We were met with tilted heads and confused eyes when we told people we were going to be spending our first wedding anniversary in Lancaster. For those who don't know, just a year ago we were hopping on a plane to Vegas (with our closest family in tow) to elope in the dramatic Valley of Fire. It makes sense that people expected a little more than Amish country for our one year celebration.
What I probably love most about our marriage is that we both love adventures, but to us that can mean anything from weekends in Vegas, nearly getting kidnapped in St. Lucia (a story for another time), or just exploring a new town. It might sound crazy, but our weekend in Lancaster had everything we needed for a great adventure PLUS tons of relaxation, which was a must.
I'd be lying if I said we had our eyes set on Lancaster from the start. Honestly, all we knew we wanted was a small town with coffee shops that was close enough to road trip to for an extended weekend. We tried a few super small towns that we've been wanting to visit, but turns out the end of October is a very popular vacation time for little towns in the Northeast. We kept turning up with 0 Airbnb results & hotels with no vacancy, until Google suggested Lancaster.
Like most things, we didn't think too much about it and decided it felt right so we booked a hotel in Lancaster City and decided we would spend our mornings/evenings in the city (walkable food & coffee is always GREAT) and we'd drive out to the country to spend our days. With no more information than that, we jumped in the car and started our road trip!
Lancaster City turned out to be a real city, which was a surprise to us considering it's a 10 minute drive from Amish country. Imagine the city itself is the doughnut hole of a doughnut, surrounded on all sides by the "outskirts" which I'm sure were fine, but after a little Googling we found might not be the safest of areas. We decided to stick to the doughnut hole area and it was plenty for us to explore by foot. We explored a few blocks of cute coffee shops, boutique shopping, and a huge central market. There's also a full block of art galleries since there's a college of art located in the heart of the city. We opt more for history than art so we skipped the galleries and headed into Amish country.
Upon our first glimpse of the countryside, we immediately realized this was our kind of place. There are two main roads that take you into the country and the visitor center advised we start on those then drive around and get a little lost on all the side roads. WE did just that and it was amazing. We saw incredible farms, beautiful rolling hills, plus tons of farm animals and field workers. We were able to have such mindful time, really appreciating the beauty of nature and all that farms provide.
Besides the beauty, we obviously had our first glimpse of some Amish families as well. All I can say, is if you haven't read or watched anything on the Amish culture, you need to stop and go do that right now! Honestly, it's totally fascinating the way that they live. Eric and I love exploring new cultures so we decided we'd spend all our next day in the Amish countryside touring and learning about this group of people.
Before we headed back out though, we stopped at Cafe One Eight in Lancaster City for breakfast. This place was so cute - and definitely not a well kept secret - it was SO busy but for good reason. The food and lattes were delicious!
Just like we planned, we spent the day touring the Amish countryside and learning more about the way they live. We tried a bunch of their Pennsylvanian Dutch foods and played with some farm animals! We even found BABY GOATS, which made my entire day.
While I'm here, I have to say I'm super thankful to Eric, who got 90% of these amazing shots. I was in full vacation mode and didn't know where my phone was half the time. Something about being in the country just makes me really connect with the moment (and therefore disconnect with my phone). I'm sure the Amish set a good example as well, although we learned some Amish families allow cell phones now...
We finished the day off with more goats and befriended this HUGE steer, who's name is Max. He doesn't look the friendliest in the photos, but everyone on the farm was telling us to pet him. Eric nearly got speared with one of his horns in the process, but it was well worth the experience. He was truly majestic.
After the farm, we cleaned up and stopped by Dough and CO, which was quite possibly the coolest place we went to. The cookie dough was AMAZING and the people who worked there were super cool. We even heard some totally not-mainstream songs that Eric and I happen to love and we knew that place was our vibe. You can't miss this place if you're in town! We even left a little piece of minimaleffortblog on their chalk board table hehe :)
After a hugely successful weekend in Lancaster, we headed home in the scariest downpour of our lives. Let me know when it's time to take a vacation again....because we're ready!