A Trip Back in Time

One of the best ways to learn about the history of Lancaster, PA is to immerse yourself in the stories and places where ordinary people with extraordinary determination changed our nation’s history. Discover the past as you explore the sites where Lancaster grew as one of America's oldest inland cities.

Morning

Rise and shine! It’s time to discover the past. Start your morning in Downtown Lancaster for a visit to America’s oldest continuously operating farmers market, Lancaster Central Market (open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays). While you’re there, grab a bite to eat at one of the many market stands, specializing in locally grown and made goodies.

After you've grabbed coffee and breakfast, discover the history of Downtown Lancaster, one of America's oldest inland cities, at these historical locations and tours. 

Historic Lancaster Walking Tours takes you on a journey back in time, as you walk the city blocks and hear the stories from passionate tour guides. There's a lot to learn as you stroll the beautiful streets, passing a variety of architectural styles along the way. 
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Rock Ford Plantation was the home of General Edward Hand, adjutant general to George Washington. Today, the mansion is beautifully preserved and is open for guided tours, April through October. The grounds and garden can also be explored while you visit. 
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

President James Buchanan's Wheatland is the historic home of America's 15th president, James Buchanan, the only president hailing from Pennsylvania. Find your way through the halls and gardens of this stunning Federal-style mansion with a guided tour. While you're there, stop by Lancaster's hub of history, LancasterHistory.org's exhibition hall, that's filled with photos, objects, and archieves. 
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

The Demuth Museum captures the life of artist Charles Demuth. Tour his studio and the gardens where he found inspiration, and enjoy the 50 original works created by the artist, along with the notable rotating exhibits. 
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Afternoon

After a morning of exploring Downtown Lancaster's history, it's time to grab something to eat. Consider one of these options for a casual, tasty bite before heading out of the city for more history: Rachel's Cafe and Creperie (made-to-order crepes and coffee drinks), Annie Bailey's Irish Public House (Irish pub fare, salads, sandwiches, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday), or Prince Street Cafe (wraps, sandwiches, soup, and salads plus coffee drinks and pasteries). 

Beyond Downtown Lancaster, there is even more history to learn about. Venture out to Ephrata, Lititz, or Christiana to learn about early settlers and Lancaster County's ties to the Underground Railroad. 

Ephrata Cloister began as a monatic settlement, founded in the 1700s. With a visit to the cloister, you'll learn about the unique way of life observed by the settlers as you tour the original buildings, and learn more about the amazing architecture, art, and music created there. 
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Landis Valley Village Farm & Museum is a living history village that highlights Pennsylvania German life from 1740 to 1940. Venture through the historic buildings, visit with resident animals, and learn from costumed guides as they demonstration what life was like from back in the day. 
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Christiana Underground Railroad Center allows visitors to step back in time to discover Lancaster County's part in the Underground Railroad. This self-guided museum highlights the people and events that impacted American history. 
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Lititz Historical Foundation Museum highlights the town's early years as it was settled by Moravians in the 1700s through artifacts, exhibits and the historical homes of notible cititzens of the town. To learn even more about the Moravians, walk to the nearby Lititz Moravian Church Square Archives & Museum for a self-guided tour. 
Estimated Time: 90 minutes to 2 hours for both locations

Evening

Interested in the spookier side of Lancaster? Plan to take the Ghost Tour of Lancaster for stories that are a little more spine-tingling and mysterious. Tours kick off at 8:00 PM, making for a great way to cap off a day of history. 

A good night's rest will be much needed after a day of going back in time. Extend the journey into the past with a stay in one of Lancaster's historical lodging options, featuring amazing amentities and dinner options close by. 

1777 Americana Bed & Breakfast gives guests the chance to stay in a beautifully restored colonial home that dates back to 1777. To unwind before a restful sleep, stop by Black Forest Brewery, serving tavern-style ales and bar bites, located on the same property as the Bed & Breakfast. 

General Sutter Inn in Lititz combines contemporary and classic with its newly renovated rooms. This inn, named after gold-prospector John Augustus Sutter, also houses an elegent dining room and patio for dinner and Pennsylvania's Best Beer Bar, Bulls Head Public House, for tasty British-inspired pub fare and an expertly currated beer list. 

