When your next group trip starts to feel frazzled, pack the gang off to the Turkey Hill Experience in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Group travel is a great way to go, but such trips present some travel planning worries of their own. Not only do you, the travel planner, have to pick a destination – in itself no small feat – you also have to provide for enough activities to keep things interesting.
And often it’s the group planner who also has to keep everyone happy. Is there a better way to happiness for all ages than ice cream? Not that we know of! So, if you’re planning a getaway in the vicinity of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, be sure to include the Turkey Hill Experience on your to-do list.
The Turkey Hill Experience isn’t a working ice cream factory, but rest assured that there are plenty of free samples of frozen deliciousness offered by the Turkey Hill dairy company. The Experience is more of an evocation of ice cream and, to a lesser extent, the iced tea and other drinks that Turkey Hill is known for. It’s the sort of place where you can create a virtual ice cream, milk a mechanical dairy cow or film a fictional TV spot. For a very modest additional fee (at the time of this writing, about $5 more than the under-$10 ticket price) you can even build your own ice cream flavor.
How Can We Get to the Turkey Hill Experience?
For much of the East Coast, the Turkey Hill Experience is within a day’s drive. It’s about three hours west of New York City and only an hour-and-a-half from Philadelphia and Baltimore. Pittsburgh, four hours to the west, is also within reasonable reach.
Flying into Lancaster County is another option. The region’s eponymous airport, Lancaster Regional Airport, is served by Sun Air Express. The airport is a short drive from the town of Columbia. However, you’ll find a larger selection of flights at Harrisburg International Airport, including such major carriers as American, Delta, United, and U.S. Airways. This airport is about half an hour from Columbia.
For an even more extensive selection of flights, Baltimore-Washington International Airport is an hour-and-a-half away.
Whichever way your group arrives in the area, finding the Turkey Hill Experience is easy; it’s just off Route 30, near the Susquehanna River in Columbia. Should your group have a major sweet tooth, it’s good to know that Hershey, Pennsylvania is about 20 miles away.
Tell Me More About What the Turkey Hill Experience Has to Offer
Billed as a ‘Scoopendous Experience’, the Turkey Hill Experience blends aspects of interactive museum with food lab and play park. There’s no right or wrong way to go through the Experience; your group can spend as much or as little time with each interactive exhibit as they wish.
Entering the Experience, you’ll learn more about the history of the Turkey Hill dairy company. There are stations devoted to milking a mechanical cow, seeing the view from a vintage milk truck and other aspects of old-school dairy farming in western Lancaster County. There’s also room devoted to the culture of Turkey Hill’s other line of products: iced tea. In the tea exhibit area, you can learn about the different types of teas, or you can get all interactive with it and discover which tea best matches your personal style.
If anyone in your group has ever wanted to make ice cream for a living – and be honest, who hasn’t? – they’ll enjoy ‘trying out’ new flavors in the virtual ice cream lab. Starting with dairy delivery, this process takes you all the way from pasteurization to pure deliciousness. For a nominal additional charge and some advanced reservations, you can bring your creations to life at the Taste Lab.
The folks at Turkey Hill Experience recommend that you set aside at least a couple hours to soak it all in. Of course, you can spend as much time as your schedule allows. The town of Columbia is also home to the National Watch and Clock Museum, several antique emporiums, and a glassblowing factory, where you can watch craftsmen at work etching in glass. Of course, with Lancaster County’s renown as a vacation spot and Hershey’s well-known attractions (of both the chocolate and theme park variety), you won’t run short of fun, amusing, educational experiences in the vicinity.
What Dining Options Are Available for My Group?
When it’s time to eat, your group is going to need choices. Columbia itself has quite a variety of restaurants to choose from. While you can certainly grab a taco, munch a pizza, or settle in for a hamburger and fries, we suggest that you take a more localized approach. This close to Philadelphia, you’d certainly be remiss not trying a cheesesteak, and TJ’s Philly Style Cheese Steaks and More gets consistently good reviews. For home-style cuisine in a nearly vanished setting, take the group to Hinkle’s Pharmacy Restaurant. It’s exactly what you think: a restaurant inside a pharmacy, the way it used to be.
What special services, discounts or help does the Turkey Hill Experience provide to groups?
Groups of 12 people or more should contact the Turkey Hill Experience’s group sales department via their website or by phone. Special days to visit include Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, June 6 (National Iced Tea Day) and July 19 (National Ice Cream Day). Special events also are planned around Halloween and Christmas.
The Turkey Hill Experience 2015 Loyalty Rewards Program for tour operators offers:
- Every 7th group tour that your company brings to Turkey Hill Experience is free
- Complimentary Columbia tour for groups booked in January-March or September-December (must have own vehicle)
- Each guest will receive a retail discount and product coupon
They offer tiered pricing and student rates, are open 7 days a week and will extend hours if necessary to accommodate a group. Free on-site bus parking and familiarization tours are available by request.
So, when things in your next group trip needs some sweetening, steer your crew towards the Turkey Hill Experience. Not only is it a fun attraction for all ages, it’s got great ice cream – and lots of it!