Explore the Past

Museums for Everyone

History in Lancaster

Explore Lancaster's Rich History

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.


Lancaster Central Market

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. Their season officially starts April 1, 2023.
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Lancaster Medical Heritage Museum has a mission to preserve and protect the 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!
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

It’s time to discover the past. Start your morning in Downtown Lancaster for a visit to America’s oldest continuously operating farmers market.

Historic Rock Ford 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. While you are there, visit the John J. Snyder Jr. Gallery of Early Lancaster County Decorative Arts. The gallery showcases a one-of-a-kind collection consisting of over 230 objects by Lancaster County artisans including tall case clocks, silver, furniture, and portraiture created during Edward Hand’s residency in America.
Historic Rock Ford is open for limited tour hours: Tuesday - Friday, with tours at 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm.
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours | Book your tickets in advance on their website.

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's exhibition hall, that's filled with photos, objects, and archives.
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours | LancasterHistory is open at limited capacity so book tickets in advance here.

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. The museum offers virtual tours as well.
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours


Ephrata Cloister

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. You can also combine outdoor adventure with history in Lancaster!

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

Venture out to Ephrata, Lititz, or Christiana to learn about early settlers and Lancaster County's ties to the Underground Railroad.

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 Historical Society 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

The Northern Central Railway provides an authentic experience for riders with a replica Civil War-era steam locomotive and a mid-20th century diesel locomotive. The railway played an important role in the Civil War and Industrial Revolution, and was used by President Abraham Lincoln.

Estimated Time: 2-3 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 notable citizens 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

Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home, is a 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.
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours


Lititz Springs Inn & Spa

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.

A good night's rest will be much needed after a day of going back in time.

Lititz Springs Inn & Spa combines contemporary and classic with its newly renovated rooms. This inn 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.

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Attention history buffs! It’s one thing to read about history but it’s a whole other experience to stay overnight at a historical hotel...

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

Explore Lancaster County's history and heritage.

group of friends eating at restaurant

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

Stevens Smith Historical Site in Lancaster County, PA

Lancaster County abolitionists and their “safe houses” played a key role in the heritage of the Underground Railroad.