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May 28, 2008 02:10 PM

Harrisburg-Hershey-Lancaster Area

Folks - Summer's here and I am packing Mrs. Gee and the two not-so-little-anymore Gees into the wagon for three days and three nights of Hershey Park and Pennsylvania Dutch Country this July. I've done some research on these boards and am a bit overwhelmed. When we're able to get away from amusement park food for a meal, where should we go? We'll be based in Harrisburg and driving around. We're not looking necessarily for fine dining, just good eats - any cuisine - and we'd like to sample the Amish offerings. Also, recommendations for good, local ice creameries are welcome. Cows in the back is a plus, crowds are not. Thank you!

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  1. For ice cream, try Reeser's in Lewisberry (not far from I-83), No cows out back, but a local experience nonetheless.

    1. Ice Cream--

      Mt. Gretna is a cute little town between Hershey and Ephrata (lancaster County) off Rt 322. They have the Jigger Shop which is standard sandwich flair but is an old fashioned ice cream shop. Cute place in a very cute town.

      Hayloft Candles-- Ice Cream is made from cream by hand-- only like 6 flavors but dirt cheap. There is also a petting zoo on the property. I can get in and out of here for under $3 with my son.

      Oregon Dairy-- Ice Cream shop Not sure if it is their ice cream or Turkey Hill or a combination this year. Oregon Dairy started as a milk shop 25+ years ago then grew into an ice cream shop, then they added a grocery store and a restaurant. Old School Mennonite Family Runs this place. Playground, goat feeding and a turkey/ deer pen right next to the ice cream shop. Restaurant is not "Amish" per see but does serve all of the Lancaster County standards and does have a decent buffet although nothing compared to a Shady Maple, Millers or Plain n Fancy (all of which I do not recommend).

      Coleman Ice Cream-- never been here either but it is located closest to Tourist Land Lancaster (aka rt 30 on the East side of Lancaster)

      Ice Cream Corner aka Purple Place-- This place was just featured on Jon & Kate plus 8 (TLC) earlier this week. It is in Hershey, PA. Never been here either, but heard alot about it.

      1. Good Eats--

        Isaac's-- local chain sandwich shop started in Lancaster. Usually good service and very kid friendly. During the summer months, stay away from the one near the Strasburg Railroad. There is another one on Greenfield Rd off rt 30 that does not get as many tourists. The original location is downtown near the quilt and heritage museums. Issac's also also located in Hershey and Harrisburg.

        El Serano- Lancaster- good eats, kid friendly-- Started as Peruvian and they still have Peruvian dishes, but is mostly general South American now. Cheap for the quality of food. My Peruvian BIL gave this place a thumbs up.

        Catacombs-- Mt. Joy-- neat place. In an old beer brewery. you actually eat in the catacombs. As they take you down, they show you how they actually made beer and moved it back when.

        TJ Rockwell's- Elizabethtown (about 10 minutes from Hershey). Good standard American Fair. One of best outdoor decks in Lancaster County with a sand box for kids.

        Amish Food-- Personally, I am not a fan of the HUGE smorgasboards. Yeah, they have it all, BUT it usually has been sitting in warners for a while. I also DO NOT recommend going to an "Amish Farm" that does not have a restaurant license to eat.

        My suggestion if you are willing to stay someplace other than Harrisburg-- stay in a Farm Bed & Breakfast. Most are run by regular families or Mennonite, not necessarily Amish-- but they do cook Amish. You get up in the morning and have "chores"-- i.e. collect the eggs from the chicken house, feed the goats, etc. They make the breakfast with eggs while you finish the "chores". We just went to one for my son's field trip and it was very cool.

        For a tour of an Amish Farm, contact any of the auxilary Chamber of Commerces (Ephrata, Mt. Joy, Columbia) and ask (I know Ephrata had a local Amish Lady that did tours, but not as a daily thing). If you go to the main Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, you will probably be sent to one of the "tourist" farms.

        If you go to Lapp's (several locations but one on Rt 30), Oregon Dairy (Rt 272), Kreider Dairy Farms Family Rest (manheim), you can get the "Amish fair".

        1. The BEST ice cream in Lancaster County is by far Lapp Valley farm in New Holland. (This is NOT the same Lapp's mentioned by another poster.) It is a secret even to other parts of the county. They make their ice cream on the premises. If you are there in the a.m. or around 4ish (call and check the times), you can watch them milk the cows. The kids can feed the cows and see the barnyard cats and dogs. The prices are really, really reasonable. It is WAY out in the country but we will definitely be back. Here is a link to an article about them:

          Strasburg Creamery in Strasburg is also great. They make homemade waffle cones and they are inside a quaint general store in the village. There are other nearby shops.

          There is a great diner opened up in Columbia, Prospect Diner. It is a 1950s stainless steel diner that just opened up in May after being restored. They have typical diner food but it is all homemade.

          In Elizabethtown near Hershey there is a doughnut shop called The Fractured Prune where you can have a donut made hot to your specifications with different glazes and toppings. They have other menu items as well. They have a small but nice children's toy area.

          Downtown Lancaster has an awesome pastry shop on Duke Street called La Dulce Vita. You can park at the King Street garage and walk there and also to Central Market if it is a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday.

          1. I love the jiggershop!! The ice cream is super and the outdoor dining area is shaded by big old trees. Also in Mt Gretna is a lake for swimming and a beach for relaxing. I would label it an "old-timey" experience if your family would be up for it!

            Coleman's ice cream is on 340/Old Phila. Pike near Dutch Wonderland. I live right down the road and go there a LOT in the summer. The ice cream is yummy, and my favorite flavor is orange pineapple.

            For family fair, i like Isaac's deli, which was listed by another poster. There are a ton around the county, and even one in Hershey. Hot sandwiches, deli salads and the best soups around. No french fries, though. If you go to the one on Old Greenfield Road, pick up some baked goods at the Bird in Hand Bakery which is in the same strip of shops. You could get yummy stuff to take back to the hotel for breakfast the next morning. Then, the kids will be nice and sugared up. Woo-Hoo!

            Near dutch wonderland is Good 'N Plenty, on Eastbrook Rd near the intersection with Rt. 30. This is my favorite of the many Amish "consume mass quantities" experiences. This meal is served family style with several choices of meats, veggies and starches. It's nice talking to other people at your table who are also most likely tourists.

            Down Rt. 30 East is Jennies Diner. This is a real old streamlined metal shiney diner. Food is pretty good, but of course not as good as it used to be! When i brought a visitor from Spain here, he said, "This is the America I saw in the movies." It might be fun for photos even if you aren't up for a meal (if you like to take pictures like i do!!)

            As mentioned by another poster, don't go to a farm for dinner that doesn't have a department of health inspection certificate. The main concern would be that they have a well, not publicly treated sewer. you are at risk you could pick up something. this does happen reguarly which I can attest to from working at a GI practice for several years.

            What ever you choose, I hope you have a great time and eat a bunch of junk food. This always guarentees a super duper vacation!