Category Archives: Food

10 Reasons to Visit Downtown Lancaster, PA

When you think of Lancaster County, you may picture lush, green farmland with horse and buggies trotting by, fresh produce, and a relaxing pace of life. While those things can be found here, there’s so much more to Lancaster. In the middle of the farmland sits Lancaster City, which some would describe as hip, cool, and up-and-coming. But don’t just take our word for it – Forbes named Lancaster as one of the 10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018.”

Here’s just ten of the many reasons to visit Downtown Lancaster while your here, whether with the family or on a romantic weekend getaway:

1] Arts & Theatre
Lancaster City is full of passionate makers and musicians, just waiting to share their craft. For fine arts, head to Gallery Row where artisans are displaying and selling their works. If you happen to be in town on the First Friday of the month, galleries and shops are open extra late for art lovers to browse and experience Lancaster’s art scene.

Want to catch a show or some awesome live music? Theaters and performance venues, both big and small, can be found throughout the city, putting on live music, Broadway-caliber musicals, play, and classical performances.

2] Awesome Activities
Whether you’re traveling with the family or as a couple, Downtown Lancaster is filled with spots to fill your day with fun. For the couple, challenge yourself to an Escape Room or experience the city and its history through an interactive (and tasty) food tour.

For the family, head over to the baseball field where the Lancaster’s minor league baseball team, the Barnstormers, play for an evening game with fireworks, or spend the day at the North Museum of Nature & Science or Lancaster Science Factory. Both are great museums geared towards hands-on learning for kids. If your family prefers arts and crafts, Pottery Works and Beadworks & Gem Dem offer a creative outlet with pottery painting and jewelry making.

3] The Food
Breakfast, lunch or dinner – Downtown Lancaster’s dining scene has never been better! Start your morning off with a cup of coffee at Passenger Coffee – named the best coffee in Pennsylvania by Food & Wine – or grab a tasty brunch to kick start your day of exploring.

When lunch and dinner roll around, there is no shortage of options – from unique international spots to phenomenal fine dining. On those sunny days, many spots offer outdoor dining options where diners can enjoy delicious bites and the beautiful weather.

4] The History
As one of the oldest inland cities in America and serving as the U.S. Capital for a day, Lancaster is filled with stories of events and people from the past. Dive into these stories as you view Lancaster’s architecture, featuring buildings with various styles – from Georgian and Federal to Modern. History is just waiting to be shared at historic locations throughout the city with a walking tour or a visit to President James Buchanan’s home and Lancaster’s historic society museum.

5] Lancaster Central Market
Featuring history, community vibes, fresh produce, and popular local goodies, Lancaster Central Market, America’s oldest continuously operating farmers market, is a Downtown “must-visit.” Be sure to visit on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday when market is open to wander the aisles for locally sourced fruits and vegetables, baked goods, freshly cut flowers, and something tasty for breakfast or lunch. Some stands have been passed down generation-to-generation, while others are bringing new, unique offerings to the historic market.

While you’re there, don’t forget to look up – the market building dates back to 1889 and features stunning architectural details.

6] Events Galore
In addition to daily happenings, Lancaster’s special events add an extra element of excitement to the city. From the monthly First and Third Friday events featuring art and live music, to the annual Lancaster Craft Beerfest in late August and Roots & Blues in February, consider planning your trip around these festive occasions. Be sure to check out our events calendar while planning to learn more.

7] Ales, Spirits and Even Mead
Some of Lancaster’s best beer can be found Downtown from brewers like Lancaster Brewing Company (known for their Milk Stout, Strawberry Wheat and Hop Hog IPA), Spring House Brewing Company (specializing in flavorful concoctions like the Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout), and Wacker Brewing Company (brewing German-style beers with roots from the 1800s) – each with their own unique story and brews.

If spirits and cocktails are more your style, Downtown Lancaster has plenty of those too. From Thistle Finch Distillery who is distilling their own rye whiskey, vodka and gin, to a number of restaurants creating artisan cocktails with locally sourced ingredients and house made infusions.

May we interest you in a little mead? This traditional alcoholic beverage is being brewed by Meduseld Meadery here in Lancaster, using honey, water, and yeast. While you’re there, try your hand at ax throwing in their indoor throwing range.

8] Walkability
What fun is driving when you’re on vacation? In Lancaster City, walkability is key with many of the popular stops within walking distance of each other. Whether you’re wandering down Gallery Row or shopping on the 300 Block of Queen Street, good eats and even more to see and do are just a few blocks away. Parking options are plentiful with reasonably priced lots and garages located in the popular areas of the city.

9] Boutiques & Shopping
How about a little shopping? Lancaster City is home to cute boutiques and shops, whether you’re searching for a special gift or something to remember your trip by. The 300 Block of North Queen Street is a shopping hot spot Downtown, with shops featuring unique gifts, antiques, clothes and jewelry, home décor, and specialty items. Shop local as you’ll find wares made here in Lancaster County by passionate makers.

