Just last week, York County launched a fabulous new way to see its area. Featuring both women-owned or operated and African American-focused businesses, each trail was made to highlight community members that are making a difference. Here’s everything you need to know about the York Cultural Trails and how to take part in the fun.
I love visiting both York, PA, and York County, PA. For one, there’s plenty of cool, American history to be found. Second, in winter it offers the York Ice Festival – a can’t miss good time. And lastly, I really enjoy how the community rallies around its mom and pop shops to the point where two Cultural Trails were created to make it easy for both residents and visitors to make stops on both of them. A huge thanks to the folks at Explore York for having us out!
How Many Stops Are on The York Cultural Trails?
At the time the York Cultural Trails were launched, there are 10 unique places to visit with two themed trails: Women Owned or Operated and African American Focused.
York Cultural Trails – African American Focused Cultural Trail
First, let’s start with the African American Focused Trail and its six businesses:
Northern Central Railway of York – Seriously, if you can only do one stop on your first visit, make it the railway. I had the pleasure of riding on its steam train in the same car that Abraham Lincoln once rode in on his way to Gettysburg and learned so much from the experience. Additionally, there are actors in period clothing that walk through the cars to tell their stories of residents from long ago and how they shaped York County.
William C. Goodridge Freedom Center and Underground Railroad – Another must-stop location on this trail, it features an actual Underground Railroad location. You’ll also learn the history of how Mr. Goodridge became a Station Master for the Railroad and how part of his personal home was used to hide freedom-seeking slaves.
Skillet2Plate Soul Bistro – Man, I really love Soul Food! At Skillet2Plate, you’ll find everything from soup and sandwiches to soul bowls at the family-owned and operated business. What’s a Soul Bowl, you ask? It’s your favorite protein served over rice and veggies.
Mark & Val Wines – A small batch winery, its one of Pennsylvania‘s first black-owned wineries. Offering both dry and sweet varietals made from grapes both in York County and surrounding areas, it has a cool, urban-themed tasting room and has something for the casual taster to sommeliers.
Friends of Lebanon Cemetery – Since December 2020, Friends of Lebanon Cemetery have come together to both honor and preserve the historic cemeteries. Its members research, identify, and document the people interred in African American cemeteries while linking familial ties and preserving their stories.
Gusa by Victoria – If you love the combination of sewing classes, fashion, and language lessons, you’ll love popping into Gusa, a Swahili term for “touch”. Victoria offers unique clothing options that are both affordable and beautiful. And if you’re really looking for a unique piece, Victoria offers atelier services from casual clothing to special occasion dresses and bridal wear.
York Cultural Trails – Women Owned or Operated Cultural Trail
Last, but definitely not least, let’s dive into the four businesses on the Women Owned or Operated Cultural Trail:
Sunrise Soap Company – One of my favorite shops in Downtown York, Sunrise Soap is the place to go for all-natural products. Creating and selling everything from (of course) soaps to lip balm and hair shampoo to natural deodorant (it’s my favorite – try the LOL scent), if you’re feeling crafty you can head next door and make your own for a small fee.
Refillism – I truly love the concept of Refillism. Instead of heading to a department store to purchase new bottles of cleaning products or body products whenever you’re out of them, the shop offers a way to save the planet and use less plastic by bringing in your own bottles and having them refilled. Not only are the products really effective, it’s a way to keep plastic out of the garbage.
The Front Porch Tea Room & Gathering Place – Built in 1869, The Front Porch is perfect for high tea (it has over 30 varieties of loose leaf!) or spilling the tea with your favorite ladies. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, you can indulge in full meals or special events. If you’ve never had high tea, it really is a fun, memorable experience that should be given a go at least once.
Nature’s Platter – As a gal that loves products made from repurposed wood, Nature’s Platter is right up my tree (see what I did there?). Using only wood from damaged, fallen, or dead trees, each piece is gorgeously unique.
Things to Do In York, PA
If you’re heading into the city and want some additional fun places to check out, here are few great ones:
Dutch Apple Dinner Theater
If you want a delicious meal with a top notch show, Dutch Apple Dinner Theater is the place to visit. And when I write top notch shows, I really mean it. On our visit, “Sister Act” was having its opening show and it was both hilarious and touching. Add in the fact that the meal is all you care to enjoy and comes with dessert and it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Stauffer’s Cookie Outlet
True story: Mr. Locke and I have been on an iced animal cooke bender for a few weeks. So, when I learned that the Stauffer’s Outlet store was in York, I made a beeline on the last morning of my visit to stock up on those adorably-delicious, pick-frosted animal cookies. In addition, it sells Meiji products (think Yan Yan and Panda cookies) and my daughter was happy to make the visit with me.
Where to Stay in York PA
If I had to give props to only one hotel in Downtown York it’s the Yorktowne Hotel. Located in the heart of the business and shops’ area in the city, I loved everything about my stay. Created with a Renaissance Revival style, the decor to the color palette is both sophisticated and classy. Its location makes for a way to park your car and walk around the city, especially on beautiful days like the one I had.
As for the guest rooms, I loved my two queen room and its spacious layout. Also, you can never go wrong with free wifi and coffee in the lobby each morning. As for parking, there is no onsite parking at this time, so you’ll have to use the parking garage literally across the street from the side entrance. Honestly, it’s not a big deal at all and I enjoyed the fact that my car was covered and out of the elements.