New in Town?

My husband and I were out of town recently and it was a good reminder that when you’re somewhere new, you need to find the best local shops to cover the basics: groceries, a pharmacy, or (much more exciting) shopping! With this in mind, I thought I’d show you around town, and when I say “town,” I mean within a 2-mile radius of The Carriage House at Strasburg. While Lancaster County has endless options when it comes to places to shop for basics and beyond, sometimes you just need some Advil, a quick bite to eat, or a last minute gift for a friend. So grab your wallet and let’s check out the best spots for personal items, groceries, food, and gifts in Strasburg, PA!

The Basics

We’ve all been there: you’re ready for a lovely weekend away when a migraine strikes. Have no fear, Wiley’s Pharmacy is here! You’ll find the staff to be helpful and pleasant, and you might even get distracted by the plethora of fun gifts and local paraphernalia available for sale in this hometown pharmacy. If you’re looking to stock up on groceries or snacks for your stay, Strasburg Market Place has all of the homemade goodies you’d expect from a family grocer. Peruse deli items and baked goods prepared in house, fresh produce, bulk items, handcrafted chocolates, and even local flowers! On your way out, don’t forget to grab a fresh donut or drink at Latte Luv, the in-house coffee bar. Finally, if you’re a health nut (my hand is raised!), you’ve got to pop in to Amish-owned and-operated Woodland Naturals. This store is small but boasts a nice selection of organic foods and produce, raw milk and cheeses, personal care items, and vitamins and supplements. I’ve found many of the clerks (and shoppers!) to be a great source of knowledge whilst checking out a new food or product. An added bonus? The prices are quite affordable compared to other similar purveyors.

A Bite to Eat?

Of course we all know what it’s like to arrive at a destination tired, hungry, and in need of something quick to eat. And while Strasburg may be a small town, it’s not lacking in good food! Located just across the street, Speckled Hen Coffee & Kitchen features craft coffee from local Passenger Coffee Roasters and specializes in artisan foods that are fresh, simple and homemade. Bonus: Our guests receive a voucher to this hot spot for breakfast! RIght down the street, Agapē Cafe & Grille is well-known for its friendly service, hearty portion sizes, and delicious comfort foods with a modern twist (think salted-caramel waffles, grilled cheese and crab cake sandwiches, and smoked brisket salads). Or check out Fireside Tavern for cozy, tavern style dining with all of the traditional pub favorites.

In the mood for something sweet? Both the Strasburg Creamery (within walking distance) and Down on the Farm Creamery (located on a beautiful Amish farm) feature decadent homemade ice cream and waffle cones. Or stop by the Strasburg Bakery for an array of homemade baked goods. Wine connoisseurs and novices alike will want to spend some time perusing the lovely selection of wines at Allegro Winery located in the Strasburg Square. And if you love a good craft beer, check out Bespoke Brewing just across from the Strasburg Railroad and opening this summer!

A Little Something Extra

Don’t let Strasburg’s small size fool you: we’ve got plenty of specialty shops in town where you’re sure to find some treasures. If you’re a lover of natural beauty, you simply must stop by Pollinate, where florist Christine Graham creates beautiful and unique handcrafted arrangements. If jewelry’s your thing, check out the pieces at Wire to Fire Artisans where you’ll find a curated collection of items made with love by Kimberly Jade and other artists from across the United States. And if you’re a lover of pieces which display the patina of time, spend some time at one of the antique shops within walking distance of The Carriage House. Our top pick? Strasburg Antique Market.

Bargain hunters will want to stop by Fashion Cents Consignment, which boasts a huge selection of quality clothing (for children and adults alike), toys, housewares and more! You won’t leave empty handed and you’re sure to be pleased with the bargains you’ll find. We outfit our gang of littles in cute clothes, by and large, thanks to Fashion Cents! Finally, you’ll find the perfect gift for a friend (or yourself) at Beautiful Home Interiors, located adjacent to Agape Cafe. You’ll be inspired by their curated selection of jewelry, specialty gift items, home decor, live plants, inspirational art, books and more!

A Walk Around Town

While you may choose to drive to many of the aforementioned spots, don’t leave Strasburg without a walk around town. One of my favorite things to do for exercise and inspiration is to take a walk around Strasburg. Stroll down Main Street and enjoy the historical homes, many of which boast pretty gardens, quaint porches, and beautiful architectural elements. Take a side road and catch a glimpse of the glorious Lancaster County farm land. Find your own treasures at one of the shops in the square. Getting out on foot also provides a chance to chat with the locals, which means you’ll probably uncover a few more tips about the best places to visit in the area. And of course if you need any additional help we’re always available to point you in the right direction!

Comment below with your favorite spots to shop and eat in Strasburg, PA! What do you love about this small town? And if you’ve never been, why not give us a call and book your stay today!

