Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Lancaster, PA

  • Published 2023/01/07

Downtown Lancaster in Lancaster County perfectly distinguishes modern life from the arcadian beauty of the encompassing Amish country.

Located in the middle of the city, the seven-square-mile place boasts several museums, historical attractions, art, shops, restaurants, cafes, and many more.

Lancaster also hosts much-awaited and bustling events such as Celebrate Lancaster, Launch Music Festival, Music Friday, Craft Beer Fest, and Mayor’s Tree Lighting & Tuba Christmas.

The city’s fascination comes from stories, architecture, and traditions entrenched in its rich history.

Lancaster got its name from Lancashire, England, and made the red rose as its symbol, taken from the house of Lancashire.

Enjoy a cup of their best-tasting coffee, indulge in their signature ice cream, or walk the streets where Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, and George Washington used to walk.

Explore the fantastic things to do in Downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a city of yesterday and today.

Spend a Family Day at Long’s Park

Pond fountain at Long’s Park

Raymond C. Eichelberger /

The 80-acre Long’s Park is located on Harrisburg Pike and provides excellent outdoor amenities, including a children’s playground, picnic pavilions, a three-acre spring-fed lake, a petting farm, a fitness trail, and tennis courts.

The bestowed gorgeous family-friendly park hosts various activities, including free summer-long music series.

Wander paved walkways around Long’s Pond in the pleasingly shaded Long’s Park.

Ducks at Long’s Park

JNolt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Join the Art Festival and explore one-of-a-kind hardscapes, sculpture, and canvas mediums.

It’s a nationally-celebrated fine art and craft festival and the biggest chicken barbeque.

Feel the quality of expertly thrown pottery or admire the beautiful hand-crafted pieces of furniture.

Visit the Keystone Art & Culture Center

Instituted in 2003, Keystone Art & Culture Center (KACC) is a non-profit corporation that’s both an art gallery and a foundry.

Located on Pearl St., the Center provides educational arts assistance and holds a community gallery, working bronze foundry, youth arts program, and resident artist program.

The Keystone Art & Culture Center dedicates its time to encouraging people regardless of age and delivering positive change to the neighborhood through public art projects.

Its goal is to make art accessible and provide alternatives to individuals in the community.

Introduce your family to the arts whether you’re an artist or an art lover; check out the different artworks and have fun.

Explore Space

If you’re looking for heritage mid-century furniture, home decor items, and accessories, head straight to Space, located on W. Walnut Street.

It’s a universal shop in downtown Lancaster that focuses on mid-century modern items of all sizes and shapes.

You’ll find excellent selections at reasonable prices with approachable and helpful staff.

You can buy glassware, barware, pottery, clothing, lighting, and more.

Visit the 2,000-plus square foot Space warehouse and buy excellent souvenirs.

Broaden Your Knowledge at the North Museum of Nature & Science

Experience the life of a scientist onboard an icebreaker ship fuelled by imagination at the North Museum of Nature and Science on College Ave.

Venture into a holiday expedition to the Arctic to experience and explore the science and magic of the North Pole.

Your family will enjoy new activities offered every month, planetarium shows, and fun exhibits.

Go ahead and study the universe with their astronomy experts.

Explore the cosmos up close in an engaging experience and unique point of view within the SciDome Theater, South Central Pennsylvania’s largest Planetarium.

Make your own extraordinary hot chocolate drink and learn about the technique and history of hot chocolate at the Hot Chocolate Bar.

Learn more about science and help develop your child’s curiosity, knowledge, and skills through play at the North Museum of Nature and Science.

Buy Fresh Produce at Lancaster Central Market

Entrance to the Lancaster Central Market

James Kirkikis /

The Lancaster Central Market is the oldest continuously operating public farmer’s market in the country.

Established in 1730, the market hosts over 60 local vendors selling fresh produce and other products such as local meat, cheese, poultry, and more.

Other products that you can purchase include bread and baked goods, ethnic foods, fresh flowers, crafts, and home decorations, among others.

Interior of Lancaster Central Market

George Sheldon /

Formerly known as the Central Market, it’s a famous spot to buy soups and sandwiches, donuts and cups of coffee, and other goods.

Located on N Market St., Lancaster Central Market is open three times a week and is a unique local stop for groups.

Fresh produce in Lancaster Central Market

George Sheldon /

Go Nuts at Go’ N Bananas Family Fun Center

It’s okay to go wild sometimes.

When the mood strikes you, bring the whole family to Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center, an indoor playground for kids.

Since it’s an indoor facility, the Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center is a great place to host your kid’s birthday party, which is a beautiful and unforgettable present.

Meet the fun center’s friendly gorilla mascot, ‘Nano Banano,’ which will surely make everyone smile.

Enjoy various events for all ages, including Ballocity, Spin Zone, Laser Tag, Laser Frenzy, Mini Bowling, Game Zone, and Congo Café at Go’ N Bananas Family Fun Center in Garfield Road.

