Find Your Belsnickle: A Tour of Lancaster Bed & Breakfasts

Antique Bed

Pennsylvanians do some weird things, and no matter what it is, we totally embrace it as “part of our Dutch roots.” Whether it’s saying phrases like “all the further,”  indulging in whoopie pies, or hiding pickles in our Christmas trees—we love our weirdness. Today, I’ve got a new one for you: his name is Belsnickle. You may have heard the name before, or even seen him represented as someone like Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Belsnickle comes from our PA-Dutch folklore. It’s said that he would visit children for two weeks, starting the week before Christmas, switches in hand. Yeah…you read that right: switches.

Naughty children would get…well, the switch, while the good children were given cakes and candies. Dear old Belsnickle would throw the goodies on the floor and if a child picked up the gift in front of Belsnickle, or grabbed it too quickly, they would get the switch too! Harsh! Later this turned into a more merry occasion, where a group of masked Belsnicklers (without whips) would visit a family, and once invited in, they received coffee, molasses cakes, and donuts (somewhat like trick-or-treating). It’s said that these were some pretty rowdy parties!

Floating Christmas Candles

Like I said, around here, we like to embrace our weird, and that’s especially true of Lancaster County. In celebration of Belsnickle, over 20 Lancaster County inns were on display, all dressed for the Christmas season! The tour was called the “Find Your Belsnickle Tour” and all proceeds went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation! My mom, sister, and I took advantage of this fun outing & spent two days together getting to as many inns as we could! I’ve officially decided that a bed & breakfast tour is one of the best ways to get to know an area. You meet some amazing people and discover amazing pieces of history & the best kept secrets! So, what are you waiting for!? Come join the tour with us!

Our first stop was at the Amanda Gish House. It was so adorable! We just couldn’t stop looking at the front door & porch—how lovely! My mom had a great idea & took a picture of each front door, so thank you Mom for sharing your images!

Wood Inn Door

This inn had some of the best details in the rooms, many of them were definitely perfect for the time period of the home!

Victorian Lamp

Airy View was our second bed & breakfast. My sister has had her eye on this one for a while! She said she always slows down when she drives by & couldn’t wait to take a peek inside! We just wanted to stay there, the owners were such a lovely couple and their house was absolutely stunning! I love the purple front door!

Purple Front Door

Then we stopped by one of the partner stores, George’s furniture. We knew that it would be a gem when we read their sign out front: “Building tomorrow’s antiques today.” We were kindly toured around their showroom and oohed and ahhed at all their amazing furniture! If you are ever in the area, be sure to check George’s Furniture out! We are hoping to go back and get a tour of the woodshop!

Our third B&B was huge! My favorite part was the staircase—I’m a sucker for some beautiful wood detail!

Wood Staircase

Stair Detail

We actually had my little nephew in tow on day one, so we only got to see three homes, but day two was full of its own adventures!

Day two started with a treck to Henry’s Greenhouse. The lovely owners at Airy View B&B tipped us off to this gardener’s mecca and we decided we had to get there! Now that we have been there, we’ve decided that it will be a tradition to make the hour drive at the beginning of every season! We’ve never experienced such a magical place!

Paperwhite Bulbs

Look at these little bird donuts & those bulbs in the chicken feeder—don’t even get me started!!

Bird Donut Christmas Wreath

My favorite bed & breakfast was called Rocky Springs. I might be a bit partial because some friends of mine own it, BUT it was the coolest place I’ve ever been. It was in the middle of an old amusement park and has a fascinating history that intertwines with my own church denomination! The Christian & Missionary Alliance used to meet there in the tens of thousands! They had old pictures of everyone set up in tents. It was really neat to walk around knowing that the founder, A.B. Simpson, had been there and equipped missionaries to spread the gospel. Who knew that my pew-mates were sitting on that amazing piece of history?!

The details of these historic homes were just amazing, and we had such a great time looking for the beauty in every detail, learning the stories of these homes and enjoying the company of the home owners! We will certainly be doing another B&B tour in the coming years. As someone newer to Lancaster, I feel like I was able to learn the area and meet people in a special way through this tour. What are some ways that you learned about your hometown? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Victorian Wallpaper



  1. I ventured out for the Belsnickle Tour this year, and was not
    disappointed. I was only able to get to a few of them, so maybe next year I can catch the rest! So much fun, and the proceeds were for a worthy cause. Rachel, you did an amazing job of describing the homes and your pictures are so very well done. Thank you for blogging about this event.

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