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Ten Must-Take Tours in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

While visiting Lancaster, whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth time, tours are an excellent way to experience the culture, history, sights and food while learning from passionate local experts. Some involve walking around Downtown Lancaster or a small town like Lititz, while others take you around the county by bus, bike, scooter, or even helicopter.

We’ve gathered ten must-take tours that will leave you with a wealth of Lancaster knowledge, and in some cases, a full stomach. Pick a tour (or two) to add to your trip, and get some insider information with tips from the tour guides to make the most of your experience.

Intercourse Bikeworks Tours
Experience Lancaster’s countryside by bike with the many tours offered by Intercourse Bikeworks. Fresh air will fill your lungs as you peddle along, listening to the wealth of knowledge the guides are waiting to share. For an extra taste of Lancaster culture, book one of their tours that include an Amish dinner, dairy farm tour, or even a beer tasting.

Tip from the Tour Guide: Leave your worries at home! No need to worry about the hills and speed of the ride. The tour is designed to be an experience, not exercise. The pace is slow to allow people to look around and take pictures. They also offer electric-assist bikes if the hills are intimidating.

Photo (above) credit: Intercourse Bikeworks

Photo credit: Amish Farm & House

Amish Farm and House Countryside Tours
Take the backroads to get a glimpse into Lancaster County life with the Amish Farm and House Countryside Bus Tours. This 90-minute bus tour weaves through the farmland, takes riders to a tucked-away covered bridge, and passes Amish schoolhouses, buggies, barns, homes, and farmland vistas, all while sharing stories and facts about the Amish way of life.

Tip from the Tour Guide: Have your camera at the ready, but keep in mind that it’s considered impolite to take photos of the Amish where their faces are recognizable. Refraining from taking up close photos is more than just a courtesy; it’s a respect for our Amish neighbors and their beliefs.

Historic Lancaster Walking Tours
This tour takes you for a stroll back in time around Downtown Lancaster. As you walk, the knowledgeable tour guides tell stories about Lancaster’s rich history as one of the oldest inland cities in the United States. You’ll get a taste of the diverse architecture and cultures that helped build Lancaster to what it is today.

Tip from the Tour Guide: Be sure to stop, listen to the stories, and look up at the examples of American architecture from the 1700s to today that Lancaster, PA has to offer.

 

Lancaster County Food Tours
Foodies visiting Lancaster will love the tours offered by Lancaster County Food Tours. Eat your way around Downtown Lancaster or the small town of Lititz with a variety of tours featuring the Lancaster County classic (i.e. pretzels, whoopie pies, and Wilbur chocolate) and some unexpected treats (locally made wine & beer and fine dining delights). Great food is just the tip of the iceberg – the guides also share stories and history as the tour moves from stop to stop.

Tip from the Tour Guide: Be prepared to chat, make friends, and ask questions. Tours are more fun when the entire group gets involved. And of course – arrive hungry!

Ghost Tours of Lancaster
If you’re looking for a tour of a spookier sort, discover mysteries and tales from the past on a candlelight walking tour of the city with Ghost Tours of Lancaster. You won’t have to wait until Halloween to discover the city’s haunted history – tours are held year-round.

Tip from the Tour Guide: Don’t forget your camera – you never know when the spirits will be restless!

Photo credit: Smoketown Helicopters

Smoketown Helicopters Tour
See Lancaster from new heights by helicopter! Smoketown Helicopters offers tours from an 8-minute tour flying over the Strasburg Rail Road to a 50-minute tour that flies to neighboring Hershey and Harrisburg, with a variety of times and sights in between. These high-flying flights showcase the beautiful farmland and popular attractions you’ll want to visit after you land.

Tip from the Tour Guide: Consider taking this tour at the beginning of your trip. Flying over the local area can give you ideas of other things to do while in Lancaster County. Also, make sure to have your camera or phone charged and ready to go. Taking photos is highly encouraged.

Kreider Farm Tour
What would a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania be without a farm tour? Kreider Farms offer tours of the working dairy farm on their classic trolley bus. After getting a look into their “Cow Palace” and “Milking Merry-Go-Round,” tour takers can climb the silo observation tower for priceless, birds-eye views of the countryside.

Tip from the Tour Guide: This tour is extremely kid-friendly, with a new playground area and cow milking simulator – so bring the family!

