Lancaster is a city of around 59,000 people (2021) in Lancaster County in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. It is one of the oldest inland towns in the United States, and the center of an area inhabited by many members of the Amish community.
Lancaster is home to a very diverse group of people. It is a strong agricultural town with various farmlands, lush vegetation and great produce all over. This is because the Amish dwell in and around Lancaster's many townships. The Amish are fairly isolated from the rest of the community, but they are acknowledged, respected, and not bothered. They are masters of farming and simple living, for they don't use electricity. They teach in their own schools, and they have their own churches. They get around by horse and buggy and they are easily seen, wearing black suits, hats, and bonnets.
Founded in 1729, Lancaster was the capital of the United States for a single day on September 27, 1777, as the founding fathers fled the British. Lancaster has evolved from Pennsylvania's capital back in 1799, before Harrisburg was named the capital in 1812, to a strong and well known city in Pennsylvania. It is the oldest inland city in the United States. Lancaster has grown into a contemporary city.
- 1 Discover Lancaster Visitors Center, 501 Greenfield Rd, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Lancaster City Visitor Center, 38 Penn Sq (Alternate address for GPS: 5 W King St), ☏ , LOOP@cityoflancasterpa.com.
- 1 Lancaster Station, 53 E Mcgovern Ave (near downtown Lancaster). Amtrak has frequent service to Lancaster with its Keystone Service trains. There are up to seven daily trains from New York City via Philadelphia and from the state capital Harrisburg. Additionally, there is one daily service from Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvanian.
Interstate highways lead most traffic into Lancaster County.
- I-76, also known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
- One of the most pleasant routes from the East Coast Cities is via I-78 through New Jersey to exit 13, Bethel, then Route 501 south to Lancaster. It is a beautiful farmland drive, especially at sunset.
- Another good routing from I-78 is exit 54A, US-222 South (Hamilton Boulevard). This is also very scenic, but a faster and more direct routing.
- A very nice, scenic drive that takes you through the heart of the Pennsylvania Amish Country is a connecting road between Route 30 West from Philadelphia and Old Philadelphia Pike, Newport Road. The gentle rolling hills take the road through open Amish farm land and passes by Pequea Valley High School. Not only is Newport Road a nice, refreshing, scenic road, it also bypasses all the traffic of the Lancaster Outlet areas and takes you to Old Philadelphia Pike which puts you right back on the highway portion route 30 towards York County.
- 2 Lancaster Airport (LNS IATA). Has non-stop service to Pittsburgh and BWI (Baltimore/Washington, DC) airports via Southern Airways Express. There are more airlines and destinations operating from the airports in Philadelphia (PHL IATA) and Harrisburg (MDT IATA).
Plan on having a car to get around. You may pass the buggies. If you don't, locals will immediately peg you as a tourist. Keep an eye on oncoming traffic, activate your 4-way or hazard flashers for the duration of the manoeuvre, and pass quickly but safely, with sufficient distance from the horses. Lancastrian drivers are generally very polite, with notable exceptions; they will be courteous as long as you return the favor.
- Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA). Service ends by 6PM. Public transportation is provided by the Red Rose Transit Authority, however, don't expect it to be anything like metropolitan areas. Outside the city there are no bus stops. Instead you are supposed to stand in a safe area at the roadside and use your hands to flag down a bus as it passes. Exact change only.
- Queen Street Station. The central nexus of the RRTA network. Includes a parking garage and bike parking.
It is sometimes possible to pay for a buggy ride. Yes, horses do relieve themselves on the road. If you must dodge "road apples", please be careful!
It is possible to tour the county by bicycle, but it shouldn't be attempted unless you're a cyclist who doesn't mind hills!
Some places and towns, such as the Rockvale Square retail outlets and the town of Intercourse, are easily navigable on foot. Most of the city of Lancaster itself is walkable, with only outlying areas within the city needing access by car.
- Londonderry Limo, ☏ . Lancaster Limo Service
Although the Amish culture dates back hundreds of years, they have not done much to change their lifestyles. They are traditional and they have a strong sense of community. They exist inside a larger community and everyone gets along without internal problems. They keep to themselves, but they give back to the outside Lancasterian community with their goods.
