Sunday, October 16, 2011

What to do with 3 days in Lititz, Lancaster County

As fall comes into full force and the days grow shorter and cooler many folks think that activities in this part of the world slow down as well. I am here to tell you that it “just ain’t  so”!  Late fall and winter are some of the richest, activity wise, in Lancaster County. Here are some fun filled ideas of what you can do with 3 days in beautiful Lancaster County.   Visit our website for links to those that have websites. For those that don’t we will have all the info for you here when you check in.

Of course we are near Lititz and love all that there is to do right here!  November brings  2nd Friday on Nov 11, with shops open later, music and other fun things to do. Lancaster City boasts 1st Fridays with special events, food and music as well. While there visit the Central Market, the oldest inland farmers market in Lancaster County, open only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Friday’s are also Green Dragon days, a busy outdoor/indoor farmers market in Ephrata. Auctions, produce, crafts and flea market all rolled into one.  
This is a great day to tour through Amish farmland, slow your pace to that of the horse and buggies around you, add in a stop at Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse for some shopping. Jellies, jams and preserves abound here. Small stores with handmade crafts, and other beautiful things can be found here as well.  Quilt shops are dotted through the countryside. Ask us for our favorites.  You will want to stop for ice cream on an old order Amish farm that makes just about the best ice cream on the face of the earth!  End your day with one of the many performances at the Millennium Theater, Rainbow Dinner Theater, or the American Music Theater.
Sunday is the quiet day here in the county. Pretty much anything Mennonite or Amish run will be closed. Buggies wend their way through the back roads to and from church services or visiting. Today is a good day to visit some of the museums in the county. Most are open from noon to 5. The Ephrata Cloister is fascinating and has several programs throughout the year. My favorite is the Christmas Lantern Tours and Christmas at the Cloister, both in December. These require tickets and advance reservations.
President Buchannans home, Wheatland  is open for tours as well.
 Landis Valley Museum, is a living history village and farm, which collects, preserves and interprets the history and material culture of the Pennsylvania German rural community from 1740 to 1940.  Also open 12-5 on Sundays and well worth a visit.
End your day with dinner at one of the amazing restaurants close by. We love Lily’s on Main in Ephrata or the General Sutter Inn on the square in Lititz.
We love telling guests about the New Holland horse auction that takes place on Monday’s.  This is not a tourist attraction and cameras are not allowed. Many Amish go here to purchase new carriage or work horses. It is fascinating and we will be happy to give you directions.  Monday’s  are also wash day in Amish country and touring through the farmlands is beautiful no matter what the time of year.  This is a good day to visit the outlets as they are far less busy than later in the week.
Year round farmers markets include Lancaster’s Central Market open on Tuesday. Schedule a visit to the Quilt Museum just next door while you are there.  Lancaster also offers walking tours and boasts some excellent restaurants. Like other small cities it is filled with small shops and interesting things to do.  The Fulton Opera House boasts some excellent performances year round.
The other farmers market that is only open on Tuesday is Roots. This is an outdoor/indoor market chock full of excellent stands.  Just south of Manheim it is a short drive from the Inn.   On your way back to the Inn a visit to Waltz Vineyard just west of Manheim. We love Waltz wines! Their wine tasting room is beautiful and bright, the perfect spot to spend a few winter hours. Be sure to try their award winning Fusion wine.
Outdoor activities abound in northern Lancaster County all year round.  Take an afternoon to hike the trails behind the Inn, or at Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve just a short drive from us.  At the end of January, beginning of February through the middle of March you can enjoy the migration of the snow geese and tundra swans.  Not just a few but tens of thousands of them find their way north with a stop at Middle Creek.  Several hundred overnight here at our own Speedwell Forge Lake, but the really impressive  flocks are just a short drive away at Middle Creek. Bring your camera!  Bikers love this area and we have access to cue sheets to help you find your best route. Covered Brideges are scattered throughout this part of the county and make a beautiful tour. End your day at the Boars Head Pub in Lititz for one of their incredible craft beers on tap. Jeff, the bartender will help you find the  perfect one to go with your traditional pub fare .  What a great place to spend a wintery evening!
Wow are we through a whole week already? I have barely touched the list of all there is to do here in the county.  Today would be a great day to take a short 25 min drive to Hershey if you want  to visit Chocolatetown USA, or for a closer chocolate fix a trip to Wilber’s right here in Lititz is in order. Home of the Wilber bud they have a wonderful chocolate museum and great outlet store for your Christmas and Valentines day needs. Down the street you will want to stop in at the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Factory and try your hand at twisting a pretzel. Do a good job and you will come away with a certificate to hang on your wall.  For more pretzel fun we can send you to a small Mennonite run pretzel bakery where they still stand around tables twisting pretzels and singing.  Out to dinner and why not end your day with a nice hot cup of coffee in front of our roaring fireplace.

