As we wrapped up our over-nighter to Lancaster last month, we had one more stop to make. We had the opportunity to check out a Lancaster attraction that offers the chance to really see how the Amish people live their daily lives.
The Amish Village is spread out over a lovely piece of farmland. The experience began inside the farmhouse as a tour guide introduced us to some of the basic Amish traditions and practices. We sat in a room set up for a church gathering and listened to various bits of information, including a brief overview of what a typical day of church is like for Amish.
From this room we worked our way through the rest of the farmhouse. Each room was decorated to resemble a typical Amish setting – including everyday artifacts – everything from a sewing machine to the Amish wardrobe. Our tour guide covered a variety of topics – from how to tell if an Amish man/woman is married to the reason that Amish do not have electricity or pictures in their homes.
After the guided farmhouse tour, guests are set loose to visit the rest of the property on their own, at their own pace. We wandered across the covered bridge and began to explore.
The Amish Village has several buildings that you can explore – including a one room schoolhouse and a blacksmith shop. There were so many different farm tools and buggies on display. The barn had some animals to say hi to and there was a neat water pump churning away outside the barn.
Lily Bean LOVED the Amish schoolhouse!
We had so much fun at The Amish Village! As you can see from the pictures, we had a beautiful, sunny summer day to visit this attraction. As half of the experience includes walking around outside, I would recommend saving this for a nice weather day during your visit to Lancaster.
Outside the farmhouse, you will also find the Smokehouse Market – which sells all sorts Amish-made treats (jams, apple butter, whoopie pie, etc). Biker Bob popped in there to pick up a birch beer before we headed back to our car.
You can find The Amish Village on Facebook as well.
We were provided with complimentary admission to The Amish Village in exchange for a candid review of our experience. All opinions are 100% our own.
Growing up on the outskirts of Philadelphia, PA, I am familiar with the discount cards that you can purchase to supposedly save money on various popular attractions. The concept is pretty simple – you purchase a card for each member of your family/party. You can usually purchase a 1-day card or tack on additional days to save some more money. You then present your card at any of the participating attractions and get in for “free.”
So, the more attractions you visit, the better value your card.
As we started to plan for our Twizzlers Landmark Summer Road Trip to Boston, it became obvious that Boston had a TON of places that we wanted to try to visit. I found the Go Boston Card and figured this would be a good opportunity to see if we could save any money.
Go Boston cards offer admission to 70 different attractions in the Boston Area.
Here’s how it shaped up:
:: 2 adult Go Boston cards were $106.50/each (that includes shipping costs to our house)
:: Lily Bean did not need a card – at 2 years old, all attractions that we visited except for ONE were free.
:: We purchased 3-day cards.
Where we used our cards:
:: Fenway Park Ballpark Tour – $12 x 2 = $24
:: Salem Witch Museum – $9 x 2 = $18
:: The House of the Seven Gables – $12.50 x 2 = $25
:: Boston Museum of Science – $22 x 2 = $44
:: Paul Revere House – $3.50 x 2 = $7
:: Freedom Trail Tour – $11 x 2 = $22
:: Samuel Adams Brewery Tour (tour is free to the public but Go Boston cards scored us each a complimentary Samuel Adams pint glass) – value $11 x 2 – $22
:: Plimoth Plantation & Mayflower II – $29.50 x 2 = $59
:: Boston Duck Tour – $32 x 2 = $64
Price for 2 cards: $213
Value of attractions we visited: $285
We saved $72!
So was this a good purchase?
For us, YES. It turned our to be a great purchase for us because you know we like to take along our Clipboard of Fun wherever we go. We try to pack in as much activity as possible on most of our trips.
Should you buy one?
That’s going to depend on how much you want to do with your fam. I suggest looking up your discount card options for the city that you will be traveling to. Check out the prices and the included attractions. Make a note of which attractions you would like to visit and then find their websites to take a look at what they charge.
If your travel style is to cram it all in, a discount admission program might be the way to go!
If you prefer to take in a site or two and then relax back at the hotel, this is likely not the best choice for you.
Last week I shared our experience at the Lancaster DoubleTree Resort with you. In addition to the usual amenities (pool, fitness room, etc), this hotel offers a unique (FREE) bus tour of Amish Country. Available each Saturday at 9 am and 12 pm on a first-come-first-served basis, this 3 hour bus tour will not only make stops at several notable tourist attractions, but the bus driver provide travelers with an amazing amount of history and factual information regarding the Amish and their way of life.