10] Great Lodging Options
After all this exploring, you’ll need a place to rest up for another day of fun. Downtown Lancaster has great lodging options for this very thing. Boutique hotels like Lancaster Arts Hotel and Cork Factory Hotel provide a restful night’s sleep in uniquely decorated and beautifully renovated rooms.

If you prefer to stay in a bed & breakfast, King’s Cottage and the Lancaster Bed & Breakfast are located just a short drive from the main Downtown area, and provide cozy accommodations for your stay.

And that’s just the beginning! Discover even more about Downtown Lancaster and the county that surrounds it by ordering our Getaway Guide or signing up for our e-newsletter.

Lancaster, PA’s Ultimate Donut Guide

Breakfast, lunch or even dinner – donuts are a delicious treat for any time of day. Lancaster County is home to classic donut creations, like the Long John and Fasnacht, along with bakeries putting a spin on the traditional with made-to-order pastries and even one topped with salty bacon.

Whether you’re pairing it with your morning coffee or snacking later in the day when your sweet tooth calls, stop by for one of the fantastic fried treats below. Grab one (or even a dozen) and experience Lancaster’s donut scene for yourself:

The Classic

No, it’s not an éclair, although it may look a lot like one. The Long John is a bar-shaped, yeast donut covered in a variety of icing flavors. We opted for chocolate, but other tasty flavors include peanut butter and vanilla.

If you’re in search of an authentic long john, head over to Achenbach’s in Leola. They’re been serving up scratch-made baked goods for 60 years.

The Fruity Find

An apple fritter a day may not keep the doctor away, but they do make a nice treat every once in a while. This donut is swirled with cinnamon and apples, and topped with sugary sweet glaze.

Shady Maple is serving up this fruity fritter in the smorgasbord alongside a wide variety of house-made pastries. If you’re just in the mood for an apple fritter, stop by their Farm Market where you can buy donuts individually or by the dozen.

The MTO

Get them while they’re warm! Duck Donuts specializes in made-to-order donuts with a variety of glazes, toppings, and drizzles, allowing eaters to design their own sweet treat. Donuts are fried and decorated while customers are invited to watch the process.

Our fruity creation features lemon glaze, rainbow sprinkles, and raspberry drizzle on a warm vanilla donut. They offer suggestions in their menu, but feel free dream up a unique creation.

The Sweet and Savory

Picture this – a fresh vanilla donuts blanketed in sweet maple icing then topped with salt bacon bits. You heard that correctly; Duck Donuts is also serving up a donut with bunches of real bacon bits on top… and it’s delicious!

The Dinner Donut

What’s golden brown and cheesy in the middle? A grilled cheese donut from Tom + Chee! The folks at Tom + Chee put cheese between a sliced donut and grilled it to perfection.

And that’s just the classic version. Sweeter versions of this treat feature chocolate, marshmallows, bananas, peanut butter mascarpone, and strawberries.

The Donut worth Celebrating

Fasnachts are donuts with their own day. This delightful donut is traditionally consumed on Fat Tuesday, when households would use up their lard, sugar, butter and eggs prior to the beginning of Lent. Often times, they’re made with mashed potatoes and fried in lard – not your average donut!

On Fasnacht Day, glazed and powered varieties can be found at market stands and bakeries across the county.

The Donut of Brotherly Love

Over 30 years ago, Beiler’s Doughnuts started serving up treats at Reading Terminal Market in nearby Philadelphia. They’ve expanded west to open a shop in Lancaster where hungry donut-lovers can find flavors like triple chocolate cake, fruity pebbles, and key lime.

For the hot summer days, Beiler’s created a donut ice cream sandwich for one-heck-of-a dessert.

Cocktails with Character in Lancaster, PA

A night on the town or a memorable dinner starts with a cocktail – especially one with pizzazz and character, artfully crafted at one of Lancaster, PA’s restaurants. Drinks go beyond your standard rum and coke and classic martini, combining local ingredients with hard-to-find or locally made spirits. Some bartenders are reviving and reinventing the classics, while others are putting new flavors together to create signature concoctions.

Many of these spots have fantastic cuisine to go along with the cocktails for a one-stop-shop for a perfect evening. When you enjoy, please do so responsibly, and take advantage of Lancaster’s Uber and Lyft network.

Annie Bailey’s Irish Public House

At Annie Bailey’s you’ll find the beer and cider selection you come to expect at an Irish pub – but what about cocktails? Well you’re in luck because they’re doing those well too! Making the most of the local farm-fresh offerings, they’ve created cocktails that use goodies from Lancaster Central Market, like RiJuice (cold-pressed juice) and Kauffman’s apple cider.

A summer favorite at Annie Bailey’s are their cocktail popsicles, enjoyed on their sunny patio. When the temperatures start to rise, try a frozen Irish Car Bomb or a boozy rocket pop to beat the heat.

