Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lancaster County's Sweet Spot


-    Winston Groom, Forrest Gump

Of the many smells one would expect to experience in Lancaster County—wildflowers, hay, fresh cut grass, possibly fertilizer—there is one that is generally not on that list: the tempting aroma of chocolate. However, Lancaster County does have a little of everything, including that slightly bitter yet tantalizing scent.

Wilbur Chocolate, established in the mid-1880’s, is located in historic downtown Lititz, Pennsylvania, a town famous for its rich history and its chocolate. Many days out of the year the sweet scent of chocolate, from the factory still housed in the same building as the shop and museum, drifts around town on the breeze, a welcome change from the smells of the farmland! The store and museum are open Monday through Saturday, with special holiday hours, and, though visitors can not tour the actual plant, there are many activities and things to see--and all of it is free.

The store offers most of Wilbur’s products, many of them made on site, and a free sample of their chocolate Wilbur Buds—chocolate drops similar in shape to the more widely-known Hershey’s Kisses.

The museum is sure to entertain, with a large display of a vintage candy kitchen, cases of candy molds, boxes and other memorabilia. In the back room the museum displays a video presentation on how chocolate is made and glass case, which completely covers one wall, filled with 150 porcelain chocolate pots from all over the world, including Europe and Asia. Also, visitors may watch as workers dip, mold and swirl chocolate in a small candy kitchen behind a Plexiglas window.

As if the Wilbur Chocolate museum and store are not enough, Lititz hosts an entire event dedicated to chocolate. In 2012, the Chocolate Walk will take place on October 6th. This “chocolate for charity” event, held rain or shine on October 6th from 10am-4pm, is planned by the Kiwanis of the Lititz area to raise money for children in need. Chocolates made by the region’s most talented chefs and candy makers will be available. Tickets are on sale as of July 1st and the event has sold out for the last few years. Chocoholics, chocolate fanatics and fans, if you plan to attend the Lititz Chocolate Walk, purchase your tickets early!

Another sweet stop in Lititz is the CafĂ© Chocolate. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as chocolates by the pound and chocolate dipped foods. Nearly every item on their menu will contain chocolate—like their chocolate chili.

For information about more sticky, sweet chocolate stops, like Asher’s Candy and the Weaver Nut Company of Ephrata, visit the About Lancaster web site, or www.800padutch.com.

Monday, July 16, 2012

National Treasures of Lancaster County, PA

National Treasures: Lancaster County’s Eclectic, Original and Unique

Lancaster County, that sweet spot in southern Pennsylvania, is known for its rich culture, its marvelous food, its Amish farmland, and its historical sites. What many people don’t know is that Lancaster County is even more than that—it hosts a plethora of national treasures, things that you can’t find anywhere else. Next time you visit Lancaster County, visit some of these timeless places.  

One such spot is the National Watch and Clock Museum. This museum, filled with history from the first ancient clocks to the massive grandfather clocks, is located in downtown Columbia, Pennsylvania. The museum is closed Mondays, Sundays from December through March, and all major holidays. There is an admission charged, but various discounts are available to military veterans, AAA members, and groups with prior reservations.

The next national treasure is a fascinating stop for kids—and their parents as well. It is the National Toy Train Museum, located in picturesque, historic Strasburg, Pennsylvania. For thirty-five years, the museum has displayed toy trains, floor toys and accessories from the mid-1800’s to the present. There are also several large displays set up and you can run some of the trains yourself. The museum is open daily from June through August, with weekend hours from September through May.  A small admission is charged, however special group rates are available upon request.

