Lititz PA is a quaint little town with a lot of holiday spirit! We recently explored the historic town of Lititz on its “Second Friday” monthly celebration of its down town area. As the sun goes down, the downtown is seemingly decked out in its holiday finest!
The holiday season infuses Lititz’ streets, which sport pretty stars around the street lights. And the store windows also reflected the Christmas season!
Holiday shoppers and families filled the streets with holiday cheer, enjoying strolling down its streets and window shopping. We enjoyed popping into the variety of boutiques, clothing stores and antique stores. As you explore the town, make sure you drop into Wilbur Chocolates for their signature Wilbur Bud, which folks like you have been enjoying since 1894.
Lititz was founded by members of the Moravian Church in 1756 and was named after a castle in Bohemia in the Czech Republic. It’s a town with a lot of history to offer visitors today.
Wilbur Chocolates, the Chocolate OG of Lititz
Wilburs is seriously tasty! The first thing you notice as you enter the store is the aroma of chocolate floating in the air. Relics of the past from old machinery and molds to packing and advertising fill the store. You’ll also find a variety of chocolate treats. In addition, you can watch workers make chocolate treats in the viewing area (depending on when you visit).
Wilbur Chocolates goes all the way back to 1865 when successful businessman Henry Oscar Wilbur joined with Philadelphia candy maker Samuel Croft to create Croft, Wilbur & Co. At that time, they produced mostly molasses and hard candies, which railroad companies sold on their trains. Two decades later, Croft and Wilbur split the company, with Wilbur focusing on the chocolate side of the candy-making business. Wilbur’s sons joined him and the new company became known as Wilbur & Sons. It was during this time Wilbur developed the solid chocolate shape that resembled a flower bud, hence “buds.”
Depending when you stop by, during the weekdays you can watch the candy specialists work by hand the true attention to detail each specialty chocolate piece gets.
Historic Sturgis Pretzels
Like Wilbur Chocolates, the historic Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is another historic Lititz institution. This is
Sturgis Pretzels brands itself as America’s “First Commercial Pretzel Bakery.” It might actually be, since Julius Sturgis founded the company in 1861. He purchased a house on Main Street in Lititz and opened the first commercial pretzel bakery in America. The building holds an even longer history. Peter Kreiter built it in 1784; the house is one of the original structures in Lititz.
It’s origin story is interesting. Before 1861, Julius Sturgis worked in a bakery which also produced soft-pretzels. At the time, the bakery scooped up the burnt bits, selling them to local farmers as animal feed. A hungry teenager, Sturgis tasted the burnt bits and decided they were pretty good. He thought they were tasty enough for the bakery to sell to the public as hard pretzels.
He pitched the idea to the bakery owner, who dismissed the idea. Sturgis eventually left to establish his own bakery, producing hard pretzels, i.e., “the burnt bits.” The hard pretzels became very popular during the Civil War and the Sturgis Pretzel Bakery often provided hard pretzels to U.S. soldiers as a much welcomed change from the hard tack bread and other wartime meal fare.
Historians believe monks in Southern France or Northern Italy first created a hard pretzel, as noted during the tour. But hard pretzels weren’t much of a thing until Sturgis started making them.
Interactive tours of a 19th-century pretzel bakery & a snack/souvenir shop in a historic stone home. hear the history of the Sturgis family, the pretzel making process and try our hand at rolling and folding a pretzel. They start off with a little history. You are then taken to an area where you are taught how to form a pretzel (using non edible dough). They then show you the rest of the process and how it’s changed through the years. The tour is a great value at only $4 and lasts 20-25 minutes. They also give you a bag of pretzels to enjoy at the end.
There’s more than chocolate and pretzels in Lititz, though. You’ll also find a variety of excellent restaurants for the dining experience you’re looking for — from the modern casual Tied House to the cozy and comfortable Tomato Pie Cafe (be sure to try the tomato pie!). Or you may opt for a traditional British pub experience at Bulls Head Public House.
At Tied House we sampled some of their mixed drinks along with our dinners of smashed burger (and fries) and black bean tacos.
Tied House offers locally brewed beer, hand-picked Pennsylvania wines and spirits, and an inspired menu featuring locally sourced, house-smoked and roasted ingredients. With a menu that changes with the seasons, there’s plenty of reasons to visit this restaurant multiple times.
If you’re looking for a traditional English pub, then head to Bulls Head Public House in the historic Lititz Springs Hotel for British-American fusion comfort food. You’ll find an outstanding beer selection, with craft beers from all over the country available. The pub follows the British model and there is no table service, all orders are placed at the bar and then the food is brought to your table.
You should note that this is a popular pub and especially on weekends, you’re likely to find the pub full and tables overflowing. We opted for the restaurant side of the house, which offers the same menu. Of course we tried the shepherd’s pie and the fish and chips, although I was so tempted by the chicken and leek pie. But we also sampled the delicious charred Brussel sprouts with goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, apples and cranberries. We finished up our satisfying dinner with apple pie empanadas!
Tomato Pie Cafe was a great choice for lunch, where we enjoyed the eponymous tomato pie. It’s not a pizza, not even a deep dish pizza. It was also delicious — surprising for us, because we’re not huge fans of “just tomato.” We very much enjoyed the deliciously seasoned red tomatoes, baked in a flaky pie crust and covered with a rich cheesy topping.
During our visit to Lititz, we stayed at Speedwell Forge Bed & Breakfast and combined our visits to Lititz with visits to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.
Can’t get enough of the holidays? Add these great holiday season activities to your bucket list!