Lancaster PA Travel Tuesday
I love our school schedule here in Northern, VA. We are one of the few school districts in the country that still starts school after the Labor Day Holiday. That means when most of the schools in the country have gone back to class, we are still out enjoying vacation. That means that there is at least one travel week right at the end of summer where we can go almost anywhere and not have the normal summer crowds that most people find in the middle of the vacation season. For that very reason I always reserve that last week for our family to go somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t have to be far away or exotic, just somewhere away as a family to enjoy some time before the craziness of the new school year takes hold.
A few years we decided to spend a few years up in Lancaster, PA visiting some popular tourist spots. Lancaster is a great little place to get away for us. It is only about 2 hours away so the drive isn’t bad at all and it has several fun things for all of us to do.
We started our little vacation by taking a ride on the Strasburg Railroad. This is a short 45 minute ride on an open air railroad car that takes you through the Amish Countryside. It was perfect for our little girl. The countryside is really beautiful and the weather was perfect.
Our next stop was the Hands On House. This is a really great little children’s museum that has all sorts of exhibits for kids to learn how things work. Our favorite stop was the face painting station and bug collecting. We spend several hours there looking for bugs, exploring the different displays, playing dress up, breaking cel phones, (RIP my first smart phone who died a tragic death on a stairway at the Hands On House. Don’t put your phone in your back pocket then fall down the stairs. It doesn’t end well for anyone but luckily I was fine just a little upset) and doing lots of other things that really made our little one happy.
The last stop of the first day was a ride in a real Amish Wagon through the fields. The Amish have certainly found a way to capitalize on the tourism trade that comes through Lancaster. We stopped at a real working farm where we could purchase baked goods and see a real farm but no pictures of the Amish please.
That was good for day one. The second day we spend at Dutch Wonderland. A small but fun amusement park tailor made for little ones between the ages of 3-7. The rides are pretty much all sized for them, it is very easily accessible from the main road and all very easily walkable for a child our daughter’s age. It isn’t the place to go for large roller coasters, tons of arcade games or exciting stage shows but it was perfect for her that day.
Dutch Wonderland is also a very popular place for conservative Jewish families and they were very well represented that day. It was very fascinating for me to see these large families observe all their traditional customs while enjoying the rides and experiences there. I came home and did lots of research so I could better understand their customs. From the wigs on the women who were covered from collar bone down to forearm to middle of their mid-calfs to the heavy wool coats, different head coverings and prayer shawls worn by the men, it certainly was educational for me. This also means that Dutch Wonderland has some vendors that cater specifically to that segment of their guests. They has kosher restaurants available and outside the park a large picnic area where people could go to eat if they brought their own food.
A Princess is a Princess no matter what amusement park you are at.
A little glimpse of what driving with my teenager will be like. She looks very serious and I look like I am in fear for my life. That sounds about right.
Probably one of my favorite pictures of my little girl of all time. She LOVED this roller coaster and once Daddy showed her how to raise her hands up, she didn’t want to get off. She would have ridden that over and over if we let her. Three times was enough.
Getting away as a family is one of the things we cherish around here. We love our trips and are looking forward to many more together. What do you like to do as a family?
Lancaster PA Travel Tuesday
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