Lancaster vicinity: suggestions for birthday extravaganza?
My mom is celebrating her 60th birthday in mid-December, and we kids (who are several years displaced from the area and therefore not that familiar with what's currently on offer) would like to organize a day of festivities.
A few of her favorite things: wine, hiking, arts/performances, and of course good food! We are hoping for some combination of these, i.e., wine tasting, scenic walk, nice dinner/brunch, live music, Christmas light gawking etc... Perhaps a tall offer, but any suggestions that might provide pieces of this puzzle would be much appreciated.
My parents live around Lancaster, but anywhere within reasonable driving distance is fair game (e.g., Philadelphia, Hershey, York and so on). Thanks in advance!
Here is what I would suggest. Start off at Va La vineyards in Avondale, off of Rt. 41. Depending on where in Lancaster they are, it is probably about 30-45 minutes away. Then head over to Kennett Square. Its a nice little town, that I'm sure will be decorated nicely for the holidays. There is a gourmet type shop there called Talula's table. It would be a great place for a snack, coffee, and getting some items to go that just can't be found around Lancaster. Then, if you aren't too tired, you could take in Longwood gardens. It should be beautiful this time of the year.
I went to Va La this past weekend and had a wonderful time. Their tasting room is very similar to what one might find in Sonoma/Napa, and the wines are very tasty. I believe there are some nice places to eat near longwood gardens, but I haven't been to any, so I'm not sure what to recommend.
I understand Donecker's in Lancaster to be quite good. And Longwood Gardens is a wonderful trip. Va La Vineyard is AWESOME, I try to go every couple weeks. The wines are totally worth the slightly higher prices.
Hotel Hershey's brunch buffet is out of this world -- expensive, but totally worth it. Other good options downtown, if you'd like to explore the shops there (lots of new stuff if you've been out of the area for a while) include Carr's Restaurant, Belvedere Inn, Effie Ophelia's and the new Lancaster Arts Hotel near Franklin & Marshall College. If you can time the visit during December or on any First Friday, stores and galleries are open late and there's lots of live music, etc. www.downtownlancaster.com would have links and schedules. And I agree with earlier post -- Longwood Gardens, especially this time of year, is amazing.
Longwood Gardens is great, especially at twilight and night when the Christmas lights are on. The views and colors are spectacular. There are a couple of good restaurants nearby on U.S. 1, but if you can take the time to drive back to Lancaster, my vote goes to Strawberry Hill, with Gibraltar second. I'll check into the new Italian place at the Arts Hotel the next time we are in town.
OHHH Longwood is fabulous this time of year!
But, if you want to stay in/around Lancaster, there are loads of places that are great...
Comments on some of the previously mentioned:
Haven't been, but on the to do are Effie Ophelia, Bube's.
Carr's is reliably good, as is Belvedere. Strawberry Hill and Haydn Zug's are two VERY favorites.
DH was underwhelmed with Arts, as were some friends from NY.
Downtown is really changing- lots of new shops, artsy stuff. The quilt museum is relatively new, if you haven't been. Take in a show at the Fulton? Go to Market?
It's December! Come to the Christmas City: Bethlehem. You can "follow the star" to see the Bethlehem attractions, see the Bethlehem Star, take them to the oldest, continuously running bookstore: the Moravian Book Store (they have great lunch, too!).
I would suggest Moondancer Winery. It is a beautiful winery and perched on a hillside overlooking the Susquehanna River-- just on the York County side. They usually have live music on the weekends too, rotating art exhibits, etc.
There are plenty of places to hike along the river and you'd still be close to Lancaster or many of the other restaurants mentioned.