Many of the venues which explain "The Simple People" and allow the voyager to learn about how the Amish live are in small nearby villages, such as Bird-In-Hand and Intercourse.
- Mennonite Information Center, 2209 Millstream Rd, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM–4PM. Information on the life and faith of the Amish and Mennonites, quilting information, guided tours of Lancaster, Biblical Tabernacle as a reproduction of the original Old Testament tabernacle.
- 1 The Amish Farm and House, 2395 Covered Bridge Dr, ☏ . 9AM–5PM. Historic farm with picnic area, playground and activities.
- 2 Amish Village, 199 Hartman Bridge Road, Ronks, ☏ . F-Su 9AM-4PM. Take an educational guided tour through this 1840s farm house furnished as a typical Lancaster County Old Order Amish house. Grounds include barn with farm animals, operating water wheel, smoke house with Pennsylvania Dutch foods, blacksmith shop with tools of the smithy's trade, village gift shop and picnic area after tour. Tours begin at $12 per adult, $7 per youth (ages 5-12), free for children (0-4).
- 3 Mennonite Life Museum, 2215 Millstream Road, ☏ . Tu-F 9:30AM-4PM. A visitors center that is a jumping-off point to learning about Mennonites and all Mennonite Life has to offer. $8 per person.
- 4 Historic Lancaster City. The City of Lancaster was established in 1730 and is now designated as one of the largest historic areas of the country. Begin your tour of the city at the Visitor’s Center near Central Market Center, corner of Queen and King Streets.
- 5 Franklin and Marshall College, 637 College Ave, ☏ . Founded by Benjamin Franklin and John Marshall (separately, as Franklin College and Marshall College, respectively), this college is on the highest hill in the city of Lancaster.
- 6 Millersville University, 1 South George St. Millersville, ☏ . Founded in 1855, Millersville University is one of the most highly regarded public universities in its region of the United States.
Museums and history
- 7 The Ephrata Cloister, 632 West Main St, Ephrata, ☏ . A beautiful historic site with original, 18th century buildings. Tours explain the lives of the German religious refugees that created the community in 1732.
- 8 National Watch and Clock Museum, 514 Poplar St, Columbia, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Adult $12, senior (65+) $10, child (6-16) $9, child under 5 free, family (2 adults and all kids in household) $30.
- 9 Strasburg Rail Road. All aboard America's oldest short-line railroad, where you'll ride authentically restored passenger cars pulled by a huge, coal-burning steam locomotive. See our Amish neighbors up close as they work and play on nearby farms.
- 10 Demuth Museum. Museum of paintings by Charles Demuth.
- 11 Rock Ford Plantation (General Edward Hand House). A 1790s plantation that has been turned into a museum.
- Choo Choo Barn - Traintown U.S.A.. See Lancaster County and America captured in miniature in hand-built detail. Featuring more than 140 animated figures and vehicles and 18 operating trains.
- 12 Wheatland, 1120 Marrietta Av. This was the home of President James Buchanan. They give costumed tours of his historical mansion. This place has been around for ages and has a lot of history inside the walls.
- 13 Lancaster Museum of Art, 135 N Lime St. Suggested donation $5/person.
- Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
- National Toy Train Museum
- The Ware Center, 42 N Prince St, ☏ , email@example.com. The Ware Center is a state-of-the-art performing arts and events venue located in downtown Lancaster. The Office of Visual and Performing Arts at Millersville University owns and operates the venue, which seeks to foster creativity and appreciation for the arts by hosting diverse events and creating unique experiences. The Ware Center is open to the public and has several areas that are available for private events. Visit the website for upcoming events, tickets, and venue rental information and photos.
- Plain and Fancy Farm. Good all-around tour of the Amish community including a restaurant, bus tours and a movie. Particularly good if you're a foreign visitor without a car.
