Things to Love about Lancaster - for Visitors and Day-Trippers

Things to Love about Lancaster - for Visitors and Day-Trippers

Seems we finished renovating the downstairs in this old place not a moment too soon! Our dear long-time friends, Rob & Kathy, sent an email saying they’re coming to Lancaster (from Philly) for meetings on Friday and could they come and visit us? ABSOLUTELY!! We’ve invited them to stay overnight. (Don’t worry – we managed to get one 3rd floor bedroom (mostly) renovated last week. So they’ll have a decent place to lay their heads. Stay tuned for before/after renovation pics later!)

With that little detail “handled”, the next question was which Lancaster treasures to show them while they’re here. The list of possibilities is long, and their visit, alas, will be brief. So today’s post is my own “short list” of must-see/must-do in Lancaster city. Not rated or ranked – just a few things I’d want to do in a day in the city, if I were only a visitor here . . .

1. Start with a hearty, inexpensive breakfast where the locals meet & eat. We like both Onion’s Café (340 North Queen St) and The Red Rose (101 East King St).

2. Then, suitably nourished, visit the Quilt Museum and the Heritage Museum for a primer on Lancaster’s rich history from the 1700’s to today. Feast your eyes on the vibrant colors and intricate designs of over 3500 quilts and textiles, many of them antiques handcrafted by Amish women through the centuries. Both museums are just a few steps away from Central Market. The Quilt Museum, on Market Street, is housed in a cool old Beaux Arts building that used to be a bank. The Heritage Museum spans two buildings on Penn Square – Lancaster’s old City Hall and a former Masonic Lodge, both circa 1790’s. While you’re at the Heritage Center, pick up a street map for an afternoon walk around the city.

3. Next, stroll through Central Market and assemble a picnic lunch. With great ethnic food stands, plenty of fresh fruit & veg, baked goods galore, and drink choices like smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, locally roasted coffee and dozens of flavored teas, what’s not to love? Penn Square, just outside Central Market, offers places to sit, eat and watch the wondrously diverse parade of Lancastrians – from black and bonnet-clad Amish families to people, young and old, from the more than 65 different nationalities represented in the city school district.

4. Walk off that lunch while exploring three centuries of architectural styles in this “Colonial town that became a Victorian city.” Lancaster even served as our nation’s capital for one day back in 1777 when the Continental Congress met here after escaping British troops in Philadelphia, before heading to York. The city boasts 50 individual National Register of Historic Places properties and the entire city was designated the “Lancaster City Historic District” in 2001, one of the largest National Register districts in the country, boasting almost 14,000 historic resources. Talk about treasure! Note: be sure to look UP at all of the gorgeous arches, ballustrades, cornices, facades, friezes, modillions, parapets, and transoms. (don’t you just LOVE architectural words?! These are courtesy of the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County)

5. After all that walking, enjoy an authentic hand-crafted ale or lager (or two) at Lancaster Brewing Company. Choices include Rumspringa Golden Bock, Amish Four Grain, Doppelbock, Hop Hog IPA and, my personal favorite, Strawberry Wheat. Beer brewing in Lancaster has a rich and colorful history, from the back rooms of local inns in the 1700’s to underground (literally) brewing operations during Prohibition. LBC’s Brewmaster, Bill Moore, is committed to top quality brewing and operates according to the historic German law called Reinheitsgebot, using only malt, hops, yeast and water to prepare LBC beers. They offer a great dinner menu ranging from starters, soups and salads to burgers, pizza and a range of entrees that blend familiar dishes with unique touches. Examples: Brewery Meatloaf – their signature recipe topped with portabella mushrooms and Milk Stout demi glace. Or how about the Pretzel Chicken – sourdough pretzel encrusted chicken breast finished with a cracked mustard and cheddar cheese fondue. Personally, I’d take their two Jumbo Lump Crabcakes with roasted red pepper and sweet corn remoulade, and a side of red bliss mashed potatoes. Mmmmm….

6. Cap off the day with a show at the Fulton Theatre. This gorgeously renovated National Historic Landmark (opened in 1852 and “built on the foundation of Lancaster’s pre-Revolutionary jail”) is “considered to be the nation’s oldest continuously operating theatre” according to their website. We’ve seen half a dozen plays, musicals and concerts at the Fulton over the past several years and have been awed at the superb quality of every performance. The Fulton delivers top drawer entertainment in a gorgeous, intimate setting!

7. After the show, a late night dessert and coffee amid the lively ambience of the Prince Street Café (shown in the photo above, with the Fulton Theatre marquee reflected in the windows) would be an extra-special treat. (note: Bruce took this awesome photo!)

And there it is – a full day’s sampling of some of Lancaster’s finest treasures. (Rob & Kathy – you’ll have to stay longer next time!)

If just one day in the Red Rose City isn’t long enough, you can get the scoop on everything that’s happening here in the way of arts, culture and entertainment through:
Fig Lancaster or the
Mayors Office Of Special Events (MOOSE)

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa

Next: More Buried Treasure

Previous: Living Room - before and after