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Get to Know Lancaster, PA Like a Local: Lots of Things to Do Near Lancaster, PA

A scenic countryside in Lancaster, PA.

You may wonder, “What is there to do in Lancaster, PA?

If you’re coming from Baltimore, New York City, or Philadelphia, and want a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life, rest assured that you’ll find plenty to do in Lancaster to unwind.

While there’s no shortage of things to do in Lancaster, it is a slower pace of life. There’s Uber and Lyft, but not as many drivers as you’re used to, so plan on renting a car or driving if you intend to visit many places throughout Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

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Local Insights and Tips for Lancaster County

A stone road next to an Amish farm, a fun place to visit in Lancaster, PA

Lancaster County boasts the largest Amish and Mennonite communities, and you’ll see evidence of this with horses and buggies clip-clopping down the many roadways.

There are many historical sites and things to do near Lancaster and Lancaster City. For example, you can tour the Turkey Hill Experience, where you create a virtual ice cream flavor and package it in nearby Columbia, PA.

Within Lancaster City limits, you can take in art galleries on Gallery Row, the North Museum of Nature and Science, and Lancaster Central Market.

Bring the kids if you want to enhance their learning through Lancaster’s rich history. Many educational experiences exist, such as Landis Valley Museum, Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, and the Lancaster Science Factory.

Things to do near Lancaster also include breweries, wineries, and fine dining. 

Fall is one of the best times to visit Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Since it’s harvest season, you’ll want to visit orchards to pick your own apples, pears, and pumpkins. 

You’ll witness old-fashioned harvesting with tobacco drying in barns and the Old Order Amish and Mennonites relying on horse-drawn plows to gather their crops.

The mornings get crisper in the fall, and the trees start changing their colors from green to flaming bright reds, oranges, and purples as summer draws to a close in Lancaster County.

Historical and Cultural Attractions in Lancaster

A statue of William Penn, located in Lancaster, PA.

Whether you’re a history buff or looking for a hands-on educational experience for your children, Lancaster City and Pennsylvania Dutch Country are rich in history. 

Lancaster City and the rest of the county bear witness to Pennsylvania founder William Penn. 

William Penn was the landowner of  Pennsylvania and promoted religious freedom. He sold parts of his land to Quakers and other immigrants from Europe seeking religious freedom. Pennsylvania means “Penns Woods,” which honors William Penn.

Here are seven Lancaster, PA, things to do that are historical and cultural:

1. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm

There are over 60 farm fun activities to do at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Find your way through the Amazing Maize Maze, take the Farm Tour Wagon Ride, visit the petting zoo, and go down the Hay Chute Slide.

2. The Amish Farm and House Tour

This educational experience includes Fall Farm Days, Pumpkin Chunkin, a corn maze, a scavenger hunt with prizes, hayrides, and a petting zoo. 

Enjoy the whole day at the Amish Farm and House when you buy lunch from the BBQ Barn. Your children will love running around the farm and seeing how students from long ago went to school at the Willow Lane One-Room schoolhouse.

3. Historic Rock Ford

The former home of Edward Hand, who was Adjutant General to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Today, the house and the 33 acres are located in the southeastern part of Lancaster City and surrounded by woodlands.

4. Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

Do you know what’s the first commercial pretzel factory in the United States? If you said Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, you’d be right!

The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in nearby Lititz, Lancaster County, is housed in a 1784 Stonehouse, one of the oldest structures in Lititz.

5. Landis Valley Museum

Travel back to another time and place when you and your family visit Landis Valley Museum, a Lancaster County history museum. 

When you take the tour, you’ll go back in time—to the 18th and 19th centuries—and visit a tavern, an 1890s schoolhouse, a firehouse, a blacksmith shop, two log buildings from the 18th Century containing a backhouse, a smokehouse, a pigsty, and a spring house.

6. Old Windmill Farm

Visit an authentic, working Amish farm at Old Windmill Farm near Ronks, PA. 

The fall is a special time to tour Old Windmill Farm with their Fall Amish Farmhouse Experience, where you and your family enjoy fresh-pressed cider from local apples, butter-making with cream from the farm’s cows, and putting bread dough in the oven.

7. Wright’s Ferry Mansion

Historic Wright’s Ferry Mansion in Columbia, PA, was owned by a Quaker woman named Susanna Wright.

When you visit Wright’s Ferry Mansion history museum, you’ll observe Susanna Wright’s home, where she lived from 1738 to 1750. The house is decorated with ceramics, glass, metals, textiles, and Pennsylvania furniture from 1700 through 1750.

Culinary Delights and Local Cuisine

People eating a delicious dinner at one of the many restaurants in Lancaster, PA

If you enjoy sampling food from another culture, visit Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where the food is “wonderful good.” If you’re asking yourself, “What to do in Amish Country, PA,” you must come for the food.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country food, such as apple cider donuts, corn on the cob, shoofly pie, and chicken corn soup, are some of the best delicacies in the fall. And ice cream is one of the top treats that Lancaster Countians enjoy the most.