We hopped on the noon tour during our stay at the DoubleTree. Living within a couple hours of Lancaster, we really didn’t know what to expect. We have visited Lancaster plenty of times. We have see the horse and buggies, we have passed the farms that clearly have NO electricity. We have even watched the Amish tend to their fields using a horse and plow in place of a John Deere. But when it comes to basic Amish knowledge, we were at a loss. How did their philosophies form? What is daily life like? WHY do they refrain from internet, smartphones and all things I shudder to think of living without? (Don’t you love it when my inner history geek comes out?)
We learned all of that and more during our tour.
We also had the chance to stop at some really neat places.
Stop #1 was to Kitchen Kettle Village – lots of shops, yummy treats and even a petting zoo. Lily Bean was thrilled to take a spin around the paddock on a cute pony.
Stop #2 was to Hayloft Candles. We enjoyed a quick poke around their huge gift shop/candle factory (noting that there were way too many breakable items for Lily Bean to enjoy any freedom around!). Then it was outside for a wander – there was a nice pond with some animals (petting zoo) you could look at… Lily preferred to ham it up on the bridge instead of looking at the animals.
Our third and final stop was to Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market. They had a great little gift shop that, among other things, sold authentic Amish Quilts and fresh-baked treats. We were sure to try some of their homemade soft pretzels – they were warm and absolutely DELICIOUS!
I just realized that I did not take any pictures at Kauffman’s. Forgive me. This is clearly because we were too busy stuffing our faces with fresh pretzels.
Bus tour – well worth it. We learned so much, saw some great sites and walked away feeling like we had an amazing lesson in Amish history and tradition.
We were able to take this free tour thanks to our stay at the DoubleTree Resort. The DoubleTree Resort provided us with complimentary lodging in exchange for a candid review of their facilities. We were not required to share any of our soft pretzels or kettle corn with anyone. ANYONE.
If you live anywhere in or near the Philly Burbs, you may have seen a major television ad blitz this summer for Lancaster County. In particular, the DoubleTree Resort at Willow Valley. Advertised as an extremely family-friendly place to stay, the commercials also boast its prime location – close to many popular Lancaster attractions.
Last month we had the opportunity to spend a night at this hotel and see for ourselves whether or not it was brag worthy. We go on so many road trips – usually with hours upon hours in the car. It’s always a nice change when you can trade the super long car ride for one that’s under two hours long… you arrive feeling fresh and ready to take in some sites.
We passed several notable Lancaster area attractions just minutes before pulling into the DoubleTree (Strasburg Railroad, Railroad Museum of PA and the Choo Choo Barn, to name a few!) After a smooth check-in experience, we were each handed a WARM and DELICIOUS cookie to enjoy!
Now, I want to make note of something that struck us as interesting… from the outside, the DoubleTree looks like your average hotel. Its grounds are well-kept, the exterior is in nice shape – but there is nothing earth-shattering about the overall appearance. Then you walk inside… to find a sweeping main lobby and lounge area. There is a full service restaurant and if you walk a little farther past the front desk you can look over a railing into the most lovely space down on the ground floor. When we arrived at the hotel, we noticed that the space below was set up for a wedding. I wish that I had been able to snag a better picture than with my cheesy cell phone camera – this area was GORGEOUS.
We proceeded to our room up on the top floor and found a clean, spacious room all nice and ready for us. We had two beds (seriously, don’t you just LOVE hotel rooms that have a gabillion pillows on each bed??), a sitting area, a desk and then the other usual amenities: television, bathroom, kitchenette (refrigerator, coffee maker) and plenty of plush towels.
Our hotel looked like it was pretty full during the weekend we visited – what with the wedding downstairs, prime Lancaster tourism season, etc. However it didn’t feel full. Our room was nice and quiet – which is saying a lot because sometimes it seems like no matter where we stay, we get parties of people Zumba-ing above us at 3 am. None of that this time – it was delightfully quiet.
The DoubleTree Resort in Lancaster offers a boatload of amenities including (but not limited to):
:: Restaurants (including room service)
:: Outdoor pool
:: Indoor pool and water playground
:: 24 hour fitness center
:: Complimentary 3 hour bus tour of Amish Country (look for our review of that tour in days to come!)
