When traveling around a new place, you might be tempted to stop at that familiar fast-food chain for a snack or meal. But south-central Pennsylvania offers seasonal, locally made options that are far more tempting, if you know where to find them.
The Market at Maple Lawn Farms
When looking for cider and apple baked goods, try the Market at Maple Lawn Farms in New Park. It offers apple, peach and pumpkin picking in the fall, but visitors can skip the manual labor and head straight to the bakery, which sells cookies, pies and locally made ice cream.
The farm’s apples are used in the homemade dumplings — a mixture of fresh apple, cinnamon and sugar wrapped in dough — and apple cider doughnuts, which come in plain, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, glazed and chocolate-frosted varieties. Complement the baked treats with a cup of apple or peach cider made from fruit grown on the farm.
Maple Lawn Farms has been owned and operated for 145 years by the McPherson family, which is reaching out to the next generation of customers via new media. Beyond a website that updates customers on the availability of fruit for picking, the farm has a Facebook page and a venue on Foursquare. Once checked in, visitors can use their smartphones to learn about the types of apples sold there by scanning QR codes placed around the market.
The farm’s Maize Quest Fun Park should amuse children looking for more active entertainment. The park features a themed corn maze, a bamboo maze and a number of smaller mazes and games.
Brown’s Orchards and Farm Market
About a half-hour drive to the northwest is Brown’s Orchards and Farm Market, another family business doing what it knows best: apples.
he Loganville orchard is one of the few places that still pasteurizes its own cider, and it does so with ultraviolet light on juice pressed from picked, not fallen, apples. “Cider has always been an integral part of our business,” said general manager and President Stan Brown, who has worked on the orchard since his father bought the property in 1948.
According to Brown, the 100-acre orchard grows about 50,000 bushels of apples a season, leaving the market with enough cider to sell from the start of September to the end of April.
In addition to cider, Brown’s makes apple pies, apple dumplings, applesauce and candied apples with its fruit. Although other types of fruit pies are popular in season, apple pie is consistently “far and away No. 1,” Brown said. The market bakery sells as many as 9,000 pies for its busiest holiday, Thanksgiving.
Of the two farms, Maple Lawn feels more rustic, but Brown’s offers a broader array of attractions beyond the agricultural experience, including a gift shop, nursery, pavilion, musical performances and children’s activities, such as pumpkin picking and hayrides.
“We get a lot of travelers who want to get out of the city for a day,” Brown said.
The Markets at Shrewsbury
For hunger that won’t be satisfied by a snack, try the Markets at Shrewsbury, an indoor collection of 25 vendors, mostly Amish, selling prepared foods such as barbecue, produce, meats, snacks and desserts, as well as home decor and furniture.
Stop by Linda’s Country Kitchen for a traditional Amish wedding dinner. Just like Amish weddings, which can be celebrated only after the harvest season, this buffet meal is served only in the fall. The meal — a lunch buffet that includes chicken, potatoes and applesauce — is only served two Fridays a month in September and October.
After the meal, it’s time for dessert. Stoltzfus’ Bakery sells baked goods made at the market, including pies, sticky buns and pumpkin rolls, which are pieces of pumpkin sheet cake rolled with a cream cheese filling. Aunt Lydia’s Salads offers pumpkin custard, but only early birds will get a taste — the shop is usually sold out by the afternoon.
For even more sweet treats, visit the Dairy Barn for homemade candied apples and “fall popcorn,” which is mixed with chocolate and candy. Or head on over to Ben and Barbara’s Candy, where customers can find chocolate lollipops in seasonal shapes such as turkeys and candy corn.