We recently visited Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in August to go to Dutch Wonderland. Once we decided to stay overnight at Red Caboose Motel, made a mini vacation out of it. We couldn’t do it all but we visited Kitchen Kettle Village, The Choo Choo Barn, Uncle Leroy’s and stayed at the Red Caboose Motel.

Kitchen Kettle Village

The drive was 2 hours from Ellicott City. First stop, Kitchen Kettle Village, a historic Dutch village with 40 specialty shops and restaurants in a scenic country setting,

Before having kids, my wife and I would casually shop here. We were curious if it would hold up now that we have kids.

The kids (4 & 5) enjoyed it. They liked watching their huge warm bag of kettle corn being made. There are buggy rides there. It’s always cool to see the horses there. There was also a one-man band performing in the plaza. Our kids joined in with the instruments he had sitting out. That was cool.

An hour here and the children started grabbing merchandise and getting restless. It was time to go!

Choo Choo Barn

Next, we headed to Choo Choo Barn, a huge model train display made by hand in Strasburg, aka Train Town USA. It’s not far from the Red Caboose Motel and a dozen other train attractions.

This place is a fun for any age. It doesn’t take much time to visit 30 minutes is plenty. The longer you look, the more you appreciate the details. One guy designed and built this display with a clear knack for attention to detail. Be sure to get the scavenger hunt worksheet. That will call out a lot of the animations and design details that you would miss.

At first glance I wasn’t impressed, but as we made our way around I walked slower. It really grew on me. If your kids are in a train phase they will love this place. Then we ran into an ice cream and candy shop next door.

Uncle Leroy’s

We stopped by Uncle Leroy’s homemade ice cream and candy shop. They were making fudge as we walked around the storefront. This place is big on fudge, brittle and ice cream. They have a lot of samples for their brittle out. We were tempted to buy that bacon brittle but we held strong. The kids really liked the ice cream. My son got birthday cake and it had chunks of cake in it, which he loved. Nothing like getting something unique at a homemade place like this. Once we cleaned up the kids we headed to our home for the night – Red Caboose Motel.

Fudge being made at Uncle Leroy’s

Red Caboose Motel

This is a unique place right down the road from Strasburg Railroad and next door to the National Toy Train Museum. When in the lobby to check in, the staff there was cool. She was busy but handling it like a champ and with composure. She looked up as soon as I walked in, “Let’s get you in here Mister! Hop Aboard!”. I smiled as she ran down the list of attractions and amenities on site. Before handing me the keys she yelled, “Well, you stayin’ in a Caboose tonight!”.

When in Rome…

When you’re in Train Town USA for the night, this is where you stay! The kids will love it. Is it a 5 start place that can compare to the Four Seasons? Nope, not even close! But that’s not the point here. It’s a rehabbed train car with no frills design materials used. . . . but it’s a train car! My kids were just as excited when they saw that there were bunk beds and a TV in their room.

Unexpected Perks

The property had a lot more than I expected that kept the family entertained outside of the train cars as well.

  • Free Petting Zoo: there were vending machines with food for the llamas, goat, pigs and other animals.
  • Steam Engine Traffic: The train rides from Strasburg Railroad went right by quite frequently. It was awesome seeing them chug by and into the country hills of farmland, black smoke puffing all the way.
  • Free Movies: There was a move each night. One night was Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, another night it was Aladdin.
  • Playgrounds: We found 3 playgrounds on site around the perimeter of the train cars/motel rooms.
  • Buggy Rides: We didn’t have time to do this but it was nice to see them available right on sight. You can easily knock that item off the list without hitting the town.
  • Location: it was really close to everything trains, more than we had time for. Dutch Wonderland and the shopping outlets are just 5 miles away.
  • Diner: the front of the property is a passenger car turned into a diner. It was a charming little place that’s great to hit on your way out. With all the windows, you can get a good view of the corn fields during the golden hour while horse and buggies ride by.

Full disclosure: My family was given a discount at Red Caboose Motel and free admission to Choo Choo Barn in exchange for these honest opinions.