Our favorite amenity? I guess I should say Lily Bean’s favorite, though we certainly had a great time watching her… the indoor water playground! How amazing is this?
There is one other highlight that I am kicking myself for failing to photograph – but it was late at night and I was beat. We rarely order room service when traveling – we save it for special occasions because it can be so pricey. When we returned to our hotel room that night, after a full day of touring and exploring, we were super tired. We were a little hungry and in the mood for a tasty snack so we started to flip through the room service menu.
We got a plate of the most delicious, warm, sticky, sweet and succulent donut holes with a piping hot side of hot chocolate. The donuts were un.be.lievable and the staff was so sweet to put several extra packets of hot chocolate on our tray. Talk about sweet dreams – it was the cherry on top for sure! (Also worth noting – our total for that dessert including tip came to about $18. Not bad for 3 people who didn’t have to leave their room!)
Check-out in the morning was painless. We were on our way within minutes, full of new memories of Lancaster County. So much to do and see – and it was such a treat to spend the night in such inviting accommodations.
Coming later this week: Amish Country Bus Tour Review and Amish Village Review
We were provided with a complimentary stay at DoubleTree Resort in Lancaster, PA in exchange for an honest, candid review of our hotel experience. All opinions are 100% our own. No, I do not share my donuts with anyone. MINE!
We had the opportunity to end a recent weekend stay in Manhattan, NY with an incredible treat. Guests at The Kimberly Hotel have the opportunity to take a sail around the NY harbor in their private yacht (offered through their affiliation with New York Health and Racquet Club). For $25/person, you can choose between two sails – sunset cruise (18+) or the cruise that we enjoyed – a Sunday brunch cruise (ages 3 and up). Both options provide a complimentary buffet meal and a cash bar.
Having been on our share of ferries, cruise ships and other tour boats, this was something different. It wasn’t so much a tour boat ride, but instead a relax-and-enjoy-the-sites leisure sail.
Our daughter was so excited to board the yacht – she loves anything that has to do with boats. We were greeted on the dock by the crew and joined the other 50 or so passengers on board. The yacht itself gives you several options for seating. You can sit outside in the front, back or on either side outside the main cabin. There are a few tables with chairs inside the main cabin as well – a great option if you prefer to stay out of the sun. Bathrooms and the food buffet are also located in the main cabin.
The weather on our sail date was a BEAUTIFUL summer day – warm and sunny. We opted to spend the entire cruise up on the top deck. The top deck offers panoramic views of the entire cruise – it was wonderful.
Sun alert: If you choose to enjoy the cruise from the top deck BE SURE to slather on the sunscreen, bring hats, etc. I would even suggest reapplying the sunscreen midway through the cruise. We were covered in sunscreen and still got a tad crispy.
Parking: Street parking is available at the marina for $30. Unfortunately it was only after paying this parking fee that we noticed the streets nearby that offered tons of metered parking ($3/hour). Parking on the street would have saved us about 2/3 of what we paid.
Cruise length: Our Sunday brunch cruise was 2 hours long. We left the dock at precisely 12 pm and arrived back at just about 2 pm.
Staff: The staff was great. They were friendly, helpful and really appeared as if they were enjoying themselves. The captain was nice enough to come on the loudspeaker when the waves were about to get a little rough – caused by sailing through the wake from a larger boat.
Food/Drink: Our Sunday buffet offered some tasty options: granola/fruit/yogurt, quiche, muffins, bagels, sandwiches, wraps and probably a couple of other things I am forgetting. The cash bar offered water, soda and alcohol – beer, wine and mixed drinks.
Route: While the route can change slightly depending on the captain’s preference, the cruise always involves a sail by the Statue of Liberty. We enjoyed watching mid-town Manhattan as we began our cruise, and got to see lower Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on the way back. The captain slowed the boat as we got right in front of the statue, giving us ample opportunity to snap some amazing pictures. I have been to the statue several times before – always by ferry from either NJ or NY… and this was by far the best way that I have ever experienced it. It was a peaceful, non-crowded sail and we were really able to take it all in and enjoy.
We thought that this cruise was FANTASTIC. It was family friendly and there were a bunch of kids (toddler through teen) on our boat. Like any other moving vessel, you will obviously need to watch kids (especially the youngest ones) at all times. The boat does rock quite a bit and you need to hold onto a railing while standing to make sure you don’t topple over.
