Disclaimer: We were provided complimentary tickets to Dutch Wonderland and Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in exchange for our promotion, but all thoughts and opinions are our own - we LOVE them, have been going for years, and know you'll love them, too! This post also contains affiliate links, you won't pay more but we receive commission from purchases made after clicking.
We missed our annual trip to Lancaster last summer, we all missed ALOT of things last year, am I right?! But it made our trip this year that much more special! And to top it off, we also met my best friend (and her family) who I hadn't seen in 3 years!! See the WHOLE vacation in this super fun video here, and read on for more details!!
Lancaster is one of our favorite family vacation destinations, for 3 reasons:
1. The landscape
It's absolutely beautiful, so peaceful, with rolling hills and endless farmland! Also, I may be a tad fascinated with Amish culture and lifestyle...
2. Dutch Wonderland
Possibly the best amusement park out there for toddlers and younger kids, with everything from chill rides to exciting diving shows, and even a small water park. There are many rides where you can hold babies and little ones in your lap. By around 2-3 years old, they're tall enough for most rides, at least going together with an adult. My oldest is 8 and finally tall enough to ride the wooden roller coaster with the highest height requirement. My 5 year olds are tall enough for the 2nd highest cutoff ride, Merlin's Mayhem, a super exciting SMOOTH metal roller coaster. Look at the below photo of our first trip in 2017 and our latest trip in 2021 - the kids have grown SO much!!
We're still not out of the pandemic, but I should note that most people at the park were NOT masked, and it did get crowded. The waterpark was too crowded for our comfort (you can see in our video) so didn't venture in there, but other than that we didn't feel uneasy, especially being outdoors. We got there right when they opened at 10am and were able to ride Merlin's Mayhem (our favorite roller coaster) twice in a row without any line and didn't have to wait more than 5 minutes until afternoon, when it got a bit more crowded but still not crazy, for a super nice Sunday in August I was pleasantly surprised!
We just love going back year after year! We haven't noticed any change in rides since we've been going, but it's fun seeing how the kids change each time - what they're excited to ride or see again, and what they're suddenly tall enough to do.
3. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm
We've been going to Cherry Crest for years now and every time they have added new things and expanded and my mind is blown in the best way all over again!! It's basically 25 acres of outdoor adventuring "agri-entertainment" fun on the farm - we're talking HUGE fast potato sack slides (a 6-lane slide is new this year and amazing!!!), jump pillows for kids AND adults, petting zoo, tractor rides, shooting apples and paint balls, Sproutsville kids' town (expanded this year with many new buildings - see the video), and so so so much more!!
Their epic corn maze was voted #1 in the country last year!! Be sure to click here and vote so they win again this year. Above center is an aerial view, this year's 5-acre corn maze with 2.5 miles of trails has a theme of "Hometown Heroes", and throughout the maze you can learn about how local and national emergency services keep our communities safe!
Cherry Crest is open daily through the summer (closed Sundays/Mondays) in July & August, and open Thurs-Sat from September 11 - November 6. Check out their calendar here!
We've stayed at several different Lancaster hotels over the years, you can see them mentioned in our previous annual guides (our 2019 guide, our 2018 guide, our 2017 guide - you can see TONS of other activities and restaurants in those as well).
This year we chose the Wyndham Lancaster Resort and it's our new favorite!! Here's why we loved it:
1. Huge and newly renovated - modern, clean, super nice! We got a pool-view balcony room with 2 queen beds and I was surprised how big it was! Could fit an extra bed but we decided to keep it roomier and just had our 3 kids sleep sideways in one of the queen beds, easy peasy!
2. Great heated zero-entry outdoor pool with lounge chairs IN THE POOL. It was in the 90's when we arrived and the pool was actually a bit too warm, felt good but not refreshing. I've never said that about a pool in my life LOL, it was like a warm bath, would have felt really nice on a normal day in the 70s-80's but in a heat wave, I wanted icey water!
3. Nice indoor pool with 9' deep end, nice for jumping and diving!
**note: NO LIFEGUARDS! You have to sign a ton of waivers at check in.
4. TODDLER ROOM!! See photo below and in our video. My kids are 5, 5, 8 and loved it here. And it was amazing for our friend's 2 year old because he could just roam free with no worries. It's a great space to take your kids when they wake early, to let your partner enjoy a sleep in!
5. Super cute outdoor playground. Note: it's not gated in, so you'll have to stay close to your little ones if they're runners!
6. On-site restaurant, bar, and Starbucks. Pro Tip: the Starbucks has a microwave (our room didn't), it also has a little food pantry where you can buy cereal, snacks, etc.
7. Located across the street from Cartoon Network Hotel and Dutch Wonderland, walkable to many restaurants including Applebees. Very close to the outlets and TONS of stuff! That said, it's in a busy commercial area, not the quiet peaceful areas of Lancaster where we've stayed before.
We also dropped by Cartoon Network Hotel because I've been curious about it since it opened recently! It looks like it was an old motel that got bought up and gut renovated in a really fun and kitsch way. We peaked into an open room and it was small, no wonder they have a max 4 guests policy. The outdoor pool and splash area look great, and we ate dinner at the Cartoon Kitchen, which looks more like a cafeteria than a restaurant, but we got a private BenTen themed "pod" (3 walled room with a TV at the end of the table) and had fun. The food was good, drinks were strong and yummy, they have a FAB gift shop if you have CN loving people in your life, and they had meet and greet with a couple of characters, however there was a no-touch policy, covid related probably. I definitely recommend either a stay or a meal there!
MORE FAMILY VACATION INSPIRATION:
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!