If you happen to swing by for brunch on Saturday or Sunday, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the many Bloody Mary and mimosa varieties to choose from. Opt for Old Bay, pepper or one of six other flavored vodkas for your Bloody Mary. If mimosas are more your style, flavor choices range from the classic orange to grapefruit, cranberry, and more.

Horse Inn

The vintage vibes at the Horse Inn will take you back to the 1920s as it served as a speakeasy during Prohibition. When you make your way to one of their two bars, you’ll be greeted by a bartender and cocktail menu inspired by the past – with classic like Tom Collins, Old Fashions and Manhattans made their way plus other beautifully curated cocktails. Not only are their cocktails tasty – they’re also beautiful, and many components are freshly pressed, zested and mixed to perfection.

Must tries include the Pistol Under the Pillow (gin, pressed lemon & grapefruit, vanilla, lavender and egg white) and the Old Fashioned #2 (whiskey of your choice, brandied cherry, orange zest, Angostura & tiki bitters, and demerara).

Don’t be shy – their cocktails may feature some unfamiliar ingredients, but the bartenders are knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to selecting the drink to fit your taste.

John J. Jefferies

Embracing a “garden to glass” philosophy, John J Jefferies is concocting fresh, seasonal cocktails to pair with their farm-fresh and sustainable food offerings. Many of the cocktail ingredients are made in house, grown nearby, or distilled in Pennsylvania. Each drink is made with care using freshly squeezed juices and herbs straight from the garden.

Their menu changes with the season and incorporates touches of nostalgia (think drinks like Sidecars and Collins). One of their signature drinks, the Colonial Margarita, features house made apple-raspberry shrub, El Jimador Silver tequila, and fresh citrus sours that are made in-house.

For the whiskey lover, try their award-winning Manhattan with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Carpano vermouth, Laird’s 12 year brandy, Crème Yvette, and barrel-aged orange bitters.

Stoll and Wolfe

New to the cocktail scene in Lancaster, Stoll and Wolfe is celebrating local distilling traditions that date back to 1753. They’re distilling Pennsylvania rye whiskey and bourbon & rye blend that are well-balanced and enjoyable on their own or shine in simple cocktails.

When you visit their tasting room in Lititz, be sure to try one of their creative cocktails like the Rock & Rye (orange, lemon and pineapple infused rye) and the Sazerac (rye, Peychaud’s bitters, and absinthe rinse).

Not a whiskey or bourbon lover? You too will feel welcome when you stop by. Their vodka and gin drinks are just as good. Try the Hold Fast (grilled pineapple, brown sugar, allspice, mint and vodka) or the Negroni (gin, vermouth, and Wilbur Chocolate infused herbal liqueur).

The Pressroom

When in Downtown Lancaster, swing by the newly renovated Pressroom for a night cap or a pre-dinner cocktail. Not only are they serving up an impressive selection of craft beers on draft, they’ve also put their famous Moscow Mule on tap – flavored with lemongrass-ginger syrup and lime.

If the weather allows, their Park Bar will be open in Steinman Park. A table by the fountain, good company and a flavorful cocktail will make for a fantastic evening in Lancaster, PA.

Their cocktails range from simple like the Mountain Pass (calvados, gentian liquor, Genepy, and hopped grapefruit bitters) to complex like the Good Medicine (blended scotch, honey-ginger syrup, lemon, Laphroaig mist, black pepper tincture).

Thistle Finch Distillery

For the ultimate cocktail experience, why not go to the source? Thistle Finch Distillery is crafting small batch white rye whiskey, gin, vodka, and straight rye whiskey here in Downtown Lancaster. With a visit to their tasting room, you can get a taste of the finished product, straight up or in an artfully crafted cocktail.

To capture the respect and time put into the spirits, Thistle Finch pairs them with house made infusions to create beautifully simple cocktails. With their vodka, they’ve created the Coming up Roses – rose vodka, house-made rosemary syrup, pressed cranberries and lemon. To highlight their rye whiskey try the classic Old Fashioned – straight rye whiskey, house made Demerara syrup, house made bitters and a twist of orange.

Thistle Finch even hosts a cocktail contest, where local bartenders are challenged to create cocktails using their locally made spirits. Cocktail connoisseurs could stop by to taste the contending drinks and support this fantastic local spot.

Lancaster, PA’s Best Burger Spots

Fewer things are better than a burger fresh off the grill. From the classic cheeseburger to one piled high with tasty toppings, this nostalgic sandwich conjures up memories of backyard barbeques and days at the diner. Here in Lancaster County, you can find restaurants inspired by the past, along with spots focused on today’s trending flavors– who are all flipping delicious burgers for you to try.

We reached out to local eaters on Facebook to get the scoop on where their go-to burger is served up. Next time you’re in town, swing by one of the places below to satisfy your burger craving.

