Located just over an hour outside of Philadelphia in the heart of Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch country, Lancaster is a beautiful place to visit whether it’s summer or winter. You’ll see horse and buggies transporting people around the area, and you can eat some of Pennsylvania’s best food spreads when you hit up one of the locally popular smorgasbords.
Do you want to enjoy some time in Lancaster without spending a fortune? Here are six things to do in Lancaster, PA on a budget.
1. Covered Bridge Tour
Lancaster is famous for its covered bridges. Twenty-eight covered bridges are located in the Lancaster area, which was among the first cities to build covered bridges in America. In fact, Pennsylvania still has the largest number of covered bridges in the country, though the amount has dwindled over the years.
While covering all 28 may be a challenge if you have only a couple days in Lancaster, you can certainly pick and choose your favorites or plan out a route for all your weekend activities that will take you by a few of these picture-perfect backdrops.
2. See How Amish Furniture is Made at George’s Showroom
The Amish are famous for making their own wood furniture. They use techniques passed down through generations to create solid, strong wooden furniture that stands up to the test of time. George’s Furniture in Lancaster is just such a shop. The artisans who create the furniture there sign each piece when they finish, signifying the individual attention to detail that comes with each purchase.
You can take a tour of George’s showroom when you go to the store on weekdays. If you have 10 or more in your party, you should call ahead for a reservation. The store is located in Marietta, just outside Lancaster.
3. Visit Central Market
Did you know Lancaster is home to the country’s oldest continually operated farmer’s market? Opened in 1730, it earned Lancaster a designation as a “market town” by King George. Today, the market is housed in a building built in 1899, which stands in Penn Square.
Farmers come from all over the area to sell their wares at market. It’s open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and entrance is free, though you’ll likely spend some money at the farmers’ stands. It’s hard to resist all the goodies they put on display. The list below is just a sneak peek at everything they offer.
- Baked goods
Most of the vendors do accept credit cards, though an ATM machine is located on-site for those who don’t.
Cost: Free to enter, but have cash on hand to purchase food or goods
4. Visit the Mennonite Information Center
The Amish and Mennonite populations are an important part of Pennsylvania Dutch country. Learn more about them by visiting the Mennonite Information Center, which offers a free movie and tour that covers the history of Mennonites, which trace their roots to the Anabaptist movement.
5. Tour the Amish Farm and House
Continue your tour of Pennsylvania Dutch country by learning more about the Amish. The Amish Farm and House tour will take you through a farmhouse dating back to 1805, detailing the typical life of an old order Amish family. Many common questions about the Amish will be answered.
- How does Amish education differ from that of the rest of the country?
- Why do the Amish hold religious services in their homes?
- How have the Amish traditions changed and evolved?
- What does Amish clothing signify?
Cost: $9.95 for adults; $8.95 for seniors ages 60 and older; $6.95 for kids ages 5-11; free for kids 4 and under
6. Take a Ride on the Railroad
What better way to close out your time in Lancaster than to visit the Strasburg Railroad? Located in Ronks, PA, the Strasburg Railroad is a popular attraction that draws families from around the area. You can go on a weekend or weekday and take a 45-minute trip on the railroad for less than $16 a ticket. This includes a look at the gorgeous PA Dutch countryside and surrounding farms.
You can also go back during holidays or special weekends. Strasburg offers themed rides for a variety of occasions, such as:
- Day Out with Thomas the Train
- Holiday-themed rides
- Dining car rides
Cost: The cost of each ride varies according to when you book and whether it has a theme. See website for details.
Enjoy These Fun Things to Do in Lancaster
Now that you know what to do in Lancaster, PA, it’s time to plan your trip. And if you already live in this great area, consider joining PSECU.
Get more money-saving tips on our WalletWorks page.