Lancaster County, PA

amish horse and buggy

We’re back from our quick, pre-Thanksgiving getaway to Lancaster County! We were only there for three days, but boy did we cram in a lot of activity!

For the weeks leading up to our trip, we studied a lot about the history of Lancaster, The Amish and the early Dutch settlers. We also explored the differences between Quakers and Amish, and researched some of the cultural traditions and folklore.

While studying this, one of the things that interested the girls was an article about the hex signs that are found on many barns and buildings in PA Dutch country. They looked at many images of these round, decorative pieces of barn décor and then went ahead and each made one of their own to hang on their bedroom doors.

We also read about traditional PA Dutch food and then tried our hands at homemade spaetzle and fastnachts.

Once in Lancaster, we did our best to fit everything we wanted to do and see, but time was short and it was COLD! We stayed in a hotel, while our friends stayed at a campsite in their RV. When we made the reservations, we thought it would be cool to rent one of the campsite teepees, but boy am I glad we chose a heated room instead (and who doesn’t appreciate a free breakfast buffet?)

It was late when we arrived on Friday, so we enjoyed some time in the hotel swimming pool and then some smores around our friends’ campfire before calling it a night.

kitchen kettle village

Saturday we went exploring before heading to the Kitchen Kettle Village, a tourist-trap, indeed, but the charming kind you really don’t mind being trapped in. Each shop had something different to offer, and we got to sample tons of fresh foods, including Amish cheeses, spreads and baked goods. (but sadly, no fastnachts). We also got to see some of the craftsmanship displayed in the custom-made furniture, handmade quilts and other housewares.

One of my favorite home décor items was purchased at the village, it’s this hand-carved wooden sign that hangs over our back sliding doors. I often gaze upon it and wonder about the Amish craftsman who undoubtedly spent hours whittling, carving and creating this treasure. And then I express my gratitude for such a fine gift, “Thank you Madeinchina!” (I’m not sure exactly how to pronounce it, but that’s the Amish name that was proudly stamped on the label.)

worry ends where faith begins

Okay, okay….I know I must have committed some kind of faux pas by buying a factory made sign in a tourist trap in the middle of PA Dutch Country, but I do so love the message (a reminder I often need), and am happy to have it displayed in my home. Besides, I’m pretty sure we bought enough Amish cheese and pineapple salsa to tip the scales in support of the hard-working people of the community. (No comment on any bathroom scale-tipping that may have followed.)

After a hard day of shopping  exploring, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a night at Dutch Wonderland. Because it was the start of the season, the amusement park was decked out in Christmas lights and transformed into Dutch Winter Wonderland.

dutch wonderland christmas lights

The girls even got to be astronauts! (Can we somehow count this as science?)

astronaut photo booth

Sunday was checkout and head home day, but instead of driving straight home, we stopped off in Lititz, PA and spent a couple of hours touring the Speedwell Wolf Sanctuary.

wolf sanctuary


Have you been to Lancaster County? What was your favorite thing about the trip?

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