Local Favorites:

A Blast from the Past: DJ’s Taste of the 50s

A trip to DJ’s Taste of the 50s will have you feeling like you stepped back in time – from the décor and vintage lunch counter to the all-American menu featuring burgers, fries, milkshakes and floats. Locals raved about their burgers that range from the classic (lettuce, tomato, onion & mayo) to the spunky Caribbean Burger (crushed pineapple, spicy jerk sauce & pepper jack cheese combined with crispy bacon). For the complete experience, be sure to pair your burger of choice with a creamy, dreamy shake or soda float.

Best Paired with a Craft Brew: Iron Hill Brewery

Another stellar recommendation is Iron Hill Brewery and their beer-inspired burgers. Pop in to this sleek-yet-casual brewery and restaurant for one of their signature beers and scratch-made eats. Two of their burger offerings will have your mouth watering as you read the menu, both inspired by the beer they brew – the Pimento Cheeseburger (Vienna Red Lager and Ore House IPA-pickled pimento cheese, bacon, bread and butter pickles, pickled jalapenos, crispy fried onion rings, served on potato roll) and the Drunk Monk Burger (Wee Heavy Ale-caramelized onions, mushrooms, arugula, rosemary truffle aioli, brie cheese, served on potato roll).

The One and Only: Horse Inn

At the Horse Inn, there’s only one burger on the menu – but trust us, it’s the only one you need. Locals love this burger and rightfully so. It’s custom blend of short rib, brisket, chuck & 10% dry aged beef makes for a tender, juicy and most importantly, flavorful burger that they top simply with lettuce, red onion, tomato, white American cheese and special sauce. The bun is made locally by Alfred & Sam’s and toasted to perfection. While you’re enjoying the burger paired with an artfully crafted cocktail, take in the speak-easy vibes of this restaurant that dates back to the 1920s.

From the Neighborhood Sports Bar: Station House Tavern

Cozy up with the locals at Station House Tavern for a tasty burger Lancastrians love. A true sports bar, they’ve dubbed their burgers to be “Hall of Fame Burgers” and that they are. Station House pays homage to the local minor league baseball team, the Lancaster Barnstormers, with the Cylo Burger (8 oz. burger topped with bacon, onion rings, American cheese & an over-light egg). If you’re feeling creative, their create-your-own option features a plethora of toppings to mix and match.

All-American Vibes: Route 66 Restaurant

Locals can’t get enough of Route 66 and their out-of-this-world burgers. Their burgers are more of the flat, crispy on the edges type that are ideal for stacking and layering with melted American cheese. They make a mean special sauce, then top the burger with the classics (lettuce, tomato and onion). You’ll dig this uncomplicated, classic burger while visiting Downtown Lancaster.

A New Must Try: Smokestack BBQ

New to the dining scene in Strasburg, Smokestack BBQ is a cozy spot to grab a bite with house-smoked meats and delectable mac & cheese. Also on their menu is a fantastic selection of cheeseburgers – from the simple cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and onion to something they’ve dubbed “the MOAB (mother of all burgers)” – featuring four cheeses, bacon, pulled pork AND brisket. For those seeking a happy medium, ask for “The Pig’s Caboose” – a cheddar topped burger with pulled pork, cole slaw and their original house made BBQ.

10 Places to get Pretzels in Lancaster, PA

Being home to America’s first commercial pretzel bakery, (established in 1861 in Lititz, PA), pretzels are pretty much their own food group here in Lancaster. Our County is home to a number of family-owned and even national pretzel bakeries. While some of you may think a pretzel is a pretzel, we know there are a lot of factors that go into pretzel preferences: hard & crunchy verses soft, salty verse low-salt, light and buttery verse extra dark. There are even dessert varieties such as cinnamon and sugar or chocolate-covered pretzels. While we you are in town be sure to try several different kinds so you can develop your own pretzel palate. Below is a list of 10 different places to get pretzels in Lancaster, PA.

  1. Julius Sturgis:

219 E. Main St., Lititz, PA | JuliusSturgis.com

Established in Lititz in 1861, Julius Sturgis is the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States. Upon visiting you can tour the bakery and watch how these old-fashioned pretzels are made by hand, or even try to make one yourself!

Have a pretzel! So Lancaster County! #hammondspretzels #lancastercity

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  1. Hammond Pretzel Bakery, Inc.:

716 South West End Ave., Lancaster, PA | HammondPretzels.com

Specializing in hand-rolled sour dough pretzels, Hammonds has been producing pretzels in Lancaster since 1931. They believe a hands-on approach to baking yields better product than a machine can produce. Hammonds Pretzel Bakery is the oldest continuously family operated hand-made pretzel bakery in America.

