Lancaster trip with the boys

Marisa and I have been going to Lancaster, PA for trips of varying sizes for years and years. It is pretty close to Philadelphia, and yet totally different so it makes for a good get away destination.

All of those trips pretty much followed the same template:

  • Go to a variety of thrift store and antique malls
  • Buy a bunch of used books
  • Spend hours reading in an AirBnB or hotel room
  • Eat lots of Pennsylvania Dutch food (bad for you, but so tasty!)

Since having children, and there being an ongoing global pandemic, we haven’t sallied forth to Lancaster in a few years. However, this past weekend we made our triumphant return! Though the agenda was slightly tweaked.


We started the trip with a visit to Strasberg Rail Road. This is one of those historic train lines that offers train rides that go… nowhere.

Sammy and Declan are super into trains, so we thought they enjoy the train ride. Well, we thought Declan would enjoy it and that there would be a good chance Sammy wouldn’t want to ride the train.

Luckily, everyone wanted to ride the train and while we were seated on the train waiting to leave the excitement levels were very high. Then the very loud engine started up, blew its whistle and Sammy announced, in no uncertain terms, that he no longer liked trains and he wanted to get off. NOW.

He spent the rest of the ride with a sweater over his face, from under which he would sneak a look or two as we went along. Declan had a great time looking at stuff and waving to all sorts of people.

It was a bummer that Sammy didn’t enjoy the train, but he really enjoyed the train play structure in the play area at the station. Declan and Sammy played on that thing for a good long while.

Then we decamped to our AirBnB tucked away on some sort of farm (it is unclear to me if it is a working farm or a farm designed to part city slickers like me from my money to have a farm experience). The big excitement, and the excitement was VERY big, were the twin beds the boys were to sleep in. Sammy was incredibly excited about his “new bed” and throughout the weekend at random intervals he would look up, remember the bed, and yell at me, “Dada! Come look at my new bed!” And run into their bedroom.

Plus they didn’t fall out of the beds at all, which was a bonus.


Marisa let me sleep in a bit because she’s a very nice person. In return we arranged for her to escape for awhile and go to a nearby thrift store while the boys and I just puttered about. Honestly, we figured the little dudes would be interested in playing in the dirt outside for hours on end. They were not. Not even a little bit.

We spent most of the day coaxing them outside for brief play interludes until one, or both, starting weeping. Then we’d go back inside and watch TV (hey, everyone was on vacation so everyone can watch as much TV as they like).

I went for a little solo walk around the farm and encountered some surly chickens and a baby goat who managed to escape its pen.


One of the most touristy things you can do whilst in Lancaster is visit the Amish Farm & House, located behind a Target. It is, as you might guess, a farm with some attractions and offers up tours of an Amish house.

We got ourselves a farm pass and took the boys to see what we could see. Turns out they wanted to see the sandbox at the playground for two hours. So that’s what we did! With some lunch, and bit of watching other people doing goat yoga thrown in for good measure.

It really worked out well since it only cost $20 and it was exactly what we needed (and Marisa even popped into the Target while the boys and I played in the sandbox).

Once everyone was tuckered out we piled back into the car and the McNulty men all fell asleep nearly instantly as Marisa drove us home.

Quite a different Lancaster visit! But I’m certainly glad to start up the tradition once more.

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