Some places have a small-town charm you see mostly in movies, where you feel like everyone knows and cares about everyone else. Others have a bustling shopping district with unique options from fine art to children’s toys to clothing. Still others boast historical significance, encompassing museums to monuments. Downtown Lititz, Lancaster county, is one of those rare diamonds in the rough that has all three — and where travelers might want to stay longer than just a day to enjoy everything the town has to offer.
Just arriving on Lititz's Main Street transports you to another world: The rows of homes and shops, some dating to the 1700s, provide an amazing historical backdrop. At the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery — a great place to start a visit to Lititz — guests can discover America's first commercial pretzel bakery, celebrating 150 years of business. On the hands-on tour, see the original ovens used when the factory opened, watch employees making pretzels by
hand and try it out for yourself.
Afterward, pass by the majestic Linden Hall, an all-girls boarding school ranked among the best in the country. The school was founded in 1746 by members of the Moravian Church — who also founded the town — and is touted as the oldest girls' boarding school in the nation. While you can't enter the school, much of the history of Lititz can be experienced at the Lititz Museum and the Johannes Mueller House. Displays include Native American artifacts, a historic Moravian home display and the Mary Oehme Gardens, complete with a water garden. More on the Moravians can be found at the Lititz Moravian Archives Museum, just off Main Street.
And speaking of which, a trip to Lititz isn't complete without visiting the historic Wilbur Chocolate store and Candy Americana Museum. It may be a short walk away from most of the shops, but the smell of the chocolate recipe perfected in 1884 will guide you there. Known especially for the classic Wilbur chocolate "buds," the museum boasts displays of antique candy-making gear, as well as Wilbur candy makers creating fresh treats, including fudge and chocolate-dipped marshmallows, as you watch.
Probably the best part of shopping in Lititz is the variety — from the array of antique stores to upscale clothing boutiques to children’s shops. Most stores are in old converted homes: Think creaky hardwood floors, multiple small rooms and old-style glass storefronts.
Antique shops such as Moravian House Antiques and Country Treasures and Days Gone By Creations dot downtown, along with trendy women’s boutiques such as Spotted Owl, Tiger’s Eye and Clementine’s. Sink your teeth into Candyology, a sugar shack featuring treats from the past as well as the latest in sweets, or feel like a kid again in Teddy Bear Emporium, with a menagerie of toys, dolls and, of course, stuffed animals. For the gourmet, shops such as Zest carry specialty foods and culinary items, and A Tea Affair sells coffee and loose teas from around the world, which you can enjoy in its tea room.
Looking for that one-of-a-kind item? Haven Fine Handcrafted Gifts offers handmade jewelry, metal sculptures and cards; EcoLoco sells recycled items, such as handbags made from seatbelts or magazines, and fairly-traded goods including soup mixes and cookies; and Aaron’s Books has the charm of a small-town library, offering new and used books for sale, while providing the latest in digital reading as well. The town’s beauty is also reflected by the artists and galleries that call Lititz home: Pots by dePerrot, for example, carries stoneware, pottery and tile.
And that’s just to name a few. Nearly 60 businesses are along Main and Broad streets and their surrounding side streets alone — all of them with their own unique wares and owned and operated by people, who, like in many charming small towns, are happy to say hello and chat for a while.
STAY AND EAT
To truly get a feel of the town, you may want to stay a while — for a meal or even overnight. The Alden House Bed and Breakfast combines 1850s-era charisma with amenities such as rainfall showers, wall-mounted TVs and scratch-made quiche and crepes. Like the shops, the dining options in Lititz vary greatly — from a gourmet cup of coffee to a slice of pizza to more upscale fare. A favorite stop on Main Street is Café Chocolate. The menu includes savory soups and sandwiches as well as chocolate fondue, cakes and truffles — most of which is organic, fair-trade and all-natural, with produce from Lancaster County.
Although relatively new to Lititz — it opened in March 2010 — the Bulls Head Public House still holds a lot of history. Boasting traditional British pub food and plenty of beer choices, the restaurant’s sign originally belonged to a pub located just outside of Nottingham, UK, while the decorative mirrored back bar hails from England via the Commodore Hotel in New York City and a Staten Island speakeasy during the prohibition era. Right next door is the nearly 250-year-old General Sutter Inn, which combines elegant dining with 16 country- and Victorian- style rooms where guests can spend the night. The menu is more upscale, including grilled salmon and lobster-and- truffle “mac and cheese,” as well as from- scratch burgers and panini.
At Tomato Pie Café, you can get a glass of specialty iced tea from the old-fashioned soda fountain, or a hearty breakfast or lunch. The menu includes a take on the classic grilled-cheese sandwich for example, made with Muenster, Vermont cheddar and artichoke hearts on grilled sourdough bread, and also features tomato pie — something more similar to quiche, not pizza — the restaurant’s signature dish. After that, a taste of Italian ice or homemade ice cream, with flavors such as blueberry cheesecake or coconut, from Greco’s Italian Ices and Homemade Ice Cream hits the spot.
The perfect place to enjoy it? Outside at the Lititz Springs Park, right across the street. Picturesque with an old train caboose, duck pond and play area — and celebrating more than 200 years of history — the park, like Lititz itself, is a great destination any time of the year.
Photography by Noreen Livoti and Chris Knight
Published in Community
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