Located in the heart of Amish country, if you’re looking for Amish things to do in Lancaster, PA, go on a guided tour at Amish Farm and House. This is also one of the most unique things to do in Lancaster, PA. Other things to do in Lancaster, PA with kids include visiting attractions like the Science Factory and Dutch Wonderland. As for free things to do in Lancaster, PA, head to Long’s Park or Lancaster County Central Park.
Meanwhile, romantic things to do in Lancaster, PA at night include seeing a show at either the Fulton Theatre or American Music Theatre. Finally, one of the most non-touristy things to do in Lancaster, PA is to enjoy a drink and meal at Lancaster Brewing Company, a local favorite. Keep reading for more things to do in Lancaster, PA this weekend.
1. Lancaster Central Market
Established in 1730, Lancaster Central Market is the oldest continuously-operating public farmers market in the United States. There are over 60 local vendors housed in the 1889 Market House, which is centrally located in the city’s downtown district. Open year-round on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, its stalls sell a little bit of everything, including produce, freshly-baked desserts and bread, flowers, handicrafts, and locally-sourced meat and dairy. Recently named one of the world’s best fresh markets by CNN Go, don’t miss a visit to the Central Market.
2. Long’s Park
Long’s Park is an 80-acre public park that’s home to picnic pavilions, multiple playgrounds, a spring-fed lake, a paved walking trail, and tennis courts. There’s also a free petting zoo, where children can safely get up close to farm animals like llamas, sheep, and goats. However, Long’s Park is most well-known for its Amphitheater, which hosts the nationally-recognized Labor Day Art Festival and the Summer Music Series. Taking place on summer Sundays, the series involves free live music performances in every genre, from bluegrass to classical to rock.
3. Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center
If you’re looking for family-friendly indoor attractions, head to the Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center. This jungle-themed indoor amusement park features plenty of fun activities, including XD Dark Ride, a 7D interactive theater; Ke-Laah Island’s laser mazes and game zone with 50 state-of-the-art games; Urban Quest’s two-level laser tag course; and the ropes course and mini-bowling in the Arctic Adventures zone. With an onsite cafe, you could easily spend the entire day at Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center.
4. Dutch Wonderland
With more than 35 fun rides, attractions, and daily shows, Dutch Wonderland is another must-visit local destination for families. Start your adventure on Exploration Island, where you can see life-like dinosaurs on the Prehistoric Path and uncover fossils in the Dino Dig sandpits. Then cool down at Duke’s Lagoon, a multi-level water playground with slides, jets, and a tipping bucket. Finally, the daily shows at Dutch Wonderland include dive performances, storytime, and comedy shows. Enjoy exploring the “Kingdom for Kids” this summer.
5. Lancaster County Central Park
Named for its central location, Lancaster County Central Park is the county’s largest park. Across its 544 acres, visitors will find plenty of outdoor recreation activities. For example, its outdoor swimming pool receives over 40,000 visitors every summer. Then there’s the skate park, with features for both beginners to advanced skaters. The park is also home to the Environmental Center, the Mill Creek Camping Area, the picturesque Garden of Five Senses, and several horseback riding, hiking, and biking trails.
6. Rock Ford Plantation
Speaking of Lancaster County Central Park, Rock Ford Plantation is surrounded by the park’s wooded grounds. The 18th-century Georgian-style brick mansion belonged to General Edward Hand, the Adjutant General to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Open from April to October, visitors can go on guided tours of the historic house every hour from 10 am to 3 pm. The four-story mansion still features many original architectural elements, from its floors to its windows and doors.
7. The Amish Farm and House Tour
Established in 1955 and located on a 15-acre farm, Amish Farm and House is America’s first Amish attraction. Visitors can learn about local Amish life through guided tours, including a countryside bus tour and an Amish farmhouse tour. Amish Farm and House also organize seasonal Christmas cookie and strawberry tours, and a dining experience alongside a local Amish family. So if you’re looking for eye-opening things to do in Lancaster, PA, visit Amish Farm and House.
8. Choo Choo Barn
Since 1961, Choo Choo Barn – Traintown USA has been one of the city’s most beloved family-friendly attractions. Home to one of the country’s largest and most engaging custom model displays, it features over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles, and 22 operating trains. The 1700 sq ft model train display also includes iconic local sights like an Amish farmhouse, Dutch Wonderland, and the Strasburg Rail Road. Choo Choo Barn is open from March to December, with a special annual Christmas layout.
9. Dutch Apple Dinner Theater
One of the best things to do in Lancaster, PA at night is to see a show at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater. Enjoy a premium dinner buffet before each performance, which includes classic American fare and over a dozen different desserts. Dutch Apple Dinner Theater hosts a variety of performances throughout the year, which include popular musicals like Guys and Dolls and Saturday Night Fever. Furthermore, Dutch Apple Dinner Theater also hosts a New Year’s Eve spectacular.
10. Wolf Sanctuary of PA
For nearly 40 years, the family-owned Wolf Sanctuary of PA has been a refuge for grey wolves and wolf-dogs. Originally operating as a private rescue facility, they eventually decided to open up the Wolf Sanctuary of PA to visitors. The only way to see the wolves is on an educational tour, where you can see the wolves in their natural woodland habitat and learn all about their behavior and biology. The Wolf Sanctuary is one of the city’s most unique attractions.
