Lancaster Local Secrets | Official Blog

Central Market Super Stands

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I know you’ve heard of Central Market, you might have even been a few times! I love spending a leisurely Saturday morning here, enjoying the Christmas carols in the winter and the fresh flowers and produce in the summer. Below are some stands that we recommend trying on your next visit!

Amaranth Bakery – gluten free baked goods for the GF person in your life (actually anyone…they are delicious!)

Amish Family Recipes – you have to check it out, there are dozens of jams, salsas, pickled veggies, soups, biscotti, and stroopies…a unique taste of Lancaster.

Central Market Flowers – owned by Perfect Pots, who we featured last week. They offer a variety of seasonal blooms, buds, and greens, many of which are grown in their Strasburg greenhouse. They have you covered with everything from single stems to a lovely ready-made bouquet.

Christina’s Criollo – a unique taste of Puerto Rican classic dishes. Each dish comes from her family recipes, going generations back. Her empanadas are a staple at Market.

Crowded Kitchen – stop by here next time you are making a homemade pot of soup. They sell broths and stocks, or ready made soups.

Grasshopper’s Wicked Pickles – I love pickles, so I will be stopping by here! They have 18 flavors of pickles, all “cold packed” so they are never subjected to hear, thus making them crisper than jarred pickles. Can’t wait to try!

These are just a few of the many, many wonderful stands our Central Market offers. What’s your favorite stand there?

I scream, You scream…

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Summertime calls for ice cream trips after dinner! At least it does in my family :). I’m recapping some of our favorite ice cream shops in the Lancaster area so you can refer back to this post when your sweet tooth hits!

FOX MEADOW

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This place is a WOW! Fox Meadows ice cream is made on site using the milk from their own dairy farm across the field. Once you select your sweet treat, you have the option to sit inside, or outside on benches and at tables near the farmland. It’s a very “authentic” Lancaster creamery! The ice cream is delicious and the “baked foxes” are unbeatable. This is a wonderful combination of a hot outer shell (your choice of brownie or cookie), filled with ice cream. 

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They are closed on Sundays, but make sure to hit them up some week day or Saturday – you won’t be disappointed!

SONS ICE CREAM

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Another family favorite. It’s your typical window walk-up ice cream shop, but you can also drive through (which we have taken advantage of several times)! At Sons, we would recommend any of their sundaes or avalanches. My husband loves their milkshakes, but my daughter would tell you to get their PB Extreme sundae or Banana Split. There is a ton of variety in their flavors, so something for everyone to enjoy!!

GOOD LIFE ICE CREAM

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Conveniently located near Belmont, I’m sure you’ve driven past Good Life many times. If you’ve never stopped in for a scoop or three, you need to. Think of it like cold stone – you select your flavor (they have tons that rotate frequently) and your server will bring it to the cold stone counter where you will have the chance to mix in whatever toppings you would like. If you like Oreos and Twix, they will break them up and mix it through all your ice cream. We also recommend their ice cream cakes for special occasions. So yummy!!

SWEET FROG

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Not technically an ice cream option, but this is probably the best frozen yogurt in Lancaster! You get to serve yourself however much Fro Yo you’d like, then select from their dozens of toppings. And you can add fruit to it…so that makes it healthy, right?!

Now I need to go get myself some dessert!!!

Lancaster in Bloom

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Are you thinking about adding flowers to the outside of your home this Spring? This time of year is always when I plant flowers around my house with my daughter and its a tradition we both love and look forward to all year! Typically we will stop at a local Amish farm and greenhouse and pick any colorful blooms, but this year my friend told me about a place called Perfect Pots. We tried it out and can’t rave about it enough!

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Perfect Pots is located in Strasburg, PA, a short drive from downtown Lancaster, and they also have several locations downtown (such as Central Market). They offer a huge variety of services including four-season container gardens, fresh floral arrangements, landscaping, and classes! 

It’s the perfect spot to grab plants for your pots at home. And don’t worry if you aren’t confident that you can create a gorgeous pot on your own – they make it easy for you by offering pre-potted flower arrangements. Or, if you like the look of their arrangements, you have the option to walk around and recreate it by using all the same plants listed in each arrangement (think of it like a recipe card, but for your plants!). 

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I enjoy gardening but would not say I am a professional, so I took a few of the classes they offer there and loved them! It’s fun getting to learn about something out of my norm. Check out their website for a list of their upcoming classes, but I have my eyes on the Herbs and Veggies Class, and the Bring a Friend Summer Potting Workshop.

Another thing we love about Perfect Pots is that it is a small, family-owned company that has grown solely through word of mouth. There is nothing we love more than supporting and shopping local!

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Their motto is “spreading happiness with flowers” and that really could not be more accurate!