  1. Auntie Anne’s:

Park City Center | 201 Park City Center, Lancaster, PA | AuntieAnnes.com

Many of you have probably eaten an Auntie Anne’s pretzel at some point in your life, but did you know that this famous pretzel chain was founded here in Lancaster? It’s founder Anne Beiler lived in Lancaster County, and the headquarters for Auntie Anne’s are located right downtown.

  1. Immergut Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels:

3537 Old Philadelphia Pk., Lancaster, PA | 717-768-0657

“Immergut” translates to “Always Good” in Pennsylvania Dutch, and that’s exactly what these pretzels are! Family-owned and operated, this Amish run business focuses in hand-rolled soft pretzels and pretzel wraps.

How we roll…& twist

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  1. Martin’s Pretzel Bakery:

1229 Diamond St., Akron, PA 17501 | martinspretzelspa.com

Opening in the 1930s, Martin’s Pretzel Bakery has a long family history of hand-rolling and twising traditional pretzels. In fact each employee produces 10-12 pretzels per-minute! Martin’s pretzels can be found in grocery stores or markets within 50 miles of Lancaster county, and even in New York City.

  1. Dutch Country Soft Pretzels:

2758-1 Division Hwy., New Holland, PA | dutchcountrypretzels.com

Making both pretzels and pretzel rolls, Dutch Country Soft Pretzels has been baking here in Lancaster for over 25 years. Be sure to stop by and stock up on these snacks. Once you smell the fresh-baked aroma you won’t be able to pass by. Bonus, you very well may pass a buggy on the way to the bakery.

  1. Pretzels on Market

Central Market, Stand 58, 23 N. Market St., Lancaster, PA | 717-538-3134

Located in Historic Central Market in Downtown Lancaster, Pretzels on Market serves delicious Philly- and Lancaster-style pretzels with various dipping sauces. They even have pretzel breakfast sandwiches to start your day off with, and pretzel mixes so you can bake some PA Dutch pretzels back home.

  1. Foltz Pretzels

60 N. Queen St., Lancaster, PA | 717-208-7965

Located downtown, Foltz offers hand-rolled soft pretzels with a number of seasoning options, as well as pretzel dogs and pretzel nuggets. This is a great place to stop in for a snack while you are exploring the city.

While these two aren’t “technically” in Lancaster County, we think they are close enough to count…

  1. Uncle Henry’s Pretzel Bakery:

1550 Bowmansville Rd., Mohnton, PA | unclehenry.com

Regular, extra-salt, reduced-sodium, extra-dark, sesame, whole wheat, chocolate-covered… you name it, they probably make it at Uncle Henry’s Pretzel Bakery. With a recipe and process that have been handed down for the past 50 years, these pretzels are nearly perfect. Plus, they offer personal tours if you call ahead of time.

  1. Shuey’s Pretzels

702 E. Lehman St., Lebanon, PA | facebook.com/shueyspretzels

This family owned bakery has been producing pretzels since 1927. Baking both hard and soft varieties that are delicious on their own, and delectable when covered in Wertz Candies caramel and chocolate! If soft pretzels are what you prefer, be sure to visit on Soft-Pretzel Saturdays- that’s the only day of the week when soft pretzels are baked.

If plain pretzels aren’t quite your thing don’t worry we have other options too. You can always try a sandwich on a pretzel bun, even order ice cream in a pretzel cone. The pretzel potentials are endless here in Lancaster. Next time you are in town be sure to give some a twist, we promise they won’t leave you feeling salty.

Five Farmers Markets in Lancaster, PA

As the sun rises, market stand holders are hard at work, preparing their offerings for an exciting day at the farmers market in Lancaster, PA. From local produce picked just days before to baked goods and ready-to-eat foods cooked with passion and care, you’re sure to be pleased by the Lancaster County offerings. Wander the aisles, ask questions and enjoy the community vibes that fill the atmosphere.

Grab a basket or a reusable tote bag to carry your market finds in, and head off to one of Lancaster, PA’s fantastic farmers markets. Be sure to keep the day of the week and time in mind, as markets are open select hours on select days.

Lancaster Central Market
Open Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays

In the heart of Downtown Lancaster, Lancaster Central Market is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the United States, and was honored by CNN on their “10 of the world’s best fresh markets” list. With a spectacular array of fresh local produce, specialty foods, beautiful flowers, and responsibly sourced meats and seafood, Lancaster Central Market is a “must-visit” while in the area. Experience the culture and community vibes while you grab lunch and coffee – a great way to enjoy the market.

Don’t forget to look up! The market building, built in 1889, features beautiful wooden beams that are a reminder of architecture of the past.

Root’s Country Market & Auction
Open Tuesdays

If you find yourself in Lancaster on a Tuesday, make Root’s Country Market & Auction your first spot. Root’s (pronounced with an “o” sound like “look”) has over 200 stand holders with goods ranging from antiques, collectables and sports memorabilia, to local produce, meats and cheeses, and ready-to-eat foods. Be sure to give yourself enough time to explore – Root’s is made up of nine buildings, plus some outdoor stands, when weather permits.

