Road Trip Destination: Lancaster, Pa.
Fall is here, and winter's not too far behind, but to hear some in Dutch Country tell the story, this could be a perfect time to head to Lancaster County, Pa.
Yes, tourist foot traffic is heavier in the warmer months; the lion's share of the about 11 million visitors who come to Lancaster County each year to sample roadside stands and take tours that show off the quaintness of Amish country do so between March and September.
But don't think the area shuts down while people are bundling up. This is the time to catch a glimpse of gorgeous landscapes, autumn events and stunning, novel-inspiring covered bridges at their most picturesque.
“People are drawn to the natural beauty of the area,” says Joel Cliff, of the PA Dutch Country Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Sure, we get stronger numbers in the summer. But our fall is a great time to visit. The holiday traditions all around the country started here.”
More than 22,000 people work in the county's $1.8 billion tourism economy, making it the area's second-largest industry behind agriculture. The area known worldwide for its ties to the German and Amish cultures shows in chillier months that it offers much more.
The Fulton Theatre (www.thefulton.org) in downtown Lancaster, marks its 160th anniversary this year. The theater, which hosts a variety of plays and musicals, is just one in a line of indoor cultural venues in Lancaster County that are rolling out welcome mats to kick off their 2012-13 seasons. Its next production is “Singin' in the Rain,” from Nov. 28 to Dec. 29.
Chris Ramirez is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5682.
Christiana Underground Railroad Center
A self-guided museum, at Historic Zercher's Hotel on Green Street, Christiana provides evidence of the resistance during the Civil War, through bibliographies and other artifacts preserved through the collective efforts of local historians.
The museum is recognized by the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Interior's Underground Railroad Network.
Details: 610-593-5340; www.zerchershotel.com
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
At the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, the power of trains, and the steam and coal engines that move them take you to another level of excitement.
Visitors can take the throttle in an authentic freight locomotive cab, explore a caboose, experience a turn-of-the-20th-century passenger station and inspect a 62-ton locomotive from underneath. Pennsylvania's premier museum of railroading features a world-class collection of more than 100 historic locomotives and vintage railroad cars, the innovative and interactive Stewart Junction railway education center, and a working restoration shop.
Special events and exhibits run throughout the year, including Polar Express parties in December.
Details: 717-0687-8628; www.rrmuseumpa.org
American Music Theatre
The 1,600-seat theater hosts more than 300 live performances a year, from Broadway tours to rock legends to famous comedians to today's hottest acts. It opened in 1997, and has hosted acclaimed original shows and one-of-a-kind Christmas extravaganzas in Lancaster.
Details: 800-648-4102; www.amtshows.com
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
In its 26th year, the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre blends the excitement of musicals and live-stage performances with top-flight cuisine.
Located on Centerville Road in Lancaster, the 380-seat theater hosts 150,000 guests each year, and is set to premiere “The Rat Pack Lounge,” paying homage to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. from December to early February.
Details: 717-898-1900; www.dutchapple.com
Lancaster Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1947 by Frederic S. Klein and John H. Peifer, the orchestra is entering its 64th season. The 70-member professional orchestra has been under the musical direction of Stephen Gunzenhauser since 1979. It presents 24 classic concerts, a “Sounds of the Season” holiday program, a New Year's Celebration and a yearly patriotic concert.
Details: 717-291-6440; www.lancastersymphony.org