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, consider this cruise. It was different, didn’t ooze “TOURIST” and was such a pleasant way to spend some family time!
Disclosure: The Kimberly Hotel provided our family with complimentary travel on the Sunday brunch cruise in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% our own.
In my other life I am most definitely a travel blogger. We love to travel and I am always looking forward to the next time I get to pack my suitcase. I enjoy sharing reviews of places we have traveled with site The Kimberly Hotel, and this year am honored to have been granted the elite rank of Superoo. As I Superoo, I get the chance to… yep. Travel. Last weekend Trekaroo sent us to New York City to check out a hotel the Sunday brunch cruise that they offer. Check out our hotel review below!
When it comes to staying in New York City (Manhattan, to be exact) the closer you are to the sites, the better. Location is key in NYC – and we were certainly treated to prime location during a recent weekend stay at The Kimberly Hotel, located at 145 E. West 50th Street in Manhattan. A short walk away from the shopping wonders of 5th Ave (Tiffany, Saks, FAO Schwartz, etc) and Rockefeller Center, the Kimberly Hotel worked great for us as home base.
This all-suite hotel features well-appointed rooms; rooms that, in my experience, are pretty spacious for NYC. Our suite had a separate living room (with balcony) and a small dining area/kitchenette. The kitchenette had everything but a stove – there was a sink, microwave, small refrigerator, dishwasher, toaster and coffee maker (coffee was provided). The cabinets were stocked with plates, water and wine glasses, bowls and silverware.
The bathroom had a standard tub/shower and some complimentary toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, Q-Tips, cotton balls, makeup remover cloths, bars of soap, etc). We would have loved a little more counter space in the bathroom, but there were some shelves under the sink area that helped to make up for that.
Our family of two adults and one 3 year old had plenty of room to unwind and relax after a long day of sightseeing around the city. Our daughter slept on her portable tot cot (though a crib was available had we requested one) in the living room while my husband and I slept in the bedroom. The balcony turned out to be such a nice amenity as we were able to sit out there and chat/watch the city after our daughter went to bed.
Parking – Valet parking is available for $30 a night – $40 a night for oversized cars (which our SUV ended up being).
Staff – We really enjoyed the staff – especially the doormen and bellhops. They were so friendly and funny. One of them referred to our daughter as “princess” whenever he talked to her, and she LOVED that. Concierge was able to help us find a restaurant that delivered – we called out for dinner on Saturday night after a long day of touring the city.
On-site amenities – At the actual hotel you will find a fitness room, restaurant and a rooftop lounge. In-room room service is also offered, though we did not partake.
Off-site amenities – All guests staying at this hotel get complimentary entrance into the New York Health and Racquet Club a few blocks down the street. The club has a full gym and pool. You are also invited to enjoy a harbor brunch or sunset dinner cruise on the club’s private yacht (note: additional fee applies to go sailing and you must make reservations).
We spent our time in the city walking all over the place – over to Central Park and then up to Times Square with a bunch of shops in between. Sunday we enjoyed the Brunch Cruise (look for a separate review on that).
Recommendations: Check –in took a bit longer than we anticipated. After a long (4 hour) drive in rush hour traffic, we arrived tired and ready to relax in our room at 8:30 pm. We were told that our room wasn’t ready yet due to some maintenance work and we could go take a walk/get dinner/etc until it was ready. It was thankfully ready when we returned about an hour later. Normal check-in time at the hotel is 3 pm, so it would have been great if the issues with our room had been resolved prior to our arrival at 8:30.
When we arrived in our room around 10 pm Friday night we found that the rugs in the bedroom and hallway were pretty wet – as if they had just been shampooed. A minor annoyance that we remedied by throwing towels on the floor to walk on.
Final thoughts: While my husband and I frequently visit New York City for both business and leisure, this was our daughter’s very first visit. We were thrilled that The Kimberly Hotel’s location was so central to everything we wanted to do. It was very easy to reach everything on foot thanks to the close proximity of the hotel to so many popular NYC attractions. We also noted the quiet nature of the street and surrounding area where the hotel sat. It was a much more peaceful atmosphere than many other tourist-clogged parts of the city.
