One of the things I love about New Jersey, and specifically where I live, is how close we are to so many varied and exciting places in and around our state. In under two hours, I could be shopping in New York City, strolling the shoreline in Cape May or gazing into the Baltimore Harbor.
One such place my parents took my brothers and me throughout our childhood was Lancaster, PA. There we learned about the Amish, outlet shopping, smorgasbords and the Hebrew Tabernacle.*
*Now known as the Biblical Tabernacle Reproduction located at the Mennonite Information Center. It is a full-sized reproduction of Moses’ Tabernacle in the wilderness as found in the Bible. I have seen it enough times that should I ever find myself there again, I could narrate everything that happens for anyone brave enough to go with me.
During our family trips to Lancaster, we seldom left Route 30. When we were much younger, the trip was based around a day in Dutch Wonderland* and another day at the Hebrew Tabernacle. As we grew up, it became a trip more focused on food and shopping.** We did, however, add in a trip to Lititz where we discovered better than Hershey’s chocolate*** at Wilbur Chocolate.
*Yes, Lancaster even has its own theme park.
**And, of course, there isn’t anything wrong with that!
***Blasphemy, I know.
Interesting fact, via Wikipedia: Did you know that Lancaster is one of the oldest inland towns in the United States?
It wasn’t until just recently that Lance and I stumbled upon an area of Lancaster that until now was nonexistent to us. After grabbing my favorite shoo-fly pie to enjoy at home (more on that another time), spending hours shopping, then eating at one of Lancaster’s more popular smorgasbords, we needed dessert. Nothing on Route 30 was screaming our names and we also wanted something new, so we decided to explore.
The world we discovered was slightly removed from the one of horse and buggies, chocolate buds and bargain shopping that I grew up knowing. It was an unexpected find amidst the familiar background of horses, farms and delicious Amish cooking:
*After browsing LancasterPA.com, I learned precisely how many towns and villages are included in this once thought small place of Lancaster:
Route 30 East
East Lanc. County
South Lanc. County
Somewhere, deep down, I knew all this existed as part of Lancaster, but it was entering Lancaster City that truly blew my mind. Though I had heard of Lancaster City, I hadn’t expected it to be, well, a true city with a true city environment.
There were parking garages!
There was a Christmas tree in the center of town!
There were people jogging!
There was a theater!
Since it was the end of our night, and also past most retail hours, we vowed to come back during the day, starting the day in Lancaster City, and possibly ending up in our usual shopping grounds on Route 30.
For dessert, we were headed for Lancaster Cupcake. The color scheme of pink and white gave me a surge of happiness before we even entered the building. I immediately began snapping pictures despite my husband jokingly telling the staff that a crazy woman was outside taking pictures of their windows.
Lancaster Cupcake’s delicious treats are currently served in this Downtown Lancaster location as well as at the Mountville Bakery. If you’re lucky, you also might catch The Cupcake Truck. As we stood in awe of the adorable shop and the plates of cupcakes, it was a pleasant surprise to realize that they were in season 7 of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.*
*We always manage to stumble upon previous Cupcake Wars contestants.
After Lance’s first bite, he said, “I can see why they were on Cupcake Wars”.
They had only six flavors left when we arrived (an hour before they closed), so we ordered one of each, plus an adorable gingerbread cookie sandwich. The cupcakes were perfection, but the cookie sandwich, it was truly amazing! The cookies were soft, not crunchy like those over baked ones that always seem to end up in a box of Christmas cookies received from someone who has no business baking cookies, ever, even for Christmas.*
*Sorry for that. Clearly I take issue over poorly baked Christmas cookies.
Naturally needing smooth, creamy coffee drinks to pair with our cupcakes, we walked a few steps away to Cafe One Eight where we were hooked up with delicious iced lattes and positive vibes.*
Their tagline is: Christ. Compassion. Coffee.
And I’ll add: Awesome.
Wait, that doesn’t start with C!
If Cafe One Eight and Lancaster Cupcake are any indication of what lies within Lancaster City, I sense it being an area with which we will soon gain a Route 30-like familiarity.
24 West Orange Street
Lancaster, PA 17603
Cafe One Eight
18 West Orange Street
Lancaster, PA 17603
The cupcakes we tried:
Gingerbread, Christmas Graham, Peppermint Patty, Chocolate Party, Eggnog, Coconut Snowball
*I was thrilled to see holiday themed cupcakes. It made them even more wonderful.