Discover Lancaster County: What to do in Pennsylvania, Amish-Style

Sharing is caring!

Imagine the perfect fall day in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It will have rolling hills, fall foliage and the occasional horse and buggy. It is a beautiful area of the nation and one you should visit at least once in your life. This is ‘the simple life’, richly and proudly grounded in the Amish culture, and this excursion is all about discovering a culture within a culture and many charming people.

Where is Lancaster County, PA?

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Visit a farm and spend the day with the Amish in Lancaster County
Lancaster County Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Lancaster County is located in South Central Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River, approximately 70 miles west of Philadelphia.  It is an area of just 984 square miles,with over 500,000 residents. Many people are curious about what to see in Lancaster County or, more specifically, about the life of the Amish in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Spend a few days learning more about this unique American culture.

What is Lancaster County, PA known for?

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Visit a farm and spend the day with the Amish in Lancaster County
Amish Plowing Field Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is known for the Amish settlements that have been around since the early 18th century. In the 18th century, traditionalist Anabaptist Christian communities, with Swiss-German and Alsatian roots, arrived in Pennsylvania in search of religious freedom. The Amish and Mennonites settled here as part of William Penn’s “holy experiment” of religious tolerance.  Living a simple life without the use of cars, technology and electricity.

What to do in Pennsylvania Dutch Country?

Once room school house Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster
Once room school house Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of urban life and visit the country. The recent global pandemic has made many re-think the importance of buying local, getting out in nature and slowing down. Consider a few days in Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country. There are a variety of learning experiences available in Lancaster County. From schoolhouse visits to full farm life tours. Right down from our The Inn at Kitchen Kettle Village (check out the video review), we found information on the Amish Experience in Bird-in-Hand.

Kitchen Kettle Village

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Visit Kitchen Kettle Village for quilts, jams and relishes, olive oil, planters or great food.
Kitchen Kettle Village Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

A modern take on a traditional community, Kitchen Kettle Village brings together traditional hobbies (quilting, jam-making, artisanal art) in a walkable, family-friendly ‘village’. From a hearty breakfast the The Harvest Cafe to elaborate handmade Amish quilts to fun fashion and jewellery offerings Kitchen Kettle Village has over 40 shops filled with quality goods.

Amish Life

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Visit The Amish Village for an immersive experience.
The Amish Village Photo Credit Brian Evans courtesy of DiscoverLancaster

Located in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country Amish Village in Strasburg (interpretive attractions), The Amish Village offers an authentic look at today’s Amish lifestyle. Located on 12 scenic acres of land, The Amish Village lets visitors enjoy a genuine Amish property and experience Amish culture up close. Offering three value-driven Amish Tour experiences, including the Amish Farmhouse and Village Tour, Backroads Bus Tour, and the most value for your dollar, the Premium Package Tour.

Buggy Rides

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Take a horse and buggy ride in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.
Tours on Horse & Buggy Photo Credit Gabe McMullen courtesy of DiscoverLancaster

Once you hear the sound of the horse’s hooves on the road, you will have to take a ride in the black horse and buggy you see often in this part of the country. Consider an hour-long ride with Aaron &  Jessica’s Amish Buggy Rides in Bird-in-Hand. Experience the Amish way of life on a real working farm. The driver will assist you in getting off your carriage to tour the barn, explain farm equipment, and see cows, chickens, goats and horses. Discover life without electricity and how the Amish remain separate from traditional American society!

Farmers Market

Bird in Hand Farmers Market Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster
Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market Photo Credit: Discover Lancaster

Offering a variety of treats and artisan goods, Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market. Enjoy a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch-style lunch or opt for something more portable, such as a soft pretzel-wrapped hotdog, hand-rolled soft pretzels, fresh-squeezed lemonade, apple cider, made-to-order subs, fried chicken and rows of homemade canned goods. The Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market offers many locally made crafts and quilts, dried and silk flower arrangements, old-fashioned toys, dolls and doll clothes, quality leather goods, t-shirts, and locally themed souvenirs.

Railroad Rides

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Ride a classic steam train.  Whether in first class or coach, this 45 minute return trip in Strasburg, PA will delight you.
Strasburg Railroad Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster

A throwback to a time when steam engines were the main form of transportation. There is no question, do not miss a ride on the Strasburg Railroad (a 45-minute ride to Paradise and back – literally). Directly across the street from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania stop off after your scenic ride through this idyllic countryside. You can see the steam engine and the coach cars leaving the station in this short video.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Photo Credit DowshiftingPRO
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Following the scenic railroad ride, take time to visit the beautiful and historic engines at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. The museum does not just focus on the Pennsylvania Railroad, it is a museum devoted to telling the rich stories of railroading in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including not just the railroads themselves, but also its manufacturers, its support industries, its workers, and its travelers – then and now.