I have not even scratched the surface of all there is to do. Check out the Area section of our website for links and more events and things to see and do.  Every month is filled with special events, theater preformances, concerts,  and tours.  Werner and I have innkeeping for 25 years and we love to map out days tailored to what you, our guest want to experience.  I hope you have enjoyed your armchair week in Lancaster County, Why not come for a visit?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Forcasting the winter

Much folklore surrounds predicting the amount of snowfall one can expect in the upcoming winter If the band on the black and red catapiller is broad, not so hard, if it is a thin line, very hard winter.  If the acorns are big and plentiful, hard winter, and the list goes on and on.. I must say I enjoy listening to the speculation as we go into fall and wonder what we can expect. I have my own harbinger of prediction that has a really good success rate. I look out and see how Werner's woods stacking is going. The more wood stacked, covered and ready, the harder the winter promises to be.
One stack of MANY
Well I have news for you. I cannot remember a time that there has been more wood, split and stacked than there is this year. Every available corner, wall, overhang.. you name it, is filled with beautiful oak, poplar, maple and chestnut. Werner has the most beautiful wood piles I have ever seen. Guests comment on them, take pictures of them, ask him for lesson on how to do them.. they are just perfect.
And as precise as a barometer.
So, if  setteling in next to our roaring fire and knitting, reading, taking or even napping sounds like a great idea, make your plans now to visit us when the snow flies!
During Sept, October and November we keep the fires burning on the patio in our very popular fire pit. December onward the main fireplace takes over and is the place to be. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wild Mushrooms in the Swiss Woods

Werner and I took the time on Sunday afternoon to hike the back trails behind the Bed and Breakfast,  and take a look at a new bridge the boys built across the stream. The bridge makes that trail a guest favorite. It winds its way back to the marshes and then along the inlet where the owl box hangs, wood ducks nest and frogs sing. If we are lucky the owl will be looking out her door even during the day.
Because of the regular rains we have had this year the hiking paths were lined with mushrooms of every imaginable shape and size. We commented that we really need to find someone to teach us the art of identifying mushrooms that we can eat. There is nothing as wonderful as mushrooms fresh from the forest and we have acres here for them to grow on.
So today when the doorbell rang and it was my nephew Ben, Mr Outdoors, with 2 friends asking if they could hunt mushrooms in the woods, I said, sure, if you bring them back for me to see!
When they returned it was with a 5 gallon bucket filled with Hen of the Woods.  One of them is now in my kitchen waiting for me to figure out what to do with it,  and I know where to find more when I get it figured out!  I love that we are never done finding new things to be excited about on this property.  Let me know if you have a favorite way of preparing wild mushrooms!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Bed and Breakfast is the perfect way to visit Lancaster County

Every year Werner and I host a group of Swiss Farmers. They arrive after touring through New England and Canada and Lancaster County is the last stop on their trip. We are always challenged with showing them the best of the area and it serves as a wonderful opportunity for us to evaluate all that this area has to offer. Every year we are overwhelmed by just how much there is to do here!
Jeff the vineyard manager ( with the pipe) and  Werner (with the cup)  learning  details of winemaking.  Thank you Jeff!

