Thursday, October 16, 2014

Venture Off the Beaten Path: Lancaster County's Best Kept Secrets Tour

 If you think you’ve seen nearly all there is to see in Lancaster County, think again!
Secret

Lancaster’s Best Kept Secrets Revealed
From October 10 through October 25, 2014, Lancaster’s Best Kept Secrets Tour will introduce you to 37 unique and off-the-beaten path businesses.

Shopping, eating, architecture, art…all sorts of fun and surprises await you. The event resembles a home or garden tour in that you’ll drive yourself from place to place. Make the rounds and enjoy the added perk of enjoying all the special freebies including refreshments, gifts, demos, and more.

There’s even a “shop & win” game with over $1,000 in prizes and a chance to win a $200 shopping spree at the business on the tour you liked best.

All businesses on the tour will have operating hours Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — or longer.

To join the tour, simply buy a ticket (just $8, $1 of which will be donated to the Christ’s Home for Children). You can visit all business in a single day or tackle the tour a few businesses at a time over the course of the entire 16 days.

So you’re probably wondering, “Which businesses can I expect to discover on the tour?"

Great question!

But I can’t tell you. That’s why they call it the “Best Kept Secrets" Tour.

According to the Best Kept Secret Tour’s website, on the tour you’ll find – among many other things – garden and gift stores in a Victorian mansion, renovated factories, historic old homes, locally and globally made crafts, farmers markets, Amish fruit farms, specialty stores (chocolate, books, fabrics, and more), an alpaca farm, and lots of other distinctive shops.

Get Your Best Kept Secrets Tour Tickets
You’ll get a free goody bag to boot if you’re one of the first 2000 people to purchase your ticket!  Your ticket (in booklet form) will serve as your guide to each business. It includes the businesses’ names and addresses, a map to help you navigate, a calendar of extra events, and coupons from every business.


Enjoy your adventure, and be sure to stop back here to leave a comment sharing which best kept secrets you loved most!

By Rebecca Gallagher
Visiting Lancaster County? Stay with us!

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, October 13, 2014

Put your Halloween in High Gear: Halloween Activities in Lancaster County, PA

Hooray for Halloween in Lancaster County!

From corn mazes to jack-o-lanterns to haunted hayrides to ghost stories, Lancaster County has all the ingredients for a Halloween to remember. When you visit our area in October, you’ll find plenty of spooky fun to make this Halloween frightfully fabulous.

Here’s a sampling of Lancaster’s Halloween highlights, so read on…if you dare!

Mysterious, Melancholy and Macabre – at the Ephrata Cloister 

Friday & Saturdays – Oct. 18, 19, 25, 26
Two performances - 7 pm and 8:30 pm
Advance Tickets: $12 Adults, $10 Children
At the Door: $15 Adults, $12 Children

Located just about one minute down the road from the Historic Smithton Inn, a beckoning guide at the Ephrata Cloister will take you on a spooky tour of the grounds where storytellers will give you chills with their true tales of strange occurrences witnessed by staff, volunteers and visitors. The evening ends with a dramatic presentation (1741 Meetinghouse of The Ghosts of Longmarsh Run: Three Wives of Christopher Beeler) by local actors about a haunting which took place at the Cloister.


Hersheypark in the Dark 

5 – 10 pm on Fridays, Oct. 18, 25 and Nov. 1
Noon – 10 pm on Saturdays, Oct. 19, 26 and Nov. 2
Noon – 9 pm on Sundays, Oct. 20, 27 and Nov. 3
See their website for admission rates

Halloween is a wonderful time to experience Hersheypark in a whole new way! You’ll find "roller ghosters," screamtastic attractions, and live entertainment tailored to the holiday theme. There’s also Hershey's Trick-or-Treat Adventure for children who are age 12 and under. “Sweet” doesn’t begin to describe this fun family Halloween adventure that’s an easy 30 mile drive from our inn.

Field of Screams 

Times of operation and pricing packages vary so visit their website for hours and rates.

If you love Halloween, you’ll be nothing less than enamored by all that Field of Screams has to offer. Fasten your seatbelt for the Haunted Hayride, brave the Den of Darkness, see if you can keep your wits about you in the Frightmare Asylum, or put your courage to the test at the Nocturnal Wasteland. They’ve also got an entertainment area (free with the purchase of an attraction ticket) with other activities, including games, bands, and competitions. Best of all, the fun is within a half hour’s drive from our B&B.


