I’ve been writing about all the activities in the Brandywine Valley and in nearby Philadelphia, which is only a short 30 minute drive from Hamanassett. Today I’ll tell you about a really neat trip that is about an hour’s drive east of us. My husband and I made the drive over to Strasburg, Pa. about 6 months ago to go through the train museum and it was fascinating. This article is compliments of Gregory Coin who writes for Wilmington Tourisn Examiner.
Great day trip: Strasburg, Pennsylvania IS Traintown USA!
Photo: Photo from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
If you or your family like trains, Strasburg, Pennsylvania needs to be your very next whistle stop – and it’s less than hour drive from Hamanassett in Lancaster County! Just follow Route 1 south from Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast and then take Route 41 north, and turn left on Route 741/Strasburg Road. There is a huge clock tower by this intersection. (If you get to Route 30, you’ve gone too far!).
It all starts with the massive Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, a world-class transportation museum with everything you (or anyone else on earth) ever wanted to know about trains. The museum houses well over a hundred vintage locomotives and rail cars dating back to the early 19th century. There’s a wonderful education center in a late Victorian period freight station on “Platform One” of Rolling Stock Hall, as well. There’s a huge model train layout. And don’t miss the exhibit of trains in classic movies, or the watercolor paintings and photographs of trains. You can even hear songs about trains – lots of them! And last but certainly not least, their Museum Store is fabulous. If it’s about trains, they’ve got it. Just up the road from the train museum are two huge antique malls.
Once you’ve immersed yourself in railroad history at the Museum, the next step is surely a ride on the historic Strasburg Railroad right across the street. Take the whole family through Amish Country on a coal-burning steam train. Ride the the minature Cagney Steam Train; operate a hand-powered Pump Car or watch the kids “steer” the pint-sized Cranky Car. And be sure to visit the Strasburg Railroad Shops, including the Thomas™ Toy Store. Plan ahead so you can enjoy lunch or dinner onboard or the Railroad’s popular Wine & Cheese Train. For a less “moving” experience grab a bite at their Trackside Café.
Don’t you just love all of the train lingo in Strasburg? Your next stop — especially if your party includes children — should be the Choo Choo Barn. It’s Lancaster County captured in miniature, featuring more than 140 animated figures and vehicles and 18 operating trains. From the baseball game to the circus, from the zoo to the operating quarry, from the Amish barn-raising to Dutch Wonderland and the Strasburg Rail Road, it’s a truly comprehensive overview of the region. They guarantee you’ve never seen anything like the Choo Choo Barn and I bet they’re right! Admission is just $6 for adults (13 and up) and $4 for kids but Choo Choo Barn is closed from January 5 to March 6, so you better hurry!
Now that you’ve experienced the hustle and bustle of the locomotive world, you might want to end your day with a calmer form of transportation. Consider a uniquely relaxing journey through Amish County in an authentic Amish buggy. Ed’s Buggy Rides offers a three-mile tour through the back roads of Lancaster County where Amish families work and play on some of Pennsylvania’s most picturesque landscapes. You’ll even visit an actual working Amish farm where you can purchase the real thing in Amish foods and craftwork.
Of course, no visit to Strasburg would be complete without dinner at the – what else – Iron Horse Inn. The Hotel Strasburg and Conestoga Transportation Waiting Room, as it was originally known, has been serving up great food and fine spirits for more than 100 years. In the spring, summer and fall you can dine on their porch to the unique “clip clop” pulse of horse drawn Amish buggies on Main Street.
And just in case you don’t have an entire day, you can drive south from Hamanassett 30 minutes into Wilmington, De. which has it’s own steam-powered attractions, the Wilmington & Western Railroad and the Marshall Steam Car Museum at Auburn Heights.