Lancaster, the seat of Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, is a great weekend destination, offering a choice of historical attractions, museums, tours, venues, markets and restaurants.
Attend a music festival in Long's Park, visit Dutch Wonderland with kids, sample local food at the Central Market, take a tour of the Amish Farm and House, and explore The Phillips Museum of Art. Here are the best things to do in Lancaster, PA.
1. Long's Park
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Long’s Park is an 80-acre area situated in the northwest corner of Lancaster. The park has been in existence since 1900 when it was gifted to the town by Judge Henry Grimly Long and his daughter Catherine Long. Every year the park hosts numerous events and it is one of the top Lancaster attractions. Most notably are a season-long music festival, a barbecue competition, as well as a fine arts exhibit. In addition to these events, they also have tennis courts, fitness trails and a beautiful spring-fed lake. Families can enjoy the playground, petting zoo and picnic areas.
Route 30 & Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster, PA 17601, 717-735-8883
2. Dutch Wonderland
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Dutch Wonderland is a “Kingdom for Kids” and one of the best things to do in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The amusement park is designed to be a family-friendly destination for people visiting the Lancaster and Philadelphia area. There are over 30 rides that will entertain all ages. Another highlight is Dukes Lagoon which is a tropically themed water park that is open during the summer and includes tipping buckets and bubblers. Dutch Wonderland also has shows which are open to all visitors. Tickets to the shows are included with admission to the main park. Both day passes as well as season passes are offered.
2249 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA 17602, 866-FUNatDW (866-386-2839)
3. Central Market
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The Central Market in Lancaster is the oldest farmers’ market in the United States. It takes place in a 120 year old brick building which is loaded with local charm. At the market there is a host of local food that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country. The most popular local food is scrapple which is a breakfast meat comprised of pork scraps and cornmeal. Other things you may find are items such as headcheese and Pennsylvania Dutch Sausage. Another popular food among the locals are the preserves like “chowchow” which is pickled vegetables marinated in mustard, and the famous “bread-and-butter pickles.” The market runs all year on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.
23 North Market Street, Lancaster, PA
4. Amish Farm and House
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The Amish Farm and House offers visitors a first-hand look at Amish life in Lancaster. The house is over 200 years old and has been open for tours for the last 60, making it the first Amish Tourist Attraction in the country. House tours run throughout the day and last about 45 minutes for a chance to walk through the front room, kitchen and bedrooms. Countryside Bus Tours are also available which include stops at a 15 acre farm, one room schoolhouse and Amish roadside stand. Highly trained and professional tour guides educate visitors about the area’s history, Amish lifestyle and local hidden treasures.
2395 Covered Bridge Drive, Lancaster, PA 17602, 717-394-6185
5. The Phillips Museum of Art
© The Phillips Museum of Art
Located at Franklin & Marshall College, The Phillips Museum of Art has become a cultural resource for students and the local community. Exhibits include the museum’s permanent collection, an outdoor sculpture trail and the Franklinian database of Benjamin Franklin artifacts. The museum hosts a variety of events including lectures, film screenings, panel discussions and performances. Students utilize the museum for course-based and independent research in a range of disciplines as well as a venue to showcase and disseminate their work to the campus and community. Free to the public, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday during the academic year.
Located in the Steinman College Center, Entrance on College Ave between New Street and Frederick Street, Lancaster, PA 17604, 717-291-3879
6. Landis Valley Museum
© Landis Valley Museum
The Landis Valley Museum is a living history village and farm with a mission to collect, preserve and interpret the history and culture of the Pennsylvania German rural community. It was opened in 1925 by Henry and George Landis, inviting visitors to experience the 18th and 19th century village and farm life in Lancaster County. The museum has an extensive education program that offers workshops, field trips and special events where children and adults can learn new skills, trades and crafts. Landis Valley is also home to The Heirloom Seed Project and the facilities are available to rent for weddings, parties and corporate meetings.