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Call Mary Sue at 717-333-9653 or visit her website at WolfandWebb.com

Perfect Picnic Spots

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Spring is blooming in Lancaster! It’s my favorite time of year to live here as the flowering trees are simply stunning and the temps are perfect. It’s the time of year where we start doing more outdoor things, and today we are sharing 2 perfect yet unusual spots for your next picnic. They aren’t typical local parks, but instead are uncrowded, gorgeous gardens. For a day trip, my family loves visiting Longwood Gardens to see their acres and acres of flowers, but we have some gorgeous parks and gardens in our area that definitely rival Longwood! 

Conestoga House & Gardens

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We call this a “Mini Longwood” because it really is just that. You get to roam around this gorgeous estate and admire the grounds at your leisure. The perfect destination to pack a picnic and eat lunch on a blanket surrounded by so much beauty! It is reopening for the season on May 3rd, and is open to visit Tuesdays through Thursdays from noon to 7pm. 

Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum

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This arboretum is located on the grounds of the Lancaster County Historical Society at 230 North President Avenue. It’s open to the public daily. The arboretum was established in 1959, and designed by Gustav Malmborg, of Manheim PA. The grounds are green and gorgeous and pristinely maintained. It’s a great place to go for a walk and take in the outdoors.

Where is your favorite picnic spot in Lancaster? Better yet, what food would you be sure to include in your basket?

Kids Day Out!

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When my kids were growing up we loved exploring the different kids activities in the area. Anything from Hershey Park to loading up in our van and driving to the Sesame Street Place in Bucks County PA. Those are great – definitely recommend! 

However there are some true local gems that my kids loved just as much as those big attractions. I’m highlighting three of their favorite museums below. They were great years ago, and they’ve gotten even better today.

THE NORTH MUSEUM

You need to visit! Every month features a new theme designed to educate and spark interest in kids (and parents)! There is a focus on nature and science – what is amazing here is their Planetarium. Not to mention the live animal room, the lego lab, coding corner, and exploring the past with a life-size dinosaur skeleton. 

LANCASTER SCIENCE FACTORY

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With a focus on Science, Lancaster Science Factory is an interactive and fun museum for kids to explore STEM. It’s located in a reclaimed factory downtown. They offer activities almost daily – on weekdays and weekends. Check out their events schedule to plan your visit!

HANDS-ON HOUSE

This has to be my daughter’s favorite from her childhood. Hands-On House offers multiple self-directed exhibits which lets kids learn and play with their parents in a fun setting. Kids can use their imaginations and explore in this fun and safe hands-on environment. There is a play grocery store, science room, tree house and so much more. We went weekly and it seemed to never get old to them. They also have amazing camps in the summer. 

If you have kids (or grandkids), any of these would be great options for a fun, new activity for your little one. These are Lancaster classics for a reason!

Little Lancaster Dictionary

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If you just moved to the area, or are in town visiting, odds are you’ve picked up on the Lancaster slang and verbiage. You’ve heard it, but do you know what it means to native Lancastrians? Read the list below so you can speak in Lancaster tongue, too!

  • Outen the lights = turn the lights out
  • Red up your room = clean up your room
  • It’s spritzing out = it’s raining
  • Cellar = basement
  • Is it all? = is it all gone?
  • Philly = Philadelphia
  • State store = liquor store
  • Wooder = water
  • Slippy = slippery
  • Left the dog out = let the dog out
  • Look here once = look here for a second
  • I’m coming with = i’m coming with you
  • Macadam = black top/pavement
  • Jimmies = sprinkles
  • Rutts = correct pronunciation for Roots Country Market
  • Buch = “boo-que” Avenue

And of course, the classic names of towns you must know!

  • Lancaster = lang-kiss-ter
  • Ephrata = Eff-er-tah
  • Lititz = Lit-its
  • Amish = Ahhh-mish
  • Reading = Red-ing

Hopefully this makes understanding natives a little easier, and you’ll feel at home in no time!

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All Aboard, Thomas the Train

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Is there a Thomas the Tank Engine lover in your family? If so, make their day by taking them to ride a real-life Thomas the train at the Strasburg Rail Road

This summer, on select days, you will have the chance to board this famous train through the beautiful countryside of Lancaster County. It is a 45 minute train ride, pulled by the fully operational tank engine, Thomas!

For the parents benefit, Thomas’ seats have been beautifully restored to mimic the Victorian era coaches. They are gorgeous!! If you go on a warm Summer day, you will even get to experience the fresh air from the train with the windows opened.

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For $25, you can ride Thomas and have access to all Day Out With Thomas activities at the Rail Road. Some of this includes a visit with Sir Topham Hatt, play pods, dance parties, and more. You will also have the chance to take pictures with Thomas (& friends).

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Dates for the 2022 season are as follows:

  • April 29 – May 2
  • June 17 – 20
  • September 16 – 19

Note that tickets must be purchased in advance, not onsite.

Did you know Thomas the Tank Engine talks? When he rolls into the station, Thomas has a few words to say to everyone gathered at the platform. So instead of watching Thomas on TV, have your family experience actually riding on board Thomas’ tank engine! Your kids will LOVE this activity this summer.

