Akron PA / Ephrata PA / Lancaster / Lancaster County PA / Travel

Weekend Getaway: Lancaster County, PA

We haven’t taken a “real” vacation in years, opting for weekend getaway trips that are more feasible and budget-friendly. In the past year alone, we’ve visited Baltimore, Long Beach Island, Asbury Park, and Doylestown. My only New Year’s resolution was to take more weekend road trips in 2018. Experiences mean more to me than material possessions and I love to explore and see the world.

Knowing how much I love these weekend travels, and we had such a blast at the ones we took last year, hubby’s “big” Christmas gift to me was a weekend stay at a B&B in Lancaster County, PA. I was ecstatic when he told me. We had talked about visiting Lancaster County for a while since we know a bunch of people out there. It didn’t bother me at all that we had to take the trip in early February. In fact, I was quite thrilled it was going to be sooner rather than later as I have been itching to get away again. There’s also a certain beauty in visiting rural areas in the winter.

We alerted our friends that we were coming so we could plan to see them all while making a list of places we wanted to visit during our time there. Since it was just two overnight stays, there’s no possible way we could fit in all of the places we wanted to go to, but we knew that food would naturally be a big part of the visit. We both took half days on Friday from our day jobs so we could hit the road a bit early and get to the B&B before dark.

As we do with all of our weekend adventures, we rented a car. This time opting to rent with Avis Car Rental in Cherry Hill. We got a peppy Ford Fiesta Titanium. It wasn’t as comfortable as other cars we’ve rented in the past, but it had built-in GPS and heated seats which was perfect for this winter road trip.

Bella Vista Bed & Breakfast in Akron, PA

After doing some research, hubby settled on booking our Lancaster County weekend getaway at Bella Vista Bed & Breakfast in Akron, PA. He found a good deal on Groupon. This abundantly charming house is located just 12 miles from downtown Lancaster, PA.

Bella Vista Bed & Breakfast Akron, PA

Bella Vista Bed & Breakfast in Akron, PA [Photo: Bella Vista B&B]

We were put up in the “Garden” room on the second floor, a simple yet elegant room featuring a king-size bed, closet, small flat screen tv, and large private bath with tub and shower. This room also has access to a second-floor balcony which we did not take advantage of due to the cold weather. But could see being a very popular spot to relax in warmer temperatures.

Akron, PA is a small community located next to Ephrata, PA in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. I’m not unfamiliar with the area as I had lived in Berks County for nearly 10 years in the 90s and visited the area quite often. I was very excited to re-visit as it had been at least 12 years. It still has the beauty and charisma that I remember, but I can appreciate it on a whole new level.

Bella Vista was built in 1895, but has been well-cared for. Our host Aaron was friendly and made an outstanding breakfast. As cat lovers, the highlight was house kitty Oliver. He was so sweet and cuddled up with us on a few occasions. Such a joy! Overall, we were very pleased with our accommodations at Bella Vista.

Olde Lincoln House in Ephrata, PA

We had arrived shortly after 5PM on Friday. Once we settled into our room and after a quick rest, we decided we wanted to stay close by to have dinner. I had Googled nearby restaurants and then asked Aaron his opinion of Olde Lincoln House in Ephrata. He said that he often recommends it to visitors. When we arrived it was busy, but they were able to seat us in a cozy dining room right away. The warm, rustic ambiance was perfect for a cold winter night.

Olde Lincoln House Ephrata, PA

Olde Lincoln House Ephrata, PA [Photos: Marilyn Johnson]

We weren’t in the mood for huge entrees, so we ordered off of their tavern menu. I enjoyed a glass of their house sangria which was very good. I was intrigued by the sweet potato dumplings appetizer on the menu. The dish included shallots, pickled beets, goat cheese, pesto, and pecans. The dumplings themselves were great and the beets and goat cheese were perfect together, but I felt the pecans weren’t necessary. For my main, I opted for the crab cake sandwich while hubby went with the special cheesesteak served with french fries which he loved. All in all, a nice meal for a reasonable price. They have a good drink menu and something for everyone’s taste.

Bright’s Restaurant in Ephrata, PA

We decided to support the local economy on our first morning in Amish country. There were several nearby restaurants serving breakfast, but we chose Bright’s on a whim. So glad we did! I’ve missed simple, down-home eateries like this. Not only for the unpretentious atmosphere, but you can’t beat the prices! Service was impeccable as well; friendly, smiling, and prompt. Our coffee cup never empty. A “Good Morning” indeed.

Bright's Restaurant Ephrata PA Breakfast Menu

Bright’s Restaurant Ephrata, PA Breakfast Menu [Photo: Marilyn Johnson]

We ordered enough food for 4 people, though! A “short” stack of pancakes, 2 poached eggs, and home fries for me. Scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, home fries, and toast for hubby. What were we thinking? It was too much for us, but we did the best we could. Everything was cooked perfectly. And can you believe all of this food including coffee was under $20? Got to love that!

Bright's Restaurant Ephrata PA Breakfast

Breakfast in Ephrata, PA [Photo: Marilyn Johnson]

Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, PA

After our breakfast feast, we rolled on down to the city of Lancaster, PA with Central Market as our first destination. It is the country’s oldest farmers’ market. A mini Reading Terminal Market open year-round chock-full of local foods and wares. It was packed with people on this cold Saturday morning. We strolled the entire market and picked up a few items such as spices from The Herb Shop, fresh chevre goat cheese from Linden Dale Farms, smoked Cooper sharp American cheese from S. Clyde Weaver, and marinara sauce from Buona Tavola. I would have liked to spend more time at the Market, and buy more stuff, but we wanted to continue exploring the city.

