"Fun Feels Different Here"

That is one of the slogans of our local Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau. And it's a good one. In this "Family Fun" issue, you'll discover an amazing variety of activities all wrapped around the scenic beauty and unique cultures of Amish Country…

On our cover is the Sight & Sound Millennium Theatre. Bringing Bible stories to life on stage, these spectacular shows are "family entertainment" that will both astound and inspire. See page 7 for more information.

For a completely different family experience, you can take a buggy ride. Ed's Buggy Rides is right near the entrance to Sight & Sound. Aaron & Jessica's Buggy Rides is at Plain & Fancy near Bird-in-Hand, and you can read about this family business on page 5.

Amusement parks are "in." Our local favorite is Dutch Wonderland. The "Kingdom for Kids" has just opened “Duke's Lagoon,” a tropical-themed interactive water play area and "sprayground" with water-spilling coconuts, bubblers, and spectacular water geysers.

Guests staying at the Willow Valley Resort will discover a newly expanded swimming area with a waterslide and other water related activities.

Time travelers will head to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which opens in August. The whole family becomes a part of this fantasy world, as you interact with the characters roaming the grounds and cheer on your favorite knight at the jousting arena.

Trains have always been a favorite with children, and “Strasburg has it all!” For kids (and dads) who enjoy model trains, visit the Choo Choo Barn and the Toy Train Museum, with their amazingly detailed train layouts.

Then head for the real thing at the Strasburg Rail Road. Riding behind a huge steam locomotive through Amish farmlands is a unique experience. This is also the home of "Thomas the Tank Engine" several days each year.

Ride the train or drive to the Amazing Maize Maze at Cherry-Crest Farm. The corn maze is different every year, and in 2003 they celebrate America's Centennial of Flight with a "100 Ears of Flight" maze.

At night the ghosts come out in Strasburg, but don’t walk the streets without one of the Ghost Tour of Lancaster County guides. It's a "spiritual" experience of a different kind.

Of course, I am only scratching the surface of things to do. For something "cool," try the delightful animated exhibits at the National Christmas Center for a little Christmas in July. Or be truly cool at nearby Crystal Cave and explore the fascinating and beautiful world beneath our feet.

And everyone likes to see how things are made. You can twist a pretzel at the Intercourse Pretzel Factory, or explore how snack foods are produced at Herr Foods, just south of Lancaster. The Amish are usually dipping candles at the Old Candle Barn in Intercourse. You can even tour the A.R.T Research Enterprises facility and see how large bronze statues are created. Adopt or create your own teddy bear at Boyds Bear Country in nearby Gettysburg. Or take the ride at Hershey's Chocolate World for a truly "sweet" experience. Kreider Farms in Manheim puts a guide in your car to explore their amazing, mechanized milking facility and "cow palace."

Of course, there are many ways to combine fun and education. Teach the kids (and yourself) a little about a different culture by visiting the Amish Experience, the Amish Farm and House, the Weavertown One Room Schoolhouse, and the People's Place. You can even take a guided tour through the Amish farmlands, usually stopping at a real Amish farm, with Amish Country Tours. History and heritage come alive at Landis Valley Museum and its Civil War Village event, and at other heritage sites like James Buchanan’s Wheatland and the Americana Museum of Bird-in-Hand.

When you need a little recreation and friendly competition, try a round or two at Waters Edge Mini Golf in Bird-in-Hand. On your way home stop in at Adventure Rentals for a spin on an ATV along wooded trails.

Do some good at the Pennsylvania Haiti Benefit Auction while you sample great local foods, and mix with the local Plain people. Be sure to stop at a bakeshop or roadside stand for some fresh cookies, whoopie pies, bread, "sticky buns," or shoofly pie to take home.

OK. I think I made my point. Where else but in Pennsylvania Dutch Country can you have so much fun in so many different ways? Fun really DOES feel different here!

 

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2003)

 

Comments or questions? Send us an email at Editor@amishnews.com

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