I love myself a good road trip in early December! It’s the perfect time for me to get away from the hustle of the holiday season that I feel at home and relax and make merry with my loved ones. It doesn’t hurt that I can usually pick up a few one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers either.
December + Small Town Charm = Streets glowing with twinkling lights, the town hall decked with scenes of the baby in the manger and crowds gathering to sing carols. A light dusting of the fluffy white stuff makes the scene complete, but I’m not always that lucky.
[TIP #1: Travelling in December usually means booking in September. The early bird gets the best room at the Inn!]
Our bags were packed and our course was set. North we went to Lititz, Pennsylvania, home to Wilbur Chocolate Company, the first commercial pretzel bakery in America, and General Sutter of the gold rush days and a whole lotta wolves. Yes, wolves. Settled by the Moravians in the 1700s, Lititz’s rich history is easily discovered.
[TIP #2: You won’t be in Lititz long before you spot the Moravian star. Make it a quest to find out its history and meaning.]
Take advantage of all it has to offer by visiting a few websites before you go: The Lititz Historical Foundation and Experience Lititz are good places to start. The following is a list of our favorites.
[TIP #3: Plan to visit on the second Friday of the month, when all of Lititz stays open late and there may be special tours and events. Also, many businesses close on Sunday. Plan accordingly!]
General Sutter Inn & Bulls Head Public House
This Inn has many pluses. It’s right in the middle of town, which makes it easy to park your car and walk to everything you might want to explore in town. Its lobby beckons you in, and is great for gathering and enjoying the warmth of a glowing hot fire in the fireplace. This central room is the place to meet other travelers who are hanging out by the fire enjoying the holiday decor and festive atmosphere.
The lobby is also connected to the hotel restaurant and bar in addition to the classic English pub, Bulls Head Public House, accredited by Cask Marque. The pub is terrific, but tables are first come first served and you place your order at the bar. The grub is really good, and served fast. This is a well-run establishment with friendly service. They offer a great selection of local, seasonal and artisanal ales.
Lititz is a lesson in living history, and the Inn is no exception. If you go, you must discover the meaning of “Pearl.” Trust me, on this one.
[TIP #4: Be aware if you are staying at the Inn, a historic building, that the walls are paper-thin and you can hear everything, even if it’s late at night when you are trying to sleep and there are other noisy patrons. The rooms and the bathrooms are small and reflect the character of the Inn.]
Johannes Mueller House Candlelight Tour & Lititz Museum
I have to admit I was foolishly (perhaps hopefully) expecting to be given an actual lit candle while making my way around this wonderfully preserved historic building. You know the kind of candle with that paper wax disc at the bottom to catch the drips? Although the building is lit with electricity now, it is very dimly illuminated as though it might have been 300 years ago. Do the words “charm” and “quaint” come to mind? They ought to.
The men and women who serve as guides are dressed in period costumes and are great story-tellers. Our family, including our 9 and 10-year-old kids, and grandparents in their 70s and 80s, really enjoyed this tour. It took less than an hour and we learned so much American history. After the tour we went next door to the Museum of Lititz, chock full of amazing finds. Even Santa!
(TIP #5: Check the website for details since these buildings have irregular hours of operation and host special events, like the ones I mentioned.]
Moravian Church Square
Our family actually attended the 10:30am Sunday service at the church, which has a children’s service where the kids leave during to go to their own room (our kids are no stranger to this and were eager to leave the adult service in search of more hip music, crafts and snacks).
Aside from going to church, we visited Moravian Museum at night – which is a must! Ask if you can see the instrument rooms on the second floor. If you want to pick up your own Moravian star, I suggest you check out the gift shop around the corner.
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
In my opinion, the pretzels are just okay, but the tour is fantastic! There is a fee, but it’s not much to find out how America’s first pretzel baker got his start. You’ll also get to try your hand at twisting the dough yourself. Great fun for all ages.
Since 1884, Wilbur makes and sells chocolate and confectionery products for the candy, baking, and dairy industries for over 125 years. Before there was the Hershey Kiss, there was the Wilbur Bud. Ask to taste one. There is a lot for sale, so beware.
[TIP #6: We visited in December and this place was mobbed, even first thing in the morning! There were so many people stuffed in there that it was rather unenjoyable to try to see and learn about the actual chocolate making, which is what interested us.]
Specializing in southern BBQ and hand crafted beer, the food at JoBoy’s is finger lickin’ good.
[TIP #7: Make a reservation and then, expect that you may still have to wait, especially if you are visiting on Second Friday or another busy night.]
Yummo! That’s what I say to tomato pie! I don’t know where they got the tomatoes in December, but it didn’t matter. This savory pie was excellent and had me thinking about creating my own at home.
[TIP #8: Call ahead for a reservation. They don’t serve alcohol, but do serve wonderful coffee and tea drinks. The breakfast menu looks killer.]
Even if you don’t eat candy (and they seem to have everything under the sun) there are plenty of cute little toys and puzzles, knickknacks and stuff that kids of all ages are sure to love.
[TIP #9: With kids, there was no way of escaping this shop. Buyer beware.]
This would be on my must do list of attractions if you are visiting Lititz. The sanctuary is a non-profit started by a family who is passionate about these beautiful animals. We learned so much in just about an hour during our visit. As of this writing they only give tours on the weekends at certain times, so check the website for details.
[TIP #10: Wear tough shoes that can get muddy and dress appropriately as you will be outside the entire time.]
Main Street is lined with truly wonderful independently owned businesses selling something for everyone. These were my favorite shops in part because of the merchandise, but also because the people working in them exuded hospitality. Thank you Lititz and everyone at Clemintines, Heavenly Soaps & Scents and Zest! for a terrific weekend. We’ll be back!