Jason’s Woods  

7 – 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays Oct. 4 – Nov. 2
7 – 9 pm on Sundays Oct. 5 – Nov. 3
See their website for ticket prices.

Another Halloween-lover’s paradise just a half hour away from Ephrata, Jason’s Woods offers haunted attractions worthy of your best scream. Experience the thrills and chills of the Horrifying Hayride, Chamber of Horrors, and Pirate’s Revenge. Plus, there are kid-friendly rides and other entertainment available when you need to step away from the scary stuff and catch your breath.








As you can see, Lancaster County offers all you need for a spooktacular Halloween. So go get your scare on, and let me know which you dub as your favorite haunts!





Friday, September 26, 2014

Historic Smithton Inn All-Time Favorite Recipes: Apple Muffins

I love giving our inn’s guests a delicious start to their day. And serving these apple muffins does just that! Fresh apples, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla blend together perfectly in this simple recipe that makes 18 hearty, flavorful muffins…

Apple Muffins


Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples
1/3 raw sugar


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
2. Cream together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.
4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick.
5. Add the diced apples.
6. Fill muffin tin almost to the top (about 3/4 of the way full).
7. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes.
9. Eat and enjoy!

I hope you’ll try this one at home. They will not disappoint!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Monday, September 22, 2014

Arts and Artisans in Lancaster County

Not only is Lancaster County known for its miles and miles of scenic farmland and its down home
Potter
Pennsylvania Dutch food, it's also a hub for artists and artisans. Both Lancaster City and our area small towns offer galleries and events that bring the opportunity to enjoy artistic excellence.

During your stay with us, I hope you’ll reserve some time to explore some of these fine places to see – and become inspired by – the creativity and talent.

Downtown Lancaster
In the heart of the city you’ll find galleries, fine craft stores, museums, and more. In the short term, plan to go to the semi-annual ArtWalk on October 4 & 5, 2014. Take the self-guided tour of over 30 independent galleries and meet the artists, see special exhibitions and live demonstrations, and treat the kids to fun activities.

Of course, you’re not limited to visiting the galleries and stores on ArtWalk weekend alone. Stop by to see them on First Fridays or any other time you set out to discover the artistic treasures of the city.

Downtown Ephrata
Just down the street from the Historic Smithton Inn, you’ll find Sheldon’s Gallery & Frame Shop. They’ve got an extensive collection of prints, frames, gifts, and home d├ęcor items.

To experience art in a wholly unique way, visit Art of Recycle where they create whimsical conversation pieces out of recycled materials of all sorts. The craft gallery is 100% volunteer run and primarily focused on fueling the imaginations of children – and of anyone who’s a “child at heart.”

Adamstown
Stoudtburg Village in Adamstown (an easy 20-minute drive north from our B&B) has antiques, collectibles, and artisans’ shops and galleries along its beautifully crafted walkways and amid its picturesque gardens.

Downtown Lititz
Earning the title of America’s Coolest Small Town in 2013, Lititz has some of the coolest arts and fine crafts shops around. Any day’s a good day to pay a visit and check them out, but Second Friday’s are especially fun when the shops stay open late so you can enjoy it all unhurried.


Of course, I’ve shared just the tip of the iceberg! Visit the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website for more art galleries and artisans’ shops to add to your itinerary.

Which galleries are your favorites in Lancaster County? I'd love to hear from you, so comment here!

By Rebecca Gallagher

 Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tis the Season to Celebrate All Things German: Lancaster County Oktoberfests and Brew Fests


If you’re visiting Lancaster County in the fall and REALLY want to get a taste of our German
Mug of beer
heritage, the local Oktoberfests and brew fests in our area should take priority on your calendar. They offer celebrations of German food, music, and beer.

During your stay, get ready to eat, drink, dance, and be merry at one of these Oktoberfest and brew fest occasions:

Stoudts Oktoberfest
Weekends, September 27 – October 26
2800 North Reading Rd., Adamstown, PA
717-484-4386

Celebrate German traditions in Stoudts’ Gemutlichkeit Bier Garden. Fun for the entire family! And it’s all only 20 minutes away from theHistoric Smithton Inn.

See Stoudts' website for ticket information and to find out what’s happening each weekend.

Saturday, September 20, 4 to 8 p.m.
722 South Chiques Road, Manheim, PA
717-898-8451

Please your palate with Liederkranz’s famous German food and the opportunity to sample beers from over 30 breweries.

