As a native of Berks County, discovering the wonders of Lancaster County has been a great joy. When we first moved to Ephrata in March of 2014, I was under the misguided impression that Lancaster County could not have been much different than Berks County. After all, Berks is a neighboring county with less than a 20-minute drive to just about anything Lancaster County has to offer. Boy was I ever wrong! Lancaster County and its Amish countryside are completely unique and compare only slightly to the Pennsylvania Dutch area of Berks County.
With so many attractions and delightful restaurants to explore, Bob and I set our sights on enjoying all that Lancaster County has to offer. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s a tough job”, but somebody had to do it. When we bought the 1777 Americana Inn Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Amish Country, we knew our guests would want a tried and true itinerary of suggestions – so off we went.
A Visit to Kitchen Kettle Village
We started where many tourists to the area start and headed over to Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, Pennsylvania. With over 40 different shops, restaurants, and activities, this unique village is a terrific summary of “all things” Lancaster County. The jam shop is probably my favorite place. Stop, nibble, and purchase some of the area’s best fresh jams, jellies, and preserves. With so many great gift ideas for just about everyone on your gift-giving list, the Jam and Relish Kitchen at the heart of the Village is a must-stop shop.
Make sure you set some time aside for a horse and buggy ride, after all, you are in Amish Country, and what better way to experience this tranquil lifestyle than in their primary mode of transportation!
PA Dutch Food, Goods, Quilts, and More
Before leaving the Village of Intercourse, make sure you take the time to poke around all the great shops and restaurants outside of Kitchen Kettle. From Amish made crafts at The Old Country Store, or exquisitely made furniture at Peaceful Valley Amish Furniture, you could literally spend a day and not see everything. My go-to baby shower gift is a petite rocker from Peaceful Valley with a homemade quilted seat cushion – every mom to be has been delighted with this gift that makes a great heirloom for the new baby.
Zook’s Fabric store is a great place to find the perfect fabric for your next quilting project. If you are not a quilter but love the Amish quilts, no worries. The town of Intercourse is host to a plethora of quality quilt shops. Pay a visit to the Dutchland Quilt Patch, Village Quilts, or the Old Country Store and choose your favorite coverlet.
*Big tip, if you see a small sign outside an Amish farmhouse that says “Quilts”, these are some of the best bargains out there… homemade, beautiful, and affordable. Don’t be afraid to take the driveway to the home and inquire. That is exactly why they hung the sign.
Of course, eating the local Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch food is another great reason to dawdle in the Village of Intercourse. Amos’ Place Restaurant features some of the best meats from Stoltzfus Meats, and there is simply nothing like a Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzel from Immergut! Take home some treats for family and friends (seriously Ring Bologna will quickly become an addiction).
The Amish Experience
After your time in Kitchen Kettle Village, head on over to the Amish Experience and learn all about the Amish culture. I have found the “Visit in Person Tour” to be an excellent way to completely immerse yourself in the Amish way of life.
There are three stops on the tour (sometimes more). Start at an Amish Farm at Milking Time, then proceed to the Amish “Cottage Industry” and discover how the very industrious Amish community has reinvented themselves in the home business world. The final stop is my favorite – a visit to an Amish Home where you will have the opportunity to meet the family, enjoy honest conversation with genuinely good people with the biggest hearts.
Explore the Town of Strasburg and Lancaster County by Train
Next on my suggested “everything Amish” day trip is the lovely town of Strasburg. The town is most noted for the Strasburg Railroad and Train Museum, and the old-time steam engine ride is an enjoyable way to see the beautiful Lancaster County countryside and vistas. During your steam engine tour through Lancaster County, the engineer will share many stores and point out beautiful Lancaster sites. Check the schedule for the Wine and Cheese Car, special dinner events and even Murder Mystery nights.
The town of Strasburg itself is a quaint little village with cute shops. Eldreth Pottery has a beautiful selection of pottery, and I always seem to find just one more piece that I “must-have”. Make a stop at Allegro Winery where you’ll find a wonderful wine tasting room offering free samplings for all guests to enjoy.
Stay in the Heart of Lancaster County
The best part about the above suggestions is everything is a mere 20-minute drive from the 1777 Americana Inn Bed and Breakfast and a great way to spend the day before heading back to the Inn for dinner and drinks at Black Forest Brewery. One more big suggestion – on your way back to us, make sure you stop at Lapp Valley Farms for some life-changing (according to my nephew from Omaha) ice cream. A fully operational dairy farm, yes cute calves and cows abound, Lapp Valley seriously scoops up the best homemade ice cream (in my humble opinion). Sit on the wrap-around porch on a rocking chair and watch the sunset over the fields, you will not be disappointed.
If you’re looking for a place to stay when coming to visit Lancaster County, consider booking a room at the 1777 Americana Inn right here in the heart of Lancaster County. We hope to see you soon!Book Now