our trip to Pennsylvania

You know, the one we went on three months ago? Yea, that one. It was ’round about that time that I was still losing every other meal, supporting two lives besides my own with my body, and falling asleep at the kitchen table. I pulled myself together for the trip (except for a few unfortunate meal-losings), but when I got home let’s just say that I didn’t jump up with creative energy and blog about our experiences.

Which is why we’re here on this topic today. Three months later.

I want to tell you about our great family vacation in PA! We drove across the state! We saw Amish buggies! We had fun! We ate chocolate! We saw history! We took pictures! (And now I look at those pictures of my pre-first haircut wittle beebee and I sniffle.) But they are such good memories.

We started out in the Harrisburg/Hershey part of PA, where used our Minnesota Science Museum membership to get into the Whitaker Science Center in Harrisburg. OBaby luuuuurved the water area.

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He lurved it a lot.


One of my favorite parts of the trip came after the science center, when OBaby fell asleep for his afternoon nap in our rental car and DanO and I drove around the very old Pennsylvania neighborhoods and admired the houses. We grabbed a few fliers from the ones that were for sale and turned up and down streets as we saw fit while OBaby napped on.

{I love my husband.}

From our unplanned tour of the old neighborhoods near Harrisburg, we drove to the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania and zomg CHOCOLATE.


OBaby had his first chocolate peanut butter milkshake, helped package Hershey Kisses, went on a ‘tour’ of how different kinds of Hershey candies are prepared, O, and high-fived a chocolate bar.

You know, the usual.


From Hershey (the next day) we took the scenic route to Philadelphia, driving through Lancaster County. Rolling hills, farm fields being worked by Amish men with their horse-drawn equipment, passing horse buggies along the side of the highway, quilting and furniture shops every 10 miles. On top of all that, it was rural Pennsylvania in the height of fall – we were surrounded by trees clothed in colors bold as we wound through the countryside.

Somewhere along the Old Philadelphia Pike, we stumbled upon a cluster of unique local shops called Kitchen Kettle Village. It was probably our best (un-planned) find of the trip, complete with provided red wagons for the toddler pulling.

(And ok, by ‘somewhere’ along the Pike, I mean in the town of Intercourse, PA. ::snicker snicker::)


They had the most amazing selection of homemade canned goods – jams, relishes, salsas, preserves and pickles – in their Canning Shop along with samples products and a viewing area where you could watch Amish women in the back of the store canning. OBaby could have watched all day.

I drooled and wished I could take pictures of the beautiful lines and rows and towering shelves full of colorfully filled glass jars, but there was a no-camera policy because of the presence of the Amish workers (who prefer not to have their picture taken). And since we were plane bound to get back home, buying some jars wasn’t really an option, either.


Siiiiigh. If you’re ever in Intercourse, PA, (::snicker::) stop by the Kitchen Kettle Village Canning Kitchen and sample some of their sweet dill slices for me, will you? Or, come to think of it, would it be weird to ask DanO for a few pints of Lancaster County pickles for Valentine’s Day?


O, dang.

{No canned goods, but I did make off with this gorgeous quilted apron as a souvenir of Dutch Country.}


{Someone left behind their Elmo bib.}

We arrived in Philadelphia late enough to check into our hotel room, be given the run around when our non-smoking room smelled like smoke and when the provided crib showed signs of not being safe, then to check out of our hotel room and drive across town to a different and better hotel.

It was, hands down, the worst 3 hours of the trip.

Then, once we were all sleeping soundly in New Hotel in Philadelphia, I kid you not, two people unlocked the door to our hotel room and tried to walk in. It was 2am.

DanO was up in a flash and I’m pretty sure I stayed in bed and peed my pants. (OBaby slept through it, thank God.) We thought, what the hell is going on and where ARE we?! Then we thought, maybe it was maintenance, thinking the room was empty?


The night desk clerk had mis-typed and mis-coded the intruding couples’ cards. She pretty much sent them to our room on accident.

At 2am.

(I feel the need to tell you that this was no shady establishment we took our family to. It was a Sheraton. Just… a Sheraton with a drowsy  desk attendant.)