- F. W. Woolworth Company. The first successful Woolworth five-and-dime store operated in Lancaster on July 18, 1879. While neither of the original local Woolworth buildings is still standing, the National Christmas Center has a reproduction of the original store with many original Woolworth's Christmas items, the Lancaster Historical Society has a large collection of Woolworths-related material and the various walking tours of downtown Lancaster show the sites and tell the story.
- 14 Fulton Opera House. One of the oldest operating theaters in the United States. The Lancaster Symphony Orchestra performs here.
- Covered Bridges. Lancaster County has many covered bridges. It is a tradition that the passenger pays a toll to the driver when crossing a covered bridge. This generally takes the form of a kiss.
- American Music Theater, 2425 Lincoln Highway, ☏ , toll-free: . Hosts a variety of concerts and performances.
- 1 Bird-in-Hand Stage, 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, #A, Bird-in-Hand (take Route 30 to Route 896 North; make a right onto Old Philadelphia Pike; just before the next traffic light, the theater is on the right), ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 6AM-8PM. Live theatre with musicals and magic shows that vary throughout the year.
- Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, 510 Centerville Road. You may have heard about dinner and a movie, but how about dinner and a broadway show. This is the place to go for quite an experience. This place has a fun atmosphere which is great for groups to come and dine and watch a broadway performance. Friends, food and theater.
- 2 Zoetropolis Cinima Stillhouse. Artsy theater with drinks and food.
- Rainbow Dinner Theatre, 3065 Rt 30 East Paradise (take Route 30 East to Paradise; theater is directly behind the Best Western), ☏ . Very economical and enjoyable way to spend an evening. The food comes highly recommended and the shows are sure to bring a smile and/or a laugh.
- Abe's Buggy Rides, Bird-in-Hand. Takes you on a scenic tour of Lancaster county.
- 3 Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park, 2249 Lincoln Hwy E, toll-free: . It's a kingdom for kids. Especially suited for younger children. Families with pre-teens may prefer nearby Hersheypark.
- Balloon Flights Daily, 2300 Lincoln Highway. Lancaster is a beautiful and scenic place to see when you drive around. It is even more beautiful from the sky. You can ride a hot air balloon and relax in the sky.
- Hands-On-House, 721 Landis Valley Rd, ☏ . This interactive museum allows kids to explore their senses and touch everything.
- 4 Long's Park, Harrisburg Pike, ☏ , email@example.com. In the summer Long's Park has "Summer Music Series", which is free concerts being held at the park each Sunday. Also, the park has an annual "Art's and Craft" festival which showcases 200 top artists and craftspeople from across the United States, Canada and beyond. Long's Park is also known for their annual Sertoma Chicken Barbecue (known as the World's largest chicken barbecue in the Genius Book of World Records!)
- 5 Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum.
- First Fridays. Lancaster's First Fridays are an exhilarating celebration of the arts! Every month, without exception, we showcase the arts in downtown Lancaster. Walk around and explore our 70+ arts venues. You'll find new exhibitions, live music, theatrical performances, artist receptions, and fun surprises, too.
- 6 Zenkaikon. Pop culture convention.
- Laserdome, ☏ . High-tech fun park, with laser tag, virtual reality and laser theater. They offer laser shows that play to the music of the Doors, and the Rolling Stones.
- 7 Leisure Lanes Bowling and Golfing Center, 3440 Columbia Ave, ☏ . Bowling lane is open 24 hours a day. Go bowling in the winter, and mini golfing in the summer.
- Lost Treasure Golf and Maze.
- 8 Lancaster Barnstormers Baseball (Clipper Magazine Stadium), 650 N. Prince Street. An independent baseball team that plays in the Atlantic League. Very competitive baseball with very reasonable ticket prices. All home games are played at Clipper Magazine Stadium in the James Street District of downtown Lancaster. The tickets are cheap and the games are fun. In the winter time, they turn the stadium into an ice skating rink.
- Lancaster Classic. Annual road bike race.
- Lancaster Inferno FC, firstname.lastname@example.org. Women's soccer football club.
