I don’t know that I’ve ever done a “weekend trip to Lancaster”-type post, but I don’t know that I need to. This city, which has been my home for the past four and a half years, is absolutely a great place for a weekend getaway or daytrip. In fact, there’s enough to do in Lancaster to sustain several weekend trips if you’re not in the area, and always things to do if you’re living in south-central PA.
My sister came to visit Lancaster last weekend, so I got to play tour-guide and experience some places/things I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise, which was fun. She arrived late Saturday morning and we spent an hour or walking around the shops downtown (correction: she walked around several shops and I stood around being bored until she came to her senses and admitted this would be something more fun for her to do sometime with a girlfriend, or our mother) and then grabbed a drink outside at Springhouse Taproom before getting a lunch at Lancaster Brewing Company (we initially wanted to eat outside, but it was cold). All those things however, I’ve done before and written about extensively so I won’t waste your time describing them. I’ve been in something of a brewery kick lately, and Lancaster has so many to be explored, so we set off to Ephrata and Reamstown to visit St. Boniface Brewery and the Union Barrel Works, two stops I haven’t made yet.
Ephrata and Reamstown are both small towns about 15-20 minutes from Lancaster that I’ve never fully explored, as there’s honestly not a ton of reasons for me to go out that way. However I’d been wanting to check these breweries out and my sister visiting was the perfect opportunity.
St. Boniface has a really cool setup and concept to it. The brewery and tasting room are all in the same facility, what appeared to be a revamped garage. In fact, a garage door opens to the back parking lot where food is provided by a rotating crop of food trucks. We’d just ate so I didn’t try anything from Bountiful Feast, however they did have several pleasing looking options (a $4.00 Bratwurst is always good in my book; escargot and puff pastry however, is not). We got a beer flight and enjoyed sampling everything. While they’re not my cup of tea, I think that anyone who’s into hoppy beer and IPA’s would probably love this place. Still, St. Boniface seemed like a cool place to hangout and I also read on several online reviews prior to visiting that they sometimes make beer floats with their stout and ice cream, which I’m 100% behind.
Union Barrel Works was our next stop, housed auspiciously in the corner of an old building. The entire bar is surrounded by plexiglass which showed off the brewing process which was pretty cool. We got two beer flights here, so we could sample everything and if I’m being truthful I enjoyed the beer here just a tiny bit more than St. Boniface, even though I’d recommend stopping at both. Stoudt’s Brewery (one of the older and larger Lancaster breweries) is just three miles or so from Union Barrel works, however we skipped that stop because they were having an IPA festival.
We went back into town and grabbed a round of drinks at POUR, an upscale bar and real foodie-type restaurant right on Prince St. that I haven’t been too before because anytime I ask someone (which has only been twice) I’ve been told it’s too expensive. It’s probably not somewhere you want to plop yourself down and drink for three hours but it was a nice bar and has a nice patio. POUR has an extensive list of imported beer and I ended up getting a Lithuanian Whitbier (or what I dubbed a Lithuanian pounder) which I thought was cool because we are Lithuanian and it’s such an obscure country. We went to a few other places but ultimately ended up coming full circle and ending our night back at Lancaster Brewing Company.
Sunday we rented mopeds and went scootering around the Amish countryside courtesy of Country Road Scooters in the weirdly named Bird-In-Hand (located between Paradise, Blue Ball & everyone’s favorite: Intercourse). My sister had gotten me gift certificates to do this for Christmas two years ago and we’d never gotten around to it.
Word of caution: we were freezing the whole time. It was a little chilly but nothing awful and walking around I was fine in jeans and a sweatshirt but on the scooters it got downright cold. We probably would have stayed out on them much longer on a warmer day.
The mopeds are a great way to see “Amish Country” especially if you’ve never driven through it before. I drive through it quite frequently so I think the whole “this scenery is gorgeous” gene has been numbed, but it was still a fun little jaunt. The scooters are (mostly) easy to handle and the guy working gave us a map and route that mostly ran on a number of small backroads. We didn’t have to deal with much traffic, which was nice and while we were only out for about two hours you have the capability to go quite far on these things. I’d recommend setting aside a good chunk of your day.
We chose to scooter on Sunday but Saturday would probably be a lot livelier. They take the day of rest seriously in these parts so many of the stores and shops in Intercourse and Kitchen Kettle Village were closed. We did make a stop at the Intercourse Canning Company (more for a bathroom break but then I got suckered into the free samples and ended up buying some Buffalo Sauce) and the Mount Hope Wine Gallery so Katelyn could pick up a few bottles, but on Saturday you’d be able to stop many more places and a lot of the Amish farms sell produce and homemade products. I’d recommend taking a backpack and possibly even a cooler bag, because you’ll probably leave loaded with food products.