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One of the many displays at the Choo Choo Barn./Choo Choo Barn

May tourists flock to Lancaster to get a taste of Pennsylvania’s Dutch country and see the Amish farms, horse-drawn carriages and a really cool small town. But just 10 or 15 minutes from downtown Lancaster are some fantastic places to visit in Strasburg and in Wrightsville.

In Wrightsville, The Susquehanna National Heritage area is America’s 55th National Heritage Area. The Zimmerman Center for Heritage, located in a mid-18th century riverfront home, serves as the headquarters for the heritage area and is the passport station for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic trail — our nation’s first water-based National Historic Trail. By foot, hike the nearby Native lands County Park as well as the Mason-Dixon Trail. By kayak or canoe, explore the mighty Susquehanna River. Or stay in the visitor center and see the collection of Susquehanna River art, displays of Susquehannock Indian artifacts, attend an informative lecture or one of the free public weekend programs to learn about the area’s nature and ecology. To learn more, visit susquehannaheritage.org or call (717) 252-0229.

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Begin your adventure at the Zimmerman Center's historic main building.

National Toy Train - Credit Discover Lancaster. Caption: Each train garden in the National Toy Train Museum represents an era in our nation's history./Zimmerman Center for Heritage

Take a trip back in time and visit the Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. For more than a half a century, several generations of the Groff family created this attraction. Today, visitors from across the country marvel at the 1,700-square-foot model train layout featuring 22 operating trains covering a landscape that includes the usual mountains, bridges, waterfalls, roads and buildings one would expect, plus more than 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles. The buildings create a historic view of time with farm houses and Amish men sawing away, churches and firehouses, as well as more contemporary scenes such as a ski slope. It’s a must-see for the whole family. Call (717) 687-7911 or visit choochoobarn.com for more information.

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Toy Train Museum represents an era in our nation's history.

Also in Strasburg, visit the National Toy Train Museum. The museum, housed in a building that resembles a Victorian Era California-style train station, showcases five train layouts representing all seven gauges sizes, and the collection is massive. Every visitor has the opportunity to help operate the train layouts by pushing buttons. Each layout is a different gauge and representative of different periods of the 20th century. Take a stroll through history from the mid-1800s to present day and see old trains that children pushed, pulled or rolled, as well as modern, hi-tech exhibits. In addition to the museum and the train gardens, there’s a library of toy train publications, videos and of course one of the largest toy train collections in the world. Call (717) 687-8976 or visit nttmuseum.org for more information.

Make the trip and find out how there is so much more to the region.

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