Strasburg Scooter Tours
Scoot along the backroads for a one-of-a-kind experience in Lancaster’s countryside. Strasburg Scooters takes riders over the creeks and through the woods and fields to discover covered bridges and farms. Not only will you learn to drive a scooter or scoot coupe (no special license required), but you’ll also learn lots about Amish life, farming and the history behind the covered bridges you’ll visit.

Tip from a Tour Guide: Dress for the weather at 25+ mph! While driving, there will be a constant breeze, in addition to the weather conditions. Hot summer days have a nice breeze to them, and cool fall days will feel a bit crisper. Dress in layers on cool days. Under Armour makes a great base layer to protect against the cold.

Origins of the Underground Railroad
Discover the sites and stories of Lancaster County’s role in the Underground Railroad and African-American Heritage as you journey back to the Civil War. In addition to their Downtown walking tour, guides are available to venture outside Lancaster City on board a motorcoach or person vehicle.

Tips from the Tour Guide: Be ready to learn! Past tour-takers have been surprised by the events and people they knew nothing about prior to taking this tour.

Photo credit: Himalayan Curry & Grill

Taste the World
International cuisine is plentiful in Lancaster City, and what better way to experience it than with a food tour. Taste the World is held on the second Friday of each month, May through October, with a new theme each month. During this self-guided dining experience, restaurants provide a bite for participating foodies to try, from signature dishes (May tour) to dishes that highlight meat (September tour).

Tip from a Tour Guide: Since this is a self-guided tour, it’s best to map out your route before you start. Some suggest going to the furthest restaurant first, then working your way back. Give yourself enough time to enjoy the experience and sights around the city.

 

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.

October in Lancaster Travel Guide: Halloween & Harvest

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are beginning to fall, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re starting to see pumpkins and fall wreaths made of burlap pop up in our towns, and the farmers getting ready to harvest out in the fields. Our children are animatedly choosing their Halloween costumes and talking about the fall treats we’ll bake. However you plan to celebrate fall, October is the perfect month full of activities and events that you’ll enjoy whether your preference is Halloween or harvest.

Check out our October Travel Guide below:

Halloween

  1. Howl at the Moon
    Pack your blanket, hotdogs, and marshmallows for the bonfire, and learn about the wolves that live in Lititz during the Full Moon Tour at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.
  2. Lancaster’s Haunted History 
    This is no hocus-pocus – you’ll hear authentic ghost stories told at the actual sites of the hauntings. These walking ghost tours take place nightly in October.
  3. Enjoy Spook-tacular Family Fun
    Put on your costumes, pack up the mini-van and head on over to Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings where you’ll see Duke the Dragon in his Halloween best. Don’t forget to trick-or-treat with the dinosaurs!
  4. Take an Eerie Three-Wheeled Tour
    Take a hauntingly fun tour of the back roads by scooter withStrasburg Scooter’s Spooky Scoot. Available October 13-14, 20-21, & 27-28. Rider’s tip: pack warm gloves and a scarf.
  5. Award-winning, Spine-tingling Chills
    When it comes to terrifying thrills, visit USA Today’s Best Extreme Haunted Attraction Field of Screams is the place to be. You can also visit the haunted hayride, attractions, and houses at Jason’s Woods.

Harvest

  1. Annual Harvest Breakfast
    Kick off the harvest season at Lancaster Central Market with everyone’s favorite Harvest Breakfast, featuring farm-to-table food, live entertainment, and family fun.
  2. Pick the Perfect Pumpkin
    Head to one of our many fields to pick the perfect carving pumpkin, and enjoy apple cider and hayrides. If you’re not in to carving pumpkins, perhaps you can head to an apple orchard and bring home some fresh apples to douse in caramel for the perfect fall snack.
  3. Fall ArtWalk
    Immerse yourself in Downtown Lancaster’s art scene at Fall ArtWalk. This self-guided tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 7-8.
  4. Head Outdoors with a drive, a Hike or Bike Ride.
    Grab your favorite pumpkin flavored hot beverage from one of our local coffee shops, and then head out to get lost on our winding backroads and experience the beauty of fall.
  5. Fall Fairs & Festivals
    Explore traditional fall on the farm with Fall Farm Days at Amish Farm & House or Harvest Days at Landis Valley Museum. Try some local brews with Stoudt’s Oktoberfest events, or if you’d rather go back in time, dress up in your best medieval garb and visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. And don’t miss our full list of our County Fairs and Farm Shows.

