Posted: 06/15/2023

Historic Places to Visit in Lancaster, PA

Explore Lancaster County's history and heritage.

A three-floor brick mansion with white detailing, columns, and a grand staircase that belonged to James Buchanan.

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 first 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. On the same property, explore Lancaster's history with permanent and rotating exhibits, a research center, and more at LancasterHistory.

Historic Rock Ford
881 Rockford Road, Lancaster
Historic Rock Ford was the home of Edward Hand who was Adjutant General to George Washington during the American Revolution. Situated on 33 acres and located just outside of Lancaster City, Historic Rock Ford offers guided tours of the circa 1794 Hand Mansion as well as the opportunity to visit the newly opened John J. Snyder, Jr. Gallery of Early Lancaster County Decorative Arts housed on the 2nd floor of the reconstructed 18th century bank barn.

Fulton Theatre
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.

LoKal Experiences
LoKal Experiences offer various tours of Lancaster County, including a Lancaster History and Craft Beer Walk tour! Walk through Lancaster City's historic sites and hear stories, view art, and more before heading to get some beer and learn the how Lancaster is tied to beer and the 19th century German influence!

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.

Lancaster Medical Heritage Museum has a mission to preserve and protect our rich medical heritage with special attention given to Lancaster County. The museum strives to do this through education, exhibition, and research in a fun and accessible way.

Christiana Historical Society is a free, publicly accessible historical site tracing the steps of those involved in the Underground Railroad, located at the Zercher’s hotel

1719 Museum
1849 Hans Herr Drive, Willow Street
Built by the Herr family in 1719, the 1719 Museum 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.

Ephrata Cloister
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.

Demuth Museum
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.

Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home
443 W Newport Rd, Ronks
Nestled in the heart of a thriving Amish community in eastern Lancaster County. Visitors to the site, which features a remarkably preserved water-powered grain mill, step back in time to learn about milling history along the banks of scenic Mill Creek. The adjacent 1855 miller's house, home to three generations of Resslers, is a clear window to early 20th century housekeeping and family life.

Stevens and Smith Historic Site
45 S Queen St, Lancaster *closed for development*
The Stevens and Smith Historic Site is currently under development, it plans to feature a visitor center and a museum to show the history of Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Smith as well as the related history of the Underground Railroad. While this location is closed, pieces to be featured can be seen inside the Lancaster Convention Center.

Winters Heritage House Museum
47 E High St, Elizabethtown
The Winters Heritage House Museum is dedicated to preserving two of the earliest structures in Elizabethtown. Within the buildings you'll find information about Elizabethtown's history as well as the history of those who lived here.

Johannes Mueller House and Lititz Museum
145 E Main St, Lititz
Visit the Lititz Museum, housed in the Christian Schropp home of 1793, to learn about the Moravian society of Lititz. Right nextdoor is the Johannes Mueller House from 1792 where guided tours are given to allow people to explore what life was like in the 18th century.

For more ideas on historic places to visit check out our Lancaster County heritage page, participate in a historic walking tour, or visit one of our many museums around the county.

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For an authentic immersion in early Pennsylvania German life (1740-1940), visit Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum.

From history to hands on, we’ve got you covered.

group of friends eating at restaurant

Enjoy a taste of history at one of these long-standing and historic dining establishments.

While you're exploring the great outdoors in Lancaster County, check out some of the county’s rich history too!


Fulton Theatre

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1719 Museum

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Demuth Museum

Demuth Museum

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