Posted: 12/01/2020 | by Maria

Easy Road Trips in and Near Lancaster, PA

As part of your planning during this time, please call or check the website & social media of these properties for their most current operational information.

Looking to hit the road this fall? Lancaster County has something for everyone and is a short drive from big cities like Philadelphia (1-hour); Baltimore, Maryland (1.5-hours); and New York City (less than 3-hours).

Most people are initially drawn to our area for the picturesque countryside. We have more than 2,700 miles of winding country roads in Lancaster County that connect our small towns and villages with their inviting main streets and charming boutique shops and art galleries. You can lose yourself along these back roads for hours exploring the Pinterest-worthy farmlands, covered bridges and PA Amish life.

Here are three of our great destinations within Lancaster:

Lancaster Central Market:

Designated as a market town back in 1730, the Lancaster Central Market is the oldest, continuously running public farmers’ market in the country and a nutrient-rich place to grab a fresh lunch.

The Amish Village:

Explore an authentic Amish farmhouse, built in 1840, and tour our 12-acre Amish Village, including a barn, schoolhouse, and blacksmith shop.

Strasburg Rail Road:

Whether you’re looking for an authentic steam train ride or just looking to hitch a ride with Thomas and his friends, the Strasburg Rail Road is a much loved experience and the oldest continuously operating railroad in the western hemisphere.

Once here, you’ll want to save some time to visit nearby towns in neighboring counties. Here are some destinations to consider on your trip:

Gettysburg, PA

Best known for its role as the turning point in the Civil War, the Gettysburg National Battlefield is now a popular destination among visitors, particularly history buffs who come to venture out on the Battlefield with a licensed guide. The Gettysburg National Military Park is often the first stop, as it includes the Battlefield, interactive exhibits at The Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center and Gettysburg National Cemetery. A memorial at the Cemetery marks the site of Abraham Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address. Timed tickets are also available to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Pickett’s Charge in the iconic Cyclorama, the largest oil-on-canvas painting in North America. The experience depicts a three-dimensional view, complete with realistic features, like broken fences and shattered trees.

Those seeking less history talk and more flair, will enjoy downtown Gettysburg and its many boutique shops and restaurants. There’s also a Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail dotting the countryside that includes two of the area's newest wineries, five orchard markets with seasonal fruit, and a Christmas Tree farm. Another must-see: Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium in Orrtanna. Mr. Ed has more than 12,000 pachyderm figurines, circus souvenirs, and more; plus 900 different types of candy, 100 flavors of homemade fudge and, of course, fresh roasted jumbo peanuts.

Harrisburg, PA

Nestled on the Susquehanna River is Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg has undergone a revitalization in recent years largely due to a citywide mural project and mural fest that brings international artists together to paint a series of walls in a short period of time. As a result, Harrisburg is growing in artist colonies and makes for a great place to wander outdoors and see larger-than-life works of art. For a fun afternoon, visit the Sprocket Mural Works website to see photos, addresses, and a map of the murals, then set out on city streets to find them. While you’re looking for art, make time to visit the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building – it’s said to be the most beautiful in the nation. Its centerpiece is a 52 million-pound dome inspired by Michelangelo's design for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The National Civil War Museum is a great way to wrap up your time within city limits. It's the only museum in the U.S. that portrays the whole story of the Civil War and houses single largest collections of Civil War colors in the nation. Just outside of Harrisburg adventure seekers can tour Echo Dell & Indian Echo Caverns, beautiful and historic limestone caves dating back 400 million years.

Hershey, PA

Just east of Pennsylvania’s state capital of Harrisburg is Hershey. The town marks the spot where Milton S. Hershey built his renowned chocolate company. And yes, without a doubt, Hersheypark is the most popular attraction. It features more than a dozen roller coasters and hours of family fun. On the opposite side of the park is Hershey’s Chocolate World, where you can take a simulated tour of the Hershey’s chocolate factory and learn how chocolate is made. For a more of a hands-on experience, reserve a paid ticket to create your own candy bar, where you’ll get to choose your ingredients and design your own wrapper. Set atop a hill overlooking Hersheypark, you’ll find a 23-acre botanical garden and arboretum with one of the few indoor butterfly gardens across the country. Nearby, Hersheypark Stadium still serves as the home to the Hershey Bears ice hockey team, the longest-existing member of the American Hockey League since 1938. Those into vintage cars won’t want to miss the AACA Museum.

York, PA

If you’re looking to mix sightseeing and hiking, York should be atop your list. You’ll want to head to the ADA-accessible Heritage Rail Trail County Park, which extends more than 21-miles. The park winds through scenic areas of southern York County and connects York’s historic district with Maryland’s Northern Central Rail Trail, while traveling through 11 different municipalities – all adjacent to an active rail line. Along the path, you’ll pass various historic milestones, like Howard Tunnel (second oldest active rail tunnel in the U.S.), four Railroad Bridges, New Freedom Train Station, and Hanover Junction Train Station, as listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another must-see, is the Nixon Park Nature Center, about 5 miles south of York city. This 187-acre park is set aside for wildlife and education and only allows foot traffic. The property offers six-miles of loop marked trails with a combination of habitats and topography.

The York County History Center is a great resource on other historic spots worth visiting, like the Victorian-era Bonham House, the Agricultural and Industrial Museum, and the Colonial Complex, which includes a mid-1700s home, a courthouse and the Golden Plough Tavern, among others. York also has a unique National Watch and Clock Museum, though it’s temporarily closed due to the pandemic. If you’d rather travel regionally than take a trip back in time, make sure to get your free Good Libations Trails® Map & Passport. The passport lists over three dozen members of the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail® -- everything from family owned vineyards to historic breweries to Prohibition-era distilleries.

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