Over Easter we traveled to Lancaster Pennsylvania to visit family.  Ryan’s sister Lora moved to Lancaster a couple of years ago with her husband Jason for his work.   This was our family’s first trip to Lancaster.  While the primary purpose of the visit was to meet our new nephew, we took the time to explore the area.  We were blown away by the beauty of the area and the offerings for tourists to stay busy.

We have 2 sons, Evan (7) and Joel (6), who if you start following our blog you will become quite familiar with their antics.  We are in the southeast corner of Wisconsin and the drive to Lancaster took us 14 hours in our minivan.  All I can say is I love my minivan.  On these long distance drives having the extra room for the boys to stretch out in the back seat is a life saver.  We learned that our boys are actually pretty good travelers.  We play children’s music, played with our Kindles, used a portable dvd player, and took some naps which got us through with little to no grumpiness.  We also made certain to make plenty of stops to get out and find an open field and play games of tag to let the boys get their energy out.

Our hotel in Lancaster was the Days Inn Lancaster PA Dutch Country.
Here are some pictures of our room.

We loved our stay here.  The rooms were well maintained and clean.  There was a mini-fridge for keeping snacks for our boys. The location was near many of the shopping and tourist destinations.  All of this for under $70 per night.  There was a complimentary breakfast of juice, coffee, toast, bagels, and muffins.  The breakfast was nothing special, but hey it’s free.  It held us over until we could have a more substantial meal with an early lunch.  When we go back we will definitely be staying here.  I think this hotel proves that you don’t have to spend tons to have an excellent hotel experience.

Since all boys like train rides, we decided to take the Strasburg RailRoad Easter Bunny train.  One of the normal rules of travel is to always leave 30 minutes earlier than planned.  We happened to break that rule this trip.  We were stalled leaving the house by a juice spill and then realized our boys needed lunch so a McDonald’s stop was needed.  Maybe we need to make our rule 45 minutes now or just plan meals better.   There was also construction on the road we were traveling and it slowed us down considerably.  We were stressed because our tickets were for a specified time and were afraid the train would leave without us.  If you ever find yourself in this situation, we called the railroad from our cell phone and they said they would accommodate us on the next train if there was room.  Being Easter weekend we didn’t think there would be room.   We got on the train with only a few minutes to spare.  Now we could relax and enjoy the ride.

The train itself is beautiful and in pristine condition.  The area at the train station is nice with shopping and activities for the children.  The train ride itself was not what we expected.  Our sons did get to get their pictures with the Easter Bunny and received a sucker that looked handmade in the shape of an animal.  The ride through the countryside was nice but it was only about 15 minutes.  The train then stopped and was motionless while the steam engine moved to the other end of the train for the return trip.  A 45-minute train ride with only 15 minutes of scenery that you get to see twice.  Our family did not particularly think this was worth the cost.  We paid for 3 adults and 3 children for $81.  The activities for the children at the station are included in this cost, but we would only recommend this if you have a train lover in your family.

The highlight of the trip was our dinner at  Plain & Fancy Farm. We loved every bit of the property here.  Our boys loved looking around and shopping in the gift shop.  For dinner, we had the Amish Farm Feast.  You are served family style and the whole table shares the meal.  There is an à la Carte menu but we wanted the works.  For dinner, we had a large party:  4 adults and 3 children.  We were seated with a lovely couple so our table had 9.  Let me start by saying I know my country food.  I grew up eating a Sunday feast at my mammaw’s house in Eastern Kentucky for most of my life.  This was one of the best meals I have ever eaten.  I am finding a hard time recalling a meal I enjoyed more.  To make it better, while we were walking in Ryan picked up a map of the grounds that had a coupon on it!  I noticed the coupon is on their website presently too.  It was $3 off each adult.  We will be back in the future.

To end our visit we did some shopping at the Rockvale Outlets.  The thing we really like about these outlets that outlets don’t have here in Wisconsin were the playgrounds out in the parking lots.  Ryan and I took turns shopping while the boys played away.  Then as a family, we had to hit up the Disney outlet of course.  This is a genius idea and I think playgrounds in parking lots should be mandatory just about everywhere.

Below is an experience Lora wanted to share.

     Since moving to Lancaster County a couple years ago, I’ve been intrigued by the Amish. I’d had some friends tell me about the buggy rides and finally decided to check it out. I took my 9-month-old son and we had a great time. The whole experience lasted about an hour.

     We arrived and were able to pet the horses. I chose the Amish Town tour, which is 4 miles. We got our own buggy and an Amish man helped us in. He explained things as we went, pointed out different farms and answered questions. The best part of the tour was when we stopped at a farm and four Amish children came up to the buggy. They had a basket of homemade chocolate chip cookies, pretzels, and fresh lemonade.

It was so nice to get a glimpse into the Amish life and enjoy some cookies and lemonade.

Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides  http://amishbuggyrides.com/

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