Central Market Lancaster, PA

Central Market Lancaster, PA [Photo: LancasterOnline.com]

Record Stores in Lancaster, PA

Hubby is an avid collector of vinyl records. We visited Mr. Suit Records (118 West Chestnut Street) and Stan’s Record Bar (48 North Prince Street) where he easily made several record purchases. Mr. Suit had more of a selection for new music lovers. While Stan’s featured tons of vintage vinyl treasures. It really felt like a total throwback record shopping experience, too! If you love crate digging, this is the place to go!

Stan's Record Bar Lancaster, PA

Stan’s Record Bar [Photo: Marilyn Johnson]

The Pressroom Restaurant & Bar in Lancaster, PA

We met up with some friends for drinks at The Pressroom Restaurant & Bar (26-28 King Street) upon their suggestion. A perfect suggestion at that. This is my kind of place. A favorite of writers from LNP Media Group across the street, this casual bistro is located in a historic commercial building that once housed Steinman Hardware Store. It offers an extraordinary selection of bourbons, whiskeys, scotch, and superb libations from simple to complex. It also boast a modest, yet impressive wine list by the bottle or glass. There are 8 beers on draught and several canned beers to choose from as well. We were just having drinks on this visit, as we had dinner plans later, but the food menu is commensurate with any good restaurant you’d find in Philly. I enjoyed the “Good Medicine” cocktail, while the guys drank pints of beer. I really loved the industrial chic vibe, press-themed decor, large open floor plan with oversized booths and communal tables, and high ceilings. It’s casual cool. I’d definitely go back!

Good Medicine The Pressroom Lancaster, PA

“Good Medicine” at The Pressroom [Photo: Marilyn Johnson]

Annie Bailey’s Irish Public House in Lancaster, PA

After our hang at The Pressroom, we went back to the B&B for a little R&R before heading back to the city for dinner with more of our friends. Upon their recommendation, we had dinner at Annie Bailey’s Irish Public House (28 East King Street). Great choice because I’ll never turn down an invitation to go to an Irish pub! The interior is absolutely breathtaking. Not only is it quite big, but it really is authentic… the pub was built in Ireland, shipped to Lancaster, and assembled here. Awesome!

Annie Bailey's Lancaster, PA

Annie Bailey’s Downtown Lancaster, PA [Photo: Marilyn Johnson]

This Irish pub in downtown Lancaster, PA won’t disappoint you. Incredible beer list. Equally admirable brown liquor offerings. Exquisite cocktails. They also have wine. I had a fancy cocktail called “Brooklyn Blossom” that was made with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Sorel Hibiscus Liqueur, Lillet Aperitif, Mixed Berry Syrup, Fresh Lemon Juice & Dried Hibiscus. So good! The food menu has something for everyone. I enjoyed a turkey burger with fries and hubby raved about the chicken and biscuits! If we hadn’t had an obscenely large breakfast, I might have gone with the shepherd’s pie. Our friend ordered that and said it was fantastic. We loved the fun atmosphere at Annie Bailey’s. I could tell that it is quite the hot spot. With great drinks and yummy food, it’s no wonder.

Annie Bailey's Lancaster, PA Food

Great Food at Annie Bailey’s [Photo: Marilyn Johnson]

Rendezvous Lounge at Lancaster Marriott

There are so many places we could have hung out afterward for another drink, such as Tellus 360 or The Belvedere Inn, but our friends decided Rendezvous Lounge inside of the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square (25 South Queen Street) would do the trick. It was a bit crowded, but a nice spot to end the evening with our pals.

So Many Reasons to Visit Lancaster, PA

We truly fit a lot into our only full-day in Lancaster. There’s so much going on and a lot to see and do! We missed an opportunity to check out the many taphouses downtown such as the popular Spring House Brewing Company, Lancaster Brewing Company, and Federal Taphouse. A brewpub tour is a must when we come back, perhaps even this year, and I’m excited to go back and try some more restaurants! Lancaster isn’t just Amish country, it truly does have something for everybody, even the most cosmopolitan, sophisticated and hungry day trippers.

Record Connection in Ephrata, PA

Our original plan on Sunday was to spend time in nearby Lititz, PA and hopefully see some other folks we know in the area, but the weather was starting to turn precipitous. We decided to visit one last record store before we hit the road back home. A friend suggested the Record Connection in Ephrata, PA near the Green Dragon Market which is a legendary farmers market that is only open on Fridays. We’ll have to hit that up another time.

Record Connection Ephrata PA

Record Connection Ephrata PA [Photos: Marilyn Johnson]

This is an outstanding record store. Out of all of the ones we’ve been to in recent years, this one impressed us the most. It is huge and they have a great $1 record bin. Hubby was like a kid in a candy store. We could have spent all day just in there, but as we were shopping the snow was starting to come down heavy. There was about a half an inch on the ground by the time we got out of there. I’m sad that the weather cut our trip short, but we had an amazing time and we can’t wait to come back to Lancaster County, PA!

What are your favorite spots in the city of Lancaster or Lancaster County, PA?

Here is a nice piece that Craig LaBan wrote about the food scene in Lancater recently! 

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