Our guests enjoying Waltz wines and locally made cheese
Yesterday we visited Waltz Vineyards in Lancaster County. This vineyard is newer to the Lancaster scene and all I can say is .. Welcome! What a wonderful place with wines to match. (My favorite is their Fusion) Located just north of Manheim it is proof positive that Lancaster can produce wonderful wine.
Today in addition to a visit to a local peach and apple orchard the group is touring through pristine Amish farmland, shopping for quilts and learning all there is to know about local milking operations. Tonight we will grill wonderful sausage from S. Clyde Weaver's sweet corn grown 1/2 mile from the inn, and a decadent peach dessert featuring peaches from the farm at the end of the road.  Lancaster truly is a cornucopia of the best food imaginable.!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Outdoors at a Lititz Bed and Breakfast

So often when talking about the Inn we forget to mention the truly spectacular setting that Swiss Woods enjoys. 35 acres of bliss as one of our recent guests put it. Overlooking Speedwell Forge Lake and bordering on state conservation land not only affords us a very quiet setting, but a wide variety of outdoor activities that only require  a pair of sneakers and a step outside. We are very pleased this year to be awarded with a "Certified Wildlife Habitat" designation from the National Wildlife Federation.
One circular trail that is easy to walk and takes you into what feels like untouched woodland is only about 45 minuites long. Werner's logging trail provides a great walk back to the wetlands and the Conestoga trail picks up there and brings you back along the inlet, past the owl box and numerous waterfowl nesting spots, back around to our lower gardens. Bull frogs, heron, and a pair of young eagles can be found along the way. If you are very quiet and lucky there are several pileated woodpeckers who call this area home as well.  Pennsylvania White Tailed Deer with their fawn live here as well, feeding at the edge of the woods at dawn and dusk.
For the more adventurous we keep canoes at the lake. Early mornings before breakfast or in the evening when the sun is almost ready to set are fabulous times to enjoy the unique quiet and wildlife on the lake from the vantage only a canoe will give.
Why not take a few days and join us in this special corner of Lancaster County surrounded by all that unspoiled nature has to offer?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lititz Bed and Breakfast is a better way to stay!

Homemade root beer and short cake
Memorial Day in Lititz is past and we are now officially into summer.I, for one, love summer, the warmth, the farmers markets, roadside stands, and all the special events that pop up all over the countryside.  In keeping with a current national bed and breakfast promotion called "A Better Way to Stay" we are constantly reminded of the reasons our guests choose to stay with us. One of the reasons is how connected we are with what is happening around us. We enjoy telling visitors about out of the way things to do. This weekend is no exception.

On my way home from Roots Farmers Market with my watermelons, bananas, cantaloupes and home grown strawberries I passed my favorite Amish farm stand. A huge sign proclaimed that Saturday they would be making homemade ice cream. If you have never had freshly churned homemade ice cream you are missing something amazing. Vanilla served with freshly picked fruit or any variety of flavors, homemade ice cream was a staple in the summer at home growing up. Neighbors would gather and all bringing something to go along with the ice cream. We would enjoy a warm evening watching fireflies and savoring  the creamy treat. Neighbor John Landis even hooked the churn up to a tractor motor one summer so we could all sit and watch it churn… but there is still something nostalgic about hand turning a batch.

Boxes of freshly picked berries, sugar peas and fresh jam
We still have a few rooms available this weekend. Why not escape to the country for a few nights, enjoy some homemade ice cream at the Amish farm up the road and relax in some of the most beautiful gardens around.

Other fun events:
Waltz Vineyard wine tastings are a must for any wine lover out there. Just 15 short minutes from the inn this beautiful tasting room is the perfect place to enjoy the amazing wines that Waltzes produces right here on Lancaster County farmland. They have truly earned the many medals they display.

