Lancaster City, PA

Lancaster Historic Dowtown

Amish, cows, farms. More Amish. More cows. More farms. As we traveled further and further from Philadelphia we traded traffic for rolling hills and our apple tv for trivia questions. I had marketed this overnight adventure to the family as a weekend in the country but even I did not know what that fully meant. Our itinerary, which would take us from Halifax, PA to Lancaster City, was created to be fun, simple, affordable and a little relaxing. Yes you read that right I added the word RELAXING to a family getaway.

DAY 1.


  The excitement began on safari or rather, the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari Tour in Halifax, PA. Halifax, PA is 2.5 hours outside of Philadelphia.  The zoo is fantastic because it is affordable and has a really wonderful Safari Tour. Yes, the Philadelphia Zoo is right down the street for Philadelphia area families but for those of us that like to road trip and take on new places you will not be disappointed. To find out why I think this spot is worth the drive and how not to get “pants” by a hungry goat check out our complete review with tons of pictures HERE.

Pianos are everywhere on the streets thanks to a public arts project.

10300669_10152228722187478_393985936063181564_nStop No. 2: Lancaster City A big thank you goes to Amber from I reached out to the organization via facebook looking for help with our trip and she got back to me right away. When you have less then 24 hours in a town or city with kids you really want to make it count. She directed me towards family friendly restaurants, activities and everything else we needed.  Amber suggested the following places for us to eat: Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie, Prince Street Cafe, The Pressroom and Iron Hill Brewery.  For dinner we ended up at Issei Noodle House which, after a long day, was easy and hit the spot. It also helped that they had a kid’s menu and Nintendo set up in the corner. Everything came out really fast which was also a huge help. Finding a place to eat dinner was hard because every local we asked had their own opinion and they were all different.


Amber from Visit Lancaster City told me I had to stop by Price Street Park for the Penny’s Ice Cream Pop-up. She was not wrong. Philly is full of pop-up gardens but I never get tired of visiting new ones. This beautiful ice cream truck is filled with classic and several off the wall flavors (see below). To find out the flavors of the day or where they will be follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Pennys ice cream


DAY 2.

The boys wake up early which is why I picked a hotel with a pool. There are not many options in Lancaster City but we went with the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. It is right in the center of everything, includes parking and like I  mentioned, a pool. The staff was amazing and sweet. When I checked in and the front desk person saw I had two small kids she put us on the 19th floor far away from all the different wedding parties that were in town that weekend.  There also might have been complementary whoopie pies at check-in. Every staff member I encountered was helpful with suggestions, directions and with the boys.

Commonwealth Image

DSC_1039Stop No. 3: Commonwealth on Queen Sunday morning was going to be a full day of museums. I wanted to make sure the boys had a great breakfast and I really wanted a farm to table spot. Commonwealth on Queen surpassed my expectations. A beautiful and modern space that serves as much locally sourced ingredients as they can gave us an amazing breakfast. A full service coffee bar hums while great indie and classic rock music plays in the background and hip Lancaster City couples stroll in looking for a great start to their lazy Sunday. They don’t do scrambled eggs or have white toast so my fall backs went out the window. I ordered the boys Commonwealth’s baked eggs with a slice of sourdough. I prepped the boys that the food was going to look different then they were used to but it was going to taste awesome and not to fuss when it arrived. I fully expected them not to eat but I could not have been more wrong or… lucky. The boys loved it. There was nothing left on their plates. They even made me try their watermelon saying it was the best they had ever tasted. I ordered Ollie some real bacon for the first time and he told me “This is the bacon I always like to eat.” It was honestly the nicest breakfast out I have had with the boys in a long time.


Stop No.4 Children’s Museums I walked away understanding that when it comes to museums bigger is not always better. When I think of museums I think of large multi-floor buildings with exhibit after exhibit because in Philadelphia that is what we are used to. Lancaster has two great museums for children that are a lot smaller and affordable then what we were used to and well…just as fun and easier to manage.

North Museum Title Page



Next we walked down to The North Museum of Nature and Science. This is a small museum with a ton to see and do. The first floor is hands on and the boys ran from thing to thing yelling “Mom look at this”, “Mom come see this.” To see our complete review with a ton of pictures of The North Museum and why its basement should be number one on your list CLICK HERE.

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Our final stop of the day was The Lancaster Science Factory. This is a wonderful places where kids get to learn through playing, slamming, building, tossing and blasting thing into the air. Take the Franklin Institute, reduce it to one huge floor where a mom can keep an eye on everyone and slash the admission price and you have a great afternoon at the The Lancaster Science Factory. To see a ton of pictures and what our favorites were CLICK HERE.

We had a great time bouncing from Halifax, PA to Lancaster City and back home to Philly. Lancaster has plenty to do and if you dig a little more there is actually a ton to do with the farms, taking in a baseball game, and outdoor activities.