Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Lancaster County

There’s no better time to delight in Lancaster County’s bounty than early autumn. Plentiful harvests yield piles of colorful produce at roadside farm stands and farmer’s markets, are a cause celeb at local wineries and breweries, and keep jam kitchens busy preserving the tastes of summer. All this makes a weekend getaway in the Garden Spot a time to delight in the delicious flavors of the season.

The region is a feast for the senses, from the lush landscape to be explored by bicycle or Amish buggy or even hot air balloon, to the wealth of artisans and craftspeople showcasing their wares in quilt and furniture shops, craft shows, and art galleries.

Couples delight in the simple pleasures of poking around the region’s picturesque towns, strolling the shop-filled streets and sampling the local delicacies.

And with cornfields stretched to their highest heights, the county is not only a patchwork of green as far as the eye can see, but the verdant fields also make for a puzzling challenge  as visitors attempt to navigate Cherry Crest Adventure Farm’s corn maze.

Beginning a weekend adventure with a Friday night celebration in Lancaster City or one of the county’s small towns is a great way to get a lay of the land. Lancaster City hosts both a First Friday art gallery and restaurant event as well as a Music Friday event on the third Friday of each month. Both are a glimpse into the hip culture scene that lands Lancaster city at the top of livable city lists. Arriving on a second Friday? Head to the chocolate-pretzel-beer town of Lititz, voted one of American’s Coolest Small towns. The Second Friday festivities feature the town’s tastiest restaurants, funkiest galleries, and sweetest shops. On a Fourth Friday, Columbia is the place to be, with its plethora of antique shops and art showcases.

Each of these towns will be hosting a number of special events this fall. The top of the list are the annual Fall Artwalk in downtown Lancaster Oct. 3-4, a self-guided stroll of more than 100 galleries, museums, and shops that has been a favorite for 50 years; the annual Lititz Craft Beer Fest on Sept. 27 which features a homebrew championship contest and more than 100 different craft beers from more than 50 local, regional, and national breweries; and the annual Bridge Bust in Columbia on Oct. 3, a unique event where more than 300 arts and crafts vendors line the historic Columbia-Wrightsville bridge over the Susquehanna River. This year Columbia also will host a Fall Feast and Biergarten event Oct. 24 which will feature dozens of food trucks.

No visit to Lancaster is complete without carrying the best flavors home. If you come for a weekend, make a trip to Central Market the Saturday morning priority. For weekend visitors, Saturdays are also great days to explore the county’s roadside farm stands, or to visit the preserved delights of Kitchen Kettle Village. Note that these destinations are all closed on Sundays. To learn more about the area’s Amish heritage, be sure to visit The Amish Farm & House and The Amish Village.

Saturday afternoons and evenings are made for tastings. The region boasts a number of craft breweries, wineries, and even a distillery. Many offer tours and have tasting rooms. Some wineries also feature concerts in the vineyards. And for fans of Elizabethan England, the Mt. Hope Vineyard even hosts the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire on its grounds.

Sundays in Lancaster County are made for brunches. If you’re staying at one of the region’s noted B&Bs, boutique hotels, or resorts, that might already included. If not, it’s a chance to delight in a farm to table experience at many local eateries. Burn off those calories with a hike or bike in the county’s extensive nature preserves and parks, or paddle down the Conestoga or Susquehanna rivers. With your workout done, before you head home, be sure and stop by the Turkey Hill Experience to design your own ice cream flavor. Maybe something to celebrate the season. Pumpkin Pie anyone?

Leave a Reply