Visit Lancaster: "How To" do a Weekend Getaway to Lancaster, PA
So this came in the mail the other day....
Which means "Mud Sale Season" is in full swing in Lancaster County, PA!!! I remember the first time I heard the words "Amish Mud Sale" from my mother-in-law's mouth, followed by : "You guys should come with us!" It turned out to be my favorite weekend trip ever. And although I consider this a decorating blog, this post fits the bill because many of the beautiful pieces in my home have come from Lancaster.
What exactly is a "Mud Sale" you may ask?
An Amish Mud Sale is an auction usually held by fire departments in Lancaster County to raise money for the volunteer municipalities in the area. These auctions are run by Amish auctioneers who sell items such as flowers, tools, furniture, crafts, carriages, animals, quilts and my favorite: antiques!! They are usually held on most weekends starting in the spring through the summer in Lancaster County and are open to the public. Mud Sales get their name from the spring conditions which often yield to muddy fields, but in the summer the ground is much drier and is more like a "dirt sale" on a hot day.
How does a Mud Sale work?
It's super simple. Mud Sales usually post locations online (which I"ll link to below) along with time schedules of what items will be auctioned and when. You simply show up to the site which is usually at a fire department or big field, find the auction registration tent, and register at the counter in order to receive an auction number. This auction number is important and a necessity when bidding on items because if you win the auction on a particular item, your number is recorded on the item. Once you get your number, make your way to a tent (my favorite being the antique tent) and have a look around. Getting there earlier than when the auction is suppose to start is key- so you can look around and see if there's anything you want to bid on. Then take a seat and wait for your item to be up on the auction block. If you want the item- you simply raise your auction number in the air. Half the time the Amish auctioneer is talking so fast it's hard to tell what price you purchased the item for, but in most cases you can get awesome items for a steal. When you're ready to leave, Amish kids offer to pull your wagon of stuff to your car for tips. (How cute is this kid below? I'm probably not suppose to take a picture of him... and voted against making him the cover photo for this blog post... but since the Amish don't use internet, I just had to include him).
Here are some items I've scored from Amish Mud Sales:
I love mixing old with new and these items help create that balance in my home.
Interested in checking out a Mud Sale? My favorite happens to be in two weeks on Thursday, June 28th and Friday, June 29th in Bird-in-Hand, PA. Check out this link below for dates and locations of Mud Sales through the summer:
Besides Mud Sales, Lancaster is a great (and reasonably priced) weekend getaway that has something for everyone.
The Top 3 Things I love about visiting Lancaster (besides Mud Sales):
1. The beautiful and impeccably kept farms (all Amish farms are taken care of without any modern farm equipment.) The Amish don't use any modern conveniences like electricity or cars. It's truly as if you're taking a step back in time when you see Amish farmers plowing fields with horses. Plus you'll see tons of horse and buggies traveling along the road side.
2. The Shopping!! There are so many beautiful furniture and clothing shops in Lancaster. (There's a Pottery Barn outlet in Lancaster too!)
3. Fun Family Activities: Like Buggy Ride tours of Amish farms, Train rides, and Dutch Wonderland
One Thing You Need to Know Before You Plan:
The Amish don't work on Sundays and many businesses (which are often Amish-run) aren't open on Sundays. So if you're planning a trip try a Thursday- Sunday, or early Friday-Sunday trip, so you at least have two full days in Lancaster.
Where to Stay:
Kitchen Kettle Village
in Intercourse, PA. Yes, Intercourse.... which if you're coming from Orange County, NY like I am... you'll pass through Blue Ball and Virginville, PA... (the Amish really know how to name their towns). There's some really funny shirts available in gift shops at the Kitchen Kettle Village... like "I <3 Intercourse (Pennsylvania)".
What I love about it:
1. Location : Kitchen Kettle Village is home to some awesome shops... there's tons of cute home decor items and shops centered around food: a wine store, meat and cheese store, tapas store, bakery, jam & salsa store, etc. All of the food shops offer tons of samples (I'm all about the samples)- to the point where you'll eat so much you won't have to purchase lunch (which the frugal in me loves). You could literally spend most of the day here- but its also within 15 minutes of all the other places I'll mention in this post.
2. Conveinence: The Inn is located above all the shops- making it super convenient. It has rooms for all group sizes: including apartment-like accommodations with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, and balconies.