Tickets: $35 in advance or $40 at the gate (includes beer tasting and food)
Tickets are available at the club or on the Fest website

Oktoberfest on the Rails (at Strasburg Railroad)
October 4, 11, 18 (Boarding: 5:30 p.m.Departure: 6 p.m.)
301 Gap Road, Ronks, PA
1-866-725-9666

All aboard! If you’re looking for an ultra-unique way to experience German heritage, check out this event. Ride the rails of the Strasburg Railroad while sampling traditional German food and locally crafted brews.

Tickets:
Adult (age 12 and over): $52
Children (age 3-11): $30
Toddlers (age 0-3): $10

To order tickets, call their office or order online.

And if none of these events fits your schedule, you can at least get a taste of locally brewed Oktoberfest-inspired craft beer at local craft beer breweries like Ephrata’s own St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company. As they would say in Germany, "Wunderbar!"


By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


By Rebecca Gallagher

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Historic Smithton Inn All-Time Favorite Recipes: Crock Pot Spiced Apple Butter

When you make this apple butter recipe, prepare to be in awe of the heavenly aroma cascading

throughout your home. The scent of it is almost as amazing as its taste. ALMOST!

Our guests at the Historic Smithton love this apple butter, and I'm sure you will, too.

Make a batch for yourself and don’t forget to put some in pretty jars with ribbon as gifts for your friends and neighbors.

Crock Pot Spiced Apple Butter Recipe


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 dozen medium apples*, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 1½ cups white sugar. (Reduce by ½ cup if your apples are super-sweet.)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1½ T vanilla 
  • 1 cup apple cider (or flavored brandy if you’re feeling adventurous!)

How to Make It:

1. Combine all the ingredients in your crockpot and cook on high for 8 hours.

2. Use a hand blender to puree the mixture in the crockpot.

3. Turn the crockpot to low and cook another 8 hours.

Voila, you’ve got apple butter!

You can freeze it or can it after you make it, or put it in a jar in the fridge so you can use it right away. (It will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks when refrigerated.)

Most importantly, enjoy it. Try it on cottage cheese, crackers, toasted bread, French toast, pancakes, and whatever else sounds delicious to you.

About the Apples
The key ingredient in this recipe is APPLES! Fall in Lancaster County brings with it a mouth-watering variety of apples. I recommend buying them at one of our area farmers markets or local Amish roadside stands.

Better yet, pick your own! Cherry Hill Orchards (only 40 minutes from our inn) has autumn “Pick Your Own Fruit” hours Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Trust me, your entire family will love the experience. Be sure to bring your camera as you start a new family tradition.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net




Monday, September 1, 2014

Lancaster County Fall Fairs Bring on the Fun

School’s back in session, the days are still summer-time warm while the nights are getting cooler, and from the front porch of the Historic Smithton Inn, I can sometimes hear the roar of the crowd on Friday nights as Ephrata High School scores a touchdown at War Memorial Stadium.
Ferris Wheel at Night

You know what that means?

Fall fair season is here in Lancaster County!

Nothing embodies fun more than fairs with their bustling midways, fabulous food, games, rides, agriculture and art exhibits, entertainment, parades, and endless, delightfully unexpected encounters with old friends and neighbors between visits to the French fries and funnel cake stands.

Don’t miss the excitement! Mark these 2014 local area fair dates on your calendar.


September 5 – 14: York Fair 

September 9 – 13: Denver Fair 

September 17 – 19: Solanco Fair 

September 23 – 27: Ephrata Fair  (The largest street fair in PA -- and my personal favorite of course! Bring the entire family, especially to the pig chase on Tuesday, September 23 and the parade on Wednesday, September 24.)

September 24 – 26: West Lampeter Community Fair 

October 1 – 4: New Holland Farmers Fair

Lancaster County fairs bring an opportunity to connect with the community and create family memories that last a lifetime. Whether you’re young or young at heart, I hope you’ll kick off the beginning of the fall season with a visit to one or more of these much-loved, multi-faceted celebrations.

And remember, if you’ll be visiting our area or have someone coming to town, we’ve got comfy guest rooms and a hot, home-cooked breakfast awaiting you. Schedule your stay, and when you arrive I can tell you more about our fabulous fairs!


By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Photography by BJWOK at FreeDigitalPhotos.net