Off the Beaten Path

Most every Sunday evening, especially in the warmer months, we take a “mini vacation.” We’ll load up the kids in our old VW van, drive to one of our favorite parks, eat a picnic dinner and play. We may choose a spot with a creek, especially on those blistering summer days. Or we might visit a playground where the kids can swing, slide and climb to their hearts’ content. Wherever we end up, there’s lots of greenery, (relative) quiet, and space. These “family dates” refresh our spirits.

Looking for a reset yourself? Check out one of the following options below. I’ve included six of our favorite outdoor locations, each with distinct features that highlight the variety of activities Lancaster County has to offer. This is only a starting place: our area is FULL of gorgeous settings in which to bike, hike, and climb (or…relax). So get going. There are plenty of activities to enjoy off the beaten path, even here in an area that boasts bustling tourist attractions.

For the Younger Set – Amos Herr Park

While this park features basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, baseball and soccer fields, and pavilions for picnicking, our favorite part is the play area for kids. Perfect for kids 12 and under, it boasts a zipline in addition to all of the typical playground accoutrements (like swings and slides). Our little ones love the play structures, which give a nod to Lancaster County farm life and include a barn, schoolhouse, silo and tractor. Trees surround the park, and if you happen to find that golden moment when your kids are playing contentedly, there are an array of benches where parents can sit, all within eyesight of the little ones.

Or Check Out: Daniel’s Den Playground in Lancaster; Jaycee Park or King Swings in Strasburg (just down the road if you’re staying at The Carriage House and need a spot to let the kids run off some steam)

Creek Stompin’ – Wolf’s Hollow County Park

This park is located in Chester County, but it’s not even 20 minutes from The Carriage House at Strasburg, so it’s a great option for our guests. The Octoraro Creek winds through the nearly 600 acres of wooded forest and open meadows. Enjoy 10 miles of hiking trails (from moderate to challenging) lined with Pennsylvania mountain laurel, or sit at one of the picnic tables and have a snack. The shallow creek is just the right size for small explorers (dogs or kids!) to get wet.

Or Check Out: Silver Mine Park in Conestoga; Paradise Community Park in Paradise

Take a Hike – Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve

The Tucquan Glen Loop Trail is a moderately challenging, 2.6 mile hike featuring forested terrain, creeks and even a waterfall. You’ll find an occasional clearing just right for a picnic and catch a glimpse of the Susquehanna River from parts of the trail. It offers a real taste of Pennsylvania beauty, from the native plants below to the hawks flying high above (punctuated by the sound of the creek flowing in the background). But take note, you won’t find a restroom here and parking is limited so your hike may include some extra mileage depending on where you leave your vehicle!

Or Check Out: Turkey Hill Overlook Trail in Conestoga; Mill Creek Falls in York

Ticket to Ride – Northwest Lancaster County River Trail

This 14-mile trail follows the route of the historic Pennsylvania Mainline Canal, connecting Columbia, Marietta, Bainbridge and Falmouth. Though the condition of the trail varies, we appreciate the easily traveled segment near the trailhead at Columbia River Park. The paved path is free from inclines, so the kids can ride easily (and my husband can haul a few little ones in our bike trailer with relative ease). Additionally, various historical remains dot the trail, from old canal locks to the quarry at Billmeyer. Many of these sites include educational plaques, so you can learn about the past while riding, jogging, or walking in the present. Additionally, Marietta is home to several riverside pubs and restaurants, easily accessible from the trail (we recommend the Railroad House Inn or McCleary’s Public House).

Or Check Out: Conewago Recreation Trail; Enola Low Grade Trail

Check out the View – Pinnacle Scenic Overlook

If you’re looking for a spectacular view of the Susquehanna River, this is the spot. Though captivating in any season, we think it’s the perfect place to visit in the fall when the brilliant autumn foliage is on display. The Pinnacle Overlook sits high above the western side of the river, and it’s just a short walk from the parking lot. Though you won’t get much exercise walking to the overlook, there are ample hiking opportunities nearby, including the Mason-Dixon Trail and Mill Creek Falls.

Or Check Out: Chickies Rock Overlook Trail

For the Wildlife Enthusiast – Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

If you time it right, you can experience the amazing site of an estimated 100,000 snow geese on the lake at Middle Creek, along with tundra swans and other waterfowl. The birds typically migrate late February to early April in the spring and October to early November in the fall. However, it’s best to check the Pennsylvania Game Commission website for information on annual migrating trends (they post frequent updates with approximate numbers of various species during peak season). The walk to the lake isn’t strenuous, and the visitor’s center is top notch so it’s an enjoyable and informative venture for all ages. Make sure to hit up nearby Fox Meadows Creamery on your way home for some of the best homemade ice cream in the area.