3. Price: It's reasonably priced (I paid $150 for a night with my girlfriends, which was then split three ways)and breakfast is included!! Enjoy a sit down breakfast at kitchen of the Inn with many choices on the menu. (Note: If you are staying on a Saturday night, the kitchen is closed on Sundays, so instead they give you a voucher to pick a dozen cookies from the Bakery (because who'd doesn't love cookies for breakfast). Make sure you get to the bakery by 5pm on Saturday or you're out of luck. The kitchen being closed on Sunday mornings is another reason to try and stay on a Thursday and Friday night instead.
4. Freebies: They give you welcome bag in your room with samples of fudge, jam, and travel-mugs to take home. Take the mug shopping with you to get coffee or lemonade in the village shopping area, which is included with your stay.
5. It's across the street from my favorite furniture shop: The Treasure Place at Smucker Village (I'll talk more about that in a bit).
Check it out here:
My Favorite shopping in and around Lancaster:
1. Kitchen Kettle Village: This is where I recommend to stay, but if you stay somewhere else, be sure to visit this shopping center. As I mentioned above, there so many great shops- and it's a great way to feed your children for free with samples (lol). Check out what it has to offer here:
2. Smucker Village/ The Treasure Place: My favorite furniture and home decor store... EVER (even more than Pottery Barn). Located right across the street from Kitchen Kettle Village, this beautiful shop has one of a kind furniture and great home decor pieces. This is where I first set eyes on my beloved kitchen island, which was made out of an old metal DeWalt tool table (and only $900!!!). They also have a great coffee shop in the furniture store.. because who doesn't love home decor shopping with coffee.
Check out what it has to offer here:
3. Bird in Hand Farmer's Market: Right down the road from Kitchen Kettle Village and across the street from the end of June Mud Sale is this great farmer's market with tons of vendors. Get sandwiches, popcorn, baked items including Lancaster's famous "Whoopie Pies" (which I've never had because I'm suppose to be gluten-free... more on that later), or small gifts in this great stop. Check it out here:
4. Cocalico Creek Country Store: About 10 minutes from Kitchen Kettle Village (and .5 miles away from the Pottery Barn Outlet), is this great store. My second favorite to The Treasure Place, this store has a combination of beautiful home decor items, furniture, and clothing. I've gotten some great shirts and scarves here for under $20.
Check it out here:
5. The Pottery Barn Outlet of Lancaster!! Located in the Rockvale Outlets -I don't think a PB outlet really needs much explanation, but I can tell you this- hit it on the right weekend and you can get certain furniture pieces for upwards of 60% off the already reduced price. Check out Pottery Barn of Lancaster's instagram page here... I often stalk it to see items in the store in case I feel like taking a 3 hour drive to grab a great deal.
Family- Fun Activities
Try one of the following:
1. Take a Buggy Ride to an Amish Farm. Available directly from Kitchen Kettle Village (many other places offer Buggy Rides as well), this 45 minute ride takes you from Kitchen Kettle Village to a farm down the road. An Amish guide introduces you to farm life and what life is like without modern conveniences.
2. Checkout Strasburg Railroad. Strasburg Railroad is located just 12 minutes from Kitchen Kettle Village and provides tours of Trains and Locomotives meant for all ages.
3. Visit Dutch Wonderland. Located across from the Rockvale Outlets, Dutch Wonderland is a theme park with games and small rollercoaster rides. It was voted the best theme park in Lancaster and that's probably because it's the only theme park in Lancaster....lol.
Where to Eat:
There's a ton of regular chain-style restaurants close to the Rockvale Outlets. However, family-style Smorgasbord meals are pretty popular in Lancaster County. These buffet options are available at price per-person options.
If you're interested check out:
^Hershey's Farm Restaurant I went to for the first time on my last trip to Lancaster in April with my girlfriends. What I liked about it was it has many more options available than the traditional smorgasbord restaurants- which tend to be gluten heavy. (I'm suppose to stay away from gluten foods... and I mostly do.. except when I succumb to some random irresistible baked item and am in need a good clean out.) It also has the option for a lighter-fare of just soup and salad if you didn't want to spring for the full buffet. There's also a fun gift shop- and funny photo opportunities in front of the restaurant.