How To Have An Awesome Weekend in Lancaster PA with Toddlers

Lancaster PA with KidsIt can sometimes be challenging to travel with toddlers. Finding a balance between enough things for them to do, while working in or through naptime, and planning activities that are fun for everyone is just… tough.

Plus, you don’t want to over stimulate.

When we first learned we would be taking a trip with other Philadelphia bloggers to Lancaster PA, I was worried. Would it be entertaining enough for my 4 and 2-year-olds? Would they have fun?

Friends, it was more than fun. It was perfect. I’m going to break down for you three Lancaster PA properties perfect for toddlers and families.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Lancaster County, you don’t want to miss my review of the Bird in Hand Family Inn and Restaurant.

The Amish Village

Amish Village Lancaster PA

Our first stop was the Amish Village.

At the Amish Village, you can experience the Amish way of life – up close – and learn how Lancaster County’s Amish live.The Amish Village sprawls across 12 acres of farmland. Visitors can take a guided tour of an authentic Amish farmhouse and explore the farm property at their leisure.

The 25-minute guided Amish tour tells the story of the Pennsylvania Amish lifestyle. With real Amish working in the Village, visitors learn about the Lancaster County Amish community – present and past. From religious, cultural and educational traditions visitors get a first-hand glimpse of what it truly means to live “unplugged.” No video games to pass the time here!

But is it fun for toddlers?

Yes! We had a fantastic time at the Amish Village. There is a petting zoo where you can feed animals like chickens, goats, pigs and cows. Plus, there is TONS of room for kids to romp around. I will say my son, the 2-year-old couldn’t really hang for the house tour, but my 4-year-old loved learning about the house and Amish life. She stuck with the whole tour!

Amish Village Lancaster PA

Of course, we explored The Amish Village on our own. You can walk through the one-room schoolhouse featuring homework and lessons on loan from real Amish students. Visit the blacksmith shop, the Amish barn and watch the farm animals in the barnyard. Families can also take advantage of the picnic grounds and purchase handmade Amish crafts and food from the Amish Village Store and Smokehouse Market.

Plus, everyone at The Amish Village were more than nice and accommodating. We had a fabulous experience!

Check out the Amish Village on Facebook and tell them you’re coming for a visi!

The Strasburg Railroad

And so, my son’s train obsession begins…

The Strasburg Rail Road is one of Pennsylvania’s leading family attractions and is home to museum quality, working, turn-of-the century steam locomotives, freight cars, dining cars, private cars and one of the largest fleets of historic wooden passenger cars in the world. Founded in 1832, Strasburg Rail Road also holds the unique distinction as being America’s oldest short line railroad.

Strasburg Railroad

The 45-minute train ride departs daily from Strasburg station. Passengers can choose to ride Coach, First-Class, Open Air or the Dining Car. Plus, ride on the miniature Pint-sized Pufferbelly steam train, the authentic Pump Car, or take a behind-the-scenes tour to see steam engines being built, restored and refurbished. Strasburg Rail Road has a number of value passes including the brand new Summer Fun Pass, the Rail Baron Pass and the Day Pass.

We happened to be there on the day they were hosting their first vintage baseball game. While the kids are too young to sit through a baseball game, we did get a kick out of seeing all the fans and players dressed in 30s and 40s uniforms and dress enjoying a fabulous game out. It looked great!

Of course, the kids LOVED the train, and loved the ride. Us parents did too… nothing like a long day with the kids, and the rhythm of a train to lull you to sleep…

Well, not really, but we were tired!

If you are thinking about planning a weekend and visiting Strasburg Railroad, keep in mind Thomas the Train makes stops at Strasburg a few times a year (the next one is in a few weeks), and the Santa Express is something every parent and child should experience. Plus, this November is a special Steampunk Event that looks awesome!

For train ride information and events, be sure to “like” the Strasburg Railroad on Facebook.

