Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last Hurrah in Lancaster, PA

It’s August now. The days are still hot, but the breeze is cool. The corn is being harvested, apple season is beginning and school is right around the corner. Labor Day is just about here—the day that, for most of us, marks the end of our summer, the end of the vacation season.

The end isn’t here yet, though. There is still time for one last trip, one last family outing, one last sightseeing tour before the school bell rings and the weather turns toward autumn. The end of August is a prime time to see some of Lancaster County’s favorite outdoor spots, including Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve and the Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary.

Shenks Ferry is part of the Holtwood Environmental Preserve, owned by PPL. It is located in southern Lancaster County along the Susquehanna River outside the town of Holtwood. In the summer, visitors follow a trail and hike into the preserve to see the beautiful forest and fields of wildflowers. There are also several creeks and spots to stop and enjoy the view. It is a lovely place to spend a summer afternoon and worth the drive. Who knows, you might spot some wildlife as well!

The Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary, or the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, covers about twenty acres north of Lititz and is home to more than 40 wolves that have been displaced by progress or abandoned as pets. More than a century after the last wild wolves left Pennsylvania, we can still enjoy them at this unique sanctuary. The wolves run in packs, separated by fences, in enclosures that are several acres in size and covered with natural Pennsylvania woodland and meadows.

Visitors can tour the sanctuary and receive special insight into these regal animals from the volunteers who care for the wolves. Tours are open to the public every Saturday and Sunday. The tours begin at 10 in the morning from June through September, and noon from October through May. Guests are advised to arrive a half hour prior to the tour in order to park and register. Tours are also offered, by reservation only, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is an entry fee (about $10 per person) which goes to support the wolves, as the sanctuary is run without government funding or corporate support.

        These are just a couple of the things you and your family can do to get out of the house and do something fun together before the beginning of the school year. Don’t let these last few golden days of summer vacation go to waste—spend them exploring Lancaster County.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Down on the Farm in Lancaster County, PA

Down on the Farm

The first things that come to mind when most people think of Lancaster County are lush farmland, fields full of tall corn, and the smell of drying hay. For many people, these things aren’t part of everyday life but still make them feel relaxed, make life slow down, draw people closer. Even though a lot of places don’t have Lancaster County’s landscape of farmland and small towns, it doesn’t mean you can’t experience them to the fullest.

If you have ever wondered what it is like to live on a dairy farm, or wanted to pick your own fruits and vegetables, wander through giant fields of corn, or walk through a field of farm animals, Lancaster County is definitely the place to be.

In Lancaster County you can visit a real working farm, and see how the cows are fed, housed and milked, at Krieder Farms in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Tours are by reservation only, however you don’t need to worry about group size and the ages of those included. There are activities and sights for guests of all ages and backgrounds on their 90-minute tour. This makes a great fieldtrip for school, home school groups, even just-for-fun groups.

If you’d rather get acquainted with fruits and vegetables than cows, these next two suggestions might be just what you are looking for.
Cherry Hill Orchard is a Lancaster County tradition. They offer pick-your-own fruit all summer long and they have a wide variety to choose from. Located outside of Lancaster City, Cherry Hill is picking several varieties of freestone peaches, early apples and blackberries in August. If you find yourself with a free afternoon and looking for something to do, pack up plenty of containers, bring some friends and a camera and head to Cherry Hill Orchard. Even if you don’t enjoy picking your own fruit, you can visit their outlet store for the same fresh produce.
If you are looking for something to do that takes less work, yet still offers that farm atmosphere, you might try Cherry Crest Farm. They boast one of the largest commercial corn mazes in the area and various vegetable and fruit patches. If you plan to visit Cherry Crest Farm, leave plenty of time to wander the maze and enjoy their other activities. This is also a great place to bring kids and friends.
For those who would like to experience something a little out of the ordinary—as far as Lancaster County is concerned—visit Eastland Alpacas, a 20-acre alpaca farm outside of Mount Joy. The farm store, which features alpaca fiber products, is open by appointment. Visitors may also make appointments to tour the farm and see the animals.

The farm will be hosting their 10th annual fall open house this November. They will be open November 3, from 10-4, and November 4, 12-4; November 10, 10-4, and November 11, 12-4. During this open house, visitor can learn about alpacas, shop in the farm store, take a wagon ride around the farm, and pet and feed the animals.

These are just a few of the “down on the farm” places that you can visit in Lancaster County. Roadside produce stands, farm bakeries and craft stores, and pick-your-own farms are everywhere. To find more you can visit or Or, for those adventurous souls, try taking a drive around the back roads of Lancaster County—you’re sure to find something to interest you.