had a Reuben and I a cheeseburger as the buffet did not look appetizing. Our meals were good though and not overwhelming.
We took a Buggy ride which was based nearby, and got a tour of the Amish driver's farm. Very cool though it was hot outside and learned alot about the Amish lifestyle. 70 acres of corn to feed 50 cows with milk sold straight to Land O' Lakes for subsistance. The Amish are farmers with fine religious beliefs and live a simple life. This tour made our whole trip!
Back to the HIE to relax, swim in the pool/spa and cleanup after an eventful day. Back from Lititz via 501 to rt 30 for Miller's Smorgasbord for dinner about 7:30. Very good dinner with lots of options, and we did a lot of little tastes of most...very satisfying and we recommend. Checked out the nearby quilt store prior to return, which was worth the look (quilts = $$$'s or $$$$'s depending...and a fine browse it was!!! LOL).
What a Great Day and Jacuzzi Eve!
Awoke early to take advantage of the amenities at HIE, including the jacuzzi which was ample size for 2. Some hotels advertise their smallish whirlpools as suites, so make sure you see a pic of the room on the website, prior to reservations. Breakfast was better today, as the cheese omelets and sausage patties hit the spot. Packed up and checked out about 10:30.
We did a reverse covered bridge auto tour (check trip plan for website), and took in a lot of fine Amish farm countryside along the way. Each covered bridge we stopped at had something unique about its construction and history, so we strongly recommend taking time to enjoy the views.
Started to head back to south Jersey and stopped at Dutch Haven to check out the shoo-fly pie, as advertised as one of the originals and best. However, Beth is used to ones which have more cake and less molasses filling, so we headed back to Miller's (close-by) to get one to take home. We did check out the shop at Dutch Haven which had great Amish furniture and souveniers, so it was worth the look.
Then...on our way back home on a sunny summer day!