We know that Lancaster is a truly remarkable place with lots of fun for people of all ages. But when we find articles online, especially from publications in NYC, it makes us especially proud to live and work here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania!
“New Yorkers looking for a weekend getaway alternative to the Hamptons or Hudson Valley this spring can dial it down by taking a three-hour train ride from Penn Station to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
There’s a lot more to the laid-back, culturally diverse city than its main tourism draws — handmade Amish goods and outlet shopping. There’s also a thriving culinary, craft brew and arts scene.
Once you scratch past the stereotypical surface, there are endless layers to this city that was our nation’s capital for just one day in 1777, during the American Revolution.
As one of the most visited spots in Lancaster, Central Market has long been a hub for those in the city and the surrounding bucolic areas to gather, and buy and sell the bounty of the county. The red brick Romanesque Revival style of Central Market’s building, with its terra cotta roof, dates back to 1889. The actual market, however, is the longest continuously running farmers’ market in the U.S., dating back to 1730.
Today it’s a mad mix of Amish, Mennonite and German vendors touting Pennsylvania Dutch favorites alongside hip, young farmers pushing organic foods. And since Lancaster takes in more refugees per capita than any other U.S. city, that diversity is reflected in the culture and cuisine here, as well as at the market with vendors cooking up authentic fare from Kuwait, Thailand, Cuba, Kenya and Greece.
If you’re more into booze than food, there’s plenty on pour as Lancaster’s beer roots run deep. The county has been brewing since the early 1700’s thanks to the influx of Europeans. For a fun brewery crawl today, Lancaster Brewing Co.; Wacker Brewing Co.; and Spring House Brewing Co. make a good trio. Spring House is not as centrally located, but its Taproom in town (25 W. King St.) is also a great spot post-market for Saturday afternoon samplers. Outside of breweries, most restaurants and bars have a great lineup of taps in town.
For cocktails and local lure, head to the Horse Inn. At one time, a horse barn here was a front for the speakeasy upstairs. The original hay stalls remain today and serve as booths. A mixologist named Benjamin Hash, who’s won cocktail competitions around the country, makes his own elixirs.
For art, design, and fashion, head to Gallery Row on the first and second blocks of North Prince St.; and the shopping strip called 300 Block of North Queen Street in Downtown Lancaster.
Galleries are scattered throughout the city, yet concentrated on Gallery Row. According to Lancaster artist Liz Hess, “About 85% of galleries [here] are owned by the artist themselves. Few are owned jointly by several artists, or in a co-op arrangement.” Thousands descend upon the city monthly to celebrate Lancaster’s art with “First Friday,” when galleries, shops and restaurants along Gallery Row extend their hours and host activities between 5 and 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.
On Queen St., chic boutiques, antiques and vintage shops abound. Scarlett Willow (320 N. Queen St.) can be a hit for vintage coats and cocktail glasses. Madcap & Co. and Building Character house several vendors — old, new and artisan. For mid-century madness, head to Space.
Artsy types looking for a place to stay should check into the Lancaster Arts Hotel. The 63-room chic boutique boasts $300,000 worth of art; 269 pieces by 36 different local artists displayed around the hotel and in guestrooms. Across town, the Cork Factory Hotel in Downtown Lancaster is a work of art unto itself. The 93-room space housed an actual cork factory in the 19th century and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.
For theater enthusiasts, the Fulton Opera House, built in 1852, is the go-to spot. With its ornate Victorian architecture and neoclassical interior, it’s the oldest continuously operating theater in the U.S., and one of only eight theaters in the country recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
Lancaster is a very a walkable city, perfect for self-guided architecture tours with several buildings dating back to the early 1700’s. You’ll see Art Deco, Beaux Arts, Classic Revival and Georgian Style, among others, alongside Victorian row homes and old tobacco warehouses that are now lofts and bars.
There is history in every inch, plate and pour in the city, and it’s a part of contemporary culture here, including at Tellus360. The Irish pub and concert and event venue hosts performances over several floors, cozy corners, and rooftops.
If you go…
Getting there: Amtrak offers a direct three-hour train from Penn Station. From the station in Lancaster, it’s a 15-20-minute walk to city center.
Before you go: Reservations are recommended for restaurants, especially on weekends. Cabs are rarely flagged. Call Lancaster City Cab or use Uber.”