Sights/regional specialties in Lancaster, PA?
September 5, 2012 9:23 AM   Subscribe

I will be taking a day-trip to Lancaster, PA for business. Anything of note to see or bring back?

I will be traveling to Lancaster, PA for a business trip, flying up and coming back to my home state the same day. I'm flying in and out of Harrisburg and then driving into Lancaster. I do not imagine I will have much time in Lancaster because I will be occupied with work, but I was wondering if there are any things of note that I might keep an eye out for, or if there are any regional specialties that I might bring back for my wife and two tots (elementary and preschool age). My "Best Road Trip Ever" app has advised me of the Giant Amish Statutes and replica Ark of the Covenant, but I would appreciate any other recommended landmarks. Any treats to bring back for the kids would need to be able to travel in a air travel carry-on item.

Snowflake detail: I will be fasting on this day, so I unfortunately would not be able to take advantage of recommendations for bars or restaurants.

Many thanks.
posted by Tanizaki to Travel & Transportation around Lancaster, PA (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Apple butter! My mom brought back apple butter from a trip up to Amish country and it is awesome! Its also very reasonably priced.
posted by lovelygirl at 9:25 AM on September 5, 2012

Oops just saw that you are only bringing a carryon. I'm sure there are some really nice baked goods that you can bring home for your kids.
posted by lovelygirl at 9:32 AM on September 5, 2012

I grew up in Lancaster!

I'd recommend bringing back a shoo-fly pie, but it may not travel especially well (it's a crumb-top, molasses bottom pie).

If you're going to be in Lancaster city itself on a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday, you may want to visit Central Market, a farmer's market located in the historic area of downtown Lancaster. I returned to Lancaster within the last year and was favorably impressed that this area has been somewhat revitalized from when I moved away in the 1990s.

Apple butter is a good suggestion, too.

I'd stay away from the Route 30/Lincoln Highway East section if you don't have any reason to go there. It's trafficky and touristy, in a bad way.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:32 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you're feeling juvenile, you can always send your self post cards with a post mark from Intercourse or Blue Ball.
posted by Leezie at 9:49 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Lebanon Balogna!

posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:18 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you go to the Public Market, there's a small but excellent Quilt Museum nearby.
posted by carmicha at 10:28 AM on September 5, 2012

That area is home to the first commercial pretzel bakery if you're into that kind of thing, and another regional specialty is a pickled vegetable mix called "chow chow", but I don't have a source for that. Any number of pickled whatnots will likely be found at the Central Market.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:57 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hell yes Lebanon Bologna!

They're not really from the area, but Tastykakes are definitely sold there, and are a Mid-Atlantic regional brand of baked goods that are like Hostess, only a million times better. They're sold at any grocery store and most delis.
posted by mkultra at 11:09 AM on September 5, 2012

Ha, I was coming here to recommend Julius Sturgis Pretzels, but I see lakersfan1222 has that covered! I'm so spoiled on eating Pennsylvania pretzels like Tom Sturgis (which is the brand name of the pretzels you can buy at Julius Sturgis) and Unique that I have a hard time eating the cardboard-y things the rest of the United States calls "pretzels." The best kind are the large thin ones ("specials" or "splits"), and you should be able to find them just about anywhere in that region, probably including the airport. That area of Pennsylvania is also home to a lot of small potato chip companies that make particularly high-quality chips, including many cooked in lard (so read the labels if that is something you are interested in or would prefer to avoid) - I don't really eat potato chips so I can't make brand recommendations there, though.

Wilbur Chocolates makes these things called Wilbur Buds that are basically a much higher quality Hershey's Kiss. Same shape and idea, but the chocolate is really phenomenal, particularly the dark ones. These will be pretty widely available in the area, too, but both Julius Sturgis and the Wilbur factory are located near each other in Lititz, PA, just north of Lancaster. Lititz has a really cute main street where you could probably find other not-totally-tacky "Amish country" souvenirs to take home with you, too.
posted by jessypie at 11:22 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I'm in Lancaster for a short visit and can't make it to the Central Market I like to make a stop at one of the S. Clyde Weaver's when I'm in Lancaster. I tend to go to the one on Lititz Pike, it's easy for me to find, and they have just about every local delicacy that I crave. Get the sand tarts and some lebanon bologna or just a few roll ups!
posted by rdnnyc at 11:51 AM on September 5, 2012

Also stopped by to mention Lebanon bologna and Wilbur's buds.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:06 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wilbur Buds are awesome, and if you take 501 from Lancaster to Lititz, you may be in time to buy them at Wilbur Chocolates.