We would recommend this hotel for a city stay – especially to families who want some space to stretch out and feel comfortable. The spacious suites provided more than enough room for us. We left the city feeling like we saw so much, yet were reasonably well-rested thanks to the comfort level of the room!
Disclosure: The Kimberly Hotel provided our family with a complimentary stay at their hotel in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% our own.
As we began our final full day in the Boston area, we woke up to find clouds and rain – and realized how lucky we were that the rest of our days were beautiful. Our plan for the day was to drive about an hour southeast to the coast to check out Plimoth Plantation, the Mayflower replica and of course, the famed Plymouth Rock. We jumped in the Twizzlers mobile early – before 8 a.m. and watched as the rain got heavier and heavier throughout the drive.
I hopped on Facebook and asked our FB fans if Plimoth Plantation was mostly outside (a resounding “YES!!” was the answer) we had to make a judgment call. I pulled up the Weather Channel app on my phone and took a look at the doppler. It looked like there was the tiniest little area of clear weather heading towards Plymouth, MA – with lots and lots of rain to follow.
We arrived at Plimoth Plantation and entered the visitor’s center as the rain poured down. We watched the short introductory film that gave an overview of the history surrounding the area, as well as information on how the actual plantation is designed. At the movie’s end – the rain had slowed to a light drizzle.
We trudged ahead to the first stop at the Plantation – a recreation of a Wampanoag Homesite from the 1600s.
The rain continued to hold off and we continued along to the 17th century English Village site. We saw several re-enactors and had a fun time poking in the different houses and checking out some of the tools and other items that the settlers would have used.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering – Plimoth Plantation is NOT super stroller friendly… especially after a good rainfall. The footing is very sandy and the stroller kept sinking – Biker Bob finally figured out the only way to move Lily Bean along:
JUST as we exited the English Village, the skies opened back up. The rain came back and we could not believe that we managed to squeeze the visit in between the bad weather!
Next, it was a short 3 mile drive down the road to see Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II. Bob thought the the rock was way smaller than he had expected – I thought it was bigger. Go figure.
The Mayflower II was neat – definitely worth seeing. It was so interesting to walk the deck (and below deck) and to imagine what that passage from England to North America must have been like. In short – it must have been pure hell. I can’t imagine the smell, the sickness, the fear – just unreal. I had to take a minute to think about how bad things must have been in the minds of the pilgrims to make them give up everything they knew to travel into such a scary unknown. Really amazing.
The ship itself had some great re-enactors on board. Really authentic, funny and full of facts and other ramblings.
After our visit to the ship, it was time for a lunch break. The small eatery that we stopped at just so happened to sell ice cream as well. From the first second we were in the store, Lily noticed that they sold DORA popsicles. Oh ick. We told her that if she ate her whole lunch, she could have one… and don’t you know it – the usually picky eater ate every last bite. She only ate a tiny bit of the popsicle before the novelty wore off – and she’s been talking about it ever since!
If you have been following our trip up to this point, you know by now that we try to pack every last thing into each day that we travel. True to form, we left Plymouth and headed to a place that Biker Bob was certainly excited to visit – the Samuel Adams Brewery.
We took a free tour of their brewery (located on the outskirts of Boston) which included a beer tasting at the end and a free souvenir tasting glass for both Bob and I.
The tour was fun, informative and we got a kick out of the name of our tour – quite fitting for Lily – “Irish Red!”
We wrapped up our tourism for the day by heading back to the Museum of Science in Boston and FINALLY getting on that ever-popular Duck Boat Tour. The tour was neat – a great summary of our other tours and a nice chance to sit back and take in the sites, both on land and on water. Almost 2 hours long, it covered a lot of info.
We headed back to our hotel for our final night in Boston, hungry and looking for someplace yummy to eat. We ended up at The Cheesecake Factory, and DESPITE the 75 minute WAIT, we decided to stick it out because we sure do love their food.
Good thing we took some pre-appetizer snacks in with us.
Tomorrow we head home – we can’t believe how quick our trip went!
You can see all of our Twizzlers Road Trip adventures that I have posted so far!
Travel accommodations and other expenses incurred as a Twizzlers Traveling Family have been provided by Twizzlers/The Hershey Company. All opinions and experiences are 100% our own. I am not telling you the ghastly number of Twizzlers that we have eaten so far this week. Nope – not telling.
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