As with most main drags in a tourist area Rt. 30 is litter with tourist trap shops. Every few feet you will see signs for Amish this and Amish that. Some of the shops do have Amish items but you are going to pay an arm and a leg for them
Unique Suggestions: Only because of the sign I would say check out "Not just stuff, Amish Stuff."
Fun Alternatives: Go off of Rt. 30 just 1 mile in any direction and you will see many of the same items for much less.
Visiting Lancaster County was a pleasure, but tourists should avoid MOST of the "buggy rides" operations. We took one last year that was an open carriage in the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, PA (one of the top destinations in its area) A dozen people were packed in the open carriage (not a traditional Amish-style carriage) after waiting over an hour. It was hot and being packed in with ten strangers made it worse. The animals were overworked and balked and sweated through the whole ride. It was obviously an operation out to make the most money it could by packing people into the biggest carriage they could at the expensive of two horses and $16 a head. I wouldn't suggest taking a ride at all-- most of them do use traditional buggies like the Amish use, but travel down roads you can access with your car, WITHOUT being a target in the break-down lane for cars whizzing by anywhere from 35 to 55 mph.
Unique Suggestions: -Choose a buggy that is small and covered like the traditional operations
- Stay away from Route 30 and main roads
- Find an Amish driver-- they really can do the tours themselves
-Don't wait more than 30 minutes
Fun Alternatives: Take a drive down meandering backroads in the area between Intercourse and Route 30- its extremely rural and there are farmstands-- you can stop your car at your pleasure and visit an actual Amish farmstand. Just don't take pictures!
There are two main outlet shopping malls on Route 30, east of Lancaster: Rockvale and Tanger. Don't expect to get great prices, but do expect to get a wide variety of shopping options. There are lots of hotels and restaurants along this strip as well, and Dutch Wonderland, which is a small amusement park (now owned by Hershey) recommended for families with children 12 years old. They've added a few more rides for the older set, so your older children may be able to tolerate it.
Unique Suggestions: DO NOT cross Route 30 on foot!!! There have been many fatalities over the years. This is a dangerous road, with cars traveling an average of at least 50 mph. No matter how good it looks on the other side, and how easy it looks to cross...DON"T DO IT!!! Take your car.
Fun Alternatives: Try one of the local farmer's markets. There are three: Green Dragon (Fridays), Root's (Tuesdays), and one in the city of Lancaster (Tuesdays and Fridays).
Check out the small towns in the Eastern part of the county: Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand, Strasburg. Still touristy, but at least there's some history. Intercourse has a pretzel shop that will teach you how to twist a soft pretzel. Strasburg has handmade pottery http://www.eldrethpottery.com/ and an ice cream shop. All of these towns have crafts galore.
Dutch Wonderland is a family amusement park with all kinds of rides and things. I've never actually been there, but I've passed it many times on my way to the shopping outlets.
Fun Alternatives: Hershey Park is like, 30 minutes away. I hear it's a great park, so if you must take the kids somewhere, go there! You'll probably end up shelling out a bit more, but it will likely be worth it.
Perhaps I've been to too many buffets in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but I think that Miller's Smorgasbord, in spite of the hype, is nothing more than a cafeteria. It is the standard fare that you can find in any diner; and, it is very bland and overcooked (mushy shrimp give me creeps). They do serve prime rib, but, somehow, they even manage to turn that into a non-event. At almost $30 a head, it just ain't worth it. And they don't serve alcohol...not even wine.
BUT, please don't be afraid to stop by their bakeshop (adjacent to the restaurant). Although a little pricy, you won't be disappointed. They have excellent shoofly pie.
Unique Suggestions: Eat the desserts....it's the only thing they do well.
Fun Alternatives: Lapp's Restaurant...it's just down the road...'tho' it's not an "all you can eat" buffet and, 'tho', they serve the same food, at least it's tastier and not overcooked.