Travel Guide PA: Visiting Downtown Lititz

The original baking ovens of the Sturgis Pretzel Factory.
The original baking ovens of the Sturgis Pretzel Factory.

No preconceived notions. No prior knowledge except that the town had chocolate and pretzel factories. We arrived on this hot July morning with the intent on visiting the Wilbur Chocolate Factory first with the hope of trying some free samples and seeing vast amounts of chocolate. I was very disappointed to find that there are no actual factory tours. I guess I was just expecting it, even though I did not actually read it anywhere. What is open to the public are a small museum (about two or three displays and a video from the 90’s) and gift shop. There is no witnessing any chocolate being made. I suppose the few displays would be a trip down memory lane for some, but to me, as someone who actually works at a museum, I wouldn’t even call it one if I was them. I don’t even think “underwhelming” would be the word. Prices on chocolates were sky-high, but there were free samples. The taste was not bad at all, but nowhere near good enough to justify what they were charging. Sorry Lititz, but if someone was asking me for travel advice for your town, I would tell them to skip Wilbur altogether.

At least the Sturgis Pretzel Factory made up for where Wilbur left off. This was an actual tour of the home and bakery of Julius Sturgis, one of the first (if not the first) manufacturer of hard pretzels in America. The building dated back to the 1700’s, with alterations made by Sturgis in the 1800’s to accommodate his baking ovens. The guided tour lasted about a half hour and the guide explained more than you could ever want to know about pretzels. They even give each person a small ball of dough and teach you how to roll your own pretzel. The original ovens are not in working order anymore, but they do have a modern oven on-hand where they bake soft pretzels. For $1 each, you just have to give them a try. They were really good. Price of the tour was $3.50 per person. Not bad at all. Just be forewarned: if you are going there in the summer, there is no air conditioning for 90% of the tour (the bakery area is left in original condition). Since it was about 95 degrees outside, this was the only downside of the tour. It’s a warm 30 minutes, but an enjoyable time.

Other stops in Lititz included the General Sutter Inn for a fantastic lunch and also a visit to the town’s historical foundation. The small (and air-conditioned museum) told the history of Lititz. We also chatted with the docents and tour guide about museum operations since I told them of my work at Strauss Mansion. Everyone was super friendly. From the museum workers to the shop-keepers in town. They smile with a greeting, and are very approachable if you have any questions. In a way, it reminded me of New Hope only without the river (and some of the snobbishness). There are enough restaurants to keep you busy for days, but the stores are on the pricey side and you can pretty much bang out a visit through the entire town in one afternoon. I would definitely go back again.

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