What is there to do around here?

Two new weekend itineraries released by Visitors Bureau

Port Royal Speedway attracts some of the finest sprint car racing in the country.

LEWISTOWN — Along with the new Hometown Cravings Special Interest Tour, the Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau is also debuting two new weekend itineraries created by local notables.

The Juniata County Commissioners (with special thanks to Alice Gray) created a Juniata County Weekend, and business owners Lillah and Ryan Cherry created an itinerary that sends people to both counties to experience small town culture and some great food.

The weekend itineraries are designed to introduce visitors to the region and show them what there is to do when they visit, and to help locals entertain their out-of-town guests visiting for a weekend.

A Juniata County weekend

“One of the reasons I enjoy traveling is to experience new cultures,” Alice Gray, Juniata County Commissioner, said. “Part of this itinerary focuses on our local Amish businesses since it’s not only a good way to experience a slice of their lifestyle, but I feel that it’s the best way to connect.”

The new weekend itineraries created for the Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau were created by Ryan and Lillah Cherry, above, and the Juniata County Commissioners, Alice Gray, Mark Partner and Todd Graybill.

The commissioners’ suggested weekend actually begins at lunchtime on Friday at Losch’s Store, just outside of Mifflintown, also known as the Little Store. The “tiny spot” has a loyal following and is known for its chicken salad and soups.

Friday afternoon can be spent taking a pre-arranged tour of the historic Juniata County Courthouse, the showpiece of downtown Mifflintown. The 1873 structure has been maintained and improved throughout the years, with additions such as steam heat, an elevator and refurbished floor tiles.

A visit to Two Sisters — a unique gift shop featuring gifts, jewelry, home decor and more –will provide a bit of retail therapy. But, Gray says, save some cash for the Amish variety stores you may visit on Saturday.

Before dinner, you may want to check into a pre-booked room at the Wilson House B&B at the Juniata Valley Winery, or your site at Buttonwood Campground a little further down the road.

Dinner is at the Guante Family Restaurant, a BYOB Hispanic place featuring made-to-order food with roots in Central America, El Salvador, Honduras and more. Ask about the salad juice (see Hometown Cravings!). It’s best to call ahead to reserve a table on the weekends.

Friday Night Music at the Juniata Valley Winery attracts locals as well as visitors to the Juniata River Valley.

Whether you’re staying at the Wilson House B&B or not, the evening can be spent enjoying Friday Night Music from May through September at the Juniata Valley Winery. Check their Facebook page for the lineup.

As promised, Saturday’s itinerary is filled with Amish variety shopping — but bring some cash because some of the establishments don’t accept anything else. Suggested stops are Lost Creek Shoe Shop, Keystone Kountry Store, Willow Lane Greenhouse, Van Wert Cheese Shop (where you can buy lunch), Sunrise Nursery and Valley View Variety. All are in or around Mifflintown or McAlisterville.

Had enough shopping? Then head to Olivero’s Vineyard, another Juniata County winery, for a tasting on their deck.

There are several choices for dinner, including Harshbarger’s Sub ‘n Malt, with its ’50s vibe, or the Clubhouse Grill and Restaurant, if you’d prefer a cocktail with your dinner. The suggested itinerary says either choice will get you out in time to catch the world famous Port Royal races.

Originally built as a horse racing facility in the late 1800s, Port Royal Speedway has evolved into an auto racing venue recognized for attracting the highest levels of competition and the most thrilling dirt track racing seen anywhere. Steeped in history and nostalgia, the track has hosted legendary names that have gone on to race in NASCAR and at Indianapolis. Races are held March through September, with many special promotional nights.

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Take in a movie at the Midway Drive-In Theatre. Bring blankets, a chair and a jacket for the sometimes-chilly summer nights.

On Sunday, the itinerary suggests taking advantage of the breakfast if you’re staying at the Wilson House, then heading out to the church of your choice.

Mifflin County and beyond

Ryan and Lillah Cherry, owners of East End Coffee Co., in Lewistown, are lifelong residents of Mifflin County, who know what they are talking about when welcoming visitors to the are.

“The Juniata River Valley may be small –but it is mighty,” they say in the introduction to their Weekend Itinerary. “You will experience awesome food, great drinks, beautiful scenery and the best people.”

For lodging, the couple recommends the Best Western in Milroy, and after checking in, a trip to the new Shy Bear Brewing in Lewistown for dinner and drinks. The establishment offers 16 taps and includes “two nonalcoholic options and the occasional surprise.” Cocktails contain locally made spirits, and there are other Pennsylvania craft beers available as well. The pub food includes poutine, a Thai noodle bowl and five kinds of tacos. Outdoor seating and a game playing turf can make the evening complete.

The itinerary continues on Saturday, with a stop at Michele’s OIP Restaurant and Pizzeria for breakfast, where the Cherry’s list the western omelet and stuffed French toast as their favorite dishes. Of course, they add, “Take it easy on the coffee though. You’ll get that on the next stop.”

That would be at their establishment — East End Coffee Co. on Market Street in Lewistown. In addition to seasonal lattes, a single origin house brew or a cold jar, a walk downtown offers a variety of things to see and do.

The Cherrys suggest that visitors pop into a few shops like the Dragonfly, an antiques consignment store, Snowflake’s Christmas Shoppe, Pennsy Station, with its model trains, and the Bon-Ton department store.

In warm weather, they say, consider the Farmers Market, or a longer stroll to Victory Park. And, the Mifflin County Historical Society has a self-guided walking tour of downtown architecture that may be downloaded from their website.

For Saturday lunch, head back out to Milroy for a burger or wing quesadilla before heading tot he New Lancaster Valley Vista, weather permitting (directions and coordinate at https://bit.ly/2uGUPhe.

If the weather’s not great, the Cherry’s recommend visiting a local winery — the closest to the Milroy area being the Hungry Run Tasting Room, Seven Mountains Winery and Brookmere Winery.

For dinner on Saturday night, the couple suggests a bit of a drive — to Mifflintown, but they say the restaurant is “SO worth the trip.” It’s the Guante Family Restaurant — the same place that appears on the Juniata County Weekend Itinerary. “Menu items are from the Caribbean and Central America; we suggest trying the empananda and the salad juice,” the Cherrys say.

And for after dinner drinks, the couple recommends the Juniata Valley Winery or Olivero’s Winery, noting that both are open until 9, or Hazard’s Distillery, open until 7.

For Sunday, the couple’s itinerary lists brunch at JP Edwards Bar and Grill in Burnham, where reservations are not required, but a good idea if it’s a holiday.

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The complete 2018 weekend itineraries are available from Jenny Landis at the Visitors Bureau at the Mifflin County Historic Courthouse in downtown Lewistown, or send Landis an email at jlandis@juniatarivervalley.org to request a digital copy.

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