They’re Back

A Guide to Summer Guests

A year ago, Pat Derstler arrived at her water aerobics class in a panic. A friend had volunteered Pat and her husband to play host to a family from France; they would be in Lancaster in late July as part of their trip to the United States. “What am I going to do with them?” she asked.

It’s a question all of us face at some point. After all, living in an area that is one of the country’s top tourist destinations ensures visits from friends and family. And, like Pat, when the call comes, panic sets in. Entertaining guests isn’t the problem. The panic stems from the fact that there’s so much to see and do that hosts often have a problem focusing on what their guests would enjoy doing.

Focus is just what Pat did. She quizzed her friend on how the family (parents, a 16-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, all of whom have varying commands of the English language) spends their leisure time and discovered they love the outdoors. So, Pat came up with a game plan that involved tubing down the Pequea (they loved it), viewing the river from Chickies Rock, and exploring the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail in Manor Township.

Of course, they did the requisite tour of Amish Country, stopping first at the Mennonite Information Center, then taking in the Amish Farm & House, going for a wagon ride at Kitchen Kettle Village and dining at Katie’s Kitchen. (All were firsts for Pat and her family, too.) Pat, her family, friends and neighbors also treated the French visitors to a Pennsylvania Dutch “welcome to Lancaster” dinner, and a barbecue that entailed cheeseburgers and corn on the cob.

The family accompanied the Derstlers to Mass at St. Peter’s in Columbia and then enjoyed Cokes at Hinkle’s. They also took in the carnival and fireworks show that celebrated Mountville’s 250th anniversary. “We did a lot in three days!” Pat remarks.

So, where do you start planning for your summer guests’ entertainment? Head for the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center, where you can pick up the 2015 Getaway Guide, brochures, maps, and coupons (always handy) for everything from restaurants to amusement parks. Employees can also answer questions and provide information (and advice). You can also sign up for newsletters and email alerts through the website. And, don’t forget to watch the film that provides an overview of the county. You and your guests can also take advantage of the 90-minute Amish Countryside Tour that is offered. Tours leave the Visitors Center Monday-Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., and Sunday at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., through October 31.

The Visitors Center, which is located at 501 Greenfield Rd., Lancaster, is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., through October 31. Details: Call 299-8901 or visit discoverlancaster.com.

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