Here are five places for you to enjoy Pennsylvania Dutch Country cooking

1. Ice cream tour with Strasburg Scooters

Can you smell the waffle cones baking and the creamy ice cream made from local cow’s milk? If you’ve never experienced Amish-made ice cream, reserve your spot with Strasburg Scooters’ Ice Cream Tour today.

You’ll travel by scooter through the beautiful countryside surrounding Strasburg. You’ll stop with your tour guide at one of Lancaster County’s best ice cream shops to find local ice cream flavors made with fresh fruits, such as strawberries and raspberries (click here to view our list of the best ice cream spots in Strasburg, PA).

2. Experience Bird-in-Hand

Looking for a place to experience authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Country food and lodging? Then look no further than Experience Bird-in-Hand.

Enjoy the various fall activities, such as the Harvest Tour, a corn maze, Farm to Fork dining experience, Smucker Ice Cream Socials, and the Fireside S’mores Package.

3. Decades Lancaster

Enjoy bowling, the arcade, and dining at Decades in the historic Stahr Armory on North Queen Street. Go back in time, playing your favorite arcade games from the 1980s. Decades is 21+ after 8:30 p.m. if you want to imbibe with friends.

4. Southern Market

If you’re looking for a hip place to eat, head downtown to Southern Market at 100 S. Queen Street in Lancaster City. The food hall on the first floor is 7500 sq. ft., and Bar 1888 seats up to 30 people with award-winning mixologists ready to create your favorite drink.

5. Fireside Tavern

If you want a cozy tavern around Lancaster County farms, visit Fireside Tavern in Strasburg, PA. Enjoy the inviting atmosphere with tavern favorites ranging from soups to appetizers, like Brie and Crab, and daily dinner specials.

Things to Do Near Lancaster: Shopping and Markets

A tourist talking to a storeowner at a shop near Lancaster, PA.

Do you love to shop til you drop? Then you’ll enjoy the many shops and markets in Lancaster City and beyond when you visit Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Here are the malls and markets to visit when you’re looking for Lancaster, PA things to do:

1. Park City Mall

If you have teens wanting to visit the mall or you’re looking to do some shopping, then you want to visit Park City Center. The mall has popular shops like American Eagle and Aeropostale and department stores like JC Penneys and Boscov’s.

2. Shops at Belmont

Lancaster’s newest mall, the Shops at Belmont features a Target, Whole Foods, Nordstrom Rack, Athleta, and P.F. Chang.

3. Lancaster Central Market

Talk about rich history! Lancaster Central Market has operated as a public farmer’s market since 1730.

You’ll have an educational experience taste-testing all the goodies in the market. Each stand holder offers something unique: specialty cheeses, candy and snacks, crafts and collectibles, world food, farm produce, flowers, and meats. And this is only naming a few delicacies.

4. Adamstown Antique Mile 

If you love shopping for antiques, travel to northeastern Lancaster County. Adamstown Antique Mile encompasses over 500 antique dealers and other antique places, such as Renningers Antique Market.

You’ll find Adamstown Antique Mile along Route 272 between Reading and Lancaster. You want to take Exit 286 if you travel from the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Nightlife and Entertainment in Pennsylvania Dutch Country

A band playing for people in a music venue in Lancaster, PA.

While it’s true that most farmers go to bed very early, it doesn’t mean that Lancaster rolls up their carpet at dusk. Indeed, if you’ve ever thought, “What to do in Amish Country, PA at night,” here’s a list of nightlife for you:

1. Tellus360

One of the hippest places to hang out in Lancaster City, Tellus360 has a rooftop restaurant and food vendors, including Psychedeli, Tacos del Soul, and Sushi Sang.

2. Lancaster Brewing Company Taproom & Grill

If you love craft beer, you can’t go wrong visiting Lancaster Brewing Company Taproom and Grill. Try some local beer with names like Milk Stout, Hop Hog IPA, and Strawberry Wheat.

3. The Lancaster Dispensing Company

Another craft beer establishment in Lancaster City, The Lancaster Dispensing Company, serves light fare and local and imported beers. Visit on the weekend when they have local music performances.

4. Fulton Theatre

Love live theater? Then you must catch a show at the Fulton Theatre. The 2023/2024 season starts in September with the show, Something Rotten.

5. 26 East—Altana Rooftop Lounge

Suppose you want to see Lancaster City from a rooftop, head to 26 East King Street. Altana Rooftop Lounge is a luxury restaurant and bar with delicious food and drinks.

Make Your Reservation for Strasburg Scooters’ Ice Cream Experience

A photo of an Amish farm and ice cream cone taken during Strasburg Scooters' ice cream tour

If you love back country roads and dreamy, creamy ice cream, you must book your reservation for Strasburg Scooter’s Ice Cream Experience. You’ll love seeing farmland views and eating Pennsylvania Dutch Country’s favorite dessert, ice cream.

Reserve your spot to ride through Lancaster County and sample some “wonderful good” ice cream. This award-winning Ice Cream Experience doesn’t disappoint.

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