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Planning PA trip

Chicago, Illinois
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Planning PA trip

This is what I would like to do:

After visiting NYC for 2 days, we will be arriving via train to Harrisburg, PA on a Sunday where we will hopefully rent a car, then after a few hours of walking around Harrisburg, we will go to Hershey and experience all that's chocolate. Then overnight in Hershey, leave mid morning to Lancaster (take in a few tours including an Amish dinner tour, hopefully), and stay overnight at a Lancaster B&B. The next morning we will leave after breakfast for Gettysburg; tour around including a night ghost tour, stay overnight at a B&B, and leave early the next morning for a train to Philly. We will be in Philly late afternoon Wednesday, leaving for a train ride home to Chicago on Saturday. Is this doable or am I cutting it close? My daughter and I are very comfortable with a hectic, follow the itinerary bit, so I know visiting various close-by cities is doable timewise, but we do want to experience as much as we can from each area we are visiting. We will be driving most of the time. If we get a car in Harrisburg on a Sunday, I assume I must return it at the same location in Harrisburg (I'll further check into this). Leaving Gettysburg early in the morning for approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours drive to Harrisburg to return the car and then catch a train may be cutting this a little close. Hectic, but maybe there are oher more practical options? Thanks in advance.

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Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Lancaster
Lancaster County, PA
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Bangor, Pennsylvania
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1. Re: Planning PA trip

Just reading your itinerary makes me tired, but if you're willing to put up with the pace, God bless you.

On the Lancaster part of your trip, I am not aware of any" Amish Dinner Tours "' unless you mean one of the Family Style Dinner or Smorgasboard places

Many B and B's can set their guests up with a dinner with an Amish family. You might inquire about this with whatever Band B you are staying with. It will be a better experience (and probably better food) than a large commercial place such as Plain and Fancy or Good and Plenty.

The tour I normally reccomend would be the Mennonite Information Centers tour, where a Mennonite guide rides in your car directing you to several backroads Amish businesses. You are better off booking this ahead, especially since it appears you will only have Monday afternoon available.

Edited: 14 May 2013, 02:51
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Lancaster
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Lancaster County, PA
Central PA
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2. Re: Planning PA trip

Many, if not all car rental agencies are NOT open on Sunday in Harrisburg, other than the MDT airport location. Call ahead to firm up your details ahead of time, including drop off times.

Gettysburg is only an hour from Harrisburg, unless you are in the morning rush hour traffic heading to the city, lots of State Government workers flow to the city each day. It is a straight shot to the city via Rt 15 from Gettysburg.

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Elizabethtown...
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3. Re: Planning PA trip

It seems like lots of driving to go to Harrisburg, Hershey, Lancaster then back to Gettysburg to Harrisburg. Perhaps you can look into returning the car to the same company in Lancaster and hop on the train in Lancaster. Then from Harrisburg/Hershey go south to Gettysburg and east to Lancaster. It would be a little less back tracking and save you some time.

As far as "can you do it" it depends on your arrival time in Harrisburg and departure time for Philly, as well as exactly what you want to do in the various places. I'm honestly not sure it would be worth it to walk around Harrisburg for a couple hours - if anything, I would cut that out. I would probably head straight to Hershey (or even South to Gettysburg, then move east from there).

You don't mention what you want to do in Hershey, or time of year. Summer brings big crowds to the very small town of Hershey which makes every thing seem to take just a bit longer. You say you want to do everything chocolate. Ok, so Chocolate World . . . anything else? There is lots of fun stuff in Hershey besides the amusement park: Hershey Gardens, Trolley Tour, Hershey Story Museum. You should be able to do all of those things in a day and a half.

For Gettysburg, a full day to tour the visitors center, battlefield, and do a ghost tour at night sounds just right. You will have no problem doing it all.

Again, with Lancaster, it really depends on exactly what you want to do and how many sights you want to visit. A full day and spending the night should be adequate.

Enjoy your trip!

