In about six weeks, we’ll be taking our first-ever road trip from Washington, DC to Boston. I planned to make stops in the obvious spots, including Philadelphia, New York and Boston, but I hadn’t thought much about where else we’d stop until yesterday when I stumbled upon Lancaster County (aka Pennsylvania Dutch Country).
I was so excited about Lancaster County that I’ve already planned three days, and could probably even spend a fourth day there exploring the trains, the farm stays and, of course, all things Amish. It’s less than three hours from DC and I can’t wait. Here are a few of the stops I’ve already added to our itinerary:
Strasburg Railroad: Buy your tickets online and steam through the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside on a 45-minute train ride to Paradise, PA and back. There are several seating options, including a first-class lounge car complete with upholstered captain’s chairs and an authentic Victorian style coach train (think The Polar Express). You can even ride on an open-air train car for better views of the Amish farms.
National Toy Train Museum: I already know my kids will love riding the train at the Strasburg Railroad, so they’ll be even more excited to check out hundreds of toy trains just down the road at the National Toy Train Museum. Located in a building that resembles a Victorian Era train station, you’ll find one of the most extensive toy train collections in the world.
Turkey Hill Experience: Oh yes, I can’t wait to learn how Turkey Hill Ice Cream is made, sit in a milk truck and milk a mechanical cow as part of this factory tour. You’ll even find several interactive exhibits that enable you and your kids to “create your own” ice cream flavors, ice cream packages, and even your own television commercial. Plus, you’ll find tasty ice cream samples. Yum.
Dutch Wonderland: Summer just isn’t complete without one or more trips to amusement parks, and ever since watching the Gosselin clan visit Dutch Wonderland during better days on Jon & Kate Plus 8, I’ve been dying to go. There are over 30 rides, special shows, and even a tropical island-themed water playground complete with slides, spray nozzles and water-spilling coconuts. I can’t wait!
Farmland Fun: I’m probably most excited about this stop, which offers an educational tour suitable for you and your kids, and even includes interactions with farm animals, a tour of a working dairy farm and optional activities, like hand milking a cow and a wagon ride. Even more fun is the Farmer’s Apprentice program, which enables kids to collect eggs, churn butter and/or make your own fruit preserves.
Amish Village: Of course, no trip to Lancaster County would be complete without checking out the Amish Village. Take a 25-minute guided farmhouse tour, and then explore the grounds, including a one-room schoolhouse, a smokehouse and a blacksmith shop. Stop by on Saturdays when Amish schoolteacher, Miss Lavina, answers questions about education and Amish culture.
We’ll probably also take a buggy ride while we’re in Pennsylvania Dutch Country to see more of the working farms and Amish people. It’s going to be a great start to our road trip. Have you been to Lancaster County? Let me know in the comments section below a few of your favorite must-stop places on a family trip.
Photo Credit: Jim Capaldi