There’s a lot for families to love about booking it to the boonies. If you’re looking for a picture-perfect getaway that’s sure to score a home run with your clan, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, deserves a spot on your short list. In 2016, the New York Post dubbed Lancaster City “the new Brooklyn,” for its top-notch eats, cool boutiques, and happening arts scene.
Beyond the citified vibe of downtown, the rest of Lancaster County lives life in the slow lane, with miles of rolling hills, rich farmland, and down-to-earth Amish culture. A 2016 report by nearby Elizabethtown College’s Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies reveals that the county is home to the second largest Amish group in the U.S. That means whether you’re traveling by car, train, or horse-drawn buggy, you won’t run out of sights to see, things to do, and memories to make in Lancaster County.
Down on the Farm
Farming is Lancaster County’s bread and butter, so farm tours and other types of country fun are big here. At Amish Village, you can take guided tours of a farmhouse, one-room schoolhouse, and even a barn full of cute critters. Book a 90-minute bus tour along country roads to see real working Amish farms and bone up on Amish culture. Don’t forget to score some classic Pennsylvania Dutch treats, like whoopie pies and apple butter, at the onsite market.
The Amish Farm and House has the low down on the cool culture and history of the Old Order Amish. Tour the 1805 farmhouse and 15-acre farm, complete with a blacksmith shop, original tobacco shed, windmill, waterwheel, and 19th-century stone barn with goats, sheep, pigs, and other four-legged friends. Or grab the kids and hop on a buggy ride or bus tour of the back roads.
Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum is a living history village and farm that gives you a close look at life in the area’s farms and villages going back centuries. The museum store is packed with crafts and artwork made by locals, as well as heirloom seeds for planting at home. Be sure to visit the Hands-On House Children’s Museum next door for more fun stuff to do and play for your tiny tots.
Sightseeing, Lancaster County Style
The Strasburg Rail Road gives your pack a peek at Central Pennsylvania’s gorgeous scenery from seats aboard working steam locomotives decked out in real Victorian style. Learn the history of the railroad and more about the land during the 45-minute trip. Don’t miss the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania across the street for cool antique trains and railway relics. Buy a discounted combo pass for both attractions to get the best deal.
To really soak in the scenic route, book an Amish horse-and-buggy tour. The laid-back trip gives an up-close-and-personal look at the area’s countryside and puts you in the type of sweet, slow ride that the local Amish still use to travel.
Pennsylvania Dutch Dining
The nation’s oldest farmers market brings together old and new under one roof in Lancaster City. Open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Lancaster Central Market is the go-to shopping, supping, and meeting place for Lancaster folks. Find local eats, like Pennsylvania Dutch meats and cheeses, soft pretzels, pickles, and baked goods, or grab a ready-made meal, coffee, handmade candies, and all types of fresh local fruits and veggies.
A trip to Lancaster County isn’t a done deal without digging into some homemade Pennsylvania Dutch dishes, like chicken pot pie, chow chow, brown-butter noodles, fried chicken, and shoofly pie. Belly up to one of the area’s many family-style eateries and smorgasbords, including Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant, Shady Maple Smorgasbord, and Plain and Fancy Farm Restaurant. At Plain and Fancy, you can also book a room, buggy ride, or farm tour, or chow down on some smoked meat goodness at its brand new Smokehouse BBQ restaurant.
Amish country is wholesome as oatmeal and a great place for you and your crew to chill out. Wherever your Dollar car rental takes you, tag us in all your best Amish country photos on Instagram.