Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amish Country vacation

The Caskeys at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm!
My family and I went on a week-long vacation in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania a.k.a. Amish country last week. The boys had an absolute blast. (Mom and Dad had a good time, too.)

Some of my co-workers and friends I talked to before our trip said that instead of taking the kids to Hershey Park in Hershey, PA we should take them to Dutch Wonderland, instead. They told me that Hershey Park was more for older kids/teens and adults than little ones like Evan and Tyler.

Evan and Daddy riding the "Frog Hopper" ride
Believe it or not, I had never heard of Dutch Wonderland before this. So, imagine my surprise when we went there to see how much there was to do for us with the boys! We dedicated a whole day to the place and STILL didn't cover everything!

The weather was HOT, HOT, HOT. So, after riding a few rides and getting some "eats", we cooled off at Duke's Lagoon where the boys enjoyed splashing around in the various jet sprays and sliding down the "kids-sized" animal slides. Mom and Dad cooled off under the enormous dumping bucket and water sprays, too.

John, Tyler and Evan in front of roller coaster
Sidebar: Here's a warning to parents who haven't gone there, yet: The huge, black enclosed, twisty waterslide allows you to take your little ones on the raft down the dark slide with you. I wouldn't take them on there, again. It was COMPLETELY dark inside the water slide. Because it was so hot outside, it was actually a little hard to breath (at least for me). Tyler rode with me. Evan rode with John. John and Evan went first. Then, Tyler and I followed them in our raft. Tyler freaked out the whole way down. And, I couldn't blame was freaky going down that dark slide, especially with the sudden drops at some points (lucky I didn't eat right beforehand). Evan also said he didn't like the slide. That it was too scary. The only person who did like it was John. The only thing that this huge waterslide had going for it in my eyes was that it did not have "holes" between the steps going up to the slide. That is one of my irrational fears...falling through the "holes" in steps. But, I digress...

Evan is turning into a little roller coaster aficionado. He absolutely LOVED riding the roller coaster at Dutch Wonderland. First, he rode with John. Then, after he got off of the roller coaster with him, he made me ride with him. Evan has the best "roller-coaster" faces I've ever seen. By "roller-coaster" faces I mean those pictures they take of you and charge you an astronomical price to purchase (okay...I exaggerate...NOT astronomical, but you get the point). And, yes, I buy the pictures. Why? Did I mention Evan's "roller-coaster" faces?!

What I liked about Dutch Wonderland is how they weaved in the "country" feel into the amusement park. It has a creek in the park where you could feed the ducks. You could take "gondola" and boat rides on the creek. There is a little park-like setting near the creek with little arched bridges and flowers.

The National Toy Train Museum (and Tyler...bottom right)
In addition to all of the kiddie rides, they had various shows you could attend at different stages throughout the amusement park. We were particularly interested in the Thomas the Tank Engine Show. Evan and Tyler watch Thomas the Tank Engine on the television at home (and on DVD).

As a matter of fact, if you like trains or the history thereof or the toys thereof, then Amish country is the place to be. We visited the National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg, PA where we saw elaborate little towns with trains encircling them. The boys were able to reach and push the buttons to make the toy trains run.
Evan and Tyler looking at the toy train exhibits

Near the National Toy Train Musuem is the Red Caboose Restaurant where you can eat inside a real red caboose. They even have train cars you can sleep in (motel)! We didn't stay there. But, perhaps next trip...

While you enjoy your home-style food in the Red Caboose Restaurant, you can stare at all of the knickknacks you want to buy in the adjacent gift shop.

All the "Americana" crafts were too much for me to resist. I purchased a cute little framed star with a black steel star holder and a star (see a theme forming here) piece of pottery. The boys were eyeing up all of the toy trains and tools.
Strasburg Railroad passenger train
The Caskeys in front of the Strasburg passenger train
If you stay long enough outside of the Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant you will see an "old-style" (my wording) passenger train go by.

Tyler napping on train
We rode on the Strasburg Railroad and took in the sights along the 45-minute ride. Well...John, Evan and I took in the sights. Tyler...he took in a much-needed nap!

During the train ride, the conductor (no...not George Carlin...may God rest his "Mr. Conductor" soul) talks over the loud speaker about the area, its history and the sights.
Mommy & Evan (yes...he's winking; no...I didn't tell him to)

Evan and Tyler climbing on net
Conveniently, the train passes by the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm (which ended up being the next place we "needed" to see!). The Cherry Crest Adventure Farm has loads of things for little and big kids to do. My husband's favorite (and new personal mission) was the "Amazing Maize Maze" Corn Maze (say that ten times fast...Amazing Maize Maze Corn Maze...Amazing Maize Maze Corn get the point) covering over 5 acres! Apparently, we thought we were super maze experts who could start the maze at the end of our time there with only an hour and a half until closing time. No dice home slice! Tyler wasn't having that. Luckily there is a "quick exit" for those who cannot figure their way out or having screaming child in tow (not that I know from experience or anything...). ;) Evan and Daddy marched on forward without me and Tyler and emerged at the end, not victorious, but just out of time because the place was closing. John is now on a personal mission to return and complete the maze (now THAT'S good marketing!). Of course, there was MUCH more to that place than just the maze. There were wagon pulls, "bull" rides, climbing nets, miniature log cabins to build, air balloon jumping, kettle corn...mmm....kettle corn (sorry...Homer Simpson moment...).
John Riding Bull (official Native American name...)


  1. Aww, that looks like so much fun! the boys are getting so big!

  2. Thanks, Naomi! Yes, they sure are getting big. They grow up too quick. Evan's starting pre-school next month. I'm going to go cry now...LOL... ;)


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