Scooting around Lancaster’s Back Roads

On a beautiful fall day, the Discover Lancaster team took to the back roads of southern Lancaster County, not by car, buggy or bus, but by scooter! We met at Strasburg Scooters for a unique adventure, and were excited to see the fall foliage, covered bridges and farmland from a new perspective.

After a safety lesson and a few practice laps around the block, our group set off for our three-hour Covered Bridge tour, ready for the sights that were waiting to be discovered. Our scooters buzzed as we made our way up and down rolling hills. The foliage glowed in the warm sun. The wind, especially as we made our way through open roads, made for a chilly ride, but the experience made braving the cold worth it.

As we buzzed towards our first stop, we were guided around the curves and wooded back roads, dotted with beautiful fall-colored trees. Our guide signaled our first stop at a covered bridge, where we got off our scooters for a history lesson and a photo opportunity. After warming our hands and observing the architecture of the bridge, we hit the road again, headed towards our next two stops, a vista then an Amish farm.

Our guide knew the backgrounds well, and our caravan was greeted by Amish children at each schoolhouse we passed. When they heard the scooters coming around the bend or over the hill, they ran to the fence, greeted our guide and scrambled to collect the candy he tossed to them.

We pulled in to the Amish farm house and had the opportunity to tour their barn, meet the horses and learn more about Amish lifestyle and tradition. It was a great chance to learn more about the Amish, before hitting the road for our last stop.

Our final stop before heading back to base was another covered bridge, slightly narrower than the first, with more history to learn about. After snapping a few group photos to commemorate our adventure, we followed our trusty guide back to the starting point.

While our ride was quite cold, we were thrilled by journey we took around the county. If you’re looking to see the farmlands and the less traveled back roads, check out Strasburg Scooters. During the summer, they host a variety of tours including the Covered Bridge Tour, Date Night Tour, Bridge and Beer Tour, Amish Country Mystery Tour and more. Their fall tours include a Spooky Scoot, while winter features Scootin’ with Santa.

Tips:
– Be sure to check the weather and dress accordingly. We anticipated cooler weather and dressed in layers plus brought hats and gloves and even hand warmers! If you warm up along the way, there is space in the seat area of the scooter to store extra layers.
– Have your camera or phone charged and ready. Historic bridges and beautiful views await, and you’ll want to be sure to capture them when you stop to enjoy.
– Ask questions! The Strasburg Scooter guides have a wealth of knowledge about the bridges, Amish farm life, and the county itself, and are happy to share information along the way.
– If you don’t feel comfortable driving a single seat scooter, opt for a Scoot Coupe which look like small convertibles. They have three wheels for extra stability, and seat two people.

Ten Things to Do in November in Lancaster

November embraces fall fun in Lancaster, but also marks to beginning of the holiday celebration. Whether you’re ready to get into the holiday spirit or are still holding on to the excitement of fall, there are plenty of events for you this month in Lancaster!

Gifts Galore:

Start your holiday shopping or find the perfect memento of your visit.

If pottery is what you please, Eldreth Pottery’s 29th Annual Christmas Open House, November 11 through 13, is the event for you. Featuring a great selection of handmade pottery and unique items, this is a wonderful opportunity to find gifts for loved ones or even an addition to your own home décor.

The Artisan Fair at Spooky Nook Sports builds on the tradition of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsman, and features crafts and fine art from 80 local and national fine artists and craftspeople. November 12 and 13, the artists gather under one roof to display functional pottery, handmade jewelry, designer clothing, glass art, and more!

For one-of-a-kind Christmas items from local artists and craftspeople, be sure to visit Landis Valley Museum Store’s Holiday Open House on November 19 and 20. Browse items including Belsnickels, ornaments, Pennsylvania German paper stars, books, and more! Visitors can also learn how to make paper stars or punch a tin ornament.

Give Thanks:

Before sitting down to a delicious and filling Thanksgiving meal, take a spin around the county on a scooter or scoot coupe with Strasburg Scooters. Their Thanksgiving Day Tour takes place at 9:00 AM, and is a great way to experience the country side before a hearty family supper.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with family over a delicious meal in Lititz. At the General Sutter Inn, guests can enjoy either the Thanksgiving Buffet or Ala Carte menu featuring turkey, beef and seafood in Inn’s elegant dining room. Call ahead to guarantee your place at the table.

