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15 Best Things to do in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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Things to do in Lancaster

There are many reasons to visit Lancaster but many people find themselves in the city exploring American history through its monumental landmarks. There are a number of museums, parks and restaurants in the city that make it the perfect weekend destination.

Be sure to try the local food while you are here and sign up for tours about the city. All in all, your trip to Lancaster will be worth your while. With this, we bring to you a list of the 15 best things to do while you find yourself in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

1.Central Market

Things to do in Lancaster
Lancaster Central Market | Photo Credit – Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue

Save the dates for a Tuesday or a Wednesday because these are the days the Central Market remains open from 6 AM to 4 PM. This is a historic farmer’s market running in a 120 year old brick building. The local food at the market is exotic and unique, and worth making a trip to Lancaster for, as you will not find these items anywhere else.

Be sure to try the scrapple, made of cornmeal and pork scraps. Save room for the Pennsylvania Dutch Sausage and the ‘chowchow’. You’ll find a lot of cheese here, so make sure your taste buds are ready for a cheesy delight. The Market is located at 23 North Market Street, Lancaster.

2.Lancaster East Side Market

Located in Musser Park in the corner of Lime and Chestnut Street, the Lancaster East Side Market is filled with local vendors selling their produce as well as displays of music and activities for fun.

A trip to the East Side Market will land you the freshest of fruits and vegetables and for a tourist, it is a rich getaway into local culture. A literal history lesson, you’ll learn all there is to know about the arts that have been developing here since centuries.

3.Sehner Ellicott von Hess House

Things to do in Lancaster
Lancaster county | Photo Credit – Joe Haupt

This restored house is a direct showcase of the region’s history, famously known for being the home of Andrew Ellicott. The Lewis and Clark Expedition which explored the areas west of Lancaster also has its roots here. Meriwether Lewis spent his time researching and studying for the said expedition.

Built by architect Gottlieb Sehner, this house stands from 1797 and has been a part of the history of Lancaster. It has been restored and preserved as a testament to the history and culture of Lancaster county. Do sign up for a tour while you are here, you will not regret it.

4.Holtwood Dam

Things to do in Lancaster
Susquehanna River | Photo Credit – Nicholas A. Tonelli

This outdoor location is a great respite from the mostly indoors attractions of Lancaster. Complete with a diverse hiking trail spreading over 30 miles, go as far as your legs will take you. Along the way you are sure to find gorgeous scenic views, picnic spots and grounds for camping.

Find rest along the way in any of the many pavilions lining the trail. If you are an experienced hiker, then the Conestoga Trail is the place for you. This 15 mile trail is a pathway into nature, running from the Susquehanna River and Lake Aldred.

5.Hot Air Balloon

Things to do in Lancaster
Hot Air Balloon | Photo Credit – Rennett Stowe

A complete package is provided by the United States Hot Air Balloon Team, a company dedicated to bringing hot air balloon flights to the visitors of Lancaster, PA. A premier company, their pilots have a lot of experience from the company’s three decade run.

The hour of flight time is preceded by locations where guests assemble and the flight usually ends in local fields. You can expect to get excellent bird eye views of the County and Intercourse. After the flight, you will not only be toasting to an excellent experience, but a unique one at that.

6.Long’s Park

Things to do in Lancaster
Long’s Park | Photo Credit – Jim Goudie

Find Long’s Park at Route 30 & Harrisburg Pike, a large area in northwest Lancaster. In 1900, the town received this park as a gift from Judge Henry Grimly Long and his daughter Catherine. This 80 acre area receives a large number of visitors every year and plays host to a number of events that define the vacation scene of Lancaster.

The music festival here is something to catch, so be sure to plan your trip around it. Also, any place with a barbecue competition and a fine arts exhibit is sure to rock diversefully. The natural beauty surrounding the place is breathtaking, with quaint man made features adding to the place like fitness trails and tennis courts. Enjoy a picnic here and pet animals with your family.

7.Amish Farm and House

Things to do in Lancaster
Amish Farm & House | Photo Credit – Allie_Caulfield

Delve into the Amish Community at Lancaster by signing up for a tour to the Amish Farm and House. The building is over 200 years old and is a repository of Amish history, culture and lifestyle in the region. It is the first Amish tourist attraction in the country, whose 45 minute tour gives you a chance to witness their lifestyle from the inside.

