A couple weeks ago, my hubby surprised me with a trip to Lancaster, PA. While I had known that something was happening during the week for about a month, I didn’t know what, where and who – the kids got to stay with Grandma and Grandpa and we took off down to the good ol’ US of A.

I didn’t know where we were going, but when crossing the border, hubs had to tell them where we were headed to Lancaster. It sounded familiar, mostly because it jogged my memory having looked at the location of the Revelant 2011 conference being held in October in Harrisburg (which I am sadly, not attending – hopefully in the future!).

We arrived in Lancaster and I still had no idea what we were doing there – until hubby took me into Olive Garden and there were our friends from church! Apparently the husbands had the trip all planned out for months!

Since I didn’t know much about Lancaster or the surrounding area, I decided to put together a guide for Canadians who don’t know, and Americans who may want to know, what in the world is so great about Lancaster, PA – because it IS great!

Top 5 Reasons to visit Lancaster, PA:

#5 – Outlet malls!

To Canadians, outlet malls are the awesome-sauce to visiting the States. And while we as a family are not super big on shopping, it is a must when in Pennsylvania because…wait for it….there’s NO TAX on clothing and shoes in PA state! Yes, you heard me correctly!

On top of that, if you shop the right way, you can get some pretty stellar deals. Here in Canada, what you see is what you get – no doubling up on anything. Whereas, in the States, you can double up coupons (in most cases) as well as put coupons and discounts on top of already discounted items! And with stores like Banana Republic, who have great quality clothing and an amazing men’s clearance section, you can get away with some pretty good highway robbery deals (START THE CAR!!!).

There are 2 outlet malls in Lancaster – Tanger Outlets (hint: you can go to customer service and get 20% off coupons, or print them off online before you go!) and Rockvale Outlets. Both have a lot to offer, depending on what you’re looking for. The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg are also nearby. My non-shopping husband did his research before-hand and found the good ones to go to!

#4 – Amish country

We stayed at a great inn called Hershey Farm, just around the corner from the main strip of the outskirts of Lancaster county. While not an upscale place (it is a farm after all!) they had great rooms in the Inn and a pool and large acreage with a trail, playground for kids, etc. They also have good deals on the restaurant there and attractions in the area. If you have kids, it’s a fantastic place to stay!

Basically, you drive down a heavily populated-with-stores, restaurants and attractions main road, then turn a corner and BLAM-O, you’re surrounded by corn fields,

horse and buggies, food stands and country air!

Amish country means

 whoopie pies, loads of corn, fresh-baked goods, homemade root beer (sans the fizz), amazing quilts, country markets and plenty of hand-crafted works of art.

We went to Bird-in-Hand (a hamlet nearby) to visit the farmer’s market there and were astounded by the quality and beauty of all that was around us.

Not to mention the mouth-watering goodies :0)

Stay tuned for the next post for more great reasons to visit Lancaster, Pennsylvania!