Craving pizza? Believe it or not – Root’s is home to the 2016 USA Caputo Cup New York Style Pizza Champion, Norma Knepp, who is serving up tasty pizza pies in building number four.

Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market
Open Wednesdays (April-November), Thursdays (July-October), Fridays & Saturdays

A popular stop in Bird-in-Hand, PA is the farmers market, which has been family owned and operated for more than 30 years. Wander the aisles in this indoor, air-conditioned market to find local produce, fresh meats, cheeses, tasty baked goods, plenty of locally made items, and ready-to-eat delights. If you’re browsing for something to remember your trip by, handmade crafts and quilts, quality leather goods and Lancaster-centric souvenirs are plentiful.

Green Dragon
Open Fridays

On Fridays, find your way to Green Dragon – a robust farmers market in Ephrata. Browse the offerings of over 400 local growers, merchants, and craftsmen while enjoying tasty food offerings, including some classic PA Dutch cuisine. Located on 30 acres, Green Dragon is one of the largest farmers markets in the area, so much like Root’s, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore. Locals know this market to sell everything – from “soup to nuts.”

Roadside Stands
Various operating schedules, many are not open on Sundays

As you drive around the county, you’re bound to stumble upon some fantastic roadside stands, offering a bounty of local produce, canned goods, bouquets of fresh-picked flowers, and baked treats. As the weather gets warmer, stands begin to open with offerings that change with the harvest. Be sure to keep cash handy if you plan to stop. Many stands only accept cash, or even work on the honor system, where exact change should be placed in a box on the stand.

Top Five Things to do in Lancaster, PA for First Time Visitors

If this is your first visit to Lancaster, PA – we welcome you with open arms and warm Pennsylvania-Dutch hospitality. If you are eager to learn what all the fuss is about, we have compiled a list of five great things to do while you are in town. These activities are “classic” Lancaster at their core. They help to make up what Lancaster is all about and have led to the development of so many of the wonderful experiences and traditions around the County.

  1. Visit Amish Country

When we say “Lancaster” you say “Amish.” These two often go hand in hand, being that Lancaster, PA is home to one of the largest Amish populations in the United States. Our county is known for its rolling hills, beautiful farmland, and relaxing way of life. Try taking a buggy ride with Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides or Ed’s Buggy Rides to have a truly authentic experience on the back roads. If you prefer to move at a faster pace, opt for a scooter ride through the countryside with Strasburg Scooters. Attractions like the Amish Farm & House, the Amish Village, and The Amish Experience are also great places to learn about the plain lifestyle. You can see first-hand what an Amish home or one-room schoolhouse looks like plus learn traditions and customs of this unique culture.

  1. Stop by Lancaster’s Central Market

Located in our beautiful and bustling downtown, Lancaster Central Market is the country’s oldest continually operating farmers’ market. Open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, this market is the perfect place to see the combination of diverse cultures and cuisines that make up Lancaster County. Be sure to pick up some locally-grown produce, freshly-baked goods, meats, or cheeses to take home with you. If visit doesn’t coincide with Market days, don’t worry, there are plenty of other farmers’ markets around the County which you can visit.

  1. Try some traditional PA Dutch food

Traditional PA Dutch food is truly a treat. Prepared from scratch with simple, hearty, ingredients, you can taste the love in every bite. From chicken pot pie, to pork and sauerkraut, or shoofly pie to whoopie pies you are sure to find something to indulge in while you are here. Our many PA Dutch restaurants like Miller’s, Good ‘N Plenty, or Shady Maple, offer all the traditional dishes for you to sample and enjoy. Not sure what you will like? Check out some of our recommendations and explanations here.

  1. Shop for antiques and hand-crafted goods

Here in Lancaster we like to make things by hand, the old fashioned way. We value quality, crafted goods that are passed on to generations and hidden gems scoured from our many antique stores. Each item has a story, and more than likely someone around to tell you about it. If you are looking for the perfect piece to add to your home be sure to head out to Adamstown to check out the many antique malls, markets, and auctions.  Downtown Lancaster also offers a number of artisans and galleries for you to explore on Gallery Row.

  1. See a show

Lancaster is home to a number of theatres with performances ranging from musical, to dramatic, to comedy, or even spiritual. While in town you can visit the largest faith-based theatre in the United States, Sight & Sound Theatres®or catch a broadway caliber musical at the oldest working theatre in the United States, The Fulton Theatre.

If this isn’t enough to keep you busy while you are in town, there is plenty more to do! Stop by our Visitors Center for more ideas and recommendations. We are positive that you will want to come back again to do some more exploring, when you do we will be ready with more suggestions. If you want to learn more of what all there is to do in Lancaster, check out our Getaway Guide (order here) or sign up for our e-newsletter to stay in the know.