Bus tours to the countryside are also available with highly trained guides and tour counsellors. Prepare to learn about history, life and culture when you sign up for visiting the Amish Farm and House in Lancaster.

8.Mennonite Information Center

Learn even more about the Amish and the Mennonites by visiting the Mennonite Information Center at 2209 Millstream Road. The unique lifestyle of these cultural groups is a major attraction for people visiting Lancaster and this information center is a repository of the same. Be sure to catch their three screen feature along with short films and exhibits.

You can also purchase books and handicrafts as souvenirs. Get behind a tour guide who will take you through the center and hand out interesting bits of information. Sign up for the 45 minute tour to see the reproduction of Moses’ Tabernacle in the Wilderness.

9.Theatres in Lancaster

Fulton Opera | Photo Credit – Bill Ohl

There are three theatres of note in Lancaster, each of them signifying a different theme of service. The Dutch Apple Dinner theatre, the American Music Theatre and the Fulton Theatre. They seat 370, 1600, and 130,000 guests respectively. The Dutch Apple Theatre showcases a simple yet sophisticated setting and serves exceptional food.

From Classical shows to popular tunes, performers from all over the country arrive at the Dutch Apple Theatre and so can you. The American Music theatre provides exceptional service in the sense that it hosts original shows as well as touring artists. The Fulton opera house stages longer productions as well as hosting backstage tours. Your trip to Lancaster is incomplete if you do not find time to visit these Lancaster theatres.

10.The Lancaster Science Factory

Lancaster Science Factory | Photo Credit – Charles Fulton

This technological center created by James Bunting is a great place for inquisitive children. They host over 50 exhibits and events to achieve their mission of helping children get interested in science.The Lancaster Science Factory features interactive experiences in many of its worklabs and stations.

A two hour detour that is fun filled and informative, the Lancaster Science Factory is a must visit before you continue exploring other areas in Lancaster.

11.Caribbean Indoor Water Park

This water park was the first of its kind in Lancaster. It is located right next to the Budget Host Inn & Suites. You know all about water parks anyway, and this one will not disappoint. From plunge pools to obstacle course pools, slides and sports using inflatables, spending a day at the Caribbean Indoor Water Park would be a holiday within a holiday.

Spending all that time exploring the city might be tiring, come to this water park and spend a day of absolute relaxation. The park is complete with spa and waterfalls as well as dining areas. 

12.Lancaster Museums

For the history buff, Lancaster is the place to be. From historical buildings to tours taking you to see those landmarks, Lancaster is a great place for knowledge. However, there are no places like the museums in Lancaster. There are just so many of them that you’d find it impossible to visit them all. Still, you can find time for most of them. Be sure to visit the Demuth Museum that features paintings in the Precisionist style. The North Museum of Nature and Science is another one that you must visit.

It is great for families. It features exhibits exploring space as well as exhibits featuring live animals and fossils. This is a great place for kids and goes really well if you pair it with a visit to the Hands on House children’s museum. Featuring interactive exhibits for the kids and adults alike, Hands on House is dedicated to making children and adults learn from each other.

13.Clipper Magazine Stadium

Clipper Magazine Stadium | Photo Credit – djLicious

Awarded the “Ballpark of the Year” by the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball in 2013, catching a game at the Clipper Magazine Stadium would be a great cherry on top for your Lancaster trip. Check out the various specialty stands and vendors here to get what is called “the true taste of Lancaster”. The stadium is located at 650 North Prince Street.

14.Historic St. Mary’s Church

The Priory Church of St. Mary, Lancaster | Photo Credit – Lee Dyer

This historic landmark combines the spiritual with the architectural. A gem of the Lancaster community, this example of prime architecture has been built where one of the oldest Catholic parishes of the US existed. You can enjoy looking at the stained glass windows and exquisite carvings and stonework. Be sure to make time to visit St. Mary’s as it is one of the key places in Lancaster.

15.Dutch Wonderland

Dutch Wonderland | Photo Credit – Jim, the Photographer

The Dutch Wonderland is one of the best places to have fun in Lancaster. This family themed destination is an amusement park built to cater to everyone, young and old. With over 30 rides to choose from, be sure to get entertained to your core.

The park also has shows that may be attended by all as the tickets to the shows are included with entry to the park. If you are visiting Lancaster in the summer, then be sure you find yourself in the Dukes Lagoon that has tipping buckets in a tropical themed water park.

Also Read our blog best things to do in Virginia.

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