City life, exquisite cuisine, contemporary art, and home of the Amish
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Are you itching to get out of the house and explore new places and spaces, but want to stay close to home? Are you looking for a place to visit that is steeped in tradition but mixed with a modern flair? Then the charming area of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is your place to visit!
Lancaster County is full of amazing historical sites to visit along with trendy upcycle shops and art galleries. From world-famous pretzels and Washington Boro tomatoes to kissing bridges and British roots; you will never run out of exciting things to see in Lancaster County. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a returning friend, we hope this post will provide you with some must-see points of interest to help you build lasting memories with your family.
Let’s dive into what makes the area of Lancaster a must-visit on your road trip!
Named by Forbes.com as 10 Coolest cities to visit in 2018, Lancaster County is located in South Central Pennsylvania, approximately 70 miles west of Philadelphia and 85 miles north of Baltimore. Over 500,000 residents call Lancaster County home in an area of just 984 square miles bordering the beautiful Susquehanna River. Lancaster is home to a booming culinary and art scene plus live theatre* and charming architecture, making this an ideal destination to explore for your next road trip.
A great place to start your tour of Lancaster County would be in the heart of Amish country. This area is home to the Mennonite and Amish religious populations. The Amish have roots dating to the early 18th century, which means they carry some deep-rooted traditions. One of the many reasons a trip to Amish Country is so special are the home-baked bread, cookies, and pies.
Our personal favorite — Amish Apple Fry Pies!
TRAVELER PRO TIP: Please remember during your travels, that the Amish and Mennonite communities do not like having their photos taken due to their religious beliefs. Make sure to visit Discover Lancaster to learn more about local customs. And to find information on local and regional events, places to visit, as well as helpful tour maps.
Once you have your maps and information in hand, make your way to Lancaster Central Market , the oldest continuously running farmers market. This delightfully busy market offers a vast array of fresh produce, cheese, meat, handmade crafts, and homemade baked goods. Central Market is only open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in the mornings so be sure to get an early start.
After leaving the hustle and bustle of the market take a trip down Prince Street. Prince Street is also known as Gallery Row. Here you will find tons of artwork by local artisans to peruse. If you are lucky enough to visit for the first Friday of the month, you will have access to over 90 galleries, meet and greet with local artists, and enjoy special receptions.
Glass blowing: Credit: Quino
North Queen is home to antique stores, as well as glass shops where you can experience the art of glass blowing. Some of the most beautiful and colorful outdoor murals are painted on many of the buildings downtown.
Bird-In-Hand is another must-stop on your road trip through Amish Country. This quaint town dates back to the 1700s and was a meeting place and convenient rest stop for travelers.
Today, you will discover a Farmers Market, charming shops with one of a kind handcrafted items, and restaurants serving Pennsylvania Dutch delicacies such as hand-rolled Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels.
Bird-In-Hand is also a part of the Country Murals Trail. You can even take an Amish buggy ride to visit some of the areas one-room schoolhouses, countryside homes, and beautiful covered bridges.
A must add to your road trip itinerary would be, Schenck’s Mill Covered Bridge – a great vantage point for photography. The single-span burr arch bridge is 102-feet long and was built in 1885. Nothing beats the romance and nostalgia of a covered bridge.
All this exploring is bound to make you hungry, so stop by Immergut Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels in Intercourse. Their menu is mouthwatering, delightfully simple, and incredibly delicious. They feature hand-rolled regular pretzels, specialty pretzels, and pretzel wraps that are all baked to perfection with just the right amount of butter and salt.
Your taste buds will also thank you for making a stop at Kitchen Kettle Village. This village is home to over 40 shops located near the Jam and Relish Kitchen. Here, you will find some of the best locally made fudge, kettle corn, locally-smoked meats, cheeses, ice cream entice, while you shop for quilts, boots, Colonial accents, lighting, kitchen gadgets, and more. Be sure to visit a local favorite — Waltz Tasting Room. They offer great wines produced locally on Lancaster County farmlands. The locals rave about the dry reds!
The town of Lititz is a must-see treasure on your way out of Bird-In-Hand. Lititz is home to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. This bakery was established in 1861 and is the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the country. It is still operated by the Sturgis family and during the 20-minute tour, get a hands-on lesson in pretzel-making, learn about the different varieties, such as traditional hard and thin pretzels, and soft pretzels.
TRAVELER PRO TIP: There is a small fee for the 20-minute tour that includes the hands-on pretzel-making lessons and a sample bag of pretzels to take with you. Experiences like this are what make travel so memorable.
