Photography as noted
During the holiday season, everyone’s trying to find the perfect gift for their loved ones.
Many times, people may look far and wide (even if it’s just online) for something grand and flashy, only to finally say “That’s the one!” when they stumble upon a small, handmade object at a local market.
One place brimming with such gems can be found in the Pennsylvania countryside, where you can experience all the wonder that Peddler’s Village has to offer.
Spanning forty-two acres in Lahaska, Pennsylvania—a small community located about forty miles from Philadelphia, eighty miles from New York City, and ten miles from New Jersey— Peddler’s Village exemplifies holiday destination. It offers over sixty shops, seven restaurants, a family entertainment center, and more, all in a charming, eighteenth-century outdoor setting.
© Andrew Barth
It all began as one couple’s vision for a local hamlet. Earl and Sheila Jamison owned some farmland and chicken coops in the surrounding area along with Bountiful Acres, a produce market. In 1961, they jumped on an opportunity to buy more land and the next year opened Peddler’s Village, which at the time featured fourteen shops and a single restaurant.
But the Jamisons didn’t want this to be a typical shopping experience. They aimed higher—and older. Earl was a farmer by trade and Sheila went to horticulture school, so they literally dug in to create a beautiful, pastoral landscape. In addition, they decided on a colonial-style theme, converting dilapidated farm buildings into country buildings. As a result, visitors could walk along winding brick walkways, gaze at antique decor, visit shops that look like shoppes, and even observe a real windmill and an authentic working waterwheel attached to the village’s grist mill. Through the next two decades, the Jamisons kept expanding Peddler’s Village by adding more land, more shops, and even a quaint, selfie-inducing gazebo on its upper village green, helping it become the Peddler’s Village of today.
© Paul Boger
You can easily spend all day at Peddler’s Village because the grounds feel like one large treasure hunt. Whether your treasure of choice is furniture, fine art, food, fun, or festivals, you’re sure to find it at this award-winning venue.
Shopping and eating
When you visit a place called Peddler’s Village, you know you can expect plenty of merchants peddling their wares. And, indeed, there are rows upon rows of stores throughout the village selling just about everything imaginable, from local artwork to European fashion. For example, its specialty-food stores offer fare like olive oil, jerky, and gourmet popcorn, and its home-focused shops feature one-of-a-kind handmade gifts, such as soaps, candles, and ornaments. There’s even a hat shop!
Plus, if you’re going to spend hours shopping, you’ll need sustenance—and the eateries at Peddler’s Village are as distinct as its shops. Visit the restaurant that helped start it all, the Cock ‘n Bull, to dine on meals like Chicken Pot Pye and Beef Burgundy, or go a little more casual with burgers and pizzas at the Buttonwood Inn. You can even grab a giant Bavarian pretzel at Peddler’s Pub. Want quick eats to munch on while shopping? There’s a cupcake bakery for something sweet, a poke bowl place for something more filling, and even an old-fashioned soda bar where you can wet your whistle.
All that shopping may sound awfully enticing to adults, but if you have children, Peddler’s Village has you covered with several toy stores. For sheer fun, take them to Giggleberry Fair, an awe-inspiring, child-friendly indoor complex that can entertain kids and kids-at-heart all day with various play areas and a dedicated café.
Perhaps its biggest highlight, though, is Giggleberry Mountain. Spanning three stories and six levels, this dual obstacle course and maze is loaded with bridges, slides, and tubes galore. Upping the excitement is its ground-level “berry blaster,” a machine that shoots thousands of foam balls skyward to produce a rainfall of foam fun. And no trip to Peddler’s Village is complete without somebody in your group riding the star of the Giggleberry show: its Grand Carousel. More than a century old, this classic ride features hand-carved wooden figures and nearly a thousand lights.
To enhance your experience, Peddler’s Village offers timely events throughout the year, including an ice-carving display, its Spring FunFest, a summer sandcastle spectacle, and the Scarecrows in the Village and Pumpkin Carving Contest in the fall. Also popular are the village’s fruit-themed events, which harken back to the Jamisons’ farm roots. Besides the strawberry celebration in May, there are blueberry- and peach-focused summer events and an apple festival in the fall.
As fun as Peddler’s Village is throughout the year, it truly shines during the holiday season. The buildings and landscape are decked out in a million lights, the lampposts are adorned with ribbons and wreaths, and the smell of gingerbread fills the air. You truly can’t get any quainter.
The festivities kick off with the annual Grand Illumination Celebration on November 17, when pop-up food stands abound, live music fills the air, and Santa and Mrs. Claus turn on the village’s lights and officially welcome the holiday season. In addition, the popular Gingerbread Competition and Display begins, so make sure to see all 100-plus entries and vote for your favorite.
It’s also time to shop for presents! The merchants of the village host an open house with extended hours that same weekend, where you’ll find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list—from authentic German food and crafts at Fehrenbach Black Forest Clocks & Gifts to hand-forged decorative hardware at Knobs ’N Knockers to merchandise with your family coat of arms at What’s in a Name. As you walk from shop to shop, you’ll be enthralled by entertainment, special performances, and even merry carolers dressed in Victorian garb.
Can’t make it for the opening weekend? Then come back in December for a visit, when Peddler’s Village holds its annual Holly Jolly Weekend, an event that ups the holiday spirit with Santa Parades throughout the village. To make the most of your trip, stay the night at the village’s quaint Golden Plough Inn, a country inn that offers ambience, hospitality, and amazing views of the grounds.
All in all, Peddler’s Village is a shining example, literally and figuratively, of how much enjoyment can be had if you stray off the beaten path during your holiday adventures. If you are in the greater Philadelphia or New York area during the holidays, be sure to visit this charming colonial complex and treat yourself to a truly unique seasonal experience.
For more info, visit peddlersvillage.com
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