Spring 2013 Travel: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Beyond the belly-busting buffets and sprawling outlet malls, Pennsylvania Dutch Country boasts beautiful back roads that beg to be explored, with some sophisticated surprises along the way.
An Amish buggy
Drive time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
Silverstone Inn & Suites
You won’t believe the outlet-shopping hub of Route 30 is just around the corner when you stay at this serenely elegant, circa-1750 inn situated on a 15-acre sheep farm. Most rooms have fireplaces and Jacuzzis; the private Butternut Cottage has its own porch and a large outdoor hot tub. A full breakfast is included. $149-$299 (double occupancy). 62 Bowman Road, Lancaster; (877) 290-6987, silverstoneinn.com.
You could visit this remarkably restored, 19th-century brewery, restaurant and entertainment complex a dozen times and never have the same experience twice. So make sure you get here at least once, even if it’s just for a burger and a small-batch craft beer. Better yet, plan an entire evening around a romantic candlelight repast ($22-$34) or a rollicking adults-only medieval-, pirate-, Roman- or whodunit-themed feast ($45). If you’re a home-brew hobbyist, you’ll find a full range of supplies at the on-premises Cooper’s Shed. On Saturdays, you can even chat with a brewmaster. 102 N. Market St., Mount Joy; (717) 653-2056, bubesbrewery.com.
Another fine example of Lancaster County’s penchant for preservation, this 1852 former general store is the setting for one of the area’s most beloved upscale, casual dining spots. Full portions are $31.95-$36.95, half portions (plenty of food) about $10 less. 1987 State St., East Petersburg; (717) 569-5746, haydnzugs.com.
Rent a scooter ($50 for two hours, $60 for four) or motorcycle ($95-$179 per day) from Country Road Cycles, and look for handwritten farm signs offering homemade birch beer, cookies and other goodies. 220 N. Ronks Road, Bird-in-Hand; (717) 598-3191, countryroadcycles.com.
If Mother Nature is kind, you could be paddling the scenic Susquehanna River as early as May. At Shank’s Mare Outfitters, head out on a kayak single ($25 for two hours) or tandem ($35), or with a guided group (prices vary). Check the website for dinner and brunch tours. 2092 Long Level Road, Wrightsville; (717) 252-1616, shanksmare.com.
Any weekend, you can meet the 40 magnificent rescued residents of the Wolf Sanctuary of PA on a one-hour guided tour ($12/adults, $10/kids). Or opt for one of the monthly Full Moon Tours ($20, 16 and older only). 465 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz; (717) 626-4617, wolfsanctuarypa.org.
For thrifty types:
Named for the soil conditions during post-winter melting season, mud sales offer everything from furniture to farm equipment—even horses, buggies and hundreds of handmade quilts. These annual auction extravaganzas bring together the Amish and “English” communities to raise funds for local fire companies. And the best part: There’s a different mud sale just about every Saturday through early spring. Visit padutchcountry.com/members/mud_sales.asp.
With more than 3,000 dealers within a three-mile radius, Adamstown promotes itself as Antiques Capital USA. It’s fun to reminisce over grandma’s kitchen kitsch and other vintage stuff displayed by hundreds of dealers at Renninger’s (2500 N. Reading Road, Denver; 717-336-2177, renningers.com) and Shupp’s Grove (607 Willow St., Reinholds; 717-484-4115, shuppsgrove.com). For unique décor items, stop by Oley Valley Architectural Antiques (2453 N. Reading Road, Adamstown; 717-335-3585, oleyvalleyantiques.com) and the Country French Collection (2887 N. Reading Road, Adamstown; 800-480-0204, countryfrenchantiques.com).
Locals start salivating on the first day of spring, when Boehringer’s Drive-In—a seasonal sweet spot and beloved landmark since 1936—starts scooping its house-made ice cream and slinging burgers and dogs. Route 272, Adamstown, (717) 484-4277.
Order from the menu (the Thai chicken crêpe is terrific) or create your own from a wide variety of cheeses, meats, veggies and savory infusions at Rachel’s Creperie. Most items are less than $10. 309 N. Queen St., Lancaster; (717) 399-3515, rachelscreperie.com.