Hungry after your day of shopping and sightseeing? The next national treasure is as tasty as it is unique: the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first commercial pretzel bakery in the nation. Founded in 1861, the bakery has been producing its signature pretzels for more than 150 years. Stop for the tour and you will be able to learn how to twist a pretzel, how they are baked and the history of the pretzel bakery. Located in idyllic Lititz, this spot makes a fun stop for a family or small group. Their hours are Monday through Saturday, from the Martin Luther King holiday weekend through December 31st. A very small admission fee is charged, however because of the small size of the museum, the management requests advance reservations for groups over ten people in size.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Sounds in Lancaster PA

I just scored tickets to a Bon Jovi Concert this weekend, so I have music on the mind! Soon big names will be traveling around for fairs and outdoor concerts. There’s nothing more summer about lawn chairs, barbecues, and listening to your favorite band serenade you while the stars and lightning bugs visit the night sky. Throughout Lancaster County and the surrounding areas, you’ll find outdoor concerts, as well as indoor shows all summer long. From famous country singers to local folk artists, Pennsylvania will sure know how to boogie this summer!

The American Music Theatre (AMT) will celebrate American Icons from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. With sounds from Elvis, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Sinatra, they’ll have your toes tapping and your hands clapping! This show runs July 26 until October 7. The AMT will also host some popular country artists this summer:

Scotty McCreery--July 12
Gretchen Wilson--August 10

Both Nissley and Waltz Vineyards have scheduled wine and music nights. Nissley Vineyards is welcoming artists of gypsy jazz, classic rock, big band, oldies, and more. Every Saturday evening starting at 7:30pm, you can join their shaded patio for a picnic dinner and wine tastings. Waltz Vineyards is showcasing Jazz and other artists starting at 5:30pm on Saturday evenings.

Downtown Lancaster hosts Music Fridays on the third Friday of every month. This month there will be performances from a steel drum band and B-Tropical.

And if you’ve missed us talking about the Long’s Park Summer Music Series, don’t worry because you still have time to catch some concerts. Whether you’re dancing in the streets, sipping wine in the vineyard, or staying cool in the theatre, the innkeepers of Lancaster County Bed and Breakfast Inns Association will be enjoying the sounds all summer long!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Antique Belt in Lancaster County PA

~The Antique Belt~

            From Columbia to Adamstown, Lancaster County is rich in roadside antique markets, antique malls and flea markets. Some call it the “Antique Belt” of Pennsylvania. You can find anything and everything from Pennsylvania German relics to Victorian furnishings.      

This Antique Trail features the best, the biggest and the most unique antique markets that Lancaster County has to offer.

            Start with the Burning Bride Antique Market located in downtown Columbia, PA, only 3 blocks south of Route 30. The 24,000 square foot building is a hardware store and factory, circa. 1800, that has been painstakingly updated with modern conveniences while retaining its charm. The market is open every day and off street parking is available.

            Take Route 30 east to Route 896. Turn south and you will reach the small town of Strasburg, home of the Strasburg Antique Market. This market is housed in a restored tobacco warehouse and is made up of 70 dealers. It is all antiques, with no crafts or reproductions. They are open every day but Tuesday.

            Return to Route 30 heading east and shortly afterwards you will reach Paradise Village Antiques. With two shops at one stop, you can have twice the fun. They offer period and country furniture as well as other antique accessories. This market is housed in an 18th century stone home, barn and adjacent gallery. They are open daily from 10am -5pm.

            After visiting Paradise, to continue on t
he antique trail, return to Route 30 and continue east. When you reach Route 897, proceed north to Route 340 and turn right to continue east. Shortly afterward, turn left on Cambridge Rd. Here you will find White Horse Mill Antiques, deep in Amish country. Here you will find a handpicked selection of rural American antiques dating from the 18th to 20th centuries displayed inside a restored grist mill. Open every day but Tuesday, this makes an excellent stop on your itinerary.

            To continue with the trail, either return to Route 30 or continue north to Route 322. Either of these roads, taken east, will bring you to Route 222. Once you have reached 222 continue north until your reach the grand finale of the antique trail—Adamstown, Pennsylvania, the Antique Capital. The roads in Adamstown are lined with small, independent antique shops, like the German Trading Post, as well as large antique malls with dozens of vendors. Beware—this stop may take more than one day for the serious antiquer.

            Whether you are a serious shopper or are looking for something fun to do on vacation, this Antique Trail is easy to modify to fit your own agenda, your location and your interests. For more information about antiques in Lancaster County, or for more exciting ideas, visit any of the links above or www.lancasterpa.com.