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Lancaster (Pennsylvania)

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Lancaster [1] is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, USA. It is probably best known for the population of Christian Anabaptist communities around it. The best known are the Amish. Lancaster City itself contains very few Amish, but has a large concentration of Hispanic immigrants.

Understand

Lancaster City itself contains very few Amish, though it has a large concentration of Hispanic immigrants, mostly descended from Puerto Rico.

Although Lancaster county thrives on tourism, the Amish community does not particularly like visitors, tourists, or sightseers. They are generally an intensely private religious community doing their best to go about living according to the ways of their religion and culture, and very much wish to be left alone unless you are invited. Don't take photos without permission, or harass or otherwise pester them about their way of living. Above all else, don't trespass on private property.

There are official tourist exhibits set up by the local government and various private enterprises that will allow you to learn about the county and the Amish in a way that is respectful and positive for everyone involved.

Get in

Interstate highways lead most traffic into Lancaster County.

  • I-78. From New Jersey and New York City.
  • I-80. From upstate New York.
  • I-76. Also known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
  • I-95. From Washington (D.C.) and New York.

One of the most pleasant routes from the East Coast Cities is via I-78 through New Jersey to exit 13, Bethel (Pennsylvania), then Route 501 south to Lancaster. It is a beautiful farmland drive, especially at sunset.

Get around

Although you can pay for buggy rides in the rural areas, plan on having a car to get around. Some places and towns, such as the Rockvale Square retail outlets and the town of Intercourse, are easily navigable on foot. It is possible to tour the county by bicycle, but it shouldn't be attempted unless you're a cyclist who doesn't mind hills!

Tips

  • Online map and direction providers are usually very accurate in Lancaster County. They may be slightly confusing at times on back roads, but directions and mileage are very precise, especially along main routes.
  • Lancastrian drivers are generally very polite, with notable exceptions; they will be courteous as long as you return the favor.
  • You may pass the buggies.
  • Yes, horses do relieve themselves on the road. If you must dodge "road apples", please be careful!

See

  • Elizabethtown College, [2]. Founded by the Anabaptist Bretheren, this college has a center dedicated to the study of Plain communities in America. The center employs several experts on Plain societies like the Amish and contains a one-of-a-kind library of resources on the Mennonite, Bretheren, and Amish.
  • The Ephrata Cloister. A beautiful historic site with original, 18th century buildings. Tours explain the lives of the German religious refugees that created the community in 1732.
  • Franklin and Marshall College, [3]. Founded by Benjamin Franklin and John Marshall (separately, as Franklin College and Marshall College, respectively), this college is located on the highest hill in the city of Lancaster.
  • National Watch and Clock Museum, [4].
  • Strasburg Rail Road, [5]. All aboard America's oldest short-line railroad, where you'll ride authentically restored passenger cars pulled by a huge, coal-burning steam locomotive. See our Amish neighbors up close as they work and play on nearby farms.
  • Plain and Fancy Farm, [6]. Good all-around tour of the Amish community including a restaurant, bus tours and a movie. Particularly good if you're a foreign visitor without a car.

Do

Inquire at the Mennonite Information Center, [7] for tours, both group and personalized.

Chameleon Club, [8] is located in downtown Lancaster. Check the website to see which live bands are playing tonight.

Buy

Eat

Lancastrians are well known for their local food. Although there are many "chain" restaurants around, such as Texas Roadhouse, Fuddruckers, Ruby Tuesdays, Panera Bread, Friendly's, McDonald's, Arby's, and Burger King.

Homestyle Favorites

  • Bird In Hand, [9].
  • Dienner's, [10]. Great local food.
  • Family Cupboard, [11].
  • Miller's Smorgasbord, [12].
  • Shady Maple Smorgasbord, [13].

Locals' Favorites

  • Neptune Diner [14] is a classic diner found on the north side of Lancaster city.
  • House of Pizza in Willow Street is a family oriented cash-n-carry restaurant located just minutes south of the city in the small community of Willow Street. Besides pizza, local favorites include stromboli, fresh cut french fries, and many soft serve ice cream choices. Locals enjoy ice cream at the picnic tables on warm summer evenings.
  • Bube's Brewery [15]. Bube's Brewery is an intact historic 19th century brewery and museum complex. Bube's has had a few different restaurants operating for several years:
    • The Catacombs [16] is a must!
    • Alois, [17].
    • Bottling Works [18].
    • Biergarten [19]

Fine Dining

  • The Log Cabin, [20] is one of Lancaster's finest restaurants and is located off the beaten path in a quaint wooded setting.
  • The Pressroom, [21] is upscale dining in downtown Lancaster. It is just steps from the city's center square and central market.

Drink

Up until Prohibition, Lancaster had several fine breweries which earned it the reputation as Munich on the Conestoga. With the resurgence of microbrewing in the last decade or so, a few new breweries have cropped up. If you want to get your favorite mass-produced, lowest common denominator, lite beer, there are more than enough bars and restaurants to patronize. But these three establishments are worth checking out, particular if you're a beer connoisseur.

  • Bube's Brewery, [22]. Bube's Brewery is an intact historic 19th century brewery and museum complex. Bube's has had a few different restaurants operating for several years:
  • Lancaster Brewing Company, [27]. Lancaster Brewing Company is located in Lancaster City. They craft a wide variety of brews and also serve food as well.
  • Stoudt's Brewing Company ,[28]. Stoudt's brewing company has the distinction of being the first micro brewery in PA and has won several awards for it's brews. Couple that with Black Angus Restaurant & Brew Pub for an exceptional dining experience.

Sleep

Get out

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