We just got back from a long weekend trip in Lancaster and I can't wait to do some show and tell. I am breaking it up in several posts to tell you all about it.
We booked our two-night stay in Lancaster last November when we knew that we had free nights at Marriott that needed to be used up before March. Normally we wouldn't pick to go to Central PA in the middle of dead winter, but we were looking for a place no more than 2-3 hours drive from our home. On top of that, the free vouchers we had limited us to "category 5 or below" hotels so that narrowed our choices down even further. In the end...Dutch Country was the winner by a landslide.
First Things First
After a roughly two and half hour drive, we parked at Kitchen Kettle Village around 1p. I was hungry and so were the kids. Instead of a full meal, we had decided to get some pretzels to tide us over and then have an early dinner instead. I had done my research and people gave Immergut Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels best reviews so that was our first stop (~3 minute walk from Kitchen Kettle Village). When we first walked into the store, it was empty, but after we ordered and waited 8-10 minutes for the pretzels to be made and baked in front of us, the shop was FULL.
We ordered 3 pretzels to share. We all loved the cinnamon sugar (perfect balance of sweet and salty) and Luke also had sour cream & onion. Kids claimed that they were "the best pretzels ever!" I thought they were good too! Luke said they tasted the same as Auntie Anne's.
Kitchen Kettle Village
It turned out to be so so cold the weekend of our trip, but luckily on Saturday, it was still tolerable to walk around. Kitchen Kettle Village was a little touristy (all the tour buses stop here), but enjoyable to walk around nonetheless. Since we had all the time in the world, we pretty much went into every store and browsed. There was a nice variety! All the shop owners we happened to talked to were all super friendly. Kitchen Kettle Village also has a playground (where we ate our pretzels) and a petting zoo. Of course, there were no animals around when we visited. I can see that this place must be popular with the kiddos in warmer months.
Horse & Buggy Ride
Although we took our time and visited the shops slowly, it was still only around 2:30p when we were done....way too early for dinner. As we were leaving to get in the car, I waved at the AAA Buggy Rides stand (right at Kitchen Kettle Village) and said to Luke, "Lets go on a buggy ride." I didn't expect for him to agree to it so easily, but he did. So a potty break and $38 later, we were on our way! The kids got to sit in the front, next to our very friendly and knowledge driver Brenda, because it was just our family and one other lady on the tour. At full capacity, the buggy holds 12 people, so this felt nice and private. The buggy was enclosed and there were blankets for us to use so it didn't feel too cold at all.
The buggy ride turned out to be such an educational experience. Not for the kids...I think the 35-minute ride through the farmland was a little boring and the novelty of riding in a buggy wore off fast. But for Luke and I, we learned so much about the Amish way of life. I really loved it. The first picture in the post was taken inside the buggy. That was our view the entire time. Serene and peaceful. Ahhhh....:)
Dinner at Dienner's
Our buggy driver recommended a local place, Dienner's Country Restaurant, as a good choice for dinner. Would you believe that I had planned for us to go there anyway?! I really wanted to try a family-owned restaurant that serves authentic Amish food and when I did my research back home, this place kept on popping up in my searches. Reviewers say this place is a hidden gem with great food, great people, and great prices. I was sold.
The wait wasn't long at all at 3:30p, on Valentine's Day :) I think we waited 5 minutes. The people were definitely friendly and prices (our check with like $40 after tip?) were more than reasonable. As for the food? It was above average....but I don't really love any food that's non-Asian so don't listen to me. I just had to try it because when in Dutch Country....right? My favorite was the chicken corn soup/chowder, though! Luke liked it overall, especially the dessert bar and the pie fridge. The kids ate decent, also loved the desserts.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Fairfield Inn & Suite at Lancaster, about 15-20 minutes from Dutch Country. The whole time after we arrived at Kitchen Kettle Village, the kids kept on asking, "Can we go to the hotel??" or "Are we going to the hotel now??" So after dinner, when we were FINALLY going to the hotel, they were sooo excited. Haha!
After we checked in, they promptly did this:
Since they hadn't slept well the night prior at home and skipped nap that day, after shower, we turned off the light at around 6p and they fell asleep quick. SIX!!