2451 Kissel Hill Road, Lancaster, PA 17601, 717-569-0401
7. North Museum of Nature and Science
© North Museum of Nature and Science
Perfect for a family day out, or if you just want to learn more about nature and science, the North Museum of Nature and Science is home to the impressive SciDome Theater, which will take you on a tour of the galaxy and offer you stunning views of the night sky. There are also permanent exhibitions that offer visitors the chance to get up close to live animals for a hands-on learning experience and to enjoy a wide collection of birds and fossils. If you are wondering what to do in Lancaster with kids, this is a great place to visit. Depending on when you choose to visit, there are up to three featured exhibitions that run throughout the year.
400 College Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17603, 717-358-3941
8. Mennonite Information Center
© Mennonite Information Center
The Mennonite Information Center gives visitors an opportunity to learn about the unique way the Amish and Mennonites live. “Who are the Amish” is a three-screen feature that can only be seen at the center along with another short film, walk-through exhibit, bookstore and selection of fair-trade handicrafts from Ten Thousand Villages. The most popular feature is the Biblical Tabernacle Reproduction, a full-sized reproduction of Moses’ Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Knowledgeable tour guides lead visitors in conversation from the Brazen Altar to the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. The center is open year-round Monday through Saturday and the Tabernacle is seen by 45 minute guided tours only. Next read: water parks in PA
2209 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 17602-1494, 717-299-0954
9. Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
© Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
The Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre has been providing top quality productions, award-winning food and exceptional service for almost thirty years. The theatre seats 370 guests in a simple yet sophisticated setting hard to find at other theatres. Dining options include a dinner buffet, A La Carte nights, Appetizer and Dessert only shows and enhanced upscale weekend buffets. Shows range from favorite classical musicals to contemporary hits with performers from New York, Phoenix, South Carolina and Chicago. A live orchestra accompanies the production created by nationally recognized designers, directors and choreographers for a truly magical experience.
510 Centerville Road, Lancaster, PA 17601, 717-898-1900
10. American Music Theatre
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The Stated Mission of the American Music Theatre is to provide outstanding entertainment for their patrons by collaborating with artists who represent all musical genres and parts of the country. The AMT is unique in that it is the only theatre in America that has original shows as well as touring artists. The Theatre has 1600 seats and hosts every kind of show such as rock and roll, comedy, Broadway shows and pop music. The American Music Theatre opened in 1997 and has worked hard to build an impressive list of visitors including artists who have won Grammys, Tonys and Oscars.
2425 Lincoln Hwy East, P.O. Box 10757, Lancaster, PA 17605, 800-648-4102 | 717-397-7700
11. Fulton Theatre
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The Fulton Theatre produces plays and musicals hoping to move the collective soul of the community and honor its national landmark, the Fulton Opera House, which is considered the oldest continuously operating theatre in the country. Now run as a non-profit, The Fulton serves over 130,000 people annually with rotating main stage productions as well as one-hour family oriented musicals on Saturday mornings. Every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, informative story-filled, backstage tours explore The Fulton’s rich history and provide a glimpse behind the scenes of the current productions.
12 North Prince Street, Lancaster, PA 17608-1865, 717-397-7425
12. The Lancaster Science Factory
© The Lancaster Science Factory
A perfect stop for families with children ages 7 to 13, the Lancaster Science Factory is a hands-on, interactive technology and science center. Created by James Bunting, the Science Factory houses over 50 exhibits and hosts science related events throughout the year. Its mission is to help children develop curiosity, think creatively and build confidence as they learn about the principles and applications of science through highly interactive exhibits, workstations and mini-labs. The Factory is open Tuesday through Sunday and takes an average of two hours to visit. Facilities are also available to rent for birthdays, fundraisers and team building events.