Located between Wilbur & Julius Sturgis is a treasure-trove of shops, restaurants & galleries, all walkable, and collectively the reason that Lititz was voted “Coolest Small Town in America” in 2013. Definitely stop in at Pebbles & Lace, grab lunch at the newest restaurant in town, the Tied House, and save room for dessert at Sugar Whipped Bakery.
After visiting all of these interesting and historical places you will most likely be ready to rest and relax. Nestled among all of these interesting places on your road trip are some of the most beautiful Bed & Breakfasts and Inns in the state. Lancaster County, and the surrounding areas, are home to historic accommodations, and some of our personal favorites, including the Historic Smithton Inn, Carriage Corner Bed & Breakfast, The Artist’s Inn and Gallery, and Old Square Inn.
The Historic Smithton Inn is home to one of the best wine tasting venues in Lancaster County. Weathered Vineyards Ephrata Wine Bar is open to the public and boasts a menu with over 10 varieties of wine to choose from, ranging from sweet to dry. They also have a slushy machine to make delicious frozen wine drinks. Learn more about each as you sip, select your favorite, and take a bottle home with you!
Not a wine drinker? No worries!
Rebecca and Dave offer a variety of craft beers, craft sodas, and mixed drinks made with craft spirits from local distillers that you can enjoy while you unwind in their beautiful courtyard or sunken fire pit.
The Historic Smithton Inn is centrally located near a multitude of attractions in Lancaster County and offers three garden rooms, seven fireplace rooms, three king suites, two pet-friendly rooms, and a Tesla Charging Station.
Guest rooms offer many of the same amenities you would expect from a traditional hotel but unlike chain hotels, the Smithton’s guest rooms have special touches including working fireplaces, top-of-the-line bedding and towels, and brand-new HDTVs with integrated Roku so you can access your favorite streaming services.
After a luxurious night’s rest in one of their beautiful rooms, the amazing aroma of fresh-baked muffins and bread will pull you out of bed. Rebecca and Dave will start you off with fresh fruit, muffins, and coffee. Then they’ll bring out your plated meal, which alternates between sweet and savory dishes.
At the Historic Smithton Inn, you’ll leave with fond memories of well-manicured grounds, hearty home-made breakfast, strolling through their courtyard, and relaxing around their sunken fire pit.
The Carriage Corner Bed & Breakfast is located in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country and owned by Jay and Gaylen Matlock.
Surround by acres and acres of lush farmland, the Carriage Corner Bed & Breakfast is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Lancaster County and makes the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Your hosts, Jay and Gaylen, love to entertain and truly enjoy meeting new people. One of the ways they bring their passion together is during the most important meal of the day, breakfast.
Gaylen loves cooking, and when you are a guest of the Carriage Corner Bed & Breakfast, you’ll enjoy a freshly prepared, home-cooked, gourmet breakfast with locally sourced produce. And yes, it’s complimentary with your accommodations.
TRAVELER PRO TIP: Be sure to ask Jay and Gaylen for recommendations. They pride themselves on helping guests have the best vacation possible. Acting as your tour guide, they’ll advise you on the best places to visit and share some of the hidden gems of Lancaster County that most visitors to the area miss!
After a busy day of exploring, you’ll want to check out the snack station that has a Kuerig, assortment of coffee, tea, cocoa, and their freshly baked homemade cookies. And when you’re done, spend the afternoon relaxing in their gazebo with your favorite book. Or simply sit for a spell on their porch swing and watch your inner child come out.
As the sun sets, you’ll retreat to any of their five, beautifully decorated guest rooms, each with a charming fireplace making it the perfect place to rest. Every guest room offers a comfortable queen size bed with high quality, plush pillow top mattress dressed in crisp bed linens and topped with a beautiful handmade Amish quilt to ensure a good night’s sleep.
As you see, Jay and Gaylen provide a unique blend of hospitality, laughter, and kindness. Their aim is for you to leave relaxed, refreshed, and with expectations for your stay exceeded.
Have you ever wanted to spend the night in an art gallery? Then you’ll love how The Artist’s Inn and Gallery takes the art of relaxation to new heights.
Located just minutes away from the quaint antiquing shops in Adamstown is The Artist’s Inn and Gallery. The most unique (and coolest) feature of this romantic bed and breakfast is the gallery which boasts the whimsical, colored pencil work of the owner, Bruce.