Cameron Estate Inn & Restaurant offers a little more seclusion on 15 acres in Mount Joy. Featuring original architectural elements along with modern comforts, this 1805 Federal-style mansion offers beautifully decorated guest rooms and a fine dining restaurant with picturesque views. 

Featured in this Trip Idea

632 West Main Street, Ephrata, PA 17522

(717) 733-6600

One of America's earliest communal societies, best known for its original art and music and distinctive medieval Germanic architecture.

Small Towns & Northern Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Small Towns & Northern Countryside explore the region

14 East Main Street, Lititz, PA 17543

(717) 626-2115

Named after the gold-prospector, John Augustus Sutter, who lived across the street from this more than 200 year old Inn.

Small Towns & Northern Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Small Towns & Northern Countryside explore the region

5 W. King Street, Lancaster, PA 17603

(717) 687-6687

Discover the other side of Pennsylvania Dutch Country on candlelight walking tours in historic Lancaster City.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

230 North President Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17603

(717) 392-4633

The historic house museum of the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, the only bachelor president and only one from Pennsylvania.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

120 East King Street, Lancaster, PA 17602-2832

(717) 299-9940

Six rotating exhibitions and tours of the restored 1700s home and painting studio of Lancaster's most famous resident and world-famous artist, Charles Demuth.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

881 Rockford Road, Lancaster, PA 17602

(717) 392-7223

The historic 18th century home of General Edward Hand remains an authentic example of refined country living.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

2451 Kissel Hill Road, Lancaster, PA 17601

(717) 569-0401

Largest Pennsylvania Dutch Living History Farm & Village in the country, interpreting Pennsylvania German Heritage from 1740-1940, including tours and traditional craft demonstrations.

Small Towns & Northern Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Small Towns & Northern Countryside explore the region

23 North Market Street, Lancaster, PA 17603

(717) 735-6890

Welcome to a real historic treat, Lancaster Central Market. A farmers' market since the 1730's.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

38 Penn Square, Lancaster, PA 17603

(717) 392-1776

A rewarding, invigorating experience the whole family will enjoy with things you can only see on foot and things you can only see downtown.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

1855 Mansion Lane, Mount Joy, PA 17552

(717) 492-0111

Inn secluded on 15 acres of private lawn and woods. Seventeen guestrooms and suites offer private baths and fireplaces. Complimentary breakfast in our onsite fine dining restaurant. Convenient to Lancaster, Hershey, Harrisburg & York!

Small Towns & Northern Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Small Towns & Northern Countryside explore the region

Historic Zerchers Hotel, 11 Green Street, Christiana, PA 17509

(610) 593-5171

This self-guided museum will allow you to trace the steps leading up to and following the Resistance at Christiana, also know as the Christiana Riot.

Amish & PA Dutch Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Amish & PA Dutch Countryside explore the region

15 North Prince Street, Lancaster, PA 17603

(717) 397-1505

Food. Friends. Coffee. The Arts. A downtown gourmet coffee shop - a place to linger, a rest for body, mind and soul.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

28 - 30 East King Street, Lancaster, PA 17602

(717) 393-4000

A traditional Irish pub right in the heart of Downtown Lancaster.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region

8 Church Square, Lititz, PA 17543

(717) 626-8515

Follow the Star to Historic Lititz Moravian Church Square.

Small Towns & Northern Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Small Towns & Northern Countryside explore the region

301 West Main Street, Ephrata, PA 17522

(717) 721-9268

A unique Lancaster County lodging experience.

Small Towns & Northern Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Small Towns & Northern Countryside explore the region

137 - 145 East Main Street, Lititz, PA 17543

(717) 627-4636

The Lititz Historical Foundation, including the Lititz Museum and the Johannes Mueller House, serves to preserve the Lititz community's rich history.

Small Towns & Northern Countryside region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Small Towns & Northern Countryside explore the region

230 North President Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17603

717-392-4633

Our recently expanded facility offers an extensive research library and archives specializing in Lancaster County History and genealogy. Come see our galleries showcasing objects from our collections.

Downtown Lancaster region of Lancaster County Pennsylvania

Downtown Lancaster explore the region