454 New Holland Ave, Lancaster, PA 17602, 717-509-6363
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President James Buchanan once referred to Wheatland as his “agreeable country residence about a mile and a half from Lancaster City.” Today guests can tour the home as guides share Buchanan’s family story. He was known as a stern, but lovable bachelor uncle who raised orphaned nieces and nephews while being a successful attorney. Wheatland is also famous for serving as Buchanan’s presidential campaign headquarters in 1857. Located at the bottom of the Wheatland driveway is the well known Frog Pond, beloved by Buchanan who requested a drink from its spring before he passed away.
230 North President Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17603, 717-392-4633
14. Hands-on House, Children's Museum of Lancaster
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Created for children aged 2-10, the Hands-on House features self-directed exhibits designed to encourage adults and children to learn and play together. The museum is a non-profit organization built around the philosophy that learning lasts longer if it’s fun and it’s more fun if it includes doing. The exhibits, classes and programs focus on interactive, participatory activities while adults are encouraged to enhance the children’s visit by joining in play, asking questions and allowing children to lead their way. Birthday party packages include the Pee Wee Party, Birthday Blast or Deluxe Theme options and the entire museum is also available to rent for private events.
721 Landis Valley Road, Lancaster, PA 17601, 717-569-KIDS
15. Historic Rock Ford Plantation
© Historic Rock Ford Plantation
Dive straight into the history of Lancaster Country in Pennsylvania with a visit to the Historic Rock Ford Plantation. The plantation is a house that was inhabited by Adjunct General of former president George Washington and Edward Hand, and dates from the 18th century. Part of the National Register of Historic places, visitors to the plantation can tour the property taking in the period features that have been painstakingly preserved, as well as viewing examples of historic art work that decorate the mansion. Georgian in style, visitors here will get a firsthand walk through of one of the most original and well-restored domestic examples of rural life in the 18th century.
881 Rockford Road, Lancaster, PA, 717-392-7223
16. The United States Hot Air Balloon Team
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The U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team is the East Coast premier balloon company. They have been providing memorable, safe and entertaining experiences for nearly three decades. All of their pilots are FAA commercially approved and have more than 10,000 hours of combined experience. Rides begin on the ground where guests can help assemble the balloon and take pictures. Actual flight time is about one hour with majestic views of Lancaster County, Intercourse, Bird in Hand and Strasburg. Landings often include children chasing the balloon across fields and meeting the local farmers. Rides are followed by a light snack and champagne toast.
17. Tanger Arboretum
The Tanger Arboretum was established by Louise Arnold Tanger in 1957. This superb arboretum is tucked away on a 10-acre site in a shady residential neighborhood and is home to over 250 species of trees and evergreen plants. The arboretum surrounds the Wheatlands home of America’s 15th president, James Buchanan. The many trees planted back in the 1950’s have matured into majestic specimens, and more recently a Dwarf Conifer garden has been added, featuring more than 100 species of small and miniature confers. The Arboretum is open to the public every day and is free to visit – you can pick up a map at LancasterHistory Visitor’s Center
Tanger Arboretum, LancasterHistory, 230 N President Ave, Lancaster, PA 17603
717 392 4633
18. Clipper Magazine Stadium
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Home of the Lancaster Barnstormers, Clipper Magazine Stadium is a 6,000 seat baseball stadium that opened in May of 2005. It was honored as “Ballpark of the Year” by the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball in 2013 because of its excellent grounds keeping and stadium operations. With two main concession stands and a variety of specialty stands and portable vendors, the stadium offers a true “Taste of Lancaster.” Tickets are available online or at the box office and parking is free. The stadium also includes a Team Store as well as the B.R. Kreider & Son Kid’s park complete with inflatables and a carousel.
650 North Prince Street, Lancaster, PA 17603, 717-509-4487
19. Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
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The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, dating from the 1950s, has a mission to preserve and educate regarding the Mennonite faith communities in and around Lancaster. With this in mind, visitors can tour the Historical Society Museum to learn all about the historical significance and culture of the Mennonite communities, and there are different temporary exhibitions that change throughout the year. The museum aims to tell the stories of these communities through preserved cultural relics and art works in order to bring greater understanding to this faith. Not just a museum, the Historical Society also has events such as book evenings, folk art exhibitions, music nights and field trips for those wanting to know even more about the fascinating history of Lancaster Mennonites.
