Are those summer airfares getting to you? For a family of four or five, the price of tickets plus bag fees plus who-the-heck-knows-what-else the airlines come up with can bust your family vacation budget before you even get to your destination. That’s why my family decided to take a family road trip this year – we’re hopping in our Prius, hitting the road, and discovering tons of fun stuff to do, all within a few hours’ drive of Philadelphia.
First stop? Hanover, Pennsylvania, and the Sheppard Mansion. It takes us about two and half hours to weave our way through the Pennsylvania countryside to make it to this old-timey town where Utz potato chips and Snyder pretzels are made; it’s pretty much a perfect distance for our two tween daughters, who snooze a bit and just start poking each other when we pull up to the inn.
This is what they mean when they say “mansion” – it’s a huge, brick building with columns and patios and leaded windows – and it’s gorgeous. The owner herself (Kathy Sheppard Hoar, the great-granddaughter of the inn’s original owners) checks us in, then shows us up to the third floor and our suite, two queen bedrooms connected by a large bath. The kids are pretty thrilled; after all, they can get up to all kinds of trouble that we won’t know about in their very own bedroom (sure enough, we wake up in the morning to find that they’ve had their TV on all night).
When we explore the grounds, we pop into the property’s Carriage House Market, newly installed in the (you guessed it!) adjacent carriage house and full of fresh fruit, bread, and milk in glass bottles from a nearby dairy. Another room houses china-like melamine dinnerware and coated tablecloths; Heather, the sister who runs the market, explains that the goal of the place is to encourage families to set a nice table, sit down together to eat, and partake of healthy, local foods – all while supporting the many small farms in the area (each of which she vets to find the very best products). Zoe tries some homemade strawberry lavender fruit leather; maybe because it’s in the shape of a butterfly, she’s immediately a big fan.
We keep reminding the girls to use their best manners, as this is the kind of place where people celebrate birthdays and anniversaries; in fact, the next day there’s a wedding on the main staircase.
Check in soon to hear about our next road trip adventure: historic Gettysburg!
Thanks to Sheppard Mansion for hosting our stay.