The Turkey Hill Experience

The Turkey Hill Experience
301 Linden Street
Columbia, Pennsylvania


In the spring of 2010, I learned that the dairy/convenience store empire, Turkey Hill Dairy, planned to renovate the forlorn remains of the 20,000-square-foot Ashley & Bailey Silk Mill and turn it into the Turkey Hill Experience.

Columbia is an odd (and wonderful) little town for which I have a particular fondness. I was happy that Columbia would receive some attention from those who often bypass it in favor of tourism-friendly Hershey and Lancaster destinations.

The Turkey Hill Experience saved one of several water towers at the mill — it makes for an interesting alternative to billboard advertising.

Columbia Talk
has some great photos of the old towers and the silk mill before renovation.


Style Points for having a giant cow and a giant carton of ice cream at the entrance.

The lobby incorporates displays of the dairy’s history, old photos & advertising pieces, and a number of dairy-themed elements. This is a view (from the second floor) of the the lighting fixtures that were fabricated to resemble old metal milk containers. I dig them.

Looking up at the second floor from the lobby –  this is the free section of the building. The feel is less an “experience” or museum; and more like one is entering a tradeshow venue.

Now, before I start getting all grumpy … let me tell you that Turkey Hill really does produce some great products. They make the absolute best ice cream sandwiches and they offer creative ice cream flavors. Their signature iced tea is super-popular in this region. Now, on to the grumpiness …

When details of “the experience” emerged in early 2011 as it inched closer to its grand opening, I have to admit that my enthusiasm waned a bit. The dairy’s “family history section” and its ice cream cafe/gift shop is open to the public without admission — but the rest of the building requires an admission fee.

The offering of a computer generated “create your own flavor and packaging design” exhibit and a mechanical cow milking station — along with a walk-through of what amounts to Turkey Hill branding booths just doesn’t seem to me like the sort of thing for which visitors should pay admission. Initially, guests had to pony up $14 for adults and $11 for children. That fee has since been reduced to $11.50 for adults and $9.50 for children & seniors.

The two gentlemen walking away in this picture were so sweet. They kidnapped my camera and made me pose in the doorway — and NO I’m not going to post it. I had Phyllis Diller helmet hair extraordinaire that day!

A view of the back of the building. A clever way to preserve the facade without utilizing an additional floor.

Visit the Lancaster Building Conservancy for an artist’s rendering + photos of the old silk mill before renovation.

A peek inside the cafe’ and gift shop. Make sure to check their menu board for unusual seasonal flavors that you might not be able to find in stores.


I love the graphics on this vintage Turkey Hill ad (obviously from a time before it became politically incorrect to use Native American imagery in advertising).

I am dying to make a joke about my maiden Aunt Norma with regard to their tagline 🙂


My advice:
If you are in the area, stop in and have a look at the Frey Family history displays in the lobby and enjoy one of the great ice cream concoctions in the cafe (my favorite is the seasonal “Phillies Graham Slam”). I can’t really recommend the rest of “the experience”.

Traci from GoBigOrGoHome had a great time there with her family.
Visit her Turkey Hill Experience post  for vibes of a more positive nature 🙂

More places to visit in Columbia ….

>   National Watch & Clock Museum

>   Columbia Market Dungeon

>   Columbia Market House

8 thoughts on “The Turkey Hill Experience

  1. I agree; the price is about $3.00 more per person than it needs to be. And the “Whoopie Pie” flavor we had in the cafe didn’t really do it for me.

    But yes, the kids loved it. And I got a photo of my husband milking a mechanical cow. Blackmail gold.

    1. This post has been sitting in my drafts file since last summer. I kept putting it aside because it kept coming across as more negative than I wanted it to be.

      Oh well, it is what it is 🙂

  2. This certainly looks like an interesting place, but it’s not really a venue my family would pay that type of money to visit. Perhaps when my girls were younger my feelings would have been different.

    As for Turkey Hill products – LOVE THEM!

  3. Thanks for another great find Wendy! I’m guilty of never stopping in Columbia(except for the Clock & Watch Museum). The Experience is now on my To-Do list. We don’t have TH stores in DE but we can buy its products in grocery stores; I agree the iced tea is awesome.

  4. Excellent post. I am a huge ice cream guy but I’m a big fan of Turkey Hill Iced Tea. I never saw the correlation between dairy products and iced tea but who gives a crap – it’s awesome. Thanks for the tour!

    1. It’s funny … two of the other major dairies in the area do iced tea etc. as well. I’m guessing it’s because they all have refridgeration trucks + chilled product relationships with retailers, who knows? 🙂

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