Life slows down in Lancaster. Here in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, traffic jams form behind Amish buggies, and cars take turns passing through one-lane covered bridges. The Amish and Mennonites preserve an older way of life by avoiding modern technology. Instead, these groups rely on traditional farming and crafting methods to produce durable, high-quality products like furniture and quilts that can furnish your home for generations. Costumed guides lead walking tours through the city of Lancaster, where the Fulton Opera House is the oldest continually operating theater in the country. Stay in a Lancaster Country Inns & Suites hotel to experience peaceful countryside and a quieter way of living.
Reasons to Visit Lancaster
Explore a Simpler Way of Life: Lancaster is home to one of the largest Amish communities in the country. Learn about the “Plain People”, their culture and their beliefs about modern technology at the Mennonite Information Center. Explore a more than 200-year-old home at the Amish Farm and House; the stone barn’s design is unique to the Pennsylvania Dutch. The Amish Village is another historic home and farm open for touring. Both sites also offer tours through the countryside, letting you glimpse today’s Amish working in their fields. Amish crafts and food products are on sale at shops and markets throughout the region, including the Lancaster Central Market, which is the oldest farmers’ market in the country.
Drive over Covered Bridges: Lancaster County is home to more than two dozen covered bridges. Slow down for a driving tour where the roar of the traffic disappears and you share the road with Amish horse-drawn buggies. Take your time to enjoy the calmness of the countryside, and sneak a kiss each time you drive over one of the "kissing bridges."
Fill Your Suitcase with Bargains: Find designer deals at the area’s two large outlet shopping centers. Tanger Outlets has more than 60 shops selling clothing, accessories and home furnishings. At Rockvale Outlets, shoppers discover 80-plus opportunities for steals.
It's a Wonderland: One of the best things to do in Lancaster with kids is to visit Dutch Wonderland. The park bills itself as “A Kingdom for Kids” and offers plenty of adventure and thrills for young guests, with rides like Duke's Dozers, Wiggle Racers and Dragon Lair. Cool off at Duke's Lagoon and the Pipeline Plunge, or settle in for story time with Princess Brooke.
Remember a Forgotten President: James Buchanan's legacy as the 15th President of the United States is far overshadowed by that of President Lincoln, who succeeded him. Buchanan, a Pennsylvania native, returned to his Wheatland estate after his term in office. Visit the estate to explore the visitor center and Federal-style home, where memorabilia and restored rooms are on display.
What to Eat
Family-style dining in local restaurants like Good ‘N Plenty means tables heaped with platters of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. You may find jarred, pickled vegetables called chow-chow to accompany a main dish stew. Leave room for dessert–shoofly pie and whoopie pie are regional traditions.
Side Trip to Chocolate Heaven
Chocolate lovers should make a side trip to Hershey, PA, less than an hour away from Lancaster. At Hershey’s Chocolate World, take a tour through the chocolate-making process and indulge in a tasting experience. You can even create your own chocolate bar—choose the ingredients and design the wrapper. For a sweet adventure, leave your Lancaster hotel and head to the Hersheypark theme park to check out the thrill rides and shows.
When to Visit Lancaster
Visitors come to Lancaster all year long; colorful fall foliage makes the countryside even more stunning, while a winter blanket of snow adds to the peaceful atmosphere. Summer is hot and humid with average temperatures reaching above 80°, making it the perfect time to enjoy indoor attractions and museums.
Lancaster Travel Tip
Although the Amish culture is considered a tourist attraction, the people themselves are not. Don't trespass onto their private land, and respect their religious beliefs by not taking their photos.