When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Founded in 1718, the small town of Lancaster is in the state of Pennsylvania, in the heart of Amish country.
This "Dutch Country" community has about 58,000 members living apart from mainstream society, according to traditional values based on farming and family life. Don’t be surprised to cross paths with horse-drawn carriages along the road!
Lancaster is also known for its public farmer’s market, the oldest in the country.
Who are the Amish?
For the Amish, time stopped in the 17th century.
You may be surprised to find an entire community living apart from modern society, without electricity or technology! Their lifestyle is simple and excludes the use of modern conveniences such as automobiles, televisions and even telephones.
Take a tour of the Amish countryside and village in an Amish horse and buggy. You will learn all about the Amish farming lifestyle and see Amish women working on traditional hand-sewn quilts.
It may seem difficult at first to connect with the villagers, who have a very strong sense of community. You may find it easier if you happen to speak German: their mother tongue is Pennsylvania Dutch, a German dialect spoken by their ancestors who immigrated to the U.S. in the late 17th century.
Don't be surprised to hear the locals call you "English": most Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch, and refer to all non-Amish as "English", regardless of ethnicity.
Out of respect for your Amish hosts, take care not to photograph or film them directly, something that they do not appreciate. You are welcome to take photographs of scenery or inhabitants from afar, but please respect their desire for privacy.
Lancaster Central Market
This historic public market is the perfect place to find artisanal products made by the Amish community. The market is housed in a large Romanesque Revival style brick building dating from 1889. You will find more than sixty vendors offering an abundance of produce and local specialties from the region’s rich soils and community: hand-stitched quilts, shoofly pie (traditional molasses pie), cheeses, vegetables, meat and much more. Open Tuesday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
23 North Market Street, Lancaster / 717-735-6890
James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States, occupied this Federal style mansion from 1848 until his death. Step back in time with a guided tour of this presidential home and admire the furnishings and beautifully restored rooms. Wheatland is located on a 10-acre Campus of History dedicated to the history of Lancaster County. Open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
1120 Marietta Avenue, Lancaster / 717-392-4633
Landis Valley Museum
This site collects, preserves and interprets the history and culture of the Pennsylvania German rural community from 1740 to 1940. Tour the village, farm and museums and discover their story through a wonderfully diverse collection of artifacts. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
2451 Kissel Hill Road, Lancaster / 717-569-0401
Lancaster County is full of interesting small towns and villages just waiting to be discovered. Dare to take the back-country roads and you are sure to come across horse-drawn carriages used by the members of the community as a means of transportation. You will also see farmers working with their horses in the fields. Routes 30 and 340 are the roads most frequented by the Amish in their buggies.
Located in the heart of Amish farmland, The Amish Village is an authentic look at today’s Amish lifestyle. The site includes a farm, an authentic 1840's Amish farmhouse, a one-room schoolhouse (children attend school until the age of 13-14), a blacksmith shop and a market. It is an excellent way to experience Amish culture, which has remained unchanged for centuries. Open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
199 Hartman Bridge Road, Ronks / 717-687-8511
Kitchen Kettle Village
With its more than 40 shops and restaurants, Kitchen Kettle Village is the ultimate stop if you are looking to pick up some souvenirs! You will find everything from delicious local products such as homemade baked goods, jams, relish and the famous “whoopie pies” (traditional cake) to locally-made art, pottery, quilts, moccasins, jewelry and much more. Open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
3529 Old Philadelphia Pike (route 340), Intercourse / 717-768-8261
The Amish Experience at Plain & Fancy Farm
This heritage site portrays the Old Order Amish as they live and work in today’s world. Tour a traditional homestead, a farm and a one-room schoolhouse, and take a buggy ride. It is sure to be a unique experience. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3121 Old Philadelphia Pike (route 340), Bird-in-Hand / 717-768-8400
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Horse Inn ($$)
The Shaub family transformed this former hayloft into a hard-to-find speakeasy in the early 1920s. The new owners, Matt and Starla Russell, made several improvements to the decor and the menu, which changes with the seasons. Today this popular bistro-style restaurant serves American cuisine created using fresh ingredients from local farms. Open Tuesday-Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight and Friday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
540 Fulton Street E, Lancaster / 717-392-5528
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($$-$$$)
This spacious restaurant offers a wide array of craft beers and good pub-style American cuisine. The service is excellent. Reservations are recommended, as it can get very busy. Open Monday-Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays until midnight, Saturdays from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
781 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster / 717-291-9800
John J. Jeffries ($$$$)
Chef Cavanaugh offers a unique dining experience based on ingredients from small organic family farms in Lancaster County. This upscale restaurant shows a true commitment to the local economy. Serves fine American cuisine which you can choose to enjoy on the outdoor patio. Excellent wine menu. Open Monday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
300 Harrisburg Avenue, Lancaster / 717-431-3307
- Very Favourable