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andee26 Feb 23rd, 2009 08:26 PM

Lancaster/Hershey/Gettysburg vacation
Family of 4 (kids 12 &16) travelling to PA for a vacation this July. Trying to decide where to the idea of finding one place and driving to destinations if feasible. Found the Eden Resort in Lancaster. Would it work to drive to Hershey one day, Gettysburg one day and spend some time with the Amish? Or are these things too far apart? Thanks for you help!

KenInPA Feb 23rd, 2009 08:53 PM


I live about 20 minutes from Hershey, 25 from Gettysburg and about 45-50 from Lancaster. Lancaster to Hershey is very easy highway drive on 283. Lancaster to Gettysburg on the other hand while not far, can be a slow and tedious go on route 30...tons of traffic and traffic lights. Unfortunately it's about the only route that makes sense. I would stay in Gettysburg for a night or so to avoid the hassle of driving there and back in a day.

fyi...say LANK A Stir, not LAN Cass ter, please. :)

persimmondeb Feb 23rd, 2009 08:59 PM

That would work geographically, although both Hershey and Gettysburg are a bit of a hike (figure at least an hour's drive). There are any number of attractions in and around Lancaster as well. Not only the Amish attractions, but you will see actual Amish as well, on the roads and going about their business. Most of them however, unless they are actively running tourist attractions, are not interested in interacting with visitors. There is plenty to keep busy with, though, and the area is particularily good for railroad enthusiasts, even pretty casual ones. If it was me, and I had a week or so, I would spend a night or two in Gettysburg, ditto for Hershey, and two or three in Lancaster. This is because we don't mind longish drives early in the day, but can find them annoying late at night, particularily when sticky and sunburnt, which most people are after a day at Hershey. If one theme park is not enough for you, Dorney Park near Allentown isn't all that much further afield, and has a nice water park, which I believe (haven't checked it recently) is included in admission.

cheapbutnice2 Feb 24th, 2009 09:57 AM

From a Lancaster resident, I would vote for staying in Lancaster and make day trip(s) to Hershey (under 1hr) and Gettysburg (+-80 mins) & Amish farms (10mins).Others disagree in this forum, but I recommend the Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard, Bird in hand, Willow Valley, etc. over the Eden.

KenInPA Feb 24th, 2009 05:31 PM

Where are you coming from? The direction might help in a better routing.

andee26 Feb 24th, 2009 06:43 PM

Thanks to all for good info. We are coming from St. Louis MO. The Eden looks so nice and would give us a kitchenette to save a little $ on eating out. Just wondered why you recommend the others over Eden. We don't mind the driving and prefer to stay put in one place once we get there, if possible. Thanks!

travelbug44 Feb 25th, 2009 04:43 AM

We did this trip last year but stayed in Harrisburg/Gettysburg and at the Eden Rock. I loved the Eden Rock. We stayed in a 2 bedroom suite but there have been complaints about the town houses and the rooms closer to the pool.

We stayed at the Sheraton (4 Points) in Harrisburg and although it was a quick trip (on the back roads) I was NOT thrilled with the 4 points at all.

We did not find it a problem staying a 3 hotels, and found it nice to do our laundry at the Eden Rock before we came home.

Have fun

KenInPA Feb 25th, 2009 12:10 PM

From St Louis it would make sense to stop in Gettysburg 1st. If you are coming across on I-70, that will meet the PA Turnpike (I-76)near Pittsburgh. Take that to the Gettysburg Exit and then head south on Rt 15 for about 30 minutes. Or if you are coming across 64, catch I-68 in Maryland to Frederick and then north on 270/Rt 15 for about 25 minutes or so. Then after you visit Gettysburg, get back on Rt 15 and go north to the Turnpike EAST to the "Harrisburg EAST" exit and follow signs to Hershey, that would take a little over an hour. Then after Hershey you can take Rt 283 South to Lancaster. Hope that helps.

cheapbutnice2 Feb 26th, 2009 06:36 AM

Assuming that we are talking about the Eden Resort - not the Eden Rock.I live nearby and just feel that the Eden doesn't have any local flavor so why not use one of the national chains or local motels with a local touch?As mentioned, it is directly next to a major expressway and can be very noisy.The suites idea makes lots of sense. Could you consider a new Homewood? Suites near Rts. 72&283?Maybe I've lived here too long and it's a little too commercial for me?Also remember that food can be a little more affordable here.

travelbug44 Feb 26th, 2009 11:20 AM

Sorry I did mean the Eden Resort - not Eden Rock. We stayed in a 2 room suite and it was only noisy with Hall traffic. We were near the hwy but did not hear any traffic until we went outside. I like that they had an indoor and outdoor pool. My grandkids are crazy about swimming.