2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 17602-1499, 717-393-9745
20. Holtwood Dam
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For those who want to get out and about in Lancaster, come to the Holtwood Dam area to enjoy the outdoors. Depending on your enthusiasm and level of ability, you can choose from over 30 miles of hiking trails and undertake anything from a gentle ramble in the rustic and rocky terrain, to a more challenging and strenuous day hike past craggy scenery and stunning vistas. One of the highlights of the area for experienced hikers is the Conestoga Trail of approximately 15 miles that winds past the Susquehanna River and Lake Aldred. Whatever you choose to do, you will find quaint picnic spots, camping grounds and picturesque pavilions along the way.
21. The Demuth Museum
© The Demuth Museum
Art lovers are sure to enjoy a day out at the Demuth Museum, dedicated to the art work of Charles Demuth, a 19th century American modernist artist from the Lancaster area. The museum has a range of stunning collections, many of which feature watercolor paintings and examples of the Precisionist style, and there is a museum gift shop that sells exquisite silk scarves printed with works by Demuth. The museum is housed in the artist’s original home and visitors can tour his studio as well as the lush and well maintained flower gardens from which he took inspiration. Some of the buildings featured in the collections in the museum also still stand on the property today providing an architectural perspective of historic Lancaster.
120 East King Street, Lancaster, PA 17602, 717-299-9940
22. Sehner Ellicott von Hess House
© Sehner Ellicott von Hess House
Dating from 1797, the Sehner Ellicott von Hess House is famous for being the home of Andrew Ellicott. It was also the base where Meriwether Lewis studied surveying in preparation for the Lewis & Clark Expedition into the territories to the west of Lancaster, and as such is a place of great historical significance in the Lancaster region. The house built by Gottlieb Sehner, a German architect, has been lovingly restored and preserved in order to educate visitors on the historic and cultural background of the area. There are tours of the property available through the Historic Society for those who want to delve into this history firsthand.
123 North Prince Street, Lancaster, PA 17603, 717-291-5861
23. Historic St. Mary's Church
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St. Mary’s Church is a breathtaking example of Catholic architecture and a pillar of the Lancaster community. The church is said to be the spot of the fourth oldest Catholic parish in the whole of the United States, and visitors wishing to combine the spiritual with an architectural tour will find much to enjoy here. The church is still very much in working order and is headed by Father Leo who leads mass every week for the local community and visitors to Lancaster alike. There are a wealth of period features here for visitors to enjoy such as the stained glass windows that depict key scene from the Bible, as well as ornate carvings and stonework.
119 S. Prince Street, Lancaster, PA 17603, 717-392-2578
The top attractions to visit in Lancaster, PA near me today according to local experts are:
Attraction Spotlight: North Museum of Nature and Science
Located in Lancaster, PA on Franklin & Marshall College’s campus, the North Museum of Nature and Science promotes the exploration and discovery of science, nature, and various cultures.
Franklin & Marshall College founded the North Museum of Nature and Science in 1953. The name originates from Hugh M. North, who was a businessman in Lancaster who provided enough funds for the Museum’s construction. After the North Museum of Nature and Science was built, it quickly became the community’s premier destination for the exploration and discovery of science and nature.
Majority of the permanent collection at the North Museum of Nature and Science dates back to the 19th century from the Linnaean Society, who were naturalists. The Linnaean Society collected a variety of flora and fauna samples that documented the ecosystems of Lancaster County during that period of time.
In 1992, the North Museum of Nature and Science officially became a non-profit organization that was also independent. Then, in 2009, the American Alliance of Museums reaccredited the North Museum of Nature and Science for the fourth time. It’s important to note that less than 5% of museums in the United States earn this notion of recognition and excellence.
