Posted: 10/23/2023

Outdoor Adventure Meets History in Lancaster County, PA

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

Down by the River

The Susquehanna River is a fantastic spot for kayaking, especially with Chiques Rock Outfitters and kayakLanCo. There’s also nearby hiking and biking trails such as the North West River Trail, the Enola Low Grade Trail, as well as Chickies Rock Trail which leads to a beautiful overlook of the river.

On either side of the river is Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA), which helps identify, preserve, and promote the heritage and culture of both Lancaster and York counties. On the Lancaster side of the river is the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center and on the York side is the Zimmerman Center for Heritage; both are parts of the SNHA. At these locations you can find activities, heritage tours about local Native American tribes, and river art collections.

In Columbia is the National Watch & Clock Museum, which is dedicated to the science and art of timekeeping. The museum features the largest collection of 19th Century American clocks and watches! Also in Columbia is Wright’s Ferry Mansion, which stands as evidence of the roots built by a Quaker settlement in 1738. The mansion features furniture, ceramics, needleworks, and more all made before 1750.

Lancaster City

The 544 acre Lancaster County Central Park borders the southeastern edge of Lancaster City, and features several trails through the park suitable for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. It also boasts Mill Creek Camping Area, an environmental center, and more.

Located within the park is Historic Rock Ford, home to Edward Hand, Adjutant General to George Washington. Tours are offered where you can see the elegant furnishings of the home, as well as visit the John J. Snyder Jr. Gallery of Early Lancaster County Decorative Arts.

Just a short drive into the city takes you to the Demuth Museum, featuring a permanent collection of Charles Demuth originals, Demuth’s studio, and five annual exhibitions. Not too far away is LancasterHistory and James Buchanan’s Wheatland. LancasterHistory boasts rotating exhibits about the county’s history, permanent collections and records, as well as offering guided tours of the 15th U.S. President’s home.

LoKal Experiences offers historic walking tours of the city where along the way you stop at various craft brewery. If beers and history don't spark you're interest maybe a truly authentic Lancaster experience would! Stroll the streets and alleys of downtown Lancaster then travel to an Amish creamery where you’ll get to choose from more than a dozen homemade ice cream varieties, stop at a scenic looking spot for pictures, and wrap up with a stop at an Amish farm where you can tour the barn, see the animals and have the opportunity to purchase one of their amazing, hand-crafted birdhouses.


One end of the seven-mile Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail is in Lititz, perfect for walking, running or biking. The trail takes you through farmlands, woodlands, and offers beautiful views of Lancaster County. Lititz also hosts Lititz Bike Works, where you can rent bikes to hit the trails while visiting the area! Close by is the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, where you can take educational tours of wolves in their natural habitat, learning about their behavior and biology.

Lititz is home to the Johannes Mueller House and the Lititz Museum, where you can visit an 18th Century home and get a glimpse into what everyday life was like back then, see the growth of Lititz, rotating exhibits, and Native American artifacts. Also in Lititz is Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first commercial pretzel bakery in the country. Visitors can learn the history of pretzel making in the U.S. and get a hands-on lesson in pretzel twisting.


Ephrata is the other featured end of the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail and its outdoor activities. You can also enjoy outdoor adventure at Refreshing Mountain in nearby Stevens. Refreshing Mountain offers ziplining and high-ropes obstacle courses, a wildlife center, and cabin rentals fit for the family.

Mix your recreation with a visit to a National Historic Landmark dedicated to a now-defunct German religious community founded in 1732, the Ephrata Cloister. Take a tour of the Cloister and learn about early music, early printing, and how community members lived here in the 18th century.

Close by in Ronks, sits Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home. This historic and remarkably preserved water-powered grain mill. Step back in time to learn about milling history along the banks of scenic Mill Creek. Admission is free and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, May through October.

History and recreation are a great combination anytime, but especially here in Lancaster County!

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