So that was pretty much the worst night of the trip, all things considered.

ANYWAY! Philadelphia!


It was everything we hoped it would be. DanO really enjoys political history, which was one of the main reasons we chose this destination. O, and history we did find. We walked, took tours of Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Christ Church, The Liberty Bell Center, (looked at the unfinished, under-construction) President’s House, The Ben Franklin Museum, The Constitution Center, Betsy Ross House, Elfreth’s Alley, Fireman’s Hall…

We walked a lot.


That? That chair up there with the rising sun atop, center? It is THE ACTUAL CHAIR IN WHICH GEORGE WASHINGTON SAT during congressional meetings. The! Chair! Not a replica, not a chair he sat in once, The! Chair!

::insert random trivia our tour guide told us about the song ‘House of the Rising Sun'::

DanO and I were absolutely enthralled by all of the information. OBaby, though?

Eh. He’d seen better.


{Sleeping through the educational parts. Typical.}


After OBaby woke up in time to foil our family photo attempts, we headed to lunch at City Tavern. Built in 1772, the tavern served as a casual meeting place for the first congressional congress! The wait staff is all in colonial era costumes, and the menu includes things like Martha Washington’s Apple Pie (no, really. HER recipe.), Ben Franklin’s favorite bread (cranberry orange), and duck sausage.


OBaby mostly liked the metal chalices.


If you are in Philadelphia and plan to go to City Tavern, for the love of all things frugal, go to the Independence Visitor’s Center first and grab a 2-for-1 entree coupon from the information desk pamphlet area. Recipes from the 1770s are apparently not cheap, if you know what I mean.

I’m kind of out of words, but I have a few more pictures of neat old things around the city. The houses and doors below are from Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest constantly inhabited street in the country (an old-home lover’s paradise).

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Aaaaand after Elfreth’s, I ate the most amazing apple tart I have ever had, bought from a closet-sized bakery called Tartes.




Other Philadelphia highlights (of which I have pictures but I am le tired.):

The Please Touch! Children’s Museum >> the.coolest. children’s museum I have ever seen. We spent an entire day there, and I do mean entire.

Centennial Cafe in the Fairmount Park neighborhood >> yummy, adorable and local, located in a historical house.

Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia >> CRÉPES. YOU MUST HAVE THE CRÉPES.


Seems silly to have to say, but in case you were wondering: no link or opinion in this post was sponsored. None of these companies or places even know I exist. :)

25 Responses to “our trip to Pennsylvania”

  1. Moriah

    This looks like my husband’s dream vacation (the political history part). When we make this trip one day, which I am sure we will, I’ll have to remember all of the yummy foods to eat! haha

    • AllisonO

      Yea, the trip went pretty much like this: “history history… FOOOOD… history, old stuff, neat stuff… FOOD.”

      Our kind of vacation!

  2. Andrea

    I also grew up in the Philly area- Morrisville! Thanks for making me homesick. :)

    And I’ve been on the other end of the room key mishap! We walked in on a guy sleeping alone at about 10pm. I don’t think he even fully woke up…we ran (RAN!) back to the desk and told the clerk “There is someone. IN. OUR. ROOM.” We were pretty sure it was a homeless person who had snuck in, but it turned out the room was in fact occupied, so we were given a different one. We were still pretty creeped out though. Definitely kept the deadbolt locked!

  3. Amy K

    So glad you loved our town:) We had a membership to Please Touch Museum this past year and used it to the fullest! Isn’t that building simply stunning. I am sure you made your way through Blue Ball prior to arriving in Intercourse then made your way to Paradise:) Sorry we can never forgo the Lancaster humor/irony round these parts.

  4. Cole

    We’re headed to the Please Touch Museum at the end of the month – so excited! Mommy leads a field trip to Philly with her class everywhere and always enjoys all the historical sights…

  5. Cara

    I LOVE that area of PA! My husband and I actually got engaged in Philly and have pictures of the city all over our house. We love it so much we are planning on going back for our 5 year anniversary trip in 2 years! and yes Reading Terminal Market is the BEST ever! Never had the crepes there but the ice cream and cookies and Amish goodies O my!