- 1 Central Market, Downtown. Tu F 6AM-4PM, Sa 6AM-2PM. The oldest, continuously operating farmer's market in the country. You can find just about anything here. The Amish and local vendors all bring their products to sell here. Everywhere you walk, you will see and smell all kinds of food.
- Antiques Capital, 501 Greenfield Rd, toll-free: . The Antiques Capital in Adamstown is the premier year-around antiques destination with 5,000 quality dealers, farm markets, golf courses, easy access to Lancaster and Reading outlet centers, auto racing, micro brewery, fine lodging, dining, camping, Amish and Mennonite culture and more.
Malls and outlets
- 2 Park City Center, ☏ . The area’s largest indoor shopping center with over 150 fashion retailers and numerous dining and entertainment options. Anchors include Kohl's, JCPenney, Round1 and Boscov's.
- Rockvale Outlets Lancaster.
- Tanger Outlets.
- And plenty of other places (such as Amish businesses) are listed here.
Lancastrians are well known for their local food, including the traditional "smorgasbord" (PA Dutch-style buffet). Most chains have a presence here.
Lancaster is home to a large number of resettled refugees, giving it's local cuisine far more international options then similar American cities.
- Pine View Acres Dairy, 2225 New Danville Pike, ☏ . This is not a "sit down" restaurant! This dairy is a small, old fashion convenience store. Pine View is very inexpensive and sells the quality homemade ice cream, juice, and milk (the beverages are in bags, the old fashioned way). There is also an area to pet baby cows.
- 1 Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant & Smorgasbord, 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand (take Route 30 to N Ronks Rd. Make left at traffic light and then immediate left), ☏ , toll-free: , SmuckerFamily@Bird-in-Hand.com. M-Sa 6AM-8PM. Farm-fresh smorgasbord (PA Dutch-style buffet), menu-dining, and take out. Kid-specific buffet too. Breakfast, lunch, dinner smorgasbords are all different. Near Dutch Wonderland, Rockvale and Tanger Outlets, and the Village of Intercourse, PA.
- El Serrano, 2151 Columbia Ave, ☏ . Mexican/Peruvian restaurant in a Latin-style castle. Food is high quality.
- House of Pizza (Willow Street). a family oriented cash-n-carry restaurant located just minutes south of the city in the small community of Willow Street. Besides pizza, local favorites include stromboli, fresh cut french fries, and many soft serve ice cream choices. Locals enjoy ice cream at the picnic tables on warm summer evenings.
- Lyndon City Line Diner, 1370 Manheim Pike, ☏ . Most popular diner in Lancaster with a huge menu of items. This place always seems to be crowded. Be prepared to wait for a table during busier times, especially on Sunday mornings after church.
- 2 Neptune Diner. Classic diner on the north side of the city.
- Olde Hickory Grill (Olde Hickory Inn), 709 Olde Hickory Rd (north of town, off Oregon Pike), ☏ . Very good breakfasts at good prices. Can get very crowded, especially on Sunday mornings after church lets out.
- Shady Maple Smorgasbord, 1344 E Main St (East Earl (Route 23 at Routes 897 and 625)). Shady Maple's breakfast, lunch, and dinner smorgasbord of food has everything you could ever want to eat.
- Taj Mahal, 2080 Bennett Ave. Indian food. The naan, or flat bread is delicious and they have all kinds of curry dishes.
- Villa Nova West Sport Bar & Restaurant, 2833 Columbia Ave. This bar/restaurant is great for all ages. Very friendly staff with a fun atmosphere! Absolutely must try the steak tip sandwich and an appetizer of "wing zings".
- Callaloo Trinidadian Kitchen, 351 N Mulberry St, ☏ . Serves Bus-Up-Shut, Doubles, and other Trinidad cuisine. $10-15.
- 3 Belvedere Inn, 402 N Queen St, ☏ . This is in the city, near lots of bars and restaurants. Two story restaurant with seasonal outdoor for amazing food and drinks in one of the nicest bars in town. Contrary to its name there's no lodging, but a great piano bar on second floor.
