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From amusement park thrills to historical attractions, Lancaster is a captivating destination that will appeal to the entire family. You can sample local delicacies at the Central Market or Lancaster Brewing Company before touring the iconic Amish Farm and House, and wrap up your day with entertainment at the Fulton Theatre. Read on to discover some of the best things to do in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
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Visit the action-packed Dutch Wonderland
A mecca of fun for both kids and kids at heart, Dutch Wonderland is one of the most family-friendly attractions in Lancaster. If you’re looking for a day of thrills, explore the park’s collection of fun-filled rides that cater to families with small kids, from the Choo Choo Charlie train ride to a Sky Fighter adventure. Nicknamed a “Kingdom for Kids”, the park is designed for families with its live shows, family rides and Duke’s Lagoon, an oasis of water fun with tropical-themed attractions and water slides.
Shop for treasures at Lancaster Central Market
If you’re looking to gain insight into the local culture, make sure to take a stroll around the Lancaster Central Market. The oldest farmers’ market in the United States, it takes place in a 120-year-old brick building. You’ll find local cheeses, Pennsylvania Dutch Sausage and authentic scrapple, which is breakfast meat comprised of pork scraps and cornmeal. Chowchow is another local favorite, offering a mix of pickled vegetables marinated in mustard, while you can’t leave without sample one or more of the popular whoopie pie offerings.
Take a guided tour of The Amish Farm and House
A must-see on any trip to Lancaster, visit The Amish Farm and House for a unique, firsthand look at Amish life. This historic landmark is over 200 years ago and was the first Amish tourist attraction in the country that has been operating tours for the last 60 years. You can take a 90-minute Countryside Tour to get an up-close look at the Amish community and their lifestyle, exploring schoolhouses, buggies, barns and historic homesteads. You can also do a 45-minute guided tour of the Farmhouse and Farm, where you’ll get to explore the 15-acre farm and participate in animal feeding.
Catch a show at American Music Theatre
Featuring a packed calendar of live events, visit the American Music Theatre for a memorable night out. You’ll find an array of entertainment options to pick from, as this is the only theatre in America that has both original shows as well as touring artists. The 1,600-seat theatre hosts all kinds of shows, from rock and pop music artists to comedy club performances and Broadway shows. There are more than 300 live concerts and performances each year, welcoming Grammy, CMA, Tony and Oscar winners to their stage.
Take a step back in time at Landis Valley Museum
A living history village and farm, Landis Valley Museum collects, preserves and interprets the history of the Pennsylvania German rural community from 1740 to 1940. Open since 1925, it welcomes visitors to experience the 18th and 19th-century village and farm life in Lancaster County, offering an extensive educational experience and a full calendar of events. Admire the largest collection of Pennsylvania German artifacts in the United States, visit the farm animals, and get a unique first-person interpretation of Pennsylvania German life.
Spark your curiosity at North Museum of Nature and Science
A perfect outing for the entire family, the North Museum of Nature and Science features permanent exhibitions where you can get hands-on learning experiences. It is home to a wide collection of birds and fossils, and an impressive SciDome Theater that will take you on a tour of the galaxy. Let your inner scientist come out and play, as the informal learning environment sparks excitement and curiosity with visitors of all ages. Meet the baby T-Rex, crawl into the giant indoor tree, or watch a live honeybee hive at work.
Watch a musical at Fulton Theatre
Considered a national landmark, Fulton Theatre is the oldest continuously operating theatre in the country. You’ll find rotating main stage productions as well as one-hour family-oriented musicals, producing Broadway caliber musicals, comedies and dramas in a historic building with Victorian architecture and ornate mid-19th-century grandeur. They also offer backstage tours, where inquisitive visitors can get a peek at how the staff of artists create the productions today and learn about Fulton’s rich history.
Explore the historic Wheatland
Once the beloved home and retreat of President James Buchanan for 20 years, Wheatland also served as his presidential campaign headquarters in 1857 and gave his first campaign address to townspeople gathered on the front lawn. You can take a tour of this iconic piece of history, and admire its interpretive exhibits that display personal artifacts and rare political memorabilia. Guides will lead visitors through the Federal style mansion and its restored rooms, offering insight into Buchanan’s everyday life.
Sample unique flavors at Lancaster Brewing Company
Perfect for a night out without the kids, head to Lancaster Brewing Company to taste the original brews of Lancaster. A salute to the region’s past brewing history, here you can sample unique flavors like the Double Chocolate Milk Stout, where its intense roasted malts, subtle sweetness and infusion of cacao nibs and pure chocolate will give your taste buds a kick. Pair the brewery’s consistently great beer with a side of seasonal cuisine, from the housemade sausage to the locally made cheeses and fresh dough.
Experience the hands-on exhibits at Lancaster Science Factory
A hands-on, interactive learning center, Lancaster Science Factory offers a place for young kids to explore their creativity and learn the principles of science and technology. Kids will delight at the over 65 highly interactive exhibits to choose from, with workstations and mini-labs set up to make learning science fun. Designed for visitors to touch, try out, and experiment, exhibits cover topics ranging from Light and Vision to Electricity and Magnetism and Puzzles and Brain Teasers.
Catch a dinner and show at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Located in the heart of the Amish country, the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre pairs over 30 years of top quality productions with award-winning food and exceptional service. Its 328-seat theatre offers an intimate experience, with shows ranging from classic musicals to contemporary hits with performers from New York, Phoenix, South Carolina and Chicago. The professionally choreographed shows offer a sophisticated charm with a live orchestra, creating a memorable experience for all.