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Be A Tourist In Your Own Town!

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They say when you get married that you should never stop “dating” your spouse. Well, we think this applies to where you live, too – never stop exploring where you live! It’s easy to fall into your routine at home and stick to your usual circle, but there are so many things to do that you probably have not done…right down the street! This is your friendly reminder to get out and try something new in our town this month!

Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Lancaster County…let us know if you try anything below, or have other local favorites!

Ride a Horse & Buggy

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If you take a drive through our beautiful Amish country, through Paradise and Bird-in-Hand, you will pass several horse and buggy spots where you will be able to sit in the buggy! We recommend Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides in Bird-in-Hand for your one stop shop. Ride through a covered bridge, cruise past Amish farms, and see what it’s really like on board a buggy! Times and routes vary – visit their website for more!

Visit a Local Farmer’s Market

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There are so many delicious stands that you will randomly stumble upon while driving the roads of Lancaster. We love Roots Country Market on Tuesdays, the Corn Wagon in Willow Street, and Spooky Nook Farms for flowers. Each is unique and has their own eclectic offerings, but one thing they all have in common is delicious, farm-fresh produce. You’ll love it!

Go to Shady Maple

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Typically if you talk to an out-of-towner about Lancaster, they talk about Amish and Shady Maple. It’s truly a must-try restaurant just for the sake of going to a Lancaster County classic. We can’t promise it will be the best meal of your life, but we can guarantee it will be memorable and you will have a good time! It’s a Smorgasboard, so go hungry and eat a lot! 

Lancaster Nightlife

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We all know days fill up quickly, whether it be with activities, errands, sightseeing, or eating at a delicious restaurant. Luckily, downtown Lancaster has tons to offer at nighttime too! If you are looking for a new place to head to after dinner, check out our list of some of our favorite downtown hot spots!

TELLUS 360

A hot, hot, hot spot for anyone over the age of 21! It’s truly one of the only places where you will see people of all ages mingling – young 20-somethings up to 60-somethings. It is an Irish pub with multiple floors. There’s a speakeasy in the basement, 2 floors of dance floors, a traditional Irish bar, and a green rooftop bar that is open year-round. If you are looking for FUN, go here!

ALTANA ROOFTOP LOUNGE

Right next to Tellus360 is Altana. With an equally as gorgeous city skyline view as Tellus, this is the spot you’ll want to try if standing and socializing is not what you’re in the mood for that night. Altana is sit down with delicious food and an extensive drink menu. The overall ambiance is great, especially if you go while there is live music.

LANCASTER DISPENSING COMPANY

Fondly nicknamed “DipCo” by locals, this is a great, affordable option for a weekend meal in a fun atmosphere. It’s tucked in right next to Central Market – odds are you’ve passed it before. But it’s definitely worth visiting the inside and seeing why all the locals love it.

Yorgo’s

Yorgo’s has been around for nearly three decades! Located on the corner of North Queen and West Orange, you’ll find the recently renovated Yorgo’s restaurant, bar and lounge. It offers several floors of food (Greek!) and a lounge on the top floor which will make you feel like you are in a New York City club. There is usually a DJ or some live music. 

Decades

A more relaxed option, Decades is where you’ll go for FUN and drinks. It has a variety of hand crafted cocktails, beers and wines, not to mention delicious apps and entrees. What brings the FUN here is that it is an adult arcade! Remember how much you loved playing PacMan back in the day? They have it! Skeeball is there too! They even have a few lanes of bowling available. It’s always fun walking around playing arcade games, but even more fun with a delicious drink in hand and good company around.

Lancaster Bucket List – Part 3

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It’s the third installment of the Lancaster Bucket List! Check out the other two previous posts for more fun, local activities. Now sit back, grab a coffee, and plan which adventure below you will do this weekend.

  • Turkey Hill Experience
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Calling all sweet-lovers! This is a fun, out-of-the-norm activity run by Turkey Hill. The experience is essentially a self-guided tour through their HQ. You get to sample teas and ice creams and even milk a mechanical cow. If you want to pay a small fee, you can enter the “taste lab” where you can create your own ice cream flavor! Mine would definitely have peanut butter!

  • American Music Theater
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Live music is back and better than ever. Catch a concert at AMT and enjoy the smaller crowds and more intimate concert venue.

  • Long’s Park
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The weather is heating up! Grab your kids or your pet and head to Long’s Park. Try one of the many playgrounds, or hit them all. Long’s Park is huge and centered around a gorgeous lake. You may even get to feed the ducks.

  • Holtwood Dam
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Looking for some physical activity? Head to Holtwood Dam and choose from over 30 miles of hiking trails. Depending on your interest in hiking – there are leisurely, scenic trails (where you can find me), or strenuous hikes that offer the most rewarding views. 

Get out there and explore our beautiful area. There is always so much to do here!