Just around the corner is the Wolf Sanctuary of PA. Once a month they hold an evening event called the Full Moon Tour. Our guests just love this event, many returning several times to it visit again. The next full moon tour is the weekend of June 16.

This year we will again have tickets available for the Nissley Vineyard Lawn Concerts. We are happy to provide chairs and a picnic with 24-48 hours notice. This is such a fun night under the stars dancing.

Hoping to see in Lititz soon

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Swiss Woods, crown of Lititz Gardens

MayEvery spring as the daffodils just take our breath away and then give way to the staggering variety of spring flowers and plants, I am just astounded at what all grows in the Swiss Woods gardens.  Today the early daylilys are blooming profusely, the rhododendrons are loaded down with the brightest pink and purple blooms, Jack in the pulpits in white and stunning dark purple, perennial orchids, and bright red poppys. The plentiful rain has only served to make everything more lush than usual. The iris are starting to bloom around the water garden and the birds are building nests in every available tree.

Do you recognize the plants at right? We have had guests ask if they are fake, garden art, statues. If you walk close to them their distinctive smell will tell you that they are every bit alive and growing. They, for lack of a better word... stink. After the black lily stage they turn into what some call an umbrella tree. It is called Devil's Tongue or the Umbrella Tree Plant. They are truly impressive.

There are still a few rooms available for Memorial Day weekend. Why not join us? There are many interesting and fun activities going on all over Lancaster County, or you can just soak up our wonderful peace and quiet.

Local Events.. just a smattering, there are far too many to list here
Flavor Fest at Mt Hope Estate and Winery, just a short 10 minutes from the Inn
Shows at the American Music Theater, Bill Cosby, Kelly Pickler, Dwight Yoakim and many more. 
Who goes Bare at the Rainbow Dinner Theater.  This dinner theater is always good for a laugh and a good time. 
Make plans now to visit us for a weekend in July and August for a wonderful picnic at Nissley Vineyard for their music in the park. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lancaster County PA, Greenhouses galore!

Spring is in full swing in Lititz and it is time to turn our attention to the gardens. How fun is that! Every year I am astounded at the number of greenhouses scattered all over Lancaster County. One close to us here at Swiss Woods specializes in geraniums and produces more than a million a year to sell wholesale. Their retail store is like an FA Schwarz of greenhouses, a veritable gardners delight. But they are not the only option by far. Some focus on water gardening, some on herbs and heirlooms, some of shrubs and then there are the auctions that sell plants by the pallet to Roots and Green Dragon’s produce auction that sell by the piece or flat.
Yesterday Erma and I took a few hours to visit the Roots plant auction. What fun that was to bid on hanging fuchsia baskets, flats of colorful inpatients, marigolds, hosta and coral bells. The prices were amazing .. as low as $3 a flat for marigolds. I totally love auctions!
We will be happy to map these greenhouses out for you, sending you to our favorites.  Roots is on Tuesdays and Green Dragon Farmers Market is on Fridays. The Leola Flower auction runs the beginning of the week. Why not come and stay and see these colorful wonders for yourself? 
Werner on the left. .. having a great time!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lititz Quilt Shop, in northern Lancaster County


With March just around the corner and masses of quilters descending on Lancaster County for the annual Americans Quilters Show (March 16-19) I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a real hidden gem here on the outskirts of Lititz.  Weaver’s Dry Goods is housed in an unassuming building along Brubaker Valley Road less than a mile from Swiss Woods. From the outside it doesn’t look all that big and if you do not know it is there you could easily miss it. That, would be a shame and you would miss a gem of a quilt /fabric store as well as a traditional bit of Lancaster County.

