Day 1. Unplugged & Winning

Well, we survived! One teen, two parents and three tweens…completely unplugged for one weekend and back to tell the tale. We had the BEST time…it surpassed my expectations and the kids even asked to DO IT AGAIN! What!? We have so many things to recommend if you want to have some fun, and even better, I was able to find a bunch of free or inexpensive things to do!! Great for kids and/or adults!

Day One: We woke up to a beautiful Friday morning and there was actually excitement in the air. Bags were packed and kids were ready. There was little discussion about leaving the phones home in their holder- I guess a courtesy of me warning them for two months prior. (There was plenty of whining then). We got in the car and kids were a little confused what to do with themselves on our one hour drive without their devices. Heaven forbid they look out a window. So we decided to play “Race to Z”…it’s a fun car ride game where you each look for road/building signs in alphabetical order…first one to Z wins. We don’t always get there, but this car trip provided us with signs that started with every letter in the alphabet…we finally had a winner (dad), so that was fun. Before we knew it, we were at our first stop.

The Pretzel Hut. I found this little gem after googling areas with animals, most specifically goats. Lancaster has SO MANY places where you can meet/feed animals, HOWEVER, winter months are tough. A lot of places are closed for tours and such, but after a quick message to their Facebook page, they confirmed the animals were still out and ready for some interaction. We pulled up to this plain little side of the road restaurant (one you’d probably drive right by if you weren’t actually looking to go there) and the kids were again confused. “We are eating here?” “Why can’t we get Chick Fila?” Creatures of habit, I called them and told them to follow me. No one knew what we were going to walk into, except for me, but after opening this tall gate, their eyes widened. Around us walked goats, roosters, ducks, peacocks, bunnies…we all went off to check out different areas. It’s a larger area than you’d initially imagine, but I heard my kids giggling and calling each other over to different areas- it was a win. We LOVED it. There is a donation box, which we happily donated to, but no admission fee!

We went inside to wash up and get a bite to eat. The staff was so pleasant, and the food came out quickly. Funny enough, the pretzels were “eh”, despite the name…but the food and the ice cream were enjoyed by us all. We unanimously decided this is a place we must come back and visit again.

/https://www.facebook.com/thepretzelhut/

After finishing up here, we had about an hour to spare before we needed to check in at the farmhouse. We decided to drive around a bit…until the kids screamed…at the sight of a swing set. A bit nicer than the one we have in our yard, but a swing set no less. We pulled in and they played on it for almost 40 minutes before we called them to get going. A swing set. With only a few hours into our unplugged weekend, my kids were reverting from tech obsessed teens to children again. And we were enjoying every second of it.

Funny enough, the shop that owns the playground, Hayloft ice cream and candle store, made DELICIOUS Lancaster pretzels, so we had to get a few! How cool are the tables inside?!

After finishing up our pretzels we headed off to check into our farmhouse. This is where the kids got a bit nervous. They had no idea what to expect and it didn’t help that we kept pulling up to dilapidated barns and saying, “Ok, guys…we’re here”. The horror on their faces….priceless.

When we finally did pull into the driveway, the 87 acres was quite impressive. And the house and the barn were just beautiful. I could hear the sighs of relief from the kids.

The owner, Matt, met us outside with the keys and gave us a quick tour. On our way through the house, I told him how we joked with the kids about staying at an Amish Farm with no electricity. It was then he told us that he was born/raised Amish and had left the Amish community when he was 17. It was at that exact moment that my head exploded, I blacked out and didn’t hear one more word he said for the rest of the tour.

So. Many. Questions.

I managed to get through the rest of the tour and even thank him…but I didn’t ask! It was too soon. Thankfully about an hour later, he popped by to tell us something he forgot about earlier. My daughter nudged me. It was now or never.

“Hey Matt…one question. (He probably thought it was about the house). So, you had mentioned you were Amish. My daughter was wondering if you guys had birthday parties when you were younger.” I totally threw her under the bus…or should I say buggy?

Turns out they do have parties. More family..maybe a couple of friends. They get to choose which restaurant they want to eat at on their birthday. The 16th birthday is a big one. Right before Rumspringa. He had 40-50 people at his. It’s not a sweet 16 like you or I may have had, but a big celebration. I felt at peace. And then he said,

“If you want, I can come over tomorrow evening sometime and hang out and answer any Amish questions you may have”.

I picked my jaw off the ground and said that’d be great! No need to take the Amish Village tour now!

He left and the kids decided to go outside and play. Matt and his wife Katelyn live on the property also, but he told the kids to run around and enjoy it all. There is a stream with fresh drinking water that leads to a creek, and some deer bones they can find out there too. The kids stayed relatively close playing tag, hide and seek and cops and robbers. Being 60 degrees, it was a beautiful day to run outside and enjoy!

Running around the barns

But while the kids were running around outside, I was looking around inside. Let me tell you, this farmhouse has it all. It’s gorgeous. The pictures don’t do it justice. And the hosts…well, they have thought of everything you may need while you’re staying there. I cannot recommend staying here enough. It’s called “Spring Haven Farmhouse” and relatively new on Air Bnb, so you can get a good deal right now. I get no compensation referring this farmhouse- I’m doing it solely because it is the bomb.com. My family LOVED it…bet yours would too. Take a peek. If you’re new to Air BNB, use the link below to get a $55 credit right now! Bam!

http://www.airbnb.com/c/melissae3822  (to get $55 credit off first stay)

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/29558246?guests=1&adults=1  (existing Airbnb accounts)

Chilling in the kitchen. The hosts left us cinnamon buns and red roses.

Coffee bar had Lancaster coffee, biscotti, Hot Cocoa and Apple Cider Tea. Lots of pamphlets with things to do in the area. Good if you’re not a planner like me!
The game room. I brought a bunch of games, but my kids found Checkers and Chutes and Ladders and played that all weekend long!! Chutes and Ladders people! What?!
The kitchen table area was where we played all of our games!


Home away from home.

After hanging out around the house for a couple hours, we headed to Lititz, a close by town. They were having a fire and ice festival. It was pretty cool, but obscenely crowded! We stayed for an hour and then decided we’d have to drive somewhere else for food. But not before we saw some really cool ice sculptures being made and some already finished.

Sitting on a throne made of ice!

We ended the night with dinner Iron Hill brewery. Delicious food as always. Our 12 year old fell asleep at the table. All the kids fell asleep on the car ride home. I’d say fresh air fun wiped them out! And not once, did they mention their phones, ipads or technology of any sorts.

Mom: 1 Technology: 0

Stay tuned for the adventures and recommendations on Day 2. Because we thought it couldn’t get any better…but it did!

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