Your Three Day Weekend Family Guide to Lancaster, PA

School’s out for the summer and what better way to celebrate summer vacation than with a family roadtrip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Bags were packed and we surprised our kids, while driving home from the last day of school, that we were heading straight for vacation. Telling them was adorable and they were so excited. 

  • When planning our Lancaster trip we referenced the well known Discover Lancaster website for all the tips to make our long weekend family vacation a success.  In this blog post, I am going to share our favorite places in Lancaster and the surrounding areas using the three categories: eat, sleep, & play.



Eat: 


Roburritos- A taco/burrito counter service restaurant with an edgy city vibe. Matt got a quick burrito and some chips and salsa for the kids to snack on while we were exploring the city of Lancaster. 


Rachel’s Cafe and Creperie: This popular spot in the downtown area of Lancaster is perfect for a cup of coffee and a sweet or savory crepe. We loved the French decor inside. 


Our Town Brewery: Due to time, we weren’t able to stop in, but I’ve heard amazing things about this brewery and it was busy when we walked by.


Smuckers Farm Market: A must stop for anyone looking for fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, etc. When we arrived at the established stand, we found no worker and just an “on your honor” tin to leave money. All the produce was VERY well priced and we bought strawberries, cherries, blueberries, tomatoes, and apricots. 

Nissley Vinyards: This winery in Bainbridge  was so quaint and peaceful. Nestled in the woods, it was a beautiful drive getting there. We tasted some delicious wine samples while the kids ran around the field. The wines we sampled were Pinot Grigio, Masquerafe, Candlelight, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Cabernet Franc Reserve, and Naughty Marietta (our favorite). After, we explored around the premises. We especially enjoyed walking over a beautiful old rock bridge. 

 

Speckled Hen: A counter service cafe with breakfast and lunch items and specialty coffees. We stopped here for lunch and it was PEEFECT, literally exactly what I was looking for: a quiche with a side salad and a delicious latte hit the spot. We wandered around the town where the cafe is located and swooned over the old buildings dated back to the 1700s. 

Bird in Hand Bakery: Complete with a playground, goats to hand feed & the cutest Amish shop with everything you could possibly need, ice cream & milk shakes, baked goods, canned food items, breads, etc. 


Hershey Pantry: If you are spending any time in Hershey park, we would highly recommend stoping at Hershey Pantry first. The food was amazing and we loved the atmosphere too. I had avocado, beet, goat cheese, & egg toast, while Matt savored the steak benedict & the kids, chocolate chip pancakes, of course.


Troegs BreweryWe have heard great things about this brewery and Troegs is Matt’s favorite brand of beer, so we had to check it out while in Hershey! We went for dinner and Matt got a burger, the kids chicken fingers and fries and myself a fresh, yummy salad. We sat outdoors and the flowers surrounding us in the beer garden was so peaceful. 



Sleep


Hotel Rock Lititz: This was by far the coolest musical themed hotel we’ve ever stayed in. There are so many details that emulate a live concert experience.  

We really appreciated the attention to detail the hotel took to make everything feel like we were “on tour”.


One of the biggest things that makes Hotel Rock Lititz unique is their association with STUDIO 1 & STUDIO 2- two giant black buildings next to the hotel which are the largest dedicated rehearsal spaces in the country. Touring artists come with their production teams to build and test out the staging, lighting, sound & overall atmosphere of their next live event before they go out on tour.  


Naturally, when artists are using STUDIO 1 & STUDIO 2 they are also staying at the hotel, so you never know when you might run into your favorite musician while staying at the hotel!


 

Our room was perfect for our family. We stayed in the “Gold Suite” which had a full kitchen, living area with a pull out couch, and a separate master bedroom, and an adjoining bathroom to both the master and living space. 


Play


Hershey Park:We wanted to start the trip out with a BIG kid-centered activity, so we stopped at Hershey along the way to Lancaster to take the kids to Hershey Park.  Hersey Park is only about 40 minutes from Lancaster. 