Walking in the front door you are welcomed with a variety of crafts, wall hangings and notions, but the heart of this place is the rows filled with bolts of the most colorful fabric in every shade and pattern imaginable. Putting together the colors and fabrics for a quilting project here is pure joy. For those who love fabric this is inspiration waiting to happen. You can hardly walk through the isles here without wanting to start something.  Little bundles of color coordinated fabric cut in what are known as fat quarters fill large cabinet. The day I was visiting ladies, arms laden with bolt after bolt of brilliant colored cottons made their way to the cutting station.

A quilting visit to Lancaster County would not be complete without a visit to Weavers Dry Goods. For quilters who want a personal fun place to stay, we are just around the corner. Come with your friends and turn your quilting convention into a true girlfriends get-a-way.
at the Lancaster Convention Center
March 16-19

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lititz Fire and Ice, Quilt Shows and more

One of the joys of a small town is being able to enjoy a wide variety of festivals. Fire and Ice is one of those and the first Lititz event to kick off the year. There are many more as you can see on our event schedule at the bottom of the blog. Fire and Ice is an ice sculpting event and a chili cookoff. It is great fun and a good way to shake the winter blues, get outside in the fresh air and enjoy people, food and a great small town.
Visit the Lititz website for a complete schedule of events. Friday night kicks off with the ice being sculpted on the street.  Why not come join us for the weekend and enjoy the festivities!

Mark your calenders for these upcoming events. Swiss Woods will be running a winter special from February 20th through March 31. It is a perfect time to plan a winter escape to the 'Woods'.

Special: February 20-March 31 : Book one night and the second is 50% off
Book 2 nights and your third night is free.

The snow geese migrate the end of February and beginning of March. To read more about this amazing sight read my post to the Lancaster Bed and Breakfast Inn Association blog.

Upcoming events:  (You can always access the latest events on the Swiss Woods home page)

            It is always wise to plan ahead. Here are great events happening in and around Lititz in the coming months. Plan your stay with us around one of these wonderful events.
Amy Grant and Michael W Smith:  March 6  American Music Theater Mention that you are attending the concert and receive a 10% discount.
Lancaster Quilt Show and Conference  March 16-19    10% off to all quilters attending the show.  Early full breakfasts. Weaver’s Dry Goods, one of Lancaster’s premier Quilt shops is just down the road.
Penryn Mudsale: March 19  Just 2 miles down the road this is one huge mudsale!
Michael Flatleys Lord of the Dance, 2 shows March 12 at the AMC
The Oak Ridge Boys at the American Music Theater March 19  This is a 3pm show and perfect for show, dinner and a night at Swiss Woods.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Geese migrate through Lancaster County

Early February is just around the corner and while we look forward to it as a month of romance, chocolate and roaring fireplaces, it is also a wonderful nature month. Every year the migration of the snow geese takes place starting in the second half of January. The distinctive calls of the Tundra Swans and Snow Geese mixed with a few stray loons can be heard as they fly in for their landing at Speedwell Forge Lake. We are above this relatively small lake and only get some of the birds. Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve, a short 10 minute drive from the Inn, however, gets tens of thousands of these magnificent white geese as they migrate back to the northern tundra.  Birdwatchers and Photographers from all over find their way  to Lancaster County to enjoy this spectacle. Every year when Werner and I visit the lake to see this spectacle we are just in awe at the sheer number of birds and the beauty of it all.
Pack your binoculars and pay us a visit!

Snow Geese Special
Stay 2 nights and your 3rd night is free
Stay 1 night and the 2nd night is half price
Good February 1, 2011-March 31 2011  excepting February 18-20

This is also the best time of year to see the wolves at the PA Wolf Sanctuary. In the cooler months the wolves are more active as they are not dealing with the heat and have their wonderfully thick winter coats.
Consider a visit for one of their full moon tour weekends. It is worth the trip! Howling wolves in the full moonlight, unforgeable!
The weekend of February 19 is the next full moon tour. Book your room now for this weekend. There are still a few rooms available but they won't last long.