The North Museum of Nature and Science has over 360,000 objects within their permanent collection. The Museum’s permanent collections are divided among the following galleries:
Birds displays over 1,000 birds that originate from eastern North America. The birds on display are a combination of pre-20th century and present day taxidermy.
Mammals showcase a variety of skull and osteology objects that come from Pennsylvania and surrounding areas.
Lower Vertebrates feature a variety of fish, amphibians, and reptiles from the Susquehanna area.
Invertebrate Zoology displays a variety of animals that don’t have backbones. These animals range from historically significant animals, such as insects, as well as simple and more modern animals.
Botany features a variety of horticulture from all over Pennsylvania. Other collections within this gallery include a historically significant collection from Florida that features a variety of specimens that originated prior to urbanization.
Native American includes an extensive amount of artifacts from Native Americans who lived in Pennsylvania. Almost 100,000 objects comprise this category of the North Museum of Nature and Science’s permanent collection.
Rocks & Minerals includes the most attractive, unique, and abstract rocks & minerals within the Museum’s permanent collection.
Fossils displays an array of important fossils from a variety of foundations and collections, which in turn have become a part of the North Museum of Science and Nature’s permanent collection.
SciDome XD is an interactive theater in which visitors are encouraged to attend a show during their visit at the North Museum of Science and Nature. Some of the premier shows include:
· One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
· Magic Tree House: Space Mission
· Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope
· From Earth to the Universe
· Night Sky Tour
For more information about each show and daily show times, visit the North Museum of Science and Nature’s official website.
The North Museum of Science and Nature offers a variety of educational opportunities for people of all ages. Some of the educational programs at the Museum include; Preschool Programs, Group Experiences, Outreach Programs, STEAM Career Exploration, Science & Engineering Fair, and STEM Sisters.
One of the most popular educational programs at the Museum is their Group Experiences. Group Experiences is a program that allows small or large groups visit the North Museum of Science and Nature in an exclusive, explorative, and interactive way. Groups have the option of choosing one of a few options for group tours, all of which offer a varying degree of exclusiveness and interactive activities.
Another popular educational program at the North Museum of Science and Nature is their STEAM Career Exploration. The STEAM Career Exploration program is a half-day program in which participants engage in a variety of activities that explore STEAM based careers. Up to 30 participants can participate in a single STEAM Career Exploration day. The following list is the four careers participants explore during their STEAM Career Exploration day:
· Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians allows participants to create and operate their own catapults in a competitive team event. This activity explores the fundamentals and forces of physics.
· Aviation Inspector is another competitive team activity, which also explores the fundamentals of physics. This time, physics is applied to a slingshot rocket and the dynamics of flight.
· Food Scientist is an interactive activity in which participants make their own Liquid Nitrogen ice cream while simultaneously learning about matter.
· Industrial Health and Safety Engineer is another competitive team contest in which teams follow a lead engineer in constructing a certain structure within a select amount of time.
400 College Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17603, Phone: 717-358-3941
Attraction Spotlight: Dutch Wonderland
Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dutch Wonderland is an amusement park that is often regarded as the “Kingdom for Kids”.
On May 20, 1963, Dutch Wonderland opened with the mission to create a safe and fun environment for families. Since then, Dutch Wonderland has been recognized as one of the premier amusement parks on the East Coast, and one of Amusement Today’s top five “Best Kid’s Parks in the World”.
Dutch Wonderland has a variety of amusement rides for people of all ages.
Choo Choo Charlie is a train ride for people under 48”.
Panda Party takes guests under 54” around a circle in a floating panda.
Wonder Whip is a circular roller coaster for guests under 54”.
Sky Fighter takes guests under 54” on an adventure to space.
Pit Stop allows kids experience pedal cars.
Wiggle Racers allows kids wiggle their way around and race each other in wiggle cars.