IIRC, the Quilt Museum is now closed. As is the history museum next to Market.

Whoopie pies would be another excellent choice. From just north of Lancaster County, there's Seltzer's Bologna. If you get to Market, pick up Michael's Cinnamon and Raisin Bread. Mmmm.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:29 PM on September 5, 2012

Whoopie Pies, raw milk, and quilts!
posted by troublewithwolves at 4:23 PM on September 5, 2012

You're smack dab in the middle of Amish country there. Hit a few Amish markets, be they roadside or wherever, and stock up on whatever looks good to you.

Too bad about the fasting, because in my plentiful experience the Amish have always been really cool about trying before you buy. Still, let 'em know you can't partake and I'm certain you'll be helped out in a very polite manner.
posted by item at 4:47 PM on September 5, 2012

I wanted to expand a little on my earlier suggestions.

My grandmother was from Lancaster, PA, but spent her last years near Lebanon, PA. When we'd visit, we'd go with her to the Lebanon Farmer's Market which back then was still in a deep store front in the middle of town. She had her favorites - celery was from one guy, lettuce from another. Pretzels were from Martin's, chicken from, I think, Keeners, and so on.

Before dinner, she'd give my dad a bowl full of pretzels and a Yuengling lager; it used to be that you couldn't really get Yuengling outside of PA. Now it is distributed nationally. Sometimes she'd dole out a few Wilbur's buds if we were being good. She didn't like Hershey much. Wilbur's buds really are like good versions of Hershey's kisses. I usually get a mixed pack of dark and light chocolate.

Lunch might be Lebanon bologna sandwiches. Likely from S. Clyde Weaver. I used to take a packet home with me to share with housemates.

Those are my Lancaster area food memories. There are a few more but they're more to do with places to eat a meal rather than places to get something to take home.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:30 PM on September 5, 2012

How has no one mentioned sticky buns? They are annoying to transport but oh so good. And Central Market is great.
posted by sepviva at 5:54 PM on September 5, 2012

Cider donuts if they are around. I live in the next county over and saw a sign for them the other day. YUM.
posted by Nolechick11 at 7:59 PM on September 5, 2012

You have MeFi mail.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:24 AM on September 6, 2012

Thank you to all for your comments (and MeMail). It looks like Central Market is going to be my best bet. My schedule is as tight as tight can be, but I think I could make a quick run of it, especially with it being less than a mile from my meeting location. I will also see about S. Clyde Weaver's. I really want to get some of that bologna, but I can only bring it if it would fly well i.e. not need refrigeration.

By the way, I also found out that the giant Amish statutes are gone and that the Ark of the Covenant tour will only be running while I am at work, so I will be missing out.

Many thanks to the hive mind. I set off tomorrow, so please feel free to offer further suggestions if so inclined.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:45 AM on September 6, 2012

See if you can pick up some scrapple. It is a pork product unique to the region and is an experience to eat. It should keep fine while traveling,but I would put it in the fridge immediately upon getting home.
posted by koolkat at 5:59 AM on September 6, 2012

I'm in Lancaster INTL awaiting my flight home. Here is how the trip went:

I had about 30 minutes to spare on the way to my meeting, so I stopped by Central Market and got:

Long's horseradish and pickled beets
whoopie pies from Wendy Jo's Homemade
a bunch of jams, raw honey, and chow-chow from Stolzfus Family

I bought a sandwich at a deli counter and asked where to get Wilbur chocolate and they directed me to Stauffer's of Kissel Hill, where I bought Wilbur Buds (milk and dark) and a bag of Utz chips (crab flavor).

Fasting went out the window - I just couldn't resist.

Thank you to everyone for all of your suggestions. I am sure my family will love the goodies I am bringing home.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:25 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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