The gallery features playful cow drawings, pig art, and ten books written by Bruce. Topics range from playful cats to the inspirational to several coffee table books.
Each day, Jan and Bruce delight your taste buds with a complimentary, four-course culinary experience. Their breakfast is always prepared from scratch using the best Lancaster County produce and herbs from Jan’s extensive herb garden that produces an array of edible flowers in season.
Breakfast consists of fresh-baked pastry including scones, bread, turnovers, or muffins and may include such house specialties as vegetable roulade, oatmeal souffle, strawberry crepes, turkey and apple sausage, sweet potato streusel, and hazelnut raspberry brownies. They are known for their desserts at breakfast. Yes, that’s your mouth watering right now!
After breakfast, relax on the porch as you watch horse-drawn buggies pass by. Or take a stroll through their pastel-colored flower gardens that surround the inn, some of which attract butterflies. What makes this garden even more special is that most plants came from neighbors. This might be why the garden is appropriately named “community garden” thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends throughout Lancaster.
There are three beautiful guest rooms. The Garden Suite offers a romantic jacuzzi tub, king bed, cozy fireplaces, relaxing massage shower, and a private porch and entrance. The Rose Room Suite features hand-painted walls cascading with roses, a king bed, and is complemented by century-old furnishings. The fireplace helps to create the perfect romantic atmosphere. The Kris Kringle room is decorated in French antiques, Waverly fabrics of forest green and cranberry, a child’s sleigh from 1850, and Kris’s favorite things, including paintings of Christmas. And of course, it has its own fireplace.
TRAVELER PRO TIP: If you’re planning a trip with the entire family, they even have accommodations in the Sister House, perfect for family reunions and girlfriend getaways. Each side, The Stella and Sophie, features three bedrooms, two baths, a well-stocked kitchen, and a sunroom. There’s even an outdoor porch and grill. All guests enjoy the fire pit and patio.
For over 30 years, guests have come from all over to experience the unique charm and décor of the Olde Square Inn. Built as a private home by Howard J. Longenecker in 1917, the inn has been lovingly restored for your comfort and joy, the perfect escape to enjoy some much-needed time away.
Now nicknamed the “mini-mansion”, the building still retains its distinctive architectural features including original doors, thick moldings and columns, built-in cabinets, and even a butler’s call station in the kitchen.
To make the inn warm and inviting for guests, owner Nancy has created beautiful spaces. This helps guests feel like they are entering a whole new world of surprises, comfort, and joy.
When you are ready to start your day, indulge in their delicious, three-course, home-made breakfast in the dining room or the charming side porch (warm weather permitting). If you’re lucky, you’ll even hear the clip-clop of a horse and buggy moving down Main Street in the early morning.
After breakfast, step away from the Inn and you’ll find many things to do in this charming town. As a long-time Lancaster County resident, Nancy has a wide knowledge of the best things to see and do in the area and is passionate about guiding her visitors in making the most of each stay. Whether that includes touring the county, relaxing on the porch, or enjoying dinner at a local restaurant, guests can count on taking home some great memories.
TRAVELER PRO TIP: Walk down Main Street and discover take-home treasures in the shops or grab something delicious at one of our many great restaurants. Be sure to check out our Fourth Friday events: our Chocolate Walk, ArtFest, Car Show, and Blues, Brews, & Barbecue just to name a few.
One of our favorite things about the Olde Square Inn is the sense of being at home. From the moment you step into the common area, you feel welcomed. The common area houses an expansive DVD library where you can pick a movie to watch in the comfort of the room. There is also a snack bar available 24 hours a day with coffee, tea, and other delicious treats.
Nancy has seven beautifully decorated rooms including a handicap accessible Carriage House. Each room has cozy gas fireplaces, double showers, spa tubs for a relaxing bubble bath, and a wine set-up to help you unwind. Make sure you grab complimentary breakfast on the side porch with Nancy in the mornings and listen to the relaxing clip-clop of a horse and buggy moving down the main street.
We hope you come to love this area as much as we do. The beautiful spaces and places of Lancaster County make a great place to road trip to. This is where history meets modern conveniences giving you the option to lose yourself in history or be off the gird at a pace you are comfortable with.
* For live music and theatre programs, please check with your innkeeper for updates on schedules, availability, and closures. Or visit the Lancaster PA Events Calendar for more details.
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This is the first in a series of travel articles written by Raul Vega, Co-Founder and Allison Miller, Copywriter at MyFavoriteInn.com®.
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