Lititz has a little bit of everything
Once each summer, my family would travel from wherever we were stationed to visit our relatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Our only destination in the Keystone state was Lititz to see my paternal grandmother. Yet when I traveled to Lititz last week, I was amazed at how much I never saw.
Granted, my brother and I never liked wandering towns on muggy summer days, but still, my recent visit taught me there was a lot we missed.
Lititz literally has something for everyone of all ages and interests.
Food for thought
I started off with the one place I vaguely remember and everyone recommends—the Wilbur Chocolate Company. The place is a huge brick building at 48 N. Broad St. and is draped with banners celebrating being in business for 125 years.
Inside is the shop and museum with the sounds of the factory banging away on the floors above.
The building is very old and the entire experience feels more down-to-earth Americana than, say the bigger chocolate factory in Chocolate Town.
And there is no ride with singing cows and animatronics at the Wilbur Company. Instead, visitors walk into the store and can wander into the old-fashioned museum, which features a video teaching how chocolate is made. In one room, visitors can observe workers creating and selling fudge.
As I wandered around, I saw one Wilbur employee creating a forest scene out of chocolate. Nearby, I saw various themed kits with items made out of chocolate. (The police kit had handcuffs and a badge; the fishing kit had a fish and pole and so on.) It was so cool to see all the things that can be made out of chocolate.
The store has racks and walls of chocolate, including a wall with Wilbur’s infamous Wilbur Buds, an unofficial rival to Hershey® Kisses. They even offer samples—which of course I did—and I realized I prefer Wilbur Buds to that other chocolate.
After searching for dark chocolate (I settled for a semi-sweet bar) I left and wandered across the train tracks to Lititz Spring Park.
A place to park it
It’s a small park but very nice and relaxing, with a stream running through it with ducks, and machines that sell food to feed them. I enjoyed wandering the path along the stream and over the small bridges.
My next stop was Main Street, which according to a map I saw, had plenty of shops and things to see. As I drove around town, I noticed something simple that separates Lititz from many other towns and gives it a very natural feel—trees.
Many of Lititz’s streets are lined with big trees, and it was a nice change and small yet cool feature that I enjoyed.
I parked in the middle of Main Street and wandered towards the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. On the way I stopped by the Lititz Historical Foundation and Museum at 145 E. Main St., and was greeted by two men, one of them in Colonial clothing.
He gave me a brief tour of the museum and summary of the history of Lititz. The town was founded by members of the Moravian Church in 1756, and the influence of the Moravians is apparent throughout Lititz.
The museum itself and neighboring Johannes Mueller House are from the 1700s, and there are more than a dozen other buildings along Main Street still in use since the 18th century.
Inside the museum are artifacts from that era, ranging from clocks to arrowheads to a cradle. There is a room full of stuff owned by General John A. Sutter, the Swiss pioneer who helped fuel the gold rush and founded modern-day Sacramento. Sutter retired and lived in Lititz until his death in the late 1800s.
Next door is the Johannes Mueller House, built in 1792. Mueller was the town’s dyer, and visitors can see his house in virtually the same state it was when he was alive. The guide knew everything about the houses, the Moravians and Lititz. He’d lived there his whole life and started working at the museum over summers. He reminded me of a history teacher—but an interesting one that you don’t mind listening to.
Outside, he pointed out various old buildings and the old church. He gave me a map that marked all the historic buildings—most of which are still in use today—along Main Street, then directed me to pretzel factory.
Julius Sturgis baked the first commercial pretzels in America in this very house, and now visitors can enjoy a tour and purchase various souvenirs, including soft pretzels.
By the time I got to the pretzel house, I didn’t have time for a tour, so I just bought a soft pretzel—just $1 for an authentic, perfect soft pretzel is a steal—and wandered down Main Street.
I passed a candy stores named Candy*ology, a salon named Sound of Scissors and a toy store selling unique and few name-brand toys called Teddy Bear Emporium.
At the end of the street is General Sutter Inn, a hotel built in 1764 and later renamed for Sutter. The inn looked old, yet classy and very elegant, and it’s connected to Bulls Head Public House, an English-style pub.
I wandered back to my car on the other side of Main Street and passed a generic pharmacy and the Moravian church. A little further on is Linden Hall—the oldest boarding and day school for girls in the U.S.
I hopped back in my car and rolled out under the shade of the trees lining the roads of Lititz. Although I spent just a few hours there, it’d be easy to spend an entire day in this historic town.
One of the men at the Lititz museum said they frequently get visitors from Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg. It’s easy to see why as Lititz offers plenty for kids and parents alike.
Historic buildings, small-town restaurants and shops, a quaint park and museums for pretzels and chocolate—what’s not to like?
Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web for Central Penn Parent. He notes the one thing missing from this small town is professional or minor league sports, although Warwick High School does have some very strong teams that are fun to watch.