Historic Places to Visit in Lancaster, PA
Step back in time as you take to the streets and backroads of Lancaster, PA. Our county is rich with history and has many unique places where you can experience its impact hands-on. Whether you prefer early American heritage, arts and culture, or religious history we have it all here in Lancaster. Be sure to add one or more of these stops into your itinerary to truly immerse yourself in the past, and learn how it helped develop the Lancaster of the present.
President James Buchanan’s Wheatland
230 North President Avenue, Lancaster
Although he is currently rated the worst president in history, James Buchanan is the only president from Pennsylvania. Guests can tour Wheatland, which was his beloved home and retreat for 20 years. It also served as the Democratic headquarters during the 1856 presidential campaign.
Rock Ford Plantation
881 Rockford Road, Lancaster
This gorgeous, Georgian style brick mansion belongs to General Edward Hand, adjunct general to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Located on the banks of the Conestoga River, this historic house allows visitors to walk through the rooms home to see the period correct architecture, decor, and artifacts from the late eighteenth-century.
12 North Prince Street, Lancaster
Built on the foundation of Lancaster’s pre-Revolutionary jail, the Fulton Theatre dates back to 1852. It is often referred to as the “Grand Old Lady of Prince Street,” and has gone through many changes over the years—serving as an opera house and movie house, in addition to being a live theatre stage. The interior has been restored to its original Victorian elegance and it is one of the oldest continuously operating theatres in the nation.
Lancaster Central Market
23 North Market Street, Lancaster
Speaking of old, Lancaster Central Market is the oldest continuously operated public farmers market in the country, dating back to 1730. Since that time, farmers and local residents have been bringing meats, cheeses, vegetables, and many other tasty treats to sell at this location— same as they continue to do today. Many of today’s stands have been “on market” since the early 1900s.
Hans Herr House
1849 Hans Herr Drive, Willow
Street Built by the Herr family in 1719, the Hans Herr House is the oldest structure and Mennonite meeting house in Lancaster County. It is actually the only remaining dwelling of the very first group of settlers in the area. It is a pristine example of medieval Germanic architecture and early colonial history. Also on the grounds are a Susquehannock longhouse replica which offers one of the few interactive outdoor exhibits of Native American life in Pennsylvania.
632 West Main Street, Ephrata
Founded in 1732, the Ephrata Cloister was a German religious community. Upon visiting the grounds guests can explore the various buildings of the community an learn about their unique way of life. During the American Revolution the Ephrata Cloister served as a hospital for nearly 260 American soldiers.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
219 East Main Street, Lititz
Did you know that America's first commercial pretzel bakery is located in Lancaster County? The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz dates back to 1861. Visitors can tour the original nineteenth-century pretzel bakery and get a hands-on lesson in pretzel twisting. Plus, learn the history of pretzel making in the United States.
Strasburg Rail Road
301 Gap Road, Route 741, Strasburg
Strasburg Rail Road is America’s oldest short-line railroad dating back to circa 1832! This is the perfect place for train lovers to visit, both young and old alike. Guests can ride along and take in the beautiful scenery of the PA Dutch countryside, choosing to sit in the coach, first-class, open air, or the dining cars. Also be sure to explore the station and restored and refurbished steam engines.
Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
2451 Kissel Hill Road, Lancaster
Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum is a living history museum interpreting Pennsylvania German Life from 1740-1940. It has over 40 historic structures on 100 acres of land. While you visit costumed guides explain PA German traditions and folklore, and skilled artisans demonstrate traditional crafts and open hearth cooking. Groups can also take horse-drawn wagon rides around the property.
Wright’s Ferry Mansion
38 South Second Street, Columbia
Built in 1738, Wright’s Ferry Mansion is a wonderful example of English Quaker elegance and simplicity. The mansion houses provide a wonderful collection of Philadelphia furniture, English ceramics, needlework, metals and glass all made prior to 1750. The home reflects the sophisticated tastes and interests of its original owner, Susanna Wright. This home is open for tours May through October- Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Robert Fulton Birthplace
1932 Robert Fulton Highway, Quarryville
Inventor of the steamboat, Robert Fulton lived right here in Lancaster, PA. Visitors can explore Fulton’s restored and furnished house as well as see exhibits chronicling his life and accomplishments. Adjacent to the house is a beautiful garden with historic paintings. Guests can tour the house Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Cornwall Iron Furnace
94 Rexmont Road, Cornwall
Working from 1742 to 1883, the Cornwall Iron Furnace is one of the world’s best preserved nineteenth-century charcoal ironmaking facilities. Serving primarily as a producer of pig iron products, the Cornwall Furnace cast cannons for the American Revolution. After visiting the furnace, be sure to walk around the beautiful grounds and property.
120 East King Street, Lancaster
Located in the restored home and painting studio of American modernist artist Charles Demuth, the Museum showcases a permanent collection consisting of 50 Charles Demuth original works. Visitors can experience the environment where Demuth created his more that 1,000 watercolors, drawings and architectural oils. Inside his studio you can look out the very window that inspired a number of his artworks.