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Touring Amusement Parks, want good chow in PA, VA, MD

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I know, it sounds ironic and perhaps futile on the face of it - but I and my family love roller coasters, amusement parks, and food. Time was that parks mostly had great food - but that time is gone, and I need your help.

In celebration of my 40th birthday I will be riding more than 40 coasters I have never ridden before in less than 2 weeks. The schedule is largely dictated by the park - in some cases, we'll have no choice but to eat things we'd rather not in order to keep on schedule for the rides. When we can eat outside the park, though, we'd like to find places that are:

- Local
- Distictive
- Yummy
- Willing to admit 10 year olds and adults perhaps a bit grubby after a day in the park - maybe in shorts and t-shirt.

If all goes according to plan, we'll ride 58 new coasters and not eat in a single chain restaurant!

Here are the places where I know we can or must get a meal outside the park:

Knoebels, Elysburg PA, Monday (Memorial Day):
Dinner nearby or en route to Hershey PA (I-81)

(I know Knoebels reputation for excellent food - this is a backup in case we ride up until closing time and have to eat outside the park)

Dorney Park, Allentown PA, Tuesday
Dinner nearby or en route to Hershey PA (I-78)

Kings Dominion, Richmond, VA Thursday
Breakfast near Woodbridge VA or en route to Richmond (I-95)
Dinner near Richmond or en route to Corolla NC (I-95, I-64, US 168)

Six Flags America, Mitchellville MD, Monday
Dinner near Mitchellville or en route to Lancaster, PA (I-87, I-695, I-83, US 30)

Dutch Wonderland, Lancaster PA, Tuesday
Breakfast near Lancaster
Dinner near Lancaster or en route to Ligonier, PA (US 30, I-76 Turnpike, US 30)

Idlewild, Ligonier PA. Wednesday
Dinner near Ligonier or en route to West Mifflin, PA (US 30)

Tuscora Park, New Philadelphia OH (after stop at Village Candy, Sewickly PA), Friday
Lunch near Swickley, PA, near New Philadelphia OH, or en route between the two. (PA 60, US 22, OH 39)

Thanks for any information.

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  1. If you're in Sewickly, it's only a couple of miles up the street to Leetsdale for Azul. Mexican.

    http://www.azulbarycantina.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: yayadave

      Thanks! That looks great - if we are hungry for lunch while still in Sewickly, I think we need look no further, as we all love authentic Mexican.

    2. Noticed while you mentioned West Mifflin, you didn't ask for a recommendation while visiting Kennywood. May we ask where you decided to chow that night?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Panini Guy

        Kennywood is likely open late - and last time I was there, I liked their food. I was planning on the Parkside Cafe for dinner and staying until the park closed. If we wanted to leave earlier, Primanti Bros. was my backup (my children love it).

        That said - I'll never turn down a good tip. I've got family in Pittsburgh and am more likely to visit places in that area in the future than the rest of the areas on my trip.

      2. Where in Lancaster were you planning on eatting? I recomend Shady Maple - the best buffet ever. Good at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Any Amish cooking is excelent. I really hope you have the chance to stop there. Breakfast is probably your best bet because they open up at the crack of dawn and it sounds like you have a busy schedule.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PrincessPants

          I don't have firm plans for Lancaster yet, so I'm listening eagerly. I'd heard of Shady Maple before, and with your recommendation will probably put it in for dinner - the smorgasboard seems to be a part of the Lancaster experience, and though I've had it many years ago, I think the rest of my family should give it a go.

          For breakfast, I'm considering the Bird-in-Hand restaurant:
          http://www.bird-in-hand.com/index.php...

          They've got a pastry buffet that would probably suit us, as we don't usually go for a heavy meal first thing before riding. Any opinion of them?

          1. re: psantucc

            My two cents on Shady Maple: not all that great. To be honest, I have not been there for breakfast so that may be good. However, the dinners I have had there have been okay at best. My parents love to go there because it is all you can eat. In my opinion, though, it is just a lot of okay food. Not bad but nothing spectacular. If you are look for a lot of food, it is your place. If you're looking for great food, I would suggest looking elsewhere.

        2. Carol and Dave's Roadhouse on Route 711 North in Ligonier just opened a Roadhouse Pizza Wings & Subs across the street. The food is great and they specifically created the dining room for families with kids. Here's post on it. http://ligonierliving.blogspot.com/20...

          If you are visiting Idlewild on a Sunday and the family likes chicken, I highly recommend the roadside chicken barbecue which is by the Driftwood bar on Route 30 very near Idlewild. The chicken is worth the standing in line. It's only chicken, coleslaw & pop. They have roadside picnic tables. Each piece is half a chicken and is easily shared. They start selling early in the morning and usually sell out by 4pm.

          Have fun!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Diane Cipa

            Carol & Dave's sounds a lot like my local and much-loved Tank's. They're on my list, thanks.

            Roadside chicken sounds great, but we won't be there on Sunday.

          2. Dorney Park Day...try the Grille 3501, either lunch or dinner. It is excellent, and
            it almost sits in Dorney Park's backyard....just a few minutes away.

            http://www.grille3501.com/aboutthegri...

            1. At knoebels, I wanted to recommend the "pickle on a stick" and fried perogies for a great, original snack. When we were there with the kids, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in the park and it was good food at good prices.. Have fun!

              1. That sounds like a great time. Have a blast. Having grown up in the Pgh. area, I fondly remember our Kennywood School Days., and having the fries with gravy, cheese, onion salt and ketchup was a highlight. Kennywood is still a wonderful place to go- not too big, or small, and friendly folks.

                1. Directly across the street from Dutch Wonderland is Lapp's. This is a pretty standard, sturdy place for breakfast. Not amazing or inspired, but standard, reliable, clean, friendly, pretty inexpensive and generally yummy. I personally don't like to eat too heavy when I am going to a park and walking in the heat. Shady Maple is very good, and you will leave with full bellies. However, Lapp's is yummy and very convenient to the park. I think you could park your car at Dutch Wonderland, and cross the street by foot in the cross walk to get to Lapp's. Your trip sounds so fun!! Good Luck!!!

                  1. We live in Lancaster and have season passes to both Hershey Park and Dutch Wonderland (they're both owned by Hershey Entertainment). There aren't many restaurants in Hershey, other than at the Lodge or Hotel (we would love to know of any other decent restaurants in Hershey, if you find one). We've eaten at Red Robin, which is right outside the park. It's a chain, but the food's not bad. However, the service can be abysmal. Inside the park, there used to be a place that made its own potato chips and had a variety of sausage sandwiches. It's located in the food court behind the Dry Gulch Railroad depot. We often go to Chocolate World to get free chocolate after the free factory tour ride. Sometimes we get dessert in Chocolate World after the free ride.

                    As far as Lancaster goes, the Lyndon City Diner on the Manheim Pike (Rt 72) is pretty good for breakfast. Lapp's isn't bad as long as you don't get the buffet. For dinner, try Olive & Jasmine's, which is down the road from Dutch Wonderland. Or, just eat kettle corn at the park. It's pretty good.

                    1. Here are a couple of posts about a place just north of Harrisburg.

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/383217

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/332554

                      1. After Knobels you may want to try Massers Restaurant (right down the road in Paxinos-a small town about 3 miles from the park)... they have great local pennsylvania german food.Think smoked sausage, & pork chops, country ham, filling etc. It's the closest you'll get to mom's home cooking. It is verry laid back and kid-family friendly. Ask any local, but be sure to ask for the restaurant- they also have a meat store nearby that is very popular. I stock up on my smoked meats regularly there. Enjoy