Best Beer Spots in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

We’ve rounded up five great bars and bottle shops in Lancaster, PA who carry a variety of local brews, rare finds, and classic ales for beer lovers to enjoy.

Seeking stouts? Looking for lagers? In search of IPAs? Hunting for hefeweizens? Look no farther!

Bulls Head Public House | Lititz

Stop by for a pint and authentic British pub vibes at the Bulls Head, located along Main Street in Lititz. Named the “best beer bar in Pennsylvania” by Craftbeer.com AND the “best beer bar in America” by USA Today’s 10Best.com, their beer selection is plentiful and impressive, with 14 rotating beers on tap, two cask condition ales, and 80 bottled varieties to choose from.

When you arrive, seat yourself and order provisions at the bar. The warm atmosphere invites superb conversation and an all-around good time. To pair with your ale, Bulls Head Public House serves up small plates and pub fare to match, including a Full English Breakfast option on Saturdays. Swing by to find out why this beer spot is a favorite of locals, visitors and even craft beer experts!

Photo above, credit Venture Lititz                                

                              

Federal Taphouse | Downtown Lancaster

How does 100 beers on tap sound? If it sounds like a dream come true, we’ve got the place for you. The Federal Taphouse, located on Queen Street in Downtown Lancaster, has tons of ales, sours, IPAs, seasonal brews, and more to choose from. Pair your old stand-by or a new favorite with their wood-oven pizza, and enjoy the atmosphere of this urban eatery.

The Fridge | Downtown Lancaster

If you’re looking to curate a six-pack that will impress your friends, stop by The Fridge, a cozy bottle shop in Downtown Lancaster. Their fridge (hence the name) is stocked with over 400 varieties of hard-to-find craft, micro, imported and local beer, just chilling and ready to be consumed. If you’re not on the go, grab a bottled beer or one of their ten on tap plus delicious hand-crafted pizza and settle in by the fire or at their outside bar if the weather is nice and sunny.

Funck’s Restaurant & Bar| Leola

Head over to Funck’s Restaurant & Bar in Leola for 100+ beers on tap and tasty all-American eats. During the warmer months, they have their outdoor bar open, complete with fire pits and live music to accompany your craft beer of choice. They have lots of brews to choose from and even host brewery takeover and sampling events.

Hunger & Thirst | Lancaster

When your tummy starts rumbling and you’re longing for a cold brew, Hunger & Thirst is here in Lancaster to satisfy your cravings. Their beer menu features 24 unique and rare craft beers, and is curated by their team of brew enthusiast. Their food selection is created to match their on-trend beer selection, and is as beautiful as it is delicious. For a great grab-and-go selection, their bottle shop is stocked with 400 varieties from across the globe.

 

Lancaster, PA Harvest Guide

Here in Lancaster County, we take fresh produce seriously. With rich soil and acre after acre of farmland, farmers offer their plentiful bounties at farm stands and local markets, while chefs are taking advantage of the freshest offerings to add to their seasonally-changing menus. It’s truly a beautiful thing when passionate growers share their hard work with the community that embraces their craft with open arms (and market baskets).

Want to find tomatoes and strawberries at their peak? Not sure what seasonal eats to pick up during the winter? Our harvest guide is here to help you find and celebrate each month’s harvest. So as you pass the fields and farm stands, be sure to keep your eyes out for these fruits and vegetables, picked at the peak of freshness just waiting to be enjoyed.

January/February: Celery

Even in the chilly months, there’s something growing in Lancaster County. For the beginning months of the year, we’re celebrating celery. This veggie is great for snacking, in soups and stews, and in salads. Stop by Sweethearts of Lancaster stand inside Lancaster Central Market for some crisp celery, plus recipe ideas and tips from some celery experts!

March: Mushrooms

Since mushrooms can be grown indoors, they’re another ideal cold weather crop. Pennsylvania has great soil for these fungi. Iron Hill Brewery in Lancaster highlights the mushroom with their Kennett Square mushroom soup, named for the town of Kennett Square in neighboring Chester County that is known for producing this crop.

April: Asparagus

Have you ever seen how asparagus grow? It’s quite the sight to see! The stalks grow right out of the ground, just waiting to be cut and roasted. Be sure to pick some up at one of our Farmers Markets to serve with your spring dinner.

May: Rhubarb

This tart fruit (well, technically vegetable) is spring’s prize crop. Rhubarb is often paired with sweeter fruits like strawberries or made into jam with plenty of sugar. Kitchen Kettle Village celebrates the Rhubarb harvest with a two-day festival, with plenty to tasty treats, activities, and the world’s only rhubarb race-car derby.

June: Strawberries

June brings juicy, red strawberries to the fields and farm stands across Lancaster, PA. Strawberries are actually the first fruit to ripen each year. For the chance to wander the fields and pick your own, visit Brook Lawn Farm Market and Shenk’s Berry Farm – but be sure to call first to check availability and picking times.