The park opens at 11am for non resort and season pass holders and is so much bigger than we expected. We probably shouldn’t have gone on a Saturday because it was busy. All big kid rides were over an hour wait.. but the kiddie ones were only 5-10 min so that was perfect.  You can download this app to get a map of the park with all the wait times for each ride which was very helpful to plan our day. 


With your park admission ticket, you can get into the zoo as well.  The kids enjoyed seeing a lot of unique animals and it was a nice afternoon break from all the crowds and lines. 😅


 


Hershey Factory: I remember coming here when I was a little girl and loving the experience. It was just as magical and and the kids are still asking to go back. Since the 90’s when I visited, Hershey factory has added a ton to their attractions, including a 4D theater, make your own candy bar and their guided historical train ride. We did watch the Hersey 4D movie, which was cute.  Prices were $8.95 for kids and $9.95 for adults. But the family favorite, (and free admission) was the factory tour ride. The whole family sits in a moving car and travels around the factory learning how chocolate is made. 



David at Sight & Sound Theater: This was the most beautiful experience. We were blown away; the show completely surpassed all expectations and we 100% recommend Sight and Sound Theater.


The David show was phenomenal. The kids were mesmerized by the singing, live animals, props, actual snow falling around us. It was absolutely the best performance we’ve ever seen.  Matt and I cried multiple times as the meaningful script moved us to tears and the sets, acting, music & choreography was 10 times even better than a Broadway play. 


The kids did great through the whole performance. Christopher (5) & Charlie (3) got scared in the middle but at the end they forgot all about that and really did love it! Dylan loved the whole thing since he learned about David at school. It was really good to see. References to Bethsheba & killing Uria went over their heads. But there’s real snow that fell on us at one point, birds fly out into the audience, sheep, horses… so amazing. They are begging us to go next year for Moses! 



Walk Around Downtown Lancaster Downtown Lancaster is a vibrant walkable city with a number of shops, cafes, restaurants and breweries. Even as we were exploring, we happened upon a weekend festival with numerous vendors and music playing. There are so many shops and restaurants to see.

Farbo Co: Located right in the heart of downtown Lancaster, this card and collectibles store has everything Pokémon, Kirby, Dungeon & Dragons, board games galore, and a private game room that you can reserve for $5 an hour. 


Bella Boo: a darling toy store with very cute wood toys. We only window shopped as it is closed on Mondays but I could tell from the display that it would have been Charlie’s favorite toy store! 


Ken’s Garden: A very impressive family owned nursery with plants, shrubs, trees, aquatic plants and garden essentials. If you know Matt, you know he was in his glory there. 

Amish Village: I personally LOVED this experience as I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish lifestyle.  Tickets are $12 for adults & $7 for children 5 and up which included a very informational 25 minute tour of an actual Amish home & farm with animals and a model school, Amish store and more. The kids enjoyed seeing all the animals and playing on the playground outside the schoolhouse. 


I’m so happy we were able to visit Lancaster and it’s surrounding areas!  We arrived home from PA well past the kids’ bedtimes and Charlie, our three year old, cried when we pulled into our driveway and not the next hotel. It was sweet how much she loves being on vacation and exploring new places!!  Lancaster is definitely worth checking out and is the perfect family destination for a long weekend or even more!  



Comments

  1. Oh my goodness! This looks like such a fun long weekend trip! I would love to go to Sight and Sound and visit an Amish farm too. It looks like you packed a lot into a few days!! I imagine it would be a lovely fall trip. I’ll have to start planning…

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  2. Wow, It is a relatively short drive but I never would have considered the Lancaster, PA area as a go to vacation spot for my family (until now!). I love all of your suggestions, including restaurants, Hershey Park, Sight and Sound, Amish farms, etc. why haven’t I seen all this before and only a half day drive away? Great post. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Because of this blog, I am going to visit with my wife and in-laws; sounds like "David" is a must-see!

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