Willow Valley Communities is fortunate to attract Residents from all over the U.S. as well as locally. Some move here after years of vacations to the Lancaster area. But, these new residents soon learn they have only just scratched the surface of all that Lancaster has to offer. Dig a little deeper, and look past the tourist locations and you’ll soon discover an area rich in culture, nightlife, shopping, entertainment, and more.
Lancaster offers a wealth of history, fine dining, theater, and activities for all to discover and enjoy. Recently, there has been a strong focus on Lancaster City with its new eateries, shops, and re-purposed historical buildings. Willow Valley Communities is excited about all that is going on in our backyard – and we want to make sure that our Residents – present and future — are a part of it all.
Willow Valley’s Resident Life and Wellness Team set out to create a program whose goal was helping Willow Valley residents “Discover Lancaster” through events and tours. Amanda Stevens, Activities Facilitator at the Manor says, “Everywhere you look there is something happening in Lancaster and we want to bring that to the forefront.”
Joe and Barbara Betz are originally from Boston and have lived at Willow Valley Communities for more than seven years. Barbara said they “are still discovering” all that Lancaster has to offer. The Betzes lived around and in the city of Boston and always enjoyed taking advantage of all the cultural offerings there: the museums, the music, and especially the history. “When friends would come and visit us, we were always the tour guides, taking them on the Freedom Trail,” says Barbara.
At Willow Valley, they enjoy the Discover Lancaster program, and they continue to learn about Lancaster.
The Betzes have taken historical tours in downtown Lancaster, led by Willow Valley resident and Lancaster Historical Walking Tours volunteer Bill Bair. The Betzes also attend the Fulton Theatre and enjoy the Lancaster Symphony. Barbara said it is easy to take the rich history of Lancaster for granted. “You could be in a hurry and walk past an important place or a monument. There are a lot of hidden treasures in Lancaster.”
John and Janet Rushmere have lived at Willow Valley Communities for a year. Though they are from a town in Pennsylvania only an hour away and had visited often, they didn’t know all that Lancaster had to offer. They decided to participate in the Discover Lancaster program. They enjoy going to First Friday, a monthly celebration of downtown’s galleries, studios, museums, restaurants, shops, and attractions in Lancaster. Everything stays open later, while people from all over head downtown to enjoy the festive atmosphere, entertainment, and fun on the first Friday of every month.
Janet says, “Of course we were familiar with Lancaster’s countryside – we had taken bike trips through it. But we had heard about the artwork on Lancaster’s Gallery Row, and we wanted to see it. And after multiple visits, we still haven’t seen it all. Lancaster has a lot to offer. It’s such a culturally rich city.”
Amanda Stevens agrees. “Lancaster City is a welcoming and engaging place,” she says. “And we want to share that with all our Residents.