July: Tomatoes + Corn

For July, we couldn’t pick just one! The corn and tomatoes harvested this month are both super tasty, and can be found at the majority of roadside stands and farmers markets.

Tomatoes can be found in all shapes, sizes, and colors – from the bright red, small cherry tomatoes to the bumpy purple heirlooms. Each summer, Washington Boro holds the Annual Tomato Festival, full of tasty tomato dishes and family-friendly activities, typically taking place in mid-July.

What has hundreds of ears, but cannot hear? A corn field! Corny jokes aside, late July brings ears upon ears of sweet, juicy corn from the fields and to the farm stands. As many locals will tell you, the place to go for great deals is the Corn Wagon in Millersville, PA. The corn fields even make for an exciting family activity as mazes are carved through the fields, like the maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm.

August: Watermelon

When the August heat sets in in Lancaster, PA, nothing is more refreshing than a slice of ripe watermelon. Watermelons are perfect for picking and savoring this month. If slicing such a melon seems like a daunting task, Lancaster Online’s article has step-by-step instructions on cutting watermelon “sticks” for cleaner eating as well.

September: Apples

Toward the end of September in Lancaster, fall is in the air – and there are plenty of apples just waiting to be picked. Orchards around the county grow a variety for baking, saucing and snacking, and can guide you to the apples that will fit your taste and purpose. Orchards like Cherry Hill Orchard in Lancaster and Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown even offer hayrides for added family fun.

October: Pumpkins

October is prime pumpkin picking time here in Lancaster County. Pumpkins and gourds are waiting to be turned into jack-o-lanterns or pies, and both varieties can be found in our fields or at a road side stand, like Fisher’s Festivals. If you want to search for the perfect pumpkin, check out one of the fantastic pick-your-own farms and explore the patch for yourself.

November: Kale

Hail to kale in November! Bundles of this leafy green are harvested in the fall to be cooked or used as a festive fall decoration. Craving a savory kale salad? According to Yelp, eaters love the kale salads at Checker’s Bistro and Luca.

December: Beets

You can’t beat the beets in December in Lancaster, PA. Root vegetables, like beets, are a common winter harvest as they get plucked from the freezing ground. If you’re in search of the perfect jar of pickled beets, head to Kitchen Kettle Village’s Jam & Relish Kitchen. They also have great recipes to jazz up their traditional canned variety.  

Forbes names Lancaster, PA as one of the “10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018”

Looking for a hip city to explore this summer or even for a weekend during the spring or fall? Why not pick Lancaster – who was just named as one of Forbes’ “10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018.”

What makes Lancaster so cool?

Tucked amongst the beautiful, iconic Amish farmland, Downtown Lancaster has a food scene that’s on the rise. Venture beyond the PA Dutch food for out-of-this-world Italian cuisine and wood-fire pizza at Luca – where Chef Taylor Mason combines the old-world charm and flavors of distant Italy with the ultra-local ingredients grown right here in Lancaster.

Be sure to make reservations ahead of time – the more popular dining times go fast!

Lancaster’s architecture is a big part of the charm. Passionate Lancastrians are transforming old warehouses and buildings to create new spaces for eating, drinking and entertainment. Thistle Finch Distillery and The Fridge are doing just that. Located in the former Walter Schnader Tobacco Warehouse, Thistle Finch is bringing of distilling to Downtown Lancaster, creating rye whiskey, white rye, gin, and vodka – then serving the spirits up in artfully crafted cocktails.

More of a craft beer enthusiast? The Fridge is a cozy bottle shop with an impressive selection of hard-to-find craft, micro, imported and local beer, located right behind the Lancaster Arts Hotel. Pair your beer with a slice of their flatbread pizza (because few things go better together), and cozy up by their fire or enjoy their outdoor space – depending on the weather.

Our vibrant art and theatre scene also adds to the coolness of Lancaster – with a plethora of live performances and galleries to tap into your artsy side. If you find yourself in Lancaster on the first Friday of the month, enjoy the extended gallery and boutique hours, and special performances and exhibits as you get swept up Gallery Row’s creative energy on First Friday.

Live theatre lovers will adore the historic, stunning Fulton Theatre – not just for its broadway-calibur shows, but also for its ornate architecture and rich history. The theater is full of character and stories, much like the shows that take place on its stage.

Outside the wide-array of offerings in Downtown Lancaster, families can experience life on the farm, breathing in the fresh air and even petting lovable animals. Find your way through the corn maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and watch the Strasburg Rail Road train chug by. You’ll love the fresh air and relaxing pace, while your kids will love all the hands-on, farm-centric activities – win win!

And that’s just the beginning – get info on Lancaster’s latest and coolest by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter, and stay in the know.

Resource: Abel, Ann, “The 10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018,” Forbes

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