- Osteria Avanti, 38 Deborah Drive., ☏ . Cozy restaurant in the heart of Leola Village offering simple, rustic Italian cuisine. No dress code and reservations are not required, but recommended.
- Bridge. Service that schedules dinners in the homes of resettled refugees. ~$40.
Up until Prohibition, Lancaster had several fine breweries which earned it the reputation as Munich on the Conestoga. With the resurgence of microbrewing in the last decade or so, a few new breweries have cropped up.
- Annie Bailey's Irish Pub, 28 E King St # 30, ☏ . Your typical Irish pub. Good atmosphere for the older folks. It has a very large deck to handle the smoking crowd and the addition of an "Irish Tiki Bar". Solid middle price range ($3.50-5 for a mixed drink) and good food. Young professional crowd over lunch, college students on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Brendee's Irish Pub, 449 W Lemon, ☏ . The pit stop for those who live on the West End of Lancaster. Good food, good prices, good staff. Smoking is permitted inside. Low to medium price range ($3.50-5 for a mixed drink). Usually a neighborhood crowd, some young locals mixed in. Limited seating in the back. Excellent jukebox. The Dutchland Rollers (the local roller derby team) sometimes calls this bar home.
- 1 Bube's Brewery, 102 N Market St, Mt Joy (in Mount Joy), ☏ . Bube's Brewery is an intact historic 19th-century brewery and museum complex. Bube's has had a few different restaurants operating for several years. Alois is located in a Victorian section of the building and hosts events such as murder mysteries. The Bottling Works tavern is based in a former bottling plant. There is a Biergarten and a restaurant in the cellers called the Catacombs.
- Hildys, 448 W Frederick St, ☏ . Local watering hole. Drinks only, no food, therefore: you can smoke inside, it can get thick at times. Older local crowd before 8PM, Franklin and Marshall students and younger crowd after that. Mostly bar seating, some tables. Low to medium in terms of drink prices ($3-5 for a mixed drink).
- Lucky Dog Cafe, 1942 Columbia Ave, ☏ . Good for both younger and older crowds. Fun bar atmosphere. Must try the wings and on Thursdays try the $.25 great-tasting shrimp.
- Shamrock Cafe, 312 West Walnut, ☏ . The downtown "blue collar" bar. Low prices for drinks. Smoking friendly. Pool table. The bartenders here are the old school sort: if you tip well, and they get to know your name, you will be taken care of. Limited take out options. Has an undeserved reputation for being a "rough" joint, but pay no mind. Give it a shot and make some new friends.
- 2 Stoudt's Brewing Company. Has the distinction of being the first microbrewery in Pennsylvania and has won several awards for its brews.
- 3 Lancaster Brewing Company, 302 N Plum Street. Great food, great micro brews, and you can see how it is all made with the tours they have to offer.
There are plenty of cheap options, including camping, cabin rentals, and cheap hotels.
- The Artist's Inn, 117 East Main, Terre Hill, toll-free: . Romantic B&B in small town surrounded by Amish farms. Hear the clip-clop of Amish buggies as they pass by. Fireplaces, jacuzzis, gourmet breakfasts await.
- 1 Bird-in-Hand Family Inn, 2740 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand (take Route 30 to North Ronks Road; make a left onto Route 340; in a few hundred feet, make a left into the parking lot), ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Resort-style hotel in Amish Country between Lancaster and the Village of Intercourse. 1 outdoor pool, 2 indoor pools, hot tubs, tennis and basketball courts, a picnic pavilion, fitness room, game room, business center, various meeting rooms, laundry room, and gift shop. There are a smorgasbord restaurant and live theatre onsite. Free Wi-Fi. Group discounts.
- 2 Country Acres Campground (Country Acres Family Campground), 20 Leven Road (take Route 30 to Leven Road; the campground is the second driveway on the left), ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 8AM-8PM. Check-in: 2:30PM, check-out: 2PM (cabins at noon). Campground and RV park in Gordonville, Lancaster County’s Amish Country, next to farmland. Pet-friendly. Pool, playground, dog-run area. Free Wi-Fi. Cabin rentals, tent camp sites, RV sites (including sites with 50 amp and cable hookups). Includes free guided bus tour of Amish Country. Rates vary.
