A Visit to Lancaster, PA

Although I had visited as a child, Logan and the boys have never been to Lancaster or Amish country before. We were in the area for a family wedding so we took advantage of being in the vicinity of Lancaster, PA to do a quick mini-trek in the area.

It amazed us that just an hour or so away from the suburbs of a mega-city like Philadelphia existed this rural farmland, picturesque and stunning in simplicity. We even experienced some traffic jams, Amish-style, while we waited on horse and buggies to cross the highways.

As we learned all about the Amish way of life, we learned about their ultimate desire to live in peace with one another. When one farmer experienced a massive fire that burned their barn to the ground, local farmers came together to rebuild in a matter of months. If one is down, everything chips in to help. We were inspired by their dedication to their faith and their vows to live a simple lifestyle without frills.

As tourists, we were overwhelmed by amazing nearby sites from local amusement parks to Amish buggy rides in Lancaster County, PA. And with a limited time to visit, we feel like we selected the best four local attractions for our family: a stay at the Red Caboose Hotel, a tour of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, an Apprentice Farm Tour at Verdant View Bed + Breakfast and a ride on the iconic Strasburg Railroad.

Sleeping in a Caboose

Our boys are a bit train-obsessed, so when we had the opportunity to sleep overnight in a caboose, we went full steam ahead. 

The Red Caboose Motel has been iconic in the surrounding area of Lancaster for decades, providing old-fashioned family entertainment and good, messy fun. The hotel rooms are all various sized cabooses, offering simple accommodations but still a unique way to experience what sleeping in a train would really feel like.

Besides caboose-sleeping, The Red Caboose Motel offers an old-fashioned dining experience at their on-site restaurant, Casey Jones’ Restaurant, where you can enjoy views of the Strasburg Railroad zooming by.

And if you’re in the market for nostalgic Coke t-shirts, railroad gear or toy trains, The Red Caboose Motel’s gift shop is for you.

The Motel also offers a simple petting zoo, a buggy ride and evening movies playing in their barn. It was no coincidence that our kids’ favorite movie, The LEGO® movie, was playing in the barn!

An Amazing Train Museum

We weren’t quite sure what to expect with this museum but we were totally thrown off our tracks! This impressive, expansive museum offers multiple views of past-working trains, all refurbished and looking better than their days on the railroad.

The boys loved getting to explore inside the railroad cars, even safely running on authentic railroad ties. This is a must-visit in the Strasburg, PA area!

Being Apprentices on a Local Farm

I could likely write a blog post itself on how much we loved this adorable farm, located just moments away from The Red Caboose Motel. As we pulled onto the well-maintained farm property, we were greeted by their sheepdog, Scooby, and we immediately felt at home.

We were given the Apprentice’s Farm Tour by Verdant View Farm’s apprentice, Daniel. He had recently moved to the farm to be an apprentice for the fall and winter and we enjoyed every second of being helping hands for him on the farm.

We became instant friends with their resident goats and learned that goats love to jump on things, including people

We enjoyed feeding the cows, learning that they eat cow feed just like our dog, Warrior (how interesting that Purina sells their food just like dog food!) and a special highlight: feeding a bottle and being a human pacifier for baby calves.

We spent time with so many more of God’s creations on their farm, from chickens to rabbits and the farm cats on their property. We even got to see a real live chicken fight!

Yes, life was peaceful and simple on Verdant View Farm and we will likely never forget our visit there. When and if we return to the Amish country, we will be trying out Verdant View Farm’s Bed + Breakfast for our next stay!

It felt as if life had always been perfect on the farm, but in fact the opposite was true. Just months prior, Verdant View Farm’s barn burned to the ground in an electrical fire. Neighboring farmhands got together, in peace and unity, and helped the farm get back up and running again. We absolutely were inspired by the sense of neighborhood in Lancaster County (and Logan was in love with the infrastucture of the barn!)

All Aboard the Strasburg Railroad

We had heard of the Strasburg Railroad before but didn’t realize it was actually in Lancaster County by all of the other Amish attractions. And so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to take a riding tour on this iconic steamboat train.

We jumped right onboard this massive train and you could feel the history inside

The interior of the railroad felt preserved like it had not been touched to help maintain the look and feel of riding on the Strasburg back in the 1800’s

The kids enjoyed watching the conductor perform the daily checks and they were fascinated that people actually drive trains for a living! If you are train-obsessed, Strasburg Railroad is your place.

We enjoyed the peaceful, stress-free days of being in the Amish country. These Florida boys had an amazing experience learning about the Amish religious beliefs, more about railroads and what living on a farm would really be like. We reminded our boys that regardless of different religious groups’ views on faith, that ultimately their peace had to come directly from God. 

No amazing vacation, no thrilling train ride or carefree day on a farm would provide them peace that surpasses all understanding. 

Trek Tips:

1: Talk to a local: no matter what Amish or Lancaster County attraction you choose, start a conversation with a local. You won’t be disappointed by the genuineness of the residents there.

2: Visit the Lancaster Brewing Company: we drove into Lancaster, about twenty minutes from these attractions listed, and got ourselves a beer sampler. It’s a must-do in the fall; try the Baked Pumpkin Ale!

3: When visiting the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, be sure to head outside to the train yard where pending trains are waiting to be restored. You will have a greater appreciation of how much hard work goes into restoring these huge and beautiful trains!

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