A hub of art, culture, shopping and dining, historic downtown Lancaster is a vibrant city packed with activities for locals and visitors alike – the heart of Lancaster County’s creative side. The city is situated in the center of Lancaster County, and its seven square miles are packed with art, museums, historical attractions, restaurants and cafes, theatres, shops and boutiques. Strolling the city’s streets is the best way to experience its flavor. You’ll find the impressive work of local artists at dozens of galleries, such as those along Prince Street, affectionately dubbed “Gallery Row.” In fact, meet the artists during the “First Fridays” of the month, when many galleries extend their hours and host special receptions. The 300 block of North Queen Street, a restored shopping district, is home to a quirky, eclectic selection of antique stores, retro and collectible shops, glass studios and casual cafes. Art can also be found on many downtown buildings via a variety of hand-painted murals; check them out on the Downtown Lancaster Murals Trail.
The unique historical landmarks of Central Market and Fulton Theater promise special experiences for visitors. Central Market, the country’s oldest continuously-operating farmers’ market, offers fresh produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, flowers, craft and much more. Likewise, Fulton Theater is the oldest continuously-operating theater in the country and one of only three national historic landmark theaters. Museums and historical attractions run the gamut in downtown Lancaster and offer a taste of local culture, art, science and the stories that shaped Lancaster’s past. See a sample of cultural spots at right.
It’s quite evident that downtown Lancaster’s charm is rooted in rich history. Established in 1730, the city began as a trading post in the wilderness, which also served as a frontier checkpoint for pioneers. During the 1800s, the city developed into an industrial powerhouse, feuled by accessible railroad transportation and the title of the second-largest tobacco seed leaf market in the United States. As a convenient location for east-west travel, Lancaster City served as Pennsylvania’s capital from 1799-1812 and at one time was considered for the nation’s capital. Today, it still maintains hundreds of historical landmarks, which contribute to it being the largest National Historic Register District in the country.
It’s all here in Lancaster County, from theme parks and theatres to buggy rides and breweries to golf, museums and taste-tempting tours. Add in all the great dining, shopping, events and outdoor recreation, and the days (and nights) get filled with fun pretty quickly. But save some time for what makes Lancaster County unique,the warmth, color and charm of our farmland communities, where a simpler way of life means a world of simple pleasures to share. Stay a while so you can experience it all. With a whole host of affordable lodging options and vacation packages, we make it easy for you to enjoy a bit of everything that Pennsylvania Dutch Country has to offer.
Lancaster County is home to America’s oldest Amish settlement, where thousands still live a centuries-old “Plain” lifestyle. It’s a place where visitors can step back in time to enjoy a slower, more peaceful pace – where the horse & buggy remains a primary form of transportation, and where windmills dot the landscape, providing a nature-harnessed power source. A vital part of Lancaster County, the Amish are involved in agriculture and an array of cottage industries. Many Amish-themed attractions, events, foods and crafts are available for your education and enjoyment.