As an American history lover (come on, you’ve gotta take the good with the bad when it comes to history), I love exploring historical cities in the U.S. And while that may be my initial reason for visiting, I find digging into the local fun just as rewarding. And when it comes to things to do in winter in York, PA, there’s definitely no shortage. Here are my top picks for places to put on your short list when you visit.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the amazing folks at Explore York for the purpose of this article. All opinions are my own! #ExploreYork
Create a Personalized Skincare Line
There are days when I revert to scents that I’ve loved and worn for years like cranberry-orange or birthday cake. But then there are days when I want to try something new. Enter Sunrise Soap Company in Downtown York. The company offers both housemade items like natural deodorant bars (all I’ve been using since I got home!) and lip balm plus a workshop across the alley where you can make your own products.
During my visit, I made scented shampoo bars (ideal for traveling), spray lotion, moon water, and even glycerine soap. Each is super easy to make – the hardest part was narrowing down which scent to use. This time, I went with a brown sugar cinnamon scent that’s perfect for winter.
What: Sunrise Soap Company
Where: 29 N Beaver St, York, PA 17401
Have Your Tea Leaves Read
Okay, okay. I’ve known about the art of reading tea leaves well before Harry Potter got the grim in his cup. The modern style of tea leaf reading began in the 1600’s in Europe but does have roots in Asia and Greece well before. Using three sections of a cup, leaves found at the top are for now, in the middle for soon, and at the bottom for down the road.
Officially called tasseography, Symmetry Holistic Collective offers the art with one-on-one sessions. Mine was a combination of chatting while drinking peppermint tea, learning about reading tea leaves, and discovering what’s in store for me. And if you use your front teeth to strain the leaves, you’ll end up with a fun selfie, too.
What: Symmetry Holistic Collective
Where: 15 N Beaver St, York, PA 17401
Skate Under the Stars
I grew up ice skating on ponds in Northern Maine and Canada, so hitting the ice is always a fun way to channel my inner child. So, I jumped at the chance to skate around the outdoor rink at Avalanche Express. I don’t know how we managed it, but my daughter and I had the entire rink to ourselves during our session.
It’s not a giant rink, but it is large enough to pick up some speed and try a few turns. If you don’t have your own skates, no worries: the rink offers rentals.
What: Avalanche Express
Where: 2700 Mt Rose Ave, York, PA 17402
In my hometown, going to antique malls is part of the fun of shopping. I love to hunt for vintage makeup packages, shoes, and dresses. My daughter, on the other hand, is all about vintage books, gloves, and records. With a multi-floor layout, Dover Antique Mall satisfied my curiosity and was filled with booths, each with its own items and pricing.
During my visit, I had my eye on a mourning brooch that I should have bought but got distracted with other items. Seriously, if it’s still there when I go back, it’s mine.
What: Dover Antique Mall
Where: 5010 Carlisle Rd, Dover, PA 17315
Go for First Tracks in the Snow
I’m not an advanced skier, but I have had the pleasure of hitting the slopes near Pittsburgh enough to learn the lingo. For instance, a gorgeous, cloudless sky is called a bluebird day. And having the pleasure of being the first to ski on a trail each day? That’s first tracks. While I didn’t get to first tracks at Roundtop Mountain Resort, I did have the pleasure of enjoying its slopes for an afternoon.
The ski haven is a hot spot for locals and offers 16 trails with 9 chairlifts as well as two terrain parks. If you’re a novice or haven’t been on skis for a while, head to the magic carpet area to test drive the easier slopes.
What: Roundtop Mountain Resort
Where: 925 Roundtop Rd, Lewisberry, PA 17339
Check Out Some Icy Art
The first time I read about FestiveICE, I’m immediately pronounced it wrong in my head and thought of Seinfield’s George Costanza and his father and their holiday celebration, festivus. And while the thought of grown men wrestling around a pole in the middle of town did make me chuckle, I’m very happy it’s a completely different experience.
In a chilly nutshell, it’s dozens of ice sculptures around the main blocks of downtown plus outdoor fun including an ice slide, photo ops, and a dj. In addition to all of that, it’s simply a great time to visit the city proper.
Where: Downtown York, PA
Where to Eat in York
Taqueria el Camino
If I had to pick one word to describe Taqueria el Camino, that’s easy: passion. And that passion radiates everywhere from the artist-painted walls to the food to the service. Trying to nail down the style of Latin food, however, is much harder. It’s not Latin fusion or Mexican, but a collaboration of cooking styles that make the best possible tastes and textures.
When you go, you have to try the in-house made agua frescas and quesadillas. And as for the Birria Tacos, here’s a quote from my daughter, “I know you don’t eat beef, but if I was going to beg you to try it, try these Birria tacos.”
Yeah, they’re that good.
Location: 81 W Canal St, Dover, PA 17315
Roost Uncommon Kitchen
While I could go on and on about the menu, the service, and the location, I’ll explain Roost Uncommon Kitchen this way: local love. And what exactly does that men, you ask? I knew it was a great place for breakfast as soon as I walked up to the front door because it’s filled with locals that want a cool place to sit and enjoy great food.
The portions are hearty, and I mean hearty, and the all-day breakfast menu is creatively cool. With its scratch made biscuits topped with a little of everything, don’t be surprised if you have leftovers. My pick: The Roost Classic with fried chicken, apricot butter, and fried egg.
Location: 35 W Market St, York, PA 17401
Victor’s Italian Restaurant
You know you’re going to have an eye opening experience when you pull into the parking lot at Victor’s. A de-sanctified church, the restaurant’s low light ambiance is ideal for a classy meal, Italian style. And the elevated experience doesn’t end there – the menu is constantly changing and evolving, so you never know what you’ll find on each visit.
If you only had to choose one appetizer, make it this: Whipped Feta. With whipped basil feta, fermented garlic honey, house-made herb flat bread, it’s a dish I could have eaten my body weight in.
The force behind the flavor is the executive chef who creates flavor combinations and daily dishes so creative that sometimes there isn’t even a name for them – seriously. But you can expect one thing every time: waitstaff that are experienced and on top of their game. We literally never had to ask for a thing.
Location: 554 S Ogontz St, York, PA 17403
The Hive Cafe
A perfect spot for breakfast and brunch, The Hive has a a super hip, farmhouse chic vibe. The coffee is great (try one of the seasonal specials!), and the sandwiches deliciously giant. It’s another spot where the locals go to meet with friend and enjoy food and drink in a laidback atmosphere.
Location: 3665 Bull Rd, York, PA 17408
If you want to taste test a little of everything under one roof, head to Central Market. As soon as you walk through the large doors, the scent of freshly made doughnuts, Korean BBQ (what we had for lunch – yum!), coffee, and just about anything else you may want to eat hits you right in the olfactory sensory neurons (aka, the things that allow you to smell) and the hustle and bustle of folks going from stand to stand lets you know you’re in the right spot for delicious food.
Location: 34 W Philadelphia St, York, PA 17401
Where to Stay in York, PA
During our two night stay in york, we had the pleasure of checking out Four Points by Sheraton, which I highly recommend. Located on Toronita Street, its location allowed us to explore the city and surrounding areas seamlessly.
The beds were super comfy, our room was cozy but offered plenty of room, and the staff so nice and accommodation. Add to the fact that there’s coffee in the lobby 24/7, and free parking and wifi, and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay again. The coolest feature about the room, though, is the heated mirror in the bathroom with bluetooth capability!
Thanks again to the folks at Explore York for the opportunity to experience the city in winter!