Lancaster City, PA

Gallery Row Downtown Lancaster Photo Credit Discover Lancaster

For more of an urban experience, visit Lancaster City. Filled with charm and modern amenities, you will love the shopping and, more importantly, visit the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the United States. Lancaster Central Market was vibrant and had many interesting choices of food and fresh produce. Be sure and get a soft buttery pretzel, it’s the stand with the long line-up!

Art Galleries & Shopping

Girlfriends trip to Lancaster City Phot Credit Discover Lancaster Gabe McMullen
Downtown Lancaster, PA Photo Credit: DiscoverLancaster

Downtown Lancaster is a walkable and quaint small city with all of the big city amenities. Spend the day exploring the unique shops as you stroll down the historic streets. There are some fun shopping in the funky 300 block of N. Queen St. for unique shops, Check out the 100 block of North Prince Street for a taste of some of our art galleries (these are just a portion of the city’s many art galleries)

Underground Railroad

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Learn about the Underground Railroad
The Christiana Underground Railroad Center – Photo Credit: Discover Lancaster

Visit the Christiana Underground Railroad Center located in the former Zercher Hotel – The Underground Railroad was a loose network of people who worked together to offer shelter and aid to freedom seekers from the American South. People of African descent took the first steps toward self-liberation from enslavement and they found some people in the state of Pennsylvania – both Black and white – willing to help at great personal peril.

Lancaster Central Market

Visit the oldest farmers market building in the US.  One of many things to do in Pennsylvania's Lancaster City.
Lancaster Central Market Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

For more of an urban experience, visit Lancaster City. At the center of the city is Penn Square, filled with charm and modern amenities, enjoy shopping and visit the oldest farmers market building in the US. Lancaster Central Market is vibrant and has exciting food choices and fresh produce.

Come early for the locally grown foods, freshly baked desserts and bread, cheeses, meats, flowers, crafts and always a friendly conversation. Fill your basket and your heart from our treasury of good things. Lancaster Central Market is open year-round on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6 AM to 3 PM.

Wheatland – Presidential Home

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Visit the Presidnetial home of James Buchanan.
Wheatland Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster

Wheatland (home of U.S. Pres. James Buchanan) Beloved home of 15th U.S. President James Buchanan, where period furnishings and personal artifacts tell the story of Buchanan, the president who struggled to calm a divided nation on the brink of civil war. Visitors will tour the 1828 mansion with knowledgeable guides, making it the perfect experience for history buffs and presidential history and home enthusiasts.

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

Julius Sturgis Pretzels Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery Photo Credit: Discover Lancaster

Other possible stops include the charming small town of Lititz. Highlights include great shopping on both Broad and Main Streets. The oldest pretzel bakery in the US is Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, founded in 1861, is the first commercial pretzel bakery in America; and the Sturgis Family is the oldest pretzel baking family in America. Learn how Sturgis’ old-fashioned recipes and methods were established and how they’re still used today!

Ephrata Cloister

What to do in Pennsylvania?  Visit the Epharata Cloister. This was a religous community of Brothers and Sisters in Lancaster County, PA
Ephrata Cloister Photo Credit DiscoverLancaster

Ephrata Cloister is a National Historic Landmark founded in 1732 and a German Religious Community. As a means to prepare to achieve a spiritual union with God at the Second Coming, members of Ephrata Cloister were founded. In a monastic settlement, nearly 80 celibate Brothers and Sisters were housed in impressive Germanic log, stone and half-timbered buildings. At the same time, nearly 200 family members known as Householders, occupied nearby homes and farms.

Other Interesting Places to in the USA

Philadelphia’s Best Kept Secret

Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works Photo Credit Bryan Karl Lathrop 1
Swann Memorial Fountain – Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works — Photo Credit Bryan Karl Lathrop

Route 66 – First Hundred Miles

Visiting museums in the first hundred miles of Route 66 is full of fun quircky adventure.
Route 66 Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Beloit, WI – Small Town, Big Heart

Small dog on the lawn at Harry's Place event Riverside Park in Beloit WI - Photo Credit: Visit Beloit
Harry’s Place at Riverside Park Photo Credit_ Visit Beloit
fe7f0234a78ffafa49a0c9d24d3fb075?s=150&d=mp&r=g
 | Website

Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.