Experience the Small Town Charm of Lititz, PA

And Why Get Out of your Comfort Zone

by TheSpot
Lititz, PA 1700s architecture

As a lifelong Philly resident, there are certain towns that I had simply never heard of.  Admittedly, there probably wouldn’t be much of an incentive to explore my surroundings beyond my familiar scope.  That’s why when a friend mentioned Lititz, PA, it wasn’t a destination on my radar.  The discussion sprang from the proximity to Hershey, PA and my friend suggested it was a town worth checking out.  Aside from the name not being particularly easy to remember, I backlogged it for quite some time.  Until that is, we decided to do a little road trip to the Fire and Ice Festival being held in the center of town.  It was a good reason to get out of my comfort zone.  

Lititz, part of Lancaster County, is charming and mythical.  Before we headed down the turnpike, we made a short list of spots to visit.  Fortunately, many of the dining and boutique shops can be found right on Main street.  We plugged in the GPS and we were on our way.  We made good timing with just a little over an hour ride and luckily found parking in front of the Lititz Springs Inn and Bulls Head Public House.  A pub with an inn attached, our first order of business was to sit down for refreshing pint craft beers and lunch of hearty pub fare.  As it turns out, it happened to be voted one of the best beer bars in America by USA Today and Best Beer Bar in Pennsylvania by the Great American Beer Competition. 

After a leisurely lunch, we noticed instantly that Main Street was bustling with activities and families enjoying a Sunday afternoon.  Strollers, families, and even young friend groups seemed to walk along window shopping.  Many in the crowd sporting Philadelphia Eagles apparel.  Several antique shops caught our eye.  One was more charming than the next.  Lancaster, well known for high quality furniture and decor, we stopped in to see what treasures we could find.  Cast iron stoves, woven carpets, and antique irons were just a few items that can be found at fairly reasonable prices.  You can spend an entire day alone just antiquing in Lancaster County of which I had made a mental note.  As we walked along a little further, a shop with a large pretzel display featured prominently.  If you didn’t know anything else, you knew you had to sample a fresh warm pretzel from Lancaster County.  I had discovered after my visit that the  Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery had a pretty interesting history.    

Founded in 1861 by Julius Sturgis, it is considered the oldest pretzel bakery in America.  Moveover, it is the oldest family operated pretzel  bakery in America.  Judging by the line just to sample these delicious warm pretzels was a testament to their legacy.  If you love a good old fashioned warm pretzel from harking back to the days of the “pretzel guy” from childhood,  you haven’t experienced a pretzel until you have a Sturgis pretzel.  We took a few minutes to indulge in its’ warm, buttery, and light texture.  Just to sample a Sturgis pretzel was worth the ride alone.  The store held a variety of pretzel snacks including chocolate covered pretzels with their other famed confection of Lancaster, Wilbur Chocolate. A match made in heaven.  

Wilbur Chocolate Retail Store happened to be closed on the day of our visit but you couldn’t go too far without Wilbur Chocolates featured in many of the boutiques and shops.  Its claim to fame is the Wilbur bud, a chocolate process where chocolate resembles the bud of a flower.  The factory, founded in 1864,  boasts the original recipe and continues to be a beloved tradition of Lititz as well as manufactured in Central Pennsylvania.  Wilbur Chocolate had one famous celebrity brand that drew much attention to Wilbur Chocolates and Lititz, PA.  Muhammed Ali, made a visit to the chocolate plant in 1978 to promote the candy branded in his namesake, “The Muhammad Ali Crisp Crunch Candy Bar.”  It is said that he drew over a thousand people to the town.  Today you can also pay a visit to the Wilbur Lititz Hotel, now a Hilton Hotel.  It was originally converted from the original chocolate factory and the Wilbur Chocolate Museum stands next door.  

While you’re walking around town, feel free to slow down and observe your surroundings.  Many of the buildings have original structures and exteriors from the 1700s.  The town is representative of its history and influence of Native Americans and Europeans of that era.  There are currently 57 listings of the National Register of Historic Places in Lancaster County.   Another fun fact:  the oldest girls boarding school can also be found in Lititz, PA.  Linden Hall for Girls was founded in 1746 and has been in continuous operation here  in the United States.  The Moravian Church Square is another historical example founded in 1749.  According to the Church’s website, the Lititz Moravian Congregation began in 1749 and the church was built on a 491 acre farm in 1787.  The grounds offer a stunning view and within a walkable distance from shops and restaurants. Whether you’re planning a family day trip, a shopping excursion, or simply explore Lancaster County, Lititz has much to offer.  

I had to stretch beyond my comfort zone but I was glad to discover a quaint new town off the beaten track.  Lititz has all the old and new world charm to spend a perfect recreational weekend with friends and family.  It’s a short drive away whether by car or horse buggy but nevertheless, you’ll be glad you did.  

Lititz Moravian Church Lititz, PA