Despite multiple requests from my kids, a trip to Orlando is not in the cards for 2020. Sure I can blame COVID, but the truth is flights for a family of five are just not in our family budget, pandemic notwithstanding. Fortunately, my husband and I love road trips; tacking an extra day onto an already long weekend and exploring small and historic areas within a few hours from home. With our kids so young, (7 and 4 years and 10 months) easy and close “nearcations” work better for us. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has so much for kids to do which makes it the ideal quick trip.

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Don't have a cow! Visit this humongous statue of one in Lancaster, instead./Kat Hoke

We’ve done Dutch Wonderland and Hershey Park, so this trip was all about exploring Lancaster and doing things safely and socially distanced. Our full weekend of sightseeing began at Aaron and Jessica’s Amish Buggy Rides where we took a real horse-drawn buggy ride through beautiful country. My kids had so much fun sitting up in the front with our driver as he answered all their questions about the Amish lifestyle.

Lunch at Smokehouse BBQ was next where my very picky children actually ate (and enjoyed!) vegetables in the form of chow-chow, a tasty authentic Amish dish. My husband and I loved sampling local beers and while all the food was delicious, the brisket was the real winner.

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Kat Hoke

We spent the afternoon at the beautiful 12-acre Amish Village where we toured a farmhouse and schoolhouse and had a blast seeing farm animals, including some babies! Good and Plenty hosted us for dinner and we enjoyed Pennsylvania Dutch favorites in a traditional all-you-can-eat Family Style dining room. The fried chicken was to die for and we followed that up with famous Shoofly Pie (a molasses-based dessert). It might sound strange but you have to try it — trust me!

We took a 45-minute road trip ride through the countryside aboard an authentic steam locomotive at the Strasburg Rail Road, the oldest operating railroad in America. Audio commentary along the way provided facts, history and information about the railroad and the surrounding area. It felt almost like traveling back in time as we rode through the beautiful farmlands and waved to the Amish folks working their fields.

My kids say their favorite part of the weekend was the Turkey Hill experience where we learned how ice cream is made, sampled different flavors and even created our own pint of ice cream in the taste lab.

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Kat Hoke

When we weren’t touring the Lancaster area we were back at the Fulton Steamboat Inn. Our stay was exceptional as the Steamboat staff went above and beyond to ensure social distancing measures were in place and CDC guidelines were followed. Our clean and comfortable room even had a bunk bed for my kids! My husband and I enjoyed several frosty beers by the water while the kids fed the fish and ducks. The Steamboat is a unique and special place that my family will always remember.

There is so much to see and do in Lancaster that one weekend just isn’t enough. My kids are already asking to go back and I’m happy to plan the next trip!

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