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About Lancaster, PA
One of the country’s oldest inland towns, Lancaster, in south-central Pennsylvania, is a city with a homely, downtown feel. This is probably because it is bordered on the east by the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch community, a rolling farmland area home to Amish, Mennonite and German Baptists (Brethren), amongst other religious orders, all of whom believe in low-tech, simple living. But the city, also, has a cool, hip vibe, largely seen in its rich arts scene. Choose one of our best places to stay in Lancaster and you can explore both sides of this welcoming city.
The city’s attractive downtown area is a good place to explore its arts scene. Demuth Museum showcases the work of Charles Demuth in the house and studio in which he worked. In Gallery Row, off Prince Street, you’ll find over 20 galleries while further along Prince Street, you’ll find a clutch of performing arts venues, including the historic Fulton Theatre. Prince Street is also the place to be for First Friday - a monthly celebration with open galleries and street entertainments. Nearby North Queen Street is the place to browse for retro, antique and collectibles shops, as well as more art galleries and a glass studio.
Lancaster Central Market is America’s oldest continually operating farmers’ market and reflects the city’s rich surrounding farmland. As do the restaurants; dishes to look out for include beef jerky, home-made sausages, egg-in-the-nest and the sweetly sticky shoofly pie.
If you’re interested in history, drop in to the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society; small but charming with a good display of glass and woodwork. More ambitious is the Landis Valley Museum, an open-air museum which recreates an 18th-century, largely Mennonite, village with costumed staff demonstrating crafts such as tin-smithing.
You can even take a horse-drawn buggy-ride around the local countryside and farms with Amish, Mennonite or Brethren followers as drivers. It’s a beautiful countryside of rolling hills, lush pastures and crop fields, dotted with windmills, and often more horses and buggies than cars on the roads.
Although it’s generally a slow-paced area, one place you won’t want to miss if you’re on a family trip, is Dutch Wonderland, whose 30-plus rides in 44 acres include rollercoasters, water-slides, children’s shows and fairytale castles.
For a taste of authentic, rural America, with a 21st-century arty buzz, check out our best places to stay in Lancaster.
For a downtown location
- With its exposed brick walls, open rafters and industrial paraphernalia, the Cork Factory Hotel combines original features with a cool, boutique feel. The restaurant offers typical Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, and the hotel is in a prime position for exploring the city’s downtown area.
- As the name implies, the Lancaster Arts Hotel, a former warehouse-turned-boutique-hotel, has a gallery showcasing local artists' work. Bedrooms combine original features of exposed brick and wooden beams with contemporary furnishings.
Best rural hotels close to Lancaster
- On the edge of town, King’s Cottage B&B has a perfect location for enjoying both the town’s cultural offerings and a peaceful retreat. The eight rooms, lavishly decorated in country-house style, spoil with rich furnishings, antiques and fireplaces.
- Cool, elegantly furnished rooms with views over the Amish countryside, make up the aptly named Amish View Inn & Suites. There’s a pool, gym and games room, and children under 12 stay for free.
- Foodies will make a beeline for The Inn at Leola Village, a very grown-up retreat offering antique-furnished rooms, deep-pile carpets, some rooms with four-poster beds, open rafters or fireplaces - and a choice of two Italian-style restaurants. There’s a spa, plus outdoor pool set in lovely gardens; the perfect retreat.
For more choices, browse our list of the best places to stay in Lancaster. Nothing here that suits? Expand your search to include all our Pennsylvania recommendations, or contact a friendly guru for advice.
Best Hotels in Lancaster, PA
Cork Factory Hotel 77 rooms from $135Lancaster, PA (Pennsylvania)
19th Century red brick cork factory now boutique hotel in Downtown Lancaster. Rooms feature original industrial elements with contemporary decor and bathrooms. Cork & Cap offers Pennsylvania Dutch dishes and The Baker's Table has a range of savory and sweet snacks. Location if perfect for town.Cooking classes - Chocolate lovers should definitely visit Hersheypark Chocolate World & ZOO America.Local markets - Central Market in Downtown Lancaster.Sights nearby - Longwood Gardens is beautiful.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.
King's Cottage B&B 8 rooms from $175Lancaster, PA (Lancaster)
A charming, comfortable, and beautiful B&B. Nestled between the tranquil Amish Countryside, and the buzzing energy of Lancaster, this B&B is ideal for both a relaxing retreat and a city break. Elegant and luxurious guest-rooms feature four-poster beds, cozy fireplaces, and traditional furnishings.Great walks - See the raw beauty of the surrounding countryside - rolling farmland, Amish roadside stands, Dairy farms (many tours available)Local markets - Lancaster Central Market, Green Dragon, Roots Country Market, or one of the many antique marketsSights nearby - Visit one of the many museums, markets, shops, or vineyards - all nearbyRomantic - Good for couples.
Lancaster Arts Hotel 63 rooms from $210Lancaster, PA (Pennsylvania)
Red brick warehouse come art-loving boutique hotel, featuring works from local artists throughout the property. Chic rooms are contemporary in style with spoiling Egyptian linens and designer soaps. John J. Jeffries Restaurant champions local farmers and organic produce.Sights nearby - The Lancster Museum of Art.Full of character