Best known as “Amish Country,” Lancaster, Pennsylvania is surrounded by bountiful fields and farmland, making it a perfect getaway for foodies looking to sample hearty Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine and the best soft pretzels anywhere. To learn how these iconic snacks are made, check out the Lancaster pretzel tour!
Lancaster’s historic downtown has perfectly preserved 18th and 19th century architecture including the home of Civil War statesman Thaddeus Stevens and the bustling Lancaster Central Market, the oldest, continuously running public farm market in the country. Prepare to leave with bags of fresh produce, baked goods, candies, dried fruits and nuts.
Work off those calories at Lancaster County Central Park’s 13 miles of interconnected multi-use trails (if it’s winter, bring your snowshoes!). Or take a walk through the historic downtown to enjoy the 18th and 19th century architecture. These buildings are well-preserved, and the streets are organized in an easy-to-navigate grid of squares and parks.
Hop back into the car to explore the rolling hills surrounding the city. As you head east toward the towns of Strasburg and Bird in Hand, expect to encounter the traditional lifestyle of the Pennsylvania Amish and perhaps pass through several covered bridges along the way.
For panoramic views of the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, hop aboard the Strasburg Rail Road, or try a horse-drawn Amish buggy for a ride up and down the narrow country roads. Lancaster has a wide range of lodging options from the posh Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, quirky Caboose Hotel, the rustic Heritage Hotel, and every kids’ choice – the world’s first Cartoon Network Hotel. The kids will love visiting Dutch Wonderland right next door!
Local artists and craftspersons are known for selling their high quality handiwork at shops around town. The Amish, in particular, are celebrated for building handcrafted, solid-wood furniture, mostly Mission-style and always of heirloom quality. The Amish bakers also make a divine confection made of molasses, cinnamon, brown sugar and a soft graham cracker crust called Shoo-Fly Pie. I brought home a few gooey slices from Dutch Haven.
So head over to visit Lancaster PA when you need a getaway with a variety of interesting activities and delicious food. While there are Covid restrictions are in place, some activities and destinations remain open. Check the websites for the specifics. When you travel, I implore you to always use precautions, wear a mask and maintain social distancing to protect yourself and others on any trip you take. ##
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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.