Turkey Hill Experience, Lancaster, PA

Turkey Hill Experience
Photo credit: Shannon Entin, Homeschool TMOM

In the heart of Amish country, just outside Lancaster, Penn., is a place where kids of all ages can enjoy unlimited ice cream and iced tea samples, learn how ice cream is made and packaged, make a commercial, and even create their own signature flavor. It’s the Turkey Hill Experience.

My family calls the Experience the “ice cream museum.” It combines the fun of a please-touch museum with education and a frosty treat – what could be better?

We started our Experience learning about the history and culture of western Lancaster County and the Susquehanna River Valley. Displays chronicle the history of Turkey Hill Dairy from its inception in 1931. Next we milked the mechanical cow and sat in the old milk delivery truck. Then my kids caught site of the tasting bar and made a beeline for the free ice cream!

At “What’s in the Milk” we looked through a microscope to discover the different kinds of bacteria in milk, then played the “Clean Up!” blaster game to eradicate the bad bacteria. There are several other ingredient games, giving visitors the chance to measure, mix and match. We had a little family competition going and played the games again and again.

making a commercial at Turkey Hill Experience

Making her commercial!
Photo credit: Shannon Entin, Homeschool TMOM

Even better than the free treats was filming a commercial in front of a green screen. First, create your own flavor and get a code that you type in at each subsequent station. Moving on, give your ice cream a name and design the packaging. Finally, stand in front of an actual green screen and record your commercial, which can be emailed to you. My daughter loved it so much, she did it twice.

At the end of our visit, we sat in the tea room and sampled iced tea, also made by Turkey Hill. My daughter loves quizzes, so she enjoyed answering questions to determine her perfect “tea personality.” Other parts of the Experience include the Homogenization Ball Pit, a small slide, the Dairy Cam (live from the factory), and a chilly, walk-through model freezer.

And don’t forget the new Taste Lab! Participants are given vanilla ice cream, then choose from a plethora of flavorings, mix-ins and syrups. This is not any make-your-own sundae bar – your creation is mixed and taken to the freezer to harden. During that time, the learning continues with an “Ice Cream 101” class. Reservations and a small additional fee are required. The Taste Lab was not open when we visited, but we’ll surely be checking it out soon!

As you can see, the Turkey Hill Experience is all hands-on. It’s small enough that it doesn’t feel overwhelming, yet there’s enough to feel you got your money’s worth. At $14.50 per adult and $12.50 per child (4 and under free) for the Experience and the Lab, it’s an inexpensive way to spend a day. Allow 2-3 hours to enjoy the experience, then spend some time in nearby Amish country.

Attention homeschoolers! Homeschool Day is March 26, 2014. You will learn how to make ice cream from the raw ingredients to the finished product; to evaluate product quality through ice cream cutting and sampling; how they taste panel their products; about pH and its importance in tea and milk quality, participate in the Taste Lab and much more!

Visit the Turkey Hill Experience for more information.