Lancaster Daytripping! Dutch Wonderland, Strasburg Railroad, and Whoopie Pie
This beautiful region is road-trip worthy, with rolling farmland, covered bridges, fresh-from-the-farm markets, and family-friendly adventures.
An easy day-trip or quick overnight for Philadelphians, Lancaster County is one of our state’s defining regions, where nature, farming, antiquing, shopping for homemade and handmade goods, and family fun are just a few of the reasons to visit and stay.
Known far and wide as the home of the Pennsylvania Dutch, Lancaster County has been drawing families to the Dutch Wonderland theme park since 1963. With over 35 fun-filled rides and attractions, not to mention a splash water play area and live entertainment, your day(s) at Dutch Wonderland will be full! Our Philly Family favorites include any and all of the roller coasters, Turnpike Cars that allow kids to do the driving, and the Duke’s Lagoon splash park. Already unique in the world of amusement parks, this one features Old Mill Stream Campground, with family cabins, tent sites, modern amenities, and even laundromats, all just steps from the castle doors of Dutch Wonderland.
For an in-town experience just across Route 30 from Dutch Wonderland you’ll find the Tanger Outlets with some of your favorite stores. Shop til you drop, then hit up Starbucks for a pick me up.
Next stop in Lancaster? Strasburg Railroad! It’s America’s oldest short-line railroad, still in use since 1832. Carrying families westward from Philadelphia, this rail line features rides aboard an authentically restored steam-train that travels to the town of Paradise and back. Just 45 minutes to paradise! If there’s no time for a ride, don’t miss a few departures and arrivals of these lovingly-maintained trains to be transported to another time, even while standing still. When you’re ready, an easy walk takes you from the station to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania to view a historic collection of more than 100 locomotives and rail cars.
Another must-stop in Lancaster County is in the town of Lititz, home of the oldest pretzel bakery in the United States. Take a tour of the original Julius Sturgis Pretzels bakery room and check out a hands-on pretzel rolling class. The original brick ovens and mechanized pretzel twisters are a unique piece of local history and make a fun adventure for busy little hands.
Ephrata is the place to be in Lancaster County on Fridays when you can experience Green Dragon Farmers Market and Auction for fresh produce, baked goods, handmade furniture, antiques, and even experience an authentic auction. Kids of all ages will be drawn to the variety of whoopie pies, and we can also recommend a pretzel-wrapped steak-mushroom-and-cheese from Rosie’s.
One more family-friendly tip for a visit to Lancaster: try to leave some cargo space on your trip out. With all of the beautiful produce, hand-hewn furniture, outlet deals, and other goods, you’re going to need it!
Photographs by Ann Marie Detavernier.