The Ephrata Cloister was founded in 1732 and was one of America's oldest communal societies. It began when Conrad Beissel broke from the Conestoga congregation in Lancaster (German Baptist ) and created his own faith which was more emotional and mystical in nature. He established the cloister here along the Cocalico Creek. After Beissel died in 1768, things went downhill for the community, but remnants of them survived until 1934.
How to get there: I-76 West to Exit 21. Rt. 222 South to Ephrata to Rt. 322 (Main St.) West. About 2 miles to Cloister.
Great sign, eh? Intercourse is located east of Lancaster on Highway 340. The downtown felt pretty touristy to me, but it was definitely lively despite the lousy weather. There are plenty of Amish-themed tourist traps, including gift shops, restaurants and craft shops. The surrounding area is full of beautiful hills and farms and I found the countryside more interesting than the town itself.
Years ago, on one of our trips to Lancaster, my mom, my sister, my aunt Sarah, my cousin Jessica, and I stopped off at a little chocolate factory in Lititz. It was neat to see how chocolate was made and to be in a place where there were so many different forms of chocolate. I thought I was in heaven. The next time you're in Lancaster, I highly recommend you make a detour to:
Wilbur Chocolate Candy Americana Museum
48 N. Broad St., Lititz, PA 17543
this is a comprehensive collection of military knives used by servicemen. There are pikes, swords, sabers, fencing bayonets, bowie, knuckle and trench knives.
The museum is located at 3562 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse.
See the toy train museum in Strasburg. The museum is headquarters for the Train Collectors Association.
This is a large collection of floor toys, electric trains, and train-related accessories.
There are five operating layouts, Standard, O, S, G, and HO.
A continuously running video show offers cartoons and comedy films about toy trains.
The museum is located at 300 Paradise Lane in Strasburg.
Buy an Hamish Quilt by Rebecca even it is not cheap. And look at the fan. It does not work with electricity : it is pneumatic ! But how the compressed air is produced ? That's the mystery... or may be, the sin.
Heritage Map Museum in Lititz. This is a great place to view old historical maps. This museum has maps from the 16th and 17th century. This is worth the stop even for non-map fans.
Located at 49 N. Broad Street in Lititz. From Lancaster, take PA Route 501 North for 12 miles to the center of Lititz.
Green Dragon Farmer's Market (Fridays only)
Outside of Ephrata, this is a fabulous spot to check out Amish and Mennonites in a natural environment. Drive up 272 North and watch for the huge green dragon sign. Go for supper. They have great delis and fried food.
Take a drive off the main road and enjoy the scenery of the countryside. I found it fascinating to see such huge, well-kept farms with buggies and horsedrawn ploughs outside. If you can find the Union Presbyterian Church, you can see the stained glass window dedicated to Joseph White, my great-great-grandfather.
Route 501 north from Lancaster to the Appalachian trail intersection.
(PA 501, Pine Grove, 501 Shelter)