The Great American Getaway Guide to Lancaster

Brimming with history and a lively arts and culture scene, the city of Lancaster is one of the nation’s most beloved destinations for a Great American Getaway. Surrounded by a centuries’ old Amish community in the heart of “Pennsylvania Dutch Country,” Lancaster invites you to explore its rich heritage, savor its delicious local, farm-fresh cuisine, and embrace its lively urban scene. Just under a three-hour drive from New York City and Washington, D.C. and a two-hour drive from Philadelphia, we have put together a 48-hour getaway guide that maps out some of our favorite and top picks to see, do, and devour to help you pack the most into your Lancaster adventure.

Please note, this itinerary is meant to serve as a general guide. Before you depart on The Great American Getaway to Lancaster, we highly recommend you check the websites of our suggested places to visit for any seasonal hours of operation and available offerings.

Day One

Afternoon — Arrive in Lancaster and check into your choice of accommodations (keep scrolling for our picks at the bottom of this page).

Once you’ve settled in—or have some time for a pit stop before check-in — visit America's oldest continuously operating farmers’ market, the Lancaster Central Market, for lunch or a snack. Open on select days of the week, the market is a veritable feast for the senses brimming with fresh produce, delectable baked goods, artisanal foods, flowers, and unique handcrafted goods. You’ll likely spend an hour or two simply savoring the sights, scents, and sounds as you stroll through the market’s bustling aisles.

Lancaster central market
Lancaster Central Market

Fully refreshed, journey into the timeless world of the Pennsylvania Amish by taking one of The Amish Farm & House’s tours. Offering a variety of experiences, you can take a guided bus tour through the picturesque back roads of Amish Country, followed by a guided tour through an 1805 Amish farmhouse and 15-acre farm.

Evening — For dinner, make a reservation at the James Beard-nominated restaurant, LUCA, a local hot spot that seamlessly combines the culinary traditions of Italy with the farm-fresh bounty of Lancaster County. Featuring a wood-burning hearth and authentic Neapolitan oven, enjoy their creative versions of Italian classics such as “The LUCA Chicken” or their freshly made gnocchi. Be sure to pair your meal with a glass from their extensive menu of Italian wines or Amaro collection.

Afterwards, spend a night under the lights at one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating theaters, the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster City’s downtown. A designated National Historic Landmark, prepare for a fun night of theatrical splendor where the stage comes alive with captivating performances and Broadway-caliber productions.

fulton theater auditorium view from stage
Fulton Theatre

Day Two

Morning — Rise and shine for your first full day in Lancaster with an early brunch at Passerine, a charming café, restaurant, and bottle shop in Lancaster’s downtown. Open Thursday-Monday, Passerine fully embraces the region's innovative producers and fresh bounty offering a culinary journey through the flavors of Lancaster.

Next, take a short eight-minute walk to the 300 block of Queen Street and BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, a historic, 10,000-square-foot warehouse home to more than 70 eclectic shops. This funky marketplace is a memorable stop in the city’s premier shopping district, exuding charm and character with their vast selection of vintage, recycled, and handmade goods.

Afternoon — Spend a magical afternoon at Dutch Wonderland, a wonder-filled family amusement park with more than 35 rides, attractions, and live entertainment shows. Open year-round with seasonal events, you and your family can grab delicious bites, sweet treats, and snacks, enjoy interactive puppet shows, meet fantastical characters including Duke the Dragon and Princess Brooke, and in warmer months splash around in Duke’s Lagoon water play area.

kids running around theme park
Dutch Wonderland

On a kid-free getaway? Instead of Dutch Wonderland, visit Our Town Brewery to enjoy some top-notch beer thoughtfully paired with delicious fare, all sourced with the finest local ingredients. Located in a nearly century-old building that originally housed Chamber’s General Tire Company, the floor that once was a car showroom now houses the tanks used in crafting their traditional beer styles and experimental brews.