  6. Angee

    We live an hour south of Harrisburg. My hubby is from PA (I’m from SC) and I adore this area. There is so much to do and countryside is beautiful. You’re pictures make me miss fall.

  7. Kristina

    I LOVED hearing about this trip! We now live about an hour north of Philly but know all the places you mentioned. Now I miss them terribly. We do have a membership to the Please Touch Museum and go almost 3 times a month. We’re a little addicted!

  8. Jess

    ahh! I can’t believe you went to Lancaster, where I’m from!! Totally have been to kitchen kettle when i was little… and i never got the I <3 Intercourse t-shirts until much later, haha… aw, makes me happy to see you guys traveling to my hometown =)

  9. Laura

    I live in Philadelphia and I love it here! So glad you got to see some of our treasures! I especially love Elfreth’s Alley…what a quaint and charming street in the middle of a big city!

  10. Julie

    Could OBaby be any cuter drinking out of a straw? Love it! Looks like a fun place to visit- it’s on my bucket list. And that apple tart? Nom!

  11. Katie

    These are the kinds of vacations we go on too! When we were in Seattle all we did was historic stuff :) One of our dream vacations is Boston for this very reason!

    LOVE your pictures! I hope we make it to PA for a family vacation! You sold me…even if you weren’t being paid to do so!

  12. Michelle

    I’m so glad you enjoyed my home (Lancaster County), it is truly a wonderful place to live and raise children! My oldest son was conceived near Old Philadelphia Pike (we were renting a townhouse at the time) a few miles from Intercourse ;).

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Please Touch Museum (especially the Alice in Wonderland area, Garage and water area), we were there in October for the first time to Celebrate my son’s 3rd birthday. Thankfully we have a Association of Children’s Museum membership so we can go back many more times :).

    P.S. you’ll have to come back during the summer when the boys are a little older and take them to the Train Musuem in Strasburg, Sesame Place and the Crayola factory.

  13. Molly

    Sounds like you had a fabulous trip! We just moved to the mountains from Philly, and we do miss all of the awesome things that it has to offer!

    And I can’t believe you didn’t go to Bird-in-Hand! It’s right next to Intercourse! ::snicker::

        • Michelle

          LOL! No but there is the “Hands on House’ in Lititz, PA ;).
          {Blush} when I was telling my in-laws about our visit to the “Please Touch Museum” I accidentally called it the “Please Touch ME Museum”…I’m sure you can imagine the snickers I received.

  14. martha brady

    my brother (who lives in harrisburg) and i went to that place in intercourse. nice set of stores. we enjoyed it a lot. if you are ever back in that area, a cool place to shop is a place called ROOTS. he took me there too:) it had lots of locals there. many of the shop owners were mennonite or amish. there were some buggies parked in the parking are. it is only open one day a week. tues. i think. they had some delicious homemade cinnamon rolls…they were to die for! difficult to describe the place, but it was cool! fresh produce in the open air portion, lots of little shops/booths in the covered section with food of all types, and all manner of homemade crafts and items that you could possibly want to buy:)
    we had a similar incident to your hotel one happen @xmas in austin, TX on a visit…also a nice hotel! we were the ones to walk in on someone. fortunately, it was in the afternoon and a family…and everyone was dressed…whew! hope that never happens again!

  15. Toni

    I love that you enjoyed Philly and love your pictures! I grew up and still live in the area (South Jersey & work in DelCo, PA). I love it here. We still haven’t been to Please Touch, but I plan on taking my son real soon.

    It’s so fun to see a tourist’s point of view of our city. Especially a positive one ;)

  16. robyn L

    My husband and I went to Lancaster County, PA (including Intercourse) on our honeymoon. ;) If you go back, you should try to see a play at the Sight & Sound Theater.

  17. Lauren

    next time you are out in PA you will have to let us know! We are outside of Philadelphia and regularly visit all of the places on your PA list. They are all timeless. You have to take OBaby to Dutch Wonderland!!


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