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visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

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warrington
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visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

Hi My husband and I are traveling from the Uk for 10 days in April. We plan to have 5 days in Philadelphia and were thinking of having the other 5 days in Lancaster. We will not have a car during our trip and will arrive by train. Could anyone tell us if this is a good choice of destination(we just want to be able to walk around downtown with bars and restaurants) We didnt know whether to visit Lancaster or Cape May - all suggestions and opinions are welcome!!!

thanks so much

Bangor, Pennsylvania
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1. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

Well ,Lancaster without a car is not desireable. You will be able to get downtown from the train station(there is a trackless trolley which runs a loop between downtown and the Amtrack Station), but once there there is certainly not enough for 5 days.

There is an increasing number of Art Gallerys and Boutiques and some good restaurants. The Farmers Market(Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) should not be missed.

Almost all the normal tourist attractions would require you to book a cab . The public bus system is set up to serve local residents and really does not service the tourist sites.

Cape May is probably a better ultimate destination although getting there will be more complicated. You would take a train to Atlanticv Cita and the a bus or a cab to Cape May. it will be too cold to go in the ocean but the beach will be open as will almost all shops and restaurants. There is a very nice spring festival at the end of April(not sure the 2014 dates are available yet), which will bring some crowds, but otherwise the resort should be only moderately busy

Once you're in Cape May the whole town is walkable and the prime nearby sites(Sunset Beach, the Lighthouse) are easy to reach by bike. You should rent a bike. The whole area is flat and a bike is the perfect way to get around

You have chosen my two favorite destinations in the east. However, because you will miss about 80% of what Lancaster County has to offer, without a car, I would reccomend Cape May.

Edited: 2:51 pm, July 18, 2013
warrington
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2. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

thanks so much for your kind and informative reply. This will help us to make our decision

thanks once again

warrington
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3. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

Forgot to ask - if we were to go to Lancaster - how big is the downtown area and where about would you recommend we stay

If we went to Cape May again recommendations would be welcome

thanks

Bangor, Pennsylvania
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4. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

Well, understand that we normally stay with my parents when we return to Lancaster County so I have no direct experience with any of the places I am reccomending

The best Band B site is www.authenticbandb.com. However, if you map thhe Inns, you will see that none of them are in downtown Lancaster (two of them Kings Cottage and The Lancaster are on the eastern outskirts of the city on or near, King Street - the main east west road. If they appeal to you, you might ask the innkeepers about the location of the nearest bus stop and frequency of bus service)

There are three good and one terrible hotels in the city itself.(The terrible one, as you can see from trip advisor reviews is the Brunswick)

The most convenient is the Marriot at the Convention center on Penn Sqaure and in easy walking distance to the Farmers market and many restaurants and boutiques.

The other two, the Arts Hotel and the Cork Factory are both renovated brick factory/ warehouses

. Both are further from downtown , though still walkable, if you are active. Without personal knowledge, I can't reccomend between them.

The historic part of Lancaster city is a mile square

Cape May has many Bed and Breakfasts, and thats where you should stay.

Some highly rated ones to consider would be the Queen Victoria(rather formal), the Mission Inn (spanish style rather than Victorian) The Mainstay (the place that started the B and B renaisance in Cape May in the '70's). The Fairthorne(never stayed there, but my brother and his wife love it) and the 931 Beach House(Closest to the ocean on Beach Drive)

One more reasonably priced place that we have stayed is the Dormer House. It is homey and comfortable rather than romantic and upscale. However, recent reviews, some by repeat visitors, indicate it has gone downhill, perhaps because the owners are seldom present. Since we have not stayed there for a year and a half, I hesitate to reccomend it at this point.

Edited: 4:03 pm, July 18, 2013
Bangor, Pennsylvania
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5. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

Forgot to Add; If you do stay in Downtown Lancaster you should see if a play at the Fulton Theatre is of Interest. It's America's oldest continuisly operating theater dating back to the 1850's. It appears the Buddy Holly Story is playing there starting April22, 2014 9the previous play closes in March and the theater is dark for about 3 weeks)

www.thefulton.org

Lancaster, PA
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6. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

While I'm certainly a huge proponent of Lancaster City, I'm not sure if I could fill 5 days on foot in April. However, I really don't think that Cape May is a better choice in April. Keep in mind that April tends to be rather rainy and temperatures really fluctuate. It can be near freezing one day and over 70 the next. Not exactly great walking about weather, especially if you're close to the ocean. Also, the 'season' doesn't really start in the shore towns until the end of May. Many shops in Cape May will still be closed or only open on the weekends. Not to mention that, as Brookquarry said, it's more difficult to access Cape May without a car.

That being said, is splitting the time an option? Perhaps go to Cape May Sat and Sun, then come up to Lancaster Mon-Wed (or conversely, Lancaster Wed-Fri and Cape May Sat and Sun). If that's more travelling than you're willing to do, then I'd suggest Lancaster for the five days. There will be more to do and if you work the bus system a bit, you can keep busy the whole time. If you do decide on Lancaster, come back for some itinerary help. I think if you have a rough idea of what you want to see and do and where most of that will be located, it'll be easier to choose a hotel. The Marriott is nice and very centrally located, but the 2 boutique hotels have a little more personality.

Whatever you decide, have fun!

Over the Rainbow
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7. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

If you opt to rent a car at the Lancaster train station, then you would have many more options open to you. I agree with previous posters, that 5 days without a car is not going to be very efficient. But with a car, you could also go see Gettysburg for a day and/or Hershey, do downtown and the Amish farmlands throughout the county.

Bangor, Pennsylvania
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8. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

Corrindal's point about April Temperature at the shore is well taken. However, to some extent it depends on WHEN in April you are coming. According to the Weather Channel website Average High temperature in Cape May on April 1st is 56 degrees Fahrenheit. On April 30th the average high is 66 degrees.

Cape May also has a significantly longer season than the other South Jersey Shore towns.

In part this is because of visitors who come for other reasons than the beach . Cape May is directly on the Atlantic Coast flyway for migratory birds and the bird refuge a mile or so west of town is one of the best places in the East to observe migratory shorebirds. Therefore bird watchers flock to Cape May in Spring and Fall(although the peak spring migration is early May).

Similarly , the Coast Guard base, just east of Cape May is the only training center in the US for enlisted Coast Guard recruits. Graduation ceremonys from this"boot camp' take place throughout the year, and parents often attend.

Because of this, and also because many people enjoy the Bed and Breakfasts, interesting shops, victorian house tours and fine restauants, even if its too cold to go in the ocean Cape May is much busier in the off season than any other shore town except Atlantic City, with its casino gambling.

We have gone in mid to late April several times and it is one of our favorite times to be in Cape May. The majority of shops and restaurants will be open during the week(perhaps with shorter hours) and almost all will be open weekends. I suspect the same is true for early April but can't say for sure.

June and Corrindal are also right that you will see much more with a rental car. If this is not an option, then, so long as you stay downtown you can take the local Red Rose transit busses to outlying areas. This will not be ideal, but it could get you to the Ephrata Cloister, Lititz and the villages of Bird in Hand and Intercourse, with their craft/quilt shops.

Edited: 3:59 pm, July 19, 2013
9. Re: visit in April Lancaster or Cape May???

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