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Lancaster County, PA
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Hershey's Chocolate World
Hershey's Chocolate World
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Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Planning PA trip

Thanks all! the fourskis: would it be better to:

Sunday early a.m. - Train from NYC to Lancaster, rent car (or wait until Monday a.m.), tour, spend night

Monday - Drive to Harrisburg/Hershey, tour around, spend night

Tuesday - Drive to Gettysburg early, tour, and spend night

Wednesday - Drive to Lancaster (1-1/2 to 2 hr), return car, take train to Philly in afternoon

Also, brookquarry, there are two Amish Dinner tours (one: All in 1 tours and the other: Lancaster Amish tours) but guess they involve other people as well in a giant Amish house room. It sounds great, but is it better to contact a B&B (where we will be staying, don't know which one yet, though) and have dinner with an Amish family? Would it just be us with the family or would there at least be another few tourists, like an Amish B&B experience? That would be great too. Also, our itinerary will have us in Philly for only 2-1/2 days until we return home. Is this enough time? We definitely want to take a Ben Franklin type tour and visit with a couple of friends in the evenings...that's about it. Please give me your opinions on if we should shorten our stay in either Lancaster or Hershey (spending the night at one or the other instead of both). And yes, we do want to visit Lancaster, Hershey and Gettsyburg, but are they all worth an entire day each? Thanks again in advance. Can't wait to visit. BTW: We're visiting end of October this year. (Sunday through Friday in Pennsylvania and leaving Saturday via train back to Chicago.

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Lancaster County, PA
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5. Re: Planning PA trip

Yes, that itinerary does make more sense. I looked, and with Enterprise you could also get car from Enterprise at Harrisburg airport and return at Philly airport . . . it might be something to consider and would likely be equivalent to cost of train tickets.

You will want a car to tour the Lancaster countryside and see Amish farms, the train station is in the downtown area, so unless your B&B will pick you up, or you find a tour guide willing to pick you up you'll need a car right away. So coming on a Sunday that may be an issue, I really don't know. Look into it before you firm up your dates.

I think the amount of time you want to spend in each area is appropriate, including Philly.

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6. Re: Planning PA trip

Toadsoup, thanks for bringing the two Amish Dinner tours to my attention- I was not aware of eihter of them.

Both appear to genuine dinners at an actual Amish farm.

From the descriptions (and the pictures of the tables on the" Lancaster Amish Dinner ' tour site), it appears that both are dinners for fairly large groups.

Band B arranged dinners are typically smaller, actually held inthe familys kitchen , although you should verifuy this with whatever Band B you are staying with, Hope this helps.

Oh, and as to your Itinerary- Be aware that no Amish busineeses will be open Sunday and you will not see any Amish working their farms- only travelling to and from church in their buggys. So Sunday is not the best day to tour the Amish countryside.

You will not be able to do a Dinner wioth an Amish Family on Sunday..

Edited: 19 May 2013, 18:32
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Lancaster County, PA
Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Planning PA trip

Thanks all! Guess if I want to experience the Amish dinner I will have to go back to my original plans, visiting Harrisburg/Hershey on Sunday and do the Lancaster tours on Monday, then Gettysburg on Tuesday and find a train (Lancaster?) on Wednesday afternoon. OR is there a better option? Maybe switching Gettysburg to Monday and leaving Tuesday a.m. for Lancaster, spending the night and taking a train earlier during the day Wednesday to Philly? I will try on my end to find the best place to rent a car on Sunday (Lancaster)? and drop off same place. Thanks for reminding me that no Amish business is open Sundays (didn't remember to look at the fine printing on the tours). You know, Lancaster wasn't even in our initial plans but now I really do want to experience all that's Pennsylvanian Amish. Will continue to plan and may ask for more help in the near future. Thanks.

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Harrisburg
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Hershey
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Lancaster County, PA
Gettysburg
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Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Planning PA trip

Hi everyone! Decided to rent a car in Philly at the train station (we're arriving from our 2-day NYC visit) and then driving to Harrisburg/Hershey. Then follow what I outlined above: Harrisburg/Hershey, next day: Gettysburg, and then Lancaster the following day, then Philly for my final 2-1/2 days. Or should I do the Lancaster Amish stuff on a Monday, leaving in the evening after an Amish home dinner and drive the 1-1/2 to Gettysburg and spend two nights there instead of a night in Lancaster? In other words, do an extra night in Gettysburg because it's more historical and interesting (and just do a day-trip in Lancaster) or stay overnight in Lancaster because it's also interesting and historical? I also realize I will be tacking on an extra hour traveling time if I go to Philly from Gettysburg. Once I get this all figured out, I will start on the tours, etc. Much easier to figure out once I know my travel agenda. Thanks all in advance.

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Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
Hershey
Hershey
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Gettysburg
Gettysburg
Pennsylvania
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Lancaster
Lancaster County, PA
9. Re: Planning PA trip

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