Yes, I know you’ve heard of Lancaster, PA. I mean, like, who hasn’t? Images of old time Amish people and farms come to mind when that place is even mentioned. Definitely a nice place to visit if you ask me.
And now, it’s become even more convenient to visit Lancaster more than in just the summer. As I’ll elaborate below, Lancaster is now home to a full time Yeshiva and Kollel in the Degel Israel Congregation. The slightly more established all year-round atmosphere will allow you to come and visit Lancaster all times of the year, especially during Bein Hazmanim and Chol Hamoed.
So, sit back and enjoy as we talk a little stroll into the wonderful nostalgic world of Lancaster, PA in all its glory.
Degel Israel Congregation /Yeshiva Meor Dovid
Before I delve into some of the more picturesque parts of Lancaster and its environs, I feel it important to talk about some of the spiritual aspects of that are there, in order that we should know where we can go to daven, learn, or even see another Jewish face (which is always good to see no matter where you are!)
Degel Israel Congregation has a long and rich history behind it, going well back to the 1880’s and ‘90’s with different names and locations. (Click here to read the full history). Today, while the actual Jewish community boasts a handful of families, Lancaster’s Jewish community has gotten a boost from Yeshivas Meor Dovid, which has relocated itself from New Haven, CT to the property of Degel Israel. The Yeshiva boasts around 40 single students, as well as some married students who have taken up residence in the immediate area surrounding the shul.
The shul is open all year round to visitors. All stripes of Yiddishkeit have found their way here for many a vacation, usually during the summer months. But now, with the addition of the Yeshiva and a constant presence of Torah life in the area, you can come comfortably to Lancaster whenever you want all times of the year.
The area in the shul has a mikveh (open to men in the morning and women at nights; open Shabbos morning to men as well) and grocery to service all of your food needs on site.
For more information such as location, davening times, etc. please visit their website.
Now we can talk about all the lovely places you and your family would like to see on this extraordinary vacation. So here we go.
- Dutch Wonderland. I think before we hit nostalgia, we should at least know that there are still some 21st century things to do in Lancaster as well. And Dutch Wonderland is no exception. With over 35 rides and attractions for all ages and stages, Dutch Wonderland is bound to make some pretty exciting and thrilling memories for your entire family. For full details about hours and rates, please visit their website.
- Amish Attractions. Now we begin our journey into a world literally of its own that seems to be frozen in time. As you drive around the various townships within Lancaster County (i.e. Ronks, Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand, etc.), you will be privy to the sights of horses and buggies traveling the roads alongside or ahead of your car. (Just remember to use caution and share the road. Those horses don’t move as fast as you do in your car). You’ll be enamored by the sights of men in old style clothes, straw hats, beards, and overalls. As well as the women dressed in seemingly modest attire (for today’s standards) and bonnets on the back of their heads. And let me just let you know that in an Amish neighborhood, your closest next-door neighbor may be a few acres over! Just stand and gape at the size of those farms producing corn, soybean, oats, and more. Truly a sight to behold. While I’m at it, be advised that the Amish are very religious and do not work on Sunday, which is their day of rest. Important to keep that in mind when you are looking to do some Amish stuff with the family over the weekend. But, regardless of when you plan to explore Lancaster, there are just so many adorable Amish attractions that they really deserve a separate article for each one. Here’s a small list of Amish attractions around Lancaster that you and your family will fondly look back on. [For more details on the listings below and more, click here].
- Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides, 3121 Old Philadelphia Pike (Rt. 340) Between Bird-in-Hand & Intercourse
Ronks, PA 17572, 717-768-8828. Lancaster’s only ride through real working non-commercial Amish farms. Start your ride through our covered bridge, rain or shine. 4-mile tour with Amish guides. Family owned. Open all year. Longer rides are available. Group and bus tours welcome. See you! Ask about Rumspringa and “Amish Mafia”.
- Amish Village 199 Hartman Bridge Road (Rt. 896)
Ronks (Strasburg), PA 17572, 717-687-8511. Take a guided tour of an authentic Amish farmhouse and barn wood to learn about the customs and traditions of the Plain community. Our 12-acre property offers a one-room schoolhouse and shop in the Smokehouse Market where you can meet our Amish staff. Then, grab a selfie inside the Amish buggy.
- Amish Experience Visit-in-Person Tour, 3121 Old Philadelphia Pike (Rt. 340) Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505, 717-768-8400. Visit three real Amish homes. Meet a farmer at milking time, a craftsman in their workshop, and a family at home. We work with 30 authentic Amish households not normally open to the public. This exclusive tour takes 14 people maximum to ensure everyone interacts with the Amish hosts.
- Old Windmill Farm – Amish Farm Tours, 262 Paradise Lane, Ronks, PA 17572, 717-687-7929. Come experience life on an Amish farm. Milk a cow, feed a calf and the pygmy goats, miniature bull, and miniature chickens. Watch the pot-bellied pigs perform. All ages will enjoy this! Then tour their big garden and sample the fresh produce. Groups are welcome. Learn about Amish life from the Amish. (Open Thursday through Saturday).
- Country Woodshop, Lil’ Country Store & Miniature Horse Farm, 264 Paradise Lane, Ronks, PA 17572, 717-344-2326. Amish made furniture hand-crafted in our own workshop. Tables, chairs, hutches, bookcases, benches, cabinets, pie safes, cupboards, birdhouses, candle holders, wall sconces, shelves with coat hooks, framed prints, and decorative items. Our products are on display next door in our Lil’ Country Store and Miniature Horse Farm.
- The Old Country Store, 3510 Old Philadelphia Pike (Rt. 340) Intercourse, PA 17534-0600, 717-768-7101/800-828-8218. We offer Lancaster County’s finest, locally handmade quilts, curated for premium quality, superior workmanship, and one-of-a-kind status. Choose from over 150 bed-size quilts, each personally selected with a discerning customer in mind. Discover our exceptional customer service! Buy quilts online here. Monday – Saturday, 9am – 6:30pm; June – October; 9am – 5pm, November – May.
- Kreider Farms, 1461 Lancaster Rd, Manheim, PA 17545, (717) 665-4415. Come visit the place where Pride of the Farm gets their milk from. Get a tour of this unbelievable facility and get a glimpse of how all their product are manufactured and distributed. Get a free sample of their milk and/or chocolate milk while you’re at it. Guaranteed fun for the entire family. (Please note that all tours have been suspended for the duration of 2020. Check back at the beginning of 2021 for updates).
- Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center, 1170 Garfield Road Lancaster, PA 17601, 717-287-5000. Fun family activities in a jungle-themed miniature indoor amusement park. Something that all ages can enjoy. Check out their website for further details.
I think you can all see for yourselves that there is so much more to Lancaster than meets the eye. Just go out there, enjoy, and make some unbelievable memories with the entire family.
Note: Please contact the places before visiting to ensure they are open to visitors.