With Dutch Wonderland behind us, we had a full day to explore the rest of the Lancaster Area. We started with the Turkey Hill Experience. This is your chance to not only learn more about ice cream than you've ever wanted to know, but you'll hit the lab and make your own ice cream creation.
My custom flavor: mint ice cream with peanuts, chocolate chips and sprinkles with peanut butter and cake batter mixed in. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. The lab experience was actually pretty cool. Consider that I put 5 drops of mint (yes, drops) in my pint of vanilla ice cream and ended up with mint flavored ice cream; it was like magic. The non-lab parts of the experience were interesting too, with plenty of interactive exhibits for the kids to play with (though, to get the most of the exhibits you needed to be an older kid). And really, the kids mostly just loved the ball pit.
The main gotcha with the Turkey Hill Experience is that when you're done with the lab experience, you're handed a pint of ice cream and told that if you can't get it to a freezer in 15 minutes, you should just eat it now. Which is crazy, and yes, I consumed my entire pint of ice cream (plus some of Shira's and J's). Yikes! They didn't even provide a good setting to enjoy your treat in; we just picked a bench among the exhibits and chowed down.
At a minimum, they should have allowed us to continue to "harden" (remain in the super cold freezer) the ice cream while we walked around for 30 ~ 45 minutes checking out the exhibits. For bonus points, they should have sold us a freezer friendly bag with a re-usable ice pack to give us a chance to enjoy the ice cream later in the day or something. Otherwise, it's a bit ridiculous to expect people to effectively throw out the ice cream they just spent time and money creating.
But I digress. Everyone really did enjoy the experience and I won't look at a tub of Turkey Hill ice cream the same way again.
After the Experience we made our way across the area to the Kitchen Kettle Village. This cluster of shops is easy to write off as a tourist trap, but we enjoyed it. The Jam and Relish store was a fun one, with dozens of samples to try. Perhaps I should have read the label *before* I gave J a sample of the Mango and Habenero jelly. Oh well, live and learn. Definitely lots of unique things to try here. Also on the site is a tiny petting zoo (perhaps 10 animals in total) and playground, which J really liked and didn't cost a cent.
From there, we made our way back to Abe's Buggy Rides, where we did the touristy thing and took an Amish Buggy Ride. It was actually quite enjoyable, and a wonderful way to see the country side. We passed a number of Amish Farms, which exclusively use horses to plow their fields; talk about old school. Abe's also had some goats, chickens, turkeys and horses for J to oggle, which combined with the playground, made for an easy place to wait for our turn to ride in a buggy.
We had planned to do something train related while we were in Lancaster. Though, we didn't think we had quite the time or energy to tackle the Railway Musuem. Instead, we opted to visit the Choo Choo Barn to get our railway fix. The Choo Choo Barn is a massive and extremely detailed model train layout. That description hardly does it justice. You walk through this room and see dozens of scenes, mostly modeling the Lancaster area, ranging from an Amish barn raising to a zoo, to Dutch Wonderland. Not only are there trains running through the scenes, but the scenes contain "animations" which give life to the layout. Some scenes are remarkably complex, like the house on fire which ends with the fire department putting out the blaze, to the simple, like the accidentally opened out-house door. J and I were impressed and took two laps around the room. Shira wasn't as moved by the whole experience, impressed, but once around was fine for my non-musuem loving wife.
We finished up the evening with pizza and one last trip to the pool. Definitely a fun day, and I'm confident we'll all sleep well tonight!