- 3 The Fulton Steamboat Inn, 1 Hartman Bridge Rd (intersection of routes 30 & 896), ☏ , toll-free: . The hotel is shaped like, and decorated like, a paddle-wheel steamboat. $179.
- Comfort Inn, 24 S. Willowdale Drive (just off of routes 30 & 896), ☏ . It is surrounded by the Rockvale Outlets in the heart of the "Amish" countryside.
- MainStay Suites of Lancaster County, 314 Primrose Lane, Mountville, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Offers guests free continental breakfast. From $125.
- 4 Historic Smithton Inn (The Smithton Inn), 900 W. Main Street (corner of Main Street (PA-322) and Academy Drive), ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Check-in: Any time after 4PM or by arrangement, check-out: 11AM. The Historic Smithton Inn Bed and Breakfast is a 9 guest room B&B with gorgeous grounds and an on-site wine bar and restaurant. Breakfast is included. All rooms have a private, en suite bathroom and working fireplace (or fireplace feature in 1 room), reliable high-speed internet and flat-screen TVs. They also have an EV Charging station. From $139.
- Eden Resort & Suites, 222 Eden Road, ☏ . Great service, a large banquet area, a pool and weight room. Has two full restaurants.
- 5 Bird-in-Hand Village Inn & Suites, 2695 Old Philadelphia Pike, ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 7AM-8:30PM. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Historic, upscal bed and breakfast surrounded by Amish farmlands and small shops. Complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, Wi-Fi, and guided bus tour of Amish Country. Room rates vary.
- Cameron Estate Inn, 1855 Mansion Lane, Mt Joy (3 miles south of Rheems Elizabethtown exit off 283), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Historic country inn, much cheaper than the Holiday inn. Secluded on 15 acres surrounded by farmland. There is also a restaurant on site.
- Doubletree Resort at Willow Valley, 2400 Willow Street Pike, ☏ . 32" flat panel TVs, complimentary wireless high-speed internet access. 9-hole golf course, lighted tennis courts, indoor pool, fitness center, game room, playground. On-site Victorian Chapel.
- 6 Lancaster Arts Hotel, 300 Harrisburg Ave, ☏ . This hotel is near downtown Lancaster, built out of a historic tobacco warehouse. It has a top-notch restaurant that changes seasonally, and a beautiful interior.
- 7 Wyndham Lancaster Resort & Conference Center, 2300 Lincoln Highway East, ☏ . (Route 30). 319 room and suites, an 18-hole championship golf course, indoor/outdoor pools, game rooms, two restaurants and a lounge.
- 8 Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, 25 S Queen St, ☏ . 300-room hotel near center of downtown. The Penn Square Grille restaurant is on-site.
- The Inn at Leola Village, 38 Deborah Drive, Route 23, ☏ . Upscale, historic hotel with 2 restaurants and a catering service for banquets. Offers complimentary Wi-Fi, a fitness center, a billiards room, a day spa and a seasonal pool.
- 2 Lancaster Public Library, 125 N Duke St, ☏ , email@example.com. M-Th 10AM-8PM, F Sa 10AM-5PM. Offers public computers and Wi-Fi. Free.
- 3 United States Post Office.
Nearby destinations suitable for day trips include:
- Allentown — Pennsylvania third largest city.
- Gettysburg — Explore Civil War country.
- Harrisburg — Explore the Capital of Pennsylvania.
- Hershey — Explore chocolate country.
- Intercourse — Amish country.
- Mount Gretna — Explore Central PA country.
- York — Explore Central PA country.
|Routes through Lancaster|
|Harrisburg ← Elizabethtown ←||W E||→ Coatesville → Philadelphia|
|Harrisburg ← Elizabethtown ←||W E||→ Exton → Philadelphia|
|York ← Wrightsville ←||W E||→ Coatesville → Philadelphia|
|Ends at S N ←||S N||→ Jct → Reading|
|Harrisburg ← Landisville ←||W E||→ END|