Enjoy a comforting meal with family without the hassle and dirty dishes. Lancaster DoubleTree’s Thanksgiving Feast features carved beef and ham, turkey, seafood, traditional sides, and scrumptious desserts. Reservations are required, so be sure to call ahead!

A Dash of Holiday Spirit:

The holiday season is right around the corner, and many theaters begin their winter-themed shows this month. From musicals to heartwarming holiday cheer, you’re sure to leave the theater humming a tune and ready for snow.

American Music Theatre presents The 2016 Christmas Show: Winter Wonderland, November 7 through December 31, for a feel-good holiday event that celebrates music, magic, and the meaning of Christmas.

A hilarious look at family tradition, holiday expectations, and the real meaning of Christmas, Our Christmas Dinner shines on the Bird-in-Hand Stage from November 11 to December 31.

Holly Jolly Christmas lights up the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre stage, November 17 through December 31, featuring dancing, holiday favorites, and a visit from the big guy in red!

Rainbow’s Comedy Playhouse presents Green Holly & Gray Potatoes, a Christmas comedy filled with family antics, now through December 28.

So whether you’re enjoying the final moments and events of fall or getting in the holiday spirit, there’s plenty to do in Lancaster. For a complete list of events, visit our complete online events calendar.

Ten Things to do in Lancaster County this October

From spooky to sweet, fall fun is in full swing this October in Lancaster, PA. Fall foliage is also at it’s peak, making this season an especially beautiful one across the sprawling farmlands and by the river. Get ready for some festive fun and start planning with our round-up of to-dos.

Fall on the Farm

Farmers are hard at work as crops become ready for harvest. Experience the activities of this season at two of Lancaster’s heritage attractions.

Harvest Days at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum showcase fall with demonstrations, exhibits, live music and horse-drawn wagon rides, October 8-9. Watch as a harvest gem, the humble apple, gets transformed into apple butter, and treat yourself to a cider float with fresh-churned ice cream.

In addition to their classic 1805 Amish farmhouse, Amish Farm and House offers family-fun harvest activities including pumpkin painting, a corn maze, hay wagon rides, and more during their Fall Farm Days. From October 7 through 10, families can learn about Amish life while they enjoy demonstrations, from woodcarving to applesauce making.

Treats over Tricks

Those who prefer treats to tricks will love these events around the county and beyond. Get your costumes ready, it’s time for trick-or-treat fun.

Trick-or-Treat through vintage vehicles at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum’s Trunk-or-Treat event, October 22. Children 12 and under will receive treats at stops around the museum, and guests of all ages can enjoy a Halloween-themed video in the indoor Drive-in theater.

Treats will be plentiful at Turkey Hill Experience during their Trick-or-Treat event, October 22-23 and 29-30. There will be 13 stops around the Experience – 6 are free while others do require paid admission. While you’re there, discover all the ice cream and tea-themed fun Turkey Hill Experience has to offer.

Dutch Wonderland transforms into a spook-tacular, family-friendly wonderland for three weekends, October 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30. Happy Hauntings is a safe, non-scary event featuring themed ride, games, and even the opportunity to trick-or-treat with over 20 lifelike dinosaurs on Exploration Island.

Spine-Chilling To-Dos

For a tour of the spooky side of Lancaster County, hop on a scooter with Strasburg Scooters! Their Spooky Scoot tour will give you the chance to buzz around the back roads and experience folklore and hair-raising stops.

If you’re looking for a tour of a spookier sort, discover the mysteries and tales from the past on a candlelight walking tour of Downtown with The Ghost Tour of Lancaster. Ghost Tours are also available in Strasburg for more haunted history.

Select Thursdays and Fridays in October, Rock Ford Plantation dives into the eerie story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with Spooky Hollow: The Legend Comes to Rock Ford. Guests can follow the characters of the classic play as they move from room to room in the historic mansion that will be transformed into the story’s autumn ball setting.

Unique Happenings

Victorian meets industrial at Strasburg Rail Road® with their Steampunk unLimited event, October 14-16. The three-day festival features entertainment, fashion, vendors, sideshows, food and more, all celebrating the steampunk culture. While you’re there, enjoy the restored Victorian rail cars and historic charm of America’s oldest short line railroad.

For the art lovers, Fall ArtWalk will take place in Downtown Lancaster October 8 through 9. Explore Lancaster’s gallery scene with this self-guided walking tour, featuring meet-the-artist events, special activities, demonstrations and more.

 

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