The Choo Choo Barn

We spent the night at the Bird in Hand Family Inn and Restaurant (check out my review here) and the next day, after a great breakfast, we went out again. We’ve been to Strasburg Railroad a few times over the years, but we never ventured to the Choo Choo Barn. I am so glad we went this time.

Located just down the street from the Strasburg Railroad, the Choo Choo Barn is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Choo Choo Barn Lancaster

It’s amazing. And I’m not even a model train enthusiast. I am pretty sure I enjoyed it more than the kids!

he Choo Choo Barn –Traintown, U.S.A.® – features more than 150 animations and 22 operating trains, this 1,700 square foot handcrafted, work-of-art is packed with small-scale local landmarks and detailed scenes from Lancaster County.

Can you imagine the work, dedication and LOVE that went into this display? It truly is amazing.

Look for the following scenes and animations during your next visit to the Choo Choo Barn:

  • Amish barn-raising
  • Three-ring circus and parade
  • Display transformation into nighttime (every 10 minutes)
  • Dutch Wonderland, enhanced with new lighting this year
  • A house fire and the fire crew that puts it out

In fact, I caught some of the fire scene here:


Here is more of the amazing model train display:

It’s really all in the details. When you go, take a very close look at the model train display and see if you can find:

  • A Roll-back tow truck animation – new this year
  • Driver getting a speeding ticket
  • Child in a tire swing
  • A dog leaving the tree house
  • Current gas price (on an LED sign)
  • The Turning House

When you go, send them a note on Facebook to say hello!

Should You Visit Lancaster, PA With Toddlers?

Yes! It was a perfectly paced weekend perfect for kids under 5. We used a backpack-style carrier with our son, as he likes to run and hates being in a stroller right now, but our 4 year old loved the places we visited, and has already asked to go back.

Lancaster is the perfect getaway for families who are looking for fun in a low-key, family friendly setting.

Enjoy!

  • Jason Voll

    All three sites were great. The Village is very low-key and relaxing – a great safe place to let the kids explore at their own pace. The allure of the Railroad is self-explanatory, there’s just nothing like watching a steam locomotive chuff past 4 feet away from your face. The Choo Choo Barn is really something that has to be seen to be believed. Kids love it but I think adults really do get more out of it because they can wrap their heads around the amount of time and work that it takes to create and maintain it.

  • Ryan

    Did you check out Cherry Crest Adventure Farm? It is another Lancaster attraction that is perfect for all ages, even toddlers.

    • http://www.nosleeptilcollege.com Erica Voll

      No! I’ll put that on the list for next time. We will be back!

  • Alan

    Dutch Wonderland would seem like a natural. Our 2 and 4 yo boys love it. Splash park, diving show, big pretzels, and little kid rides. Cheezy but fun.

    Also Eden Resort is a nice place to stay. Splash park at the pool with waitstaff bringing you food and drinks and free ice cream in the lobby every afternoon.

    • http://www.nosleeptilcollege.com Erica Voll

      Ice cream social? Yes, please! Dutch Wonderland is on our to see list this summer!

  • Tom

    Eden Resort Hands down Best area Hotel. Indoor and outdoor heated pools reasonably priced too. Amish horse and buggy rides too near the railroad. Dienner S Country Restaurant on 2855 lincoln hwy.East. The best buffet fresh baked pies desserts around.Love that shoo fly pie!!!! Have not been to Dutch wonderland yet. Maybe this yr my son will be 3 and a half

    • http://www.nosleeptilcollege.com Erica Voll

      You are the second person to recommend Eden…must be great!

      • Tom

        It really is a great resort. I am wondering how is Dutch Wonderland for my 31/2 yr old. Is is like a cheesy overpriced carnival? Or will he enjoy it?

        • http://www.nosleeptilcollege.com Erica Voll

          Tom, we haven’t taken our kids to DW…. yet. I went there as a kid (!!) and I LOVED it. I think the rides would be perfect for a 3.5 year old. I will definitely review it when we go- hopefully, this summer.