11. Field of Screams
Lancaster just so happens to be home to the country’s number one haunted house attraction. Field of Screams is home to several different attractions, including the Haunted Hayride through the spooky cornfield, the three-story Den of Darkness, the heart-pounding Frightmare Asylum, and Nocturnal Wasteland, which is “no ordinary walk in the woods.” The Field of Screams Bandstand in the fun Entertainment Area also regularly hosts nationally-recognized musicians. So, are you brave enough to enter the Field of Screams?
12. Park City Center
Park City Center is the place to visit for some retail therapy, as it’s the county’s largest enclosed shopping mall. Home to over 170 stores, including Boscov’s, JCPenney, and Kohl’s, be prepared to shop until you drop at Park City Center. Fortunately, when you need a lunch break you can choose from a selection of sit-down and casual restaurants, like the Bonefish Grill and TGI Fridays. Park City Center also regularly hosts in-store demonstrations and events. Visit their website for more details.
13. Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center
Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center specializes in overnight retreats and outdoor adventures. These adventurous activities include three zipline courses for ages five and older; an elevated obstacle course with 22 obstacles over two levels; horseback riding lessons; brain-busting escape rooms; and the interactive Wildlife Center, which is home to turtles, birds, snakes, and other reptiles. For people looking for an adventurous weekend getaway, Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center has luxury family-friendly cabins too.
14. American Music Theatre Lancaster PA
American Music Theatre’s 1600-seat venue hosts over 300 live performances every year. Its events calendar is always overflowing with a variety of performances, including touring Broadway and local theater productions, comedic performances, and internationally-renowned musicians. Every November and December, American Music Theatre also celebrates the holidays with a spectacular Christmas Show. So if you’re looking for things to do in Lancaster, PA at night, see what performances are taking over the stage at American Music Theatre.
15. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm
Get ready, because the family-owned Cherry Crest Adventure Farm has 60 fun attractions to suit the whole family. Open from May to November, some of the activities available include the Amazing Maize Maze, the Farm Animal Center, the Giant Hay Chute Slide, and multiple Wagon Rides. Besides being a playground full of adventures, Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is also home to a fully solar-operated 300-acre farm. Don’t leave without trying some freshly-made cider doughnuts or farm-fresh roasted sweet corn.
16. Fulton Opera House
A designated National Historic Landmark, the Fulton Theatre (also called the Fulton Opera House) is reportedly the oldest working theater in the United States. Built in 1852, the performance venue was restored to its original Victorian elegance in the 1990s. The Fulton Theatre hosts local theater productions of award-winning plays and musicals, like Kinky Boots, Evita, and Jersey Boys. Today, visitors can also go on a guided tour of Fulton Theatre to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what it takes to create the theater’s productions.
17. Kitchen Kettle Village
Kitchen Kettle Village began over 60 years ago as simply the nationally-celebrated Jam and Relish Kitchen. Today, the outdoor shopping village is home to 42 shops and restaurants. Pick up a freshly-baked snack at The Bake Shop, go on a horse-drawn carriage tour with AAA Buggy Rides, find the perfect souvenir at The Gift House, and of course, take home a homemade treat from the Jam and Relish Kitchen. Kitchen Kettle Village is open year-round from Monday to Saturday.
18. Lancaster Hot Air Balloon
See the city from a different angle when you take to the sky in a hot air balloon with The United States Hot Air Balloon Team. During your hot air balloon experience, you will see Amish farms and sprawling farmland, small county towns, and Chesapeake and Delaware Bays on clear days. When you touch back down, you get to toast the experience with champagne. The United States Hot Air Balloon Team also organizes the annual Lancaster Balloon Festival every summer.
19. Lancaster Brewing Company
Brewing beer in the heart of the county, Lancaster Brewing Company is a beloved local institution. The brewery is located in a historic red brick building on the corner of Walnut and Plum Streets. It offers daily brewery tours and has a menu with classic American fare that perfectly complements their beers. Speaking of, their extensive list of beers includes America’s original craft milk stout, a refreshing strawberry wheat beer, and the unique freshly-roasted peanut butter-spiked English-style ale.
20. James Buchanan’s Wheatland
A large Federal-style mansion, Wheatland – and its surrounding 22 acres – once belonged to James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States. Now maintained by LancasterHistory, visitors are welcome to tour the historic house museum alongside knowledgeable and costumed guides. It’s filled with antique furnishings and Buchanan’s personal artifacts. Yuletide at Wheatland is also a special local holiday tradition. Surrounding Wheatland, LancasterHistory also maintains the Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum, a museum with rotating local-focused exhibitions, and the Museum Store.
21. Lancaster Science Factory
Another one of the most family-friendly things to do in Lancaster, PA is to visit the Lancaster Science Factory, an interactive science center. Open year-round, it features 75 hands-on exhibits across seven STEM topics, including Acoustics and Sound, Mechanics and Motion, Electricity and Magnetism, Fluid Dynamics, and Light and Vision. Featuring the Rock ‘n Roll Stage, the Maker Space, and the Water Lab, there’s a fun activity for every child waiting inside the Science Factory.