Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest, Cara O'Donnell Media Relations Manager of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, Lancaster County.
Good day Cara and thanks for participating in our interview.
Great to be here!
Cara, please tell us exactly where Lancaster County is situated and what are some of the cities, towns and villages it embraces.
We're about 90 minutes west of Philadelphia in south central Pennsylvania, in the great countryside commonly known as Amish Country. That's what most people immediately think of when they think of us the little primarily Amish communities of Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse.
However, there's also historic downtown Lancaster (home of US President James Buchanan); the antiquing mecca of Adamstown; Strasburg, which is known for all things trains, the quaint tree-lined Main Street of Lititz, and so many more great little towns and villages!
If you had to choose eight of the most romantic venues in Lancaster County, which ones would they be and why?
Cara: Oh wow. Only eight? I'll try:
*** Covered bridges: There's just something about those historic wooden covered bridges that's romantic. In fact, legend has it they're sometimes called kissing bridges because of all of the couples who've stolen a smooch as they stroll on through. We have 29 of these bridges throughout the back roads of the county, and I can't even really begin to pick a favorite.
*** Hot air balloon ride: The US Hot Air Balloon Team does balloon rides over the countryside. Just picture it the two of you high over the miles of farm fields in a peaceful hot air balloon. It's just amazing!
*** Downtown Lititz. This town in Lancaster County has the quaint shops, the tree-lined streets, the friendly atmosphere all that makes it was the creation of Norman Rockwell. Just spend the afternoon just leisurely walking through the town. The quaintness of it all is truly nostalgic and romantic.
*** Moondancer Winery: The winery sits high above the Susquehanna River, and the view is amazing. The winery also offers free musical performances either outside on the patio or inside in front of a roaring fire every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Pack a picnic lunch, get a bottle of local wine, and just sit back and relax. It's fantastic.
*** The bridge behind Cameron Estate Inn: This small stone walking bridge, with the grand stone farmhouse of Cameron Estate on one side and the trees on the other, is a popular wedding photo location for couples, and there's no wonder it's gorgeous!!
*** The front porch at the Inn and Spa at Intercourse Village sit on the porch first thing in the morning with your cup of coffee and watch the Amish buggies pass by.
*** A seat aboard the wine and cheese train on Strasburg Rail Road these special trains run weekend evenings in season, and they're just so much fun! Sample some wine, some cheese, and just sit back and relax as you watch the countryside chug by.
*** The Conewago Manor Inn just stunning everywhere this old mansion took seven years to restore and the results were worth the wait!
When is the best time of the year to visit your area from the point of view of costs, weather etc?
Well, that depends on what you're interested in. October is traditionally our busiest month of the year, especially for those looking for that romantic getaway. The autumn leaves are in perfect color, it's harvest season, and there's just something very romantic about the crisp autumn air and that first time you build a fire for the season. Winter is also great for that quick getaway, and on top of that, it's our value season.
We definitely get snow here, but that adds to the fun, since some of the Amish buggy ride companies switch over to do sleigh rides in the winter, and you can always snuggle up at a B&B in front of a roaring fire.
During the spring and summer, you can really spend your time outdoors. Spring brings that blast of green to the fields, and everything's very fresh and new. In the summer, you can take advantage of really getting out and exploring the countryside and the outdoors.
I understand that your area is known for its foods. Could you tell us something about the culinary trails as well as some of the different kinds of restaurants one may encounter while traveling in your area. Could you also tell us something about the many romantic restaurants?
Oh my goodness. I'm not sure where to begin here. We recently introduced a whole culinary tourism theme, which has been a lot of fun, as you can guess.
The culinary trails are very similar to wine trails in other areas, but they highlight the foods, etc. made here.
We have the Sweet n' Salty Trail of all of the chocolate and snack food factories in the area, the Dairy Trail, and the Ale Trail, just to name a few! These are on-your-own things you pick up a guide, and stop by as many as you'd like!
The restaurants you'll find here are just endless in their possibilities. Most people are familiar with the Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbords and family-style dining restaurants, where you can feast on huge helpings of all of the Pennsylvania Dutch favorites, like chicken pot pie, chow chow, shoofly pie, etc.
But what many are surprised to know is that we have all kinds of dining options, from brewpubs to the very best in fine dining.
What I love about so many of our romantic restaurants is not just the romantic atmosphere, but the cuisine as well. Our chefs love to scour the farmers' markets in the morning and then create these amazing dishes every evening, so many of the dishes at these gourmet restaurants are truly fresh-from-the-farm!
There are just so many options from the historic Cameron Estate Inn with its stone farmhouse and big, sweeping lawns to the Log Cabin, tucked away on a side street and famous for its atmosphere and cuisine -many a wedding proposal and anniversary celebration here!
The Restaurant at Doneckers has an incredible wine list and delicious food with a bit of a French twist, and there's the new John J. Jeffries at the Lancaster Arts Hotel. For something a little different, there's the Catacombs at Bube's Brewery candlelight dining two stories underground in an old limestone brewing cave! And that's just the beginning -I could go on all day!
Could you tell our readers something about the romantic getaway lodging that can be found in your area?
Our romantic B&Bs are just incredible. We have about 150 B&Bs throughout the county, and those range from historic farmhouses and estates to quaint country cottages. So many of them have fireplaces, Jacuzzis, gourmet breakfasts- all that are perfect for that romantic getaway.
They're in the city, they're completely secluded on country lanes so whatever you're looking for, we've got it. Outside of B&Bs, there's also the brand-new Lancaster Arts Hotel, which is located in an old tobacco warehouse and is a fantastic blend of old and new. Local artists have adopted suites to view their artwork. There's the Leola Village Inn and Suites and the Inn and Spa at Intercourse Village both AAA 4-diamond places with tons of character. And again, I'm skimming the surface here.
What kind of cultural and sport activities can one expect while visiting your area?
We're actually seeing a real growth in our downtown arts scene. There are more than two dozen eclectic little galleries downtown (plus the new Lancaster Arts Hotel just a few blocks away), and actually, a number of artists known round the world make their home in and around Lancaster County.
Quilts have become works of art they're not just for keeping warm anymore! Onstage, there are several dinner theatres, living history productions, regional theatres offering world premieres, musical revues, as well as Sight & Sound Theatres, which bring Biblical stories to life complete with amazing special effects.
As for sports, you can't miss taking in a game with the Lancaster Barnstormers, Lancaster's minor league baseball team and the 2006 Atlantic League Champions! Not far away, the Hershey Bears are great for ice hockey fans.
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
Just want to encourage everyone to come visit us!!! We're online: CLICK HERE and there's just so much to see and do!
Thanks once again.