Or Check Out: The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania in Lititz

Travel Tips

Don’t forget your bug spray, sunscreen and drinking water! Beyond that, we’ve found the following to be helpful:

  1. Bring an extra bag for stashing muddy clothes or removing trash
  2. Pack Food, utensils and a picnic blanket (a necessity, if you have a bunch of kids like us)
  3. Throw in towels and/or a change of clothes (especially if you’re planning to get wet)
  4. Do a quick google search of the closest emergency center and keep your phone charged, just in case
  5. Always do a tick-check after spending time outdoors

We hope you enjoy your outdoor adventures this season. Comment below with your favorite parks, trails, and preserves in Lancaster County. We’d love to find some new favorites!

Welcome to Our Journey

Welcome to Our Journey

Hello and welcome to The Carriage House journal!

My name is Jenna, and I’ll be posting here occasionally, letting you in on bits of our story, updates, and renovations to our property, and tips for traveling while in Strasburg and Lancaster, PA. My husband Jeremy and I purchased The Carriage House a little over a year ago, along with my parents, Kevin and Sharon Adams. In case you’re wondering, none of us ever dreamed of owning a motel, hotel, inn or anything of the sort. So how did we end up here?

For those who love a good backstory…

In June of 2017, Jeremy was browsing local properties and said, “Jenna, I found our dream property.” And while the subsequent photos didn’t look like a dream to me (picture year-round colored Christmas lights glowing across the property and plenty of deferred maintenance), I nodded my head when he said that he and my step-father, Kevin, were going to check it out the next day. When you marry a visionary, many of these ideas just sort of play themselves out. Honestly, I was hoping for that this time around. It didn’t seem like good timing to me—Jeremy was running several businesses, we were homeschooling our small children, and I enjoyed picking up hours as a nurse at a local birthing center. However, the idea of purchasing The Carriage House just took root more deeply by the day. Ultimately, through a process of prayer and surrender, together with my parents, we felt the Lord leading us to step forward into a BIG adventure. We settled on the property August 17, 2017, and welcomed guests that evening.

Contrary to popular belief, we didn’t “shut down” the motel to begin renovations. We closed 4 rooms at a time and scrambled like mad to have them refreshed in 2 weeks. This meant new flooring, paint, furniture, décor, linens and a top-to-bottom cleaning of each room. All while putting out figurative fires, like fixing the leaking roof, taking care of mold and pest issues, and overhauling the old phone, computer and wifi systems. We constantly apologized to our guests for the eyesores and headaches we inherited with the property. It was EXHAUSTING, but as guests began to applaud the changes and our occupancy rates climbed, we were filled with excitement. Shortly after finishing up the rooms, we began renovating the exterior of the motel and the interior of the historic cabin that we purchased with the property, which sits along East Main Street.

In April of 2018 my brother-in-law, Jon Krause, left a 12-year career in banking to join the team at The Carriage House. He and my sister Heather moved to the property and Jon became our on-site manager. Our team was complete. Up until this point Jeremy and my mom, Sharon kept things afloat (along with a few wonderful part-time staff). But, as Jeremy will tell you, he and mom create chaos. This is a good and necessary part of the growing process, unearthing potential and opening up space for creativity and connection. Jeremy brings the big-picture vision and energy, mom brings the heart and hospitality. They are both excellent at interacting with and caring for guests. However, their thoughts bounce from one thing to the next like ping-pong balls, and order, focus, and strategy aren’t strong points for either of them. When Jon entered the scene with his calm presence, mind for numbers, and vision for quality guest service, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Things clicked and we began to hit our stride. With Jon’s guidance, daily operations were running smoothly at The Carriage House. Now, Jeremy was free to be the visionary, mom could share her heart and hospitality with our guests and staff, I could bring beauty and order to our spaces while taking baby steps towards curating “our brand”, and Kevin could focus on the accounting and finances.

So where are we at today?

We’ve enjoyed a thriving summer and fall season, totally revamped our website (yay!!), and made connections in the Strasburg community. In the next few years, we plan to completely renovate the bathrooms and office, expand our amenities, and continue upgrades to the rooms and façades of our outbuildings. There’s so much we still want to do, and some days all we can see is where we want to be, not where we are. Images of staged perfection on Instagram and Pinterest can be so distracting, and we wonder if we measure up. But then we re-center: we’re doing this to create a place for travelers to call “home” for a few days. A welcoming spot with a bit of beauty to foster reconnection and fresh perspective. We want people to feel cared about, to sense the peace that we pray over our property. To leave refreshed, inspired, and encouraged. And I believe we’re succeeding at that!

Shortly after we purchased the Carriage House, Jeremy read the following scripture and it resounded with us:
Job 31:32 “…but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler—“

And while we’ve put up the “no vacancy” sign a lot lately, that is our heartbeat. To open our doors to travelers, provide them with a simple, comfortable place to spend the night, and send them on their way with a blessing and a smile.