We intend to go back and I will look into Homewood Suites next time too.

cheapbutnice2 Feb 27th, 2009 08:45 AM

TB44, Please don't let me talk you out of the Eden. Homewoood doesn't have a pool but Bird-in-Hand and Willow Valley both have in & out pools.I'm aging myself when I forget about kids and pools-especially off-season.

artstuff Feb 28th, 2009 06:24 AM

A few summers ago my husband and I spent 4 nights camping near Gettysburg, with my brother and his wife, and my 12-13 year old nephew and his friend. We spent two days just touring the battlefields, wandering through the cemetery, and seeing all the attractions at the Visitor's Center (museum, light show, etc.).

Then there's downtown Gettysburg, where we enjoyed strolling the streets, past historical buildings and sites, while checking out the many antique and souvenir shops, chitzy museums, and places to eat. The kids really wanted to do the "Ghost Tour", but we ran out of time.

There's lots of things to see and do in the Gettysburg area, so you might want to consider an overnight, instead of a day trip.

Since we had 4 nights, we also headed southeast just a bit, to Hanover, and took the free Utz potato chip factory tour. Free samples at the end of the tour.

We also stopped briefly at the Conewago Chapel, which is the oldest stone built catholic church in the US.

Then, there were all the antique shops..... We had lots of fun, and my nephew keeps asking when we're going back to Gettysburg.

And now, for an alternative amusement park, I would like to recommend Knoebel's Grove, located in Elysburg, PA, which is about 1 1/2 hours north of Lancaster.

Knoebel's is America's largest family-owned, free-admission amusement park, located in the forests of NE Penna. You can buy books of tickets to go on just a few rides, or you can get your hand stamped and ride all day long. Or, you don't have to ride anything, you can just people watch, or visit the carousel museum, or mining museum, or the steam-generated big machinery (ALL FREE).

When you're tired of riding, you can go for a swim in the pool, or down one of the water slides (fee charged). You can even pack your own picnic lunch and eat it under one of their picnic pavillions (free) - you're not forced to buy their food, although who can resist their french fries with vinegar (yum!).

The DarkRide Enthusiasts have voted the Haunted Mansion as their favorite dark ride for five consecutive years. And, the Phoenix wooden roller coaster has been in the top 10 list of roller coasters since it was built almost 25 years ago.

Enjoy your visit to Pennsylvania, the Keystone State.

Robyn :)>-

KenInPA Feb 28th, 2009 02:33 PM

Ditto on Knoebel's. Love that place and their food.

Gettysburg just opened a new visitor's center and museum last year which we vistited and think is 10x better than the old one. The best way to do the battlefields is to hire a guide that comes along in your car with you. They will gear the talk towards who the travelers are (teens, etc).

andee26 Feb 28th, 2009 07:17 PM

wow! Thank you everyone for some great ideas! I am excited to visit PA this summer. Can anyone tell me about the best ways to see the Amish and their way of life. Tours? Places to go? Thanks again.

KenInPA Mar 1st, 2009 12:25 PM

While there are better people to answer the "places to go" question, I will say you need to get off the beaten path in order to see the "real" farms and ways of the Amish. Route 30 is rediculously commercial. Go thru smaller towns like Lampeter, Bird-in-Hand etc and off the main roads and stop at some of the small home businesses. The Lanc. Co. Visitor's Bureau has a very detailed free map of the county roads. We enjoy the Landis Valley Museum, which is not Amish--more like Little House on the Prairie--, since it has a lot of hands-on things you can do. It's an outdoor "museum", more like a mini Colonial Williamsburg, but for the mid 1800's.

cheapbutnice2 Mar 3rd, 2009 08:26 AM

Using the Lanc. map suggestion above, I always suggest the area between Routes 23 and 340 on the east side of Lancaster.It's much less dense but the area south of Lancaster between Rtes. 222 and 272 are also very pretty.I hate to say this but visitors also seem to enjoy watching the movie "Witness" before visiting.

KenInPA Mar 3rd, 2009 01:27 PM

BTW, Andee, the "Ghost Tour" of Gettysburg that Artstuff mentioned is very cool from what friends have told me and another good reason to stay the night in that area. You said you are going in July. If you are going between July 1st and 4th, the anniversary of the battle, expect a lot of re-enactors. Very interesting but also VERY busy time to go.

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