Our town brewery building
Our Town Brewery

Evening — For dinner and a show, check out Zoetroplis Cinema Stillhouse, a multifaceted destination for film aficionados, spirits connoisseurs, food enthusiasts, and music lovers in Lancaster City. Immerse yourself in the world of cinema with their curated selection of high-quality films, complemented by the convenience of an onsite micro distillery and restaurant.

a group of women enjoying drinks
Zoetroplis Cinema Stillhouse

Day Three

Morning — Begin your morning at Passenger Coffee, which was named as both Best Coffee Shop in Pennsylvania and Best Coffee Roaster in Pennsylvania in 2022 by Food & Wine magazine. Enjoy a quick cup of coffee (or tea!) to-go from their extensive espresso menu, or stay and experience their Gongfu tea bar. Be sure to buy a hand-crafted pastry or biscuit, which are baked fresh daily by their sister company, Commissary.

Once you’ve gotten your caffeine fix, take some time to stroll through downtown Lancaster to truly appreciate this quaint and historic city. With a diverse array of local shops, galleries, and foodie fun, you can explore unique stores such as the Lancaster Pickle Company or immerse yourself in the city's creative scene in a variety of artsy shops. Throughout the year, the downtown area buzzes with events and festivals from First Fridays to Craft Beerfest, providing opportunities to experience the community's exciting and enchanting spirit firsthand.

Afternoon — Before hitting the road for home, get to know the vibrant tapestry of early Pennsylvania German life from 1740 to 1940 at the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. Engage with interactive demonstrations led by guides donning period costumes, bringing history to life. You might want to schedule your Lancaster getaway to coincide with one or more of their fantastic annual events, including the Herb & Garden Faire and Harvest Days, offering immersive experiences for all ages. With the recent reopening of the 1815 Jacob Landis Farmhouse for self-guided tours, there's even more to explore and discover at this must-visit museum.

a person carving wood on a wooden lathe machine
Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

Add A Day

Not ready for your Great American Getaway to Lancaster to end? Extend your stay to explore even more of southeastern PA in the nearby towns of Strasburg and Lititz. In Strasburg, board America’s oldest operating railroad, the Strasburg Rail Road, for a scenic trip through the Amish countryside, then take a tour of America’s first commercial pretzel bakery, The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, in Lititz and explore its charming downtown. While in Lititz, take advantage of Lancaster County’s great outdoors along the Warwick-to-Ephrata Trail, connecting three of the county’s most vibrant downtowns including Lititz, Akron, and Ephrata. This popular 8-mile trail will have you hiking and biking along the former Reading and Columbia rail lines.

If you have more time, make the 1.5-hour drive to Gettysburg to explore the Gettysburg National Military Park commemorating the historic battle site that was a turning point of the U.S. Civil War and the Gettysburg National Cemetery where President Lincoln delivered his immortal “Gettysburg Address.” While in Gettysburg, be sure to grab lunch or dinner at the historic Dobbin House Tavern.

Places to Stay

Eden Resort & Suites — Discover the epitome of luxury and hospitality at Eden Resort and Suites, one of Lancaster’s premier lodging destinations. Renowned for its impeccable service and top-notch amenities including a heated indoor pool, whirlpool, and sauna, their outdoor amenities include two pools and cabana rentals for a stay during warmer months. Feeling hungry? Bistro 2two2 offers a unique dining experience blending the relaxed vibes of a gastropub with high-quality cuisine, complete with an open-flame pizza oven and spacious bar.

view of a pool from suite
Eden Resort & Suites

The Cork Factory Hotel — What was once a 19th-century cork factory is now The Cork Factory Hotel, mixing old-world charm with modern luxury for an unforgettable stay. Offering elegant accommodations, exquisite dining options, and a range of amenities including a fitness center and outdoor patio, its prime location near downtown Lancaster makes it the perfect homebase for a memorable getaway.

Beittel House — Beittel House, a 148-year-old gem featuring sunlight-drenched rooms, stands ready to welcome you to the heart of downtown Lancaster. Perched above a boutique retail store, this luxurious Airbnb offers travelers a unique experience in the bustling city center where nearly everything is within walking distance. Immerse yourself in the rich history and inviting ambiance of this storied home, providing an ideal retreat for those seeking convenience and character during their Lancaster adventures.

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