Lancaster, one of America’s oldest inland towns, is located in south central Pennsylvania. Originally settled in the early 18th century, the city was founded by James Hamilton with development from Centre Square that makes it easily navigable for current visitors. Many Lancaster attractions provide insights into the area’s rich history and offer visitors interesting things to do.
Those visiting Lancaster for the first time can enjoy a guided Historic Lancaster Walking Tour which includes a visit to the 18th-century home of watercolorist Charles Demuth at the Demuth Museum, also home to the nation’s oldest tobacco shop, and a stop by the PA Dutch Visitors Center for a guide booklet and detailed map. Downtown Lancaster visitors can visit Central Market, built in 1742 and the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in the country, and discover its excellent selection of fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, fish and gift items, offered by more than 60 vendors under a single roof.
To the east, on Lincoln Highway, is Amish Farm and House. A favorite among Lancaster attractions, this 1805 Amish farmhouse with its 15-acre farm, originally deeded by Pennsylvania’s namesake William Penn, provides an authentic view of Amish life. The Lancaster Landis Valley Museum, approximately 4.5 miles northeast of town on Kissel Road, is a great way to learn about the area’s history. Costumed guides interact with tourists to share a detailed history of the Pennsylvania Dutch inhabitants who resided in the area from 1740-1940. Tinsmiths, teachers, farmers and tavern keepers tell their fact-filled stories, and the museum’s Hand’s-On History days give kids the opportunity to learn through interaction.
Two miles further east on Lincoln Highway is Miller’s Smorgasbord, a restaurant which offers a menu of Amish fare. Operating since 1929, typical lunch options include seafood bisque, sausage and cabbage soup, and regional favorite chow-chow. For dinner, the menu generally includes golden fried chicken and Boston bluefish. In shops such as Quilt Shop, Gift and Bake Shop, Wenger Gallery and Two Brook Winery, visitors will find over 1,000 handmade items produced by Mennonite, Amish and other local artists.
For those visiting Lancaster, a great place for family fun on Lincoln Highway is Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park with rides and attractions, including a roller coaster and Duke’s Lagoon water park.
Nine miles north of Lancaster is the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz, housed in one of the area’s oldest homes. Built in 1784, the home's features include the cellar’s musket firing windows and carved paneling along the staircase. Food-lovers can enjoy a tour of the pretzel bakery and even try twisting a pretzel of their own.
Those journeying south will find the Hans Herr House, the oldest home in the county and an excellent example of medieval-style German architecture. A short distance from the Herr House is the Historic Rock Ford Plantation, home of Revolutionary War General, Edward Hand. On Lancaster’s west side is Wheatland, the 1828 Federal-style mansion and 22-acre estate of former President James Buchanan, and a popular Lancaster attraction.