Duke’s Dozers is the perfect interactive attraction for children who love digging in the dirt or sand.
Merlin’s Mayhem is a high-flying roller coaster in which riders go on an adventure in attempt to find their friend, Merlin.
Dino Dig is an interactive attraction where kids have the opportunity of digging in the sand to find fossils.
Astroliner takes guests on a mission to space, only there’s a problem with the rocket.
Off-Road Rally allows kids to take a turn in the driver’s seat.
Dragon’s Lair is an adventurous log boat ride in which riders attempt to escape from the dragon.
Merry-Go-Round allows guests to choose their favorite animal or seat and ride around.
Frog Hopper leaps riders up and down.
Sunoco Turnpike allows kids to drive as they search for dinosaurs.
VR Voyager transports riders to space through a stimulation and virtual reality.
Wonderland Special is Dutch Wonderland’s premier train, suitable for everyone.
Kite Flight is a ride inspired by hang gliders.
Sky Ride is a scenic ride through the air, which gives riders breathtaking views of the park.
Kingdom Coaster takes riders on a series of ups and downs.
Joust Family Coaster is a fun, friendly-family roller coaster that is suitable for almost everyone.
Space Shuttle is a ride in which guests will swing to new heights.
Flying Trapeze is a personal swing ride high up in the air.
Fun Slide is a carpet slide geared to almost everyone.
Bumper Cars is a fun driving attraction for everyone.
Wonder House is an adventure maze house for all heights.
Turtle Whirl is a tilt-a-whirl suitable for everyone.
Leapin’ Frogs is a frog-shaped vehicle in which riders will leap, twirl, and rotate in.
The Twister is a circular wavelike roller coaster suitable for everyone.
Gondola Cruise is a scenic canal cruise around Exploration Island.
Double Splash Flume is a splashing log ride suitable for everyone.
Monorail allows guests to sit back and relax as they plan out their next adventure at Dutch Wonderland.
Prehistoric Path allows guests to explore over 20 dinosaurs as they travel the trail by foot.
Balloon Chase is a ride that features eight flying hot air balloons that are “chasing” each other.
It’s easy to work up an appetite while spending the day exploring Dutch Wonderland. That’s why Dutch Wonderland offers guests a variety of dining options, which include a variety of cuisines. Dutch Wonderland’s dining options include:
· Merlin’s Buffet
· Mill Stream Eatery
· Bean Sprouts
· Potato Patch
· Noble Roman’s Pizza
· Nathan’s Famous
· Sharky’s Grill
· Breyer’s Ice Cream and Coffee Shoppe
· Funnel Cake Factory
· Dole Whip Junction
· The Slush Shack
· Dippin Dots
· Uncle Andy’s
· The Snack Shack
After spending the day exploring Dutch Wonderland, don’t forget to stop by one of the gift shops to purchase a souvenir!
Artifacts is located in Exploration Island and provides guests with a variety of dinosaur-themed options.
Cabana Rentals have a variety of water toys, towels, beverages, sunscreen, and anything else you ould need while spending the day out in the sun.
Castle Gift Shop is Dutch Wonderland’s premier gift shop. This gift shop has a variety of items, such as apparel, games, and souvenirs, all of which are in the theme of a fairytale wonderland.
Gem Mine is a retail stand in which guests can purchase a trough and search for gems.
Junction Rentals allows guests to rent wheelchairs, electric scooters, or strollers, as well as purchase any necessities they may have forgotten to bring.
Mini Castle provides guests with a variety of royal costumes and accessories to choose from.
Surf Shop has a variety of apparel, towels, jewelry, and beach themed souvenirs.
Merlin’s Mayhem is located next to the exit of the popular ride Merlin’s Mayhem. In this gift shop, guests will find a variety of snacks, drinks, and souvenirs related to Merlin’s Mayhem and Merlin’s magic.
2249 Lincoln Hwy E, Lancaster, PA 17602, Phone: 866-386-2839