Aug 27, 201208:21 AMDaily News
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"Quaint" Annville perfect for an evening out
When I asked a couple of locals what they thought about Annville, they each used the same word: quaint.
After spending an afternoon there, I couldn’t think of a more perfect description for the small town in Lebanon County.
I arrived by driving east on Route 422 not knowing what to expect.
Since I knew Lebanon Valley College is in Annville, I was hoping it may be a much lighter version of State College.
After passing a shopping center with Sonic and Wal-Mart, I arrived on the west side of town and drove right down 422—which is Main St. in town—through the heart of Annville. I turned up a road and ended up driving around the campus of LVC.
I noticed lots of interesting looking and sounding restaurants, including Batdorf Restaurant, which looked like an old tavern. Turns out it's a casual restaurant with a variety of cuisines on the menu, including American, Mexican and Southwestern dishes. It also features its Pub Tiki on the deck outback and two bars fully stocked of various brews.
The historical feel is something I noticed right away, and not just because of the sign mentioning it as I entered town. Annville’s Main Street had a relatively historic feel to it, from the very old buildings to the historic theater and old shops.
After scouting out the area in my car, I set out on foot. I parked at The Fife and Drum, which looked like a great place to start my visit. Just the name is cool, and to get in you pass through a huge steel fence door. It’s a family-run business that boasts Colonial-esque decorations and unique gifts. Unfortunately it was closed while I was in town, so I could only peer through the window.
I walked east on Main Street past Sunoco and Turkey Hill—which kind of killed the vibe that I found an old-fashioned place mostly free of modern chain stores—and walked by many cafés and restaurants. One store that caught my eye was Annville Sports, which had hockey equipment and soccer jerseys in the window.
My bad luck continued as I was there the one day of the week Annville Sports, 18 E Main St., is closed. I looked in and saw ice hockey sticks and pads, field hockey equipment and soccer gear. While major chains like Dick’s and Modell’s sell some hockey stuff, it’s generally in much less quantity as the rest of their supply. Annville Sports looked like a great destination for anyone who plays or is a fan of these sports.
I wandered east some more and went in to Stewart’s Gift Peddler, 30 E Main St., a small store that featured country décor. It reminded me of Rhoad’s Pharmacy in Hummelstown with its crafty and decorative items.
I browsed the candles and selection of autumn and Halloween items—the fall is my favorite time of the year for many reasons, including for the decor—and wandered over to a rack with food mixes to create cheeseball variations. They also had a wall of flags to stick in a garden.
The clerk was very kind and was the first to use the word “quaint” to describe Annville. She said she loves living there and how it has kept its old-time charm, even with a few new businesses being built across the street. She recommended I check out MJs Coffee House and Allen Theatre, 36 E Main St.
Conveniently, Stewart’s and MJs are connected.
Through a doorway at the side of Stewart’s I walked into the coffee shop stocked with typical coffee shop essentials: deli sandwiches, salads and gourmet coffee and teas. In the corner I saw the connection to Allen Theatre, which features smaller budget movies, including many made in Hollywood. Last weekend the theatre featured Hope Springs.
A little further down the street rests the Annville Free Library, 216 E Main St. Ever since working in the Paterno Library in college I have had a soft spot for libraries. I walked down the road and saw the old structure and sign and knew I had to stop by.
Inside I saw old wooden shelves painted teal full of books. There were two fireplaces with couches and tables and chairs surrounded by rows of shelves. While my old library had modern desks and metal shelving, it was cool and fitting to see such old-fashioned décor in this very old library.
The library began as a children’s book club in 1939. It now boasts more than 40,000 items, wireless internet, videos, books on tape and mp3 and so much more. It had an old-fashioned charm to it, and I personally loved the fireplaces.
I strolled back to my car, but this time stopped by Kettering Corner Café, 104 W Main St., which was right near where I parked. This place summed up Annville and was the epitome of quaint.
It had tons of signs outside and plastered on the windows that looked straight out of the 1920’s or 30’s. Inside were modern tables and chairs surrounded by old pictures, flags and decorations. Kettering features Hershey’s ice cream, so I treated myself to some while taking in the environment.
The ice cream server told me she lives in Annville but goes to college at Messiah. She grew up there and said though she liked it, there isn’t very much for kids, especially in the heart of Annville. On the outskirts to the east en route to Cleona I saw the Lazer Factory, which is a place that features laser tag.
Other than that, I didn’t see much that would interest kids. That being said, couples would likely enjoy an afternoon or evening in Annville. With the Allen Theatre and various old-school restaurants, cafés and shops, Annville is a great place to take a date or a spouse to enjoy the simplicity of this quaint town.
Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web at Central Penn Parent, and he visits a new town each week and chronicles his trip. If you know of a great small town he should visit, email your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.