Bring Your Kids to Lancaster Science Factory

The Lancaster Science Factory is an interactive science facility for kids in Pre-K to 8th grade, including their families.

It offers hands-on STEM classes and winter day camps guaranteed to be fun and informational for kids in Grades K to 8th.

Situated on New Holland Avenue, Lancaster Science Factory is open to the public and available for group rentals or reservations.

The facility caters to meetings, rentals, birthdays, overnight stays, or team-building activities.

Join activities like Toy Deconstruction, Wearable Circuits, Winter STEM Olympics, and many more!

Bring Your Kids to Tiny Town

You don’t have to wait for the holidays to treat your tots to something special.

Bring them to Tiny Town, on Janet Avenue, where little people have fun.

Your kids can explore nine luxury playhouses, check an x-ray in the facility’s hospital, slide down a firefighter pole, or deliver mail, among others.

The environment helps fortify your kid’s curiosity and creativity through play.

You can take a break while your kids enjoy the Kids’ Night Out.

Tiny Town is great for celebrating your kid’s special day and other important events.

Admire Artworks at the Lancaster Museum of Art

The Lancaster Museum of Art was formerly the Goethean Gallery, located along North Lime Street on Franklin and Marshall College campus.

Founded in 1965 by a group of community leaders and artists, the museum became the Community Gallery of Lancaster County when it moved off-campus to 13 W. Grant Street.

In 1979, it moved to its current location in the Grubb Mansion and became the Lancaster Museum of Art in 1996.

The art museum is a 4,000-square-foot facility for regional, national, and international artists’ exhibitions in various media, panel discussions, artists’ lectures, and educational workshops for children and adults.

The historical museum is a major source for culture and education for culture and education for locals and visitors.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Ride the Steam Trains at the Historic Strasburg Railroad

Steam locomotive at Strasburg Railroad

M Huston /

Climb aboard the oldest continuously operating railroad in North America and the most visited ancestral railroad in the US.

Wonder at the beautiful Lancaster County aboard steam trains traversing the historic Strasburg Railroads on Gap Rd. in Ronks, 19 minutes from downtown Lancaster.

There are a lot of rides that you can choose from.

People at Strasburg Railroad

M Huston /

Your family would love to ride all of them, including the Night Before Christmas Train, Christmas Tree Train, Santa’s Paradise Express, or the “Santa Claus Limited.”

Choose from cozy accommodations like the President’s Car, First Class, Open Air, or Coach.

Take it easy while you travel through 2,500 acres of beautiful countryside as the train passes the Strasburg Railroad.

Thomas and Friends train at Strasburg Railroad

Amy Lutz /

Visit the Wolf Sanctuary of PA

At the Wolf Sanctuary of PA in Lititz, Pennsylvania, wolves receive the utmost care they need to prevent extinction.

Speedwell Forge provided a haven for the gray wolves and wolf dogs courtesy of the Darlington Family.

The over 80-acre natural woodland is a refuge for the wolves of Speedwell.

Wolf Sanctuary of PA is a non-profit organization that houses 50 gray wolves and wolf dogs.

However, you can only see the wolf sanctuary on a guided tour.

The sanctuary is 30 minutes from Lancaster.

Discover the Turkey Hill Experience

Exterior of the Turkey Hill Experience

Helen89 /

Turkey Hill Experience isn’t a guided tour but an indoor participatory attraction in Columbia, Pennsylvania, that you can explore no matter how you like.

Your family can check out each coordinated station and spend more time as you like in every Experience zone.

Kids will also have lots of opportunities to run, jump, and play around the Experience.

Discover how they make iced tea products or ice cream in a delightful and interactive set of demos and stations.

Produce and become a model in your TV ad, milk mechanical cows, and come up with your simulated flavor ideas at Turkey Hill Experience, 18 minutes from Lancaster.

Interior of the Turkey Hill Experience

Helen89 /

Make your ice cream with your choice of flavor in the Turkey Hill Taste Lab, starting with vanilla ice cream.

Then, follow the exact steps used in the factory, mixing in your choice flavor while adding various delectable additions and incorporating your favorite assortment.

Also, experience their Tea Discovery and get some free samples to enjoy tea from around the globe.

Learn where tea came from, its aromas, and good flavors from their tea experts.

Drinks in Turkey Hill Experience

Helen89 /

Learn to Make Ice Cream at Fox Meadows Creamery

The best-tasting ice cream in town must come from the freshest and tastiest cow’s milk.

Fox Meadows Creamery makes signature ice cream treats with other textures, tastes, and temperatures.

If you’re lucky and arrive in time, you can watch them make your favorite flavor right before your eyes.

You can watch the ice cream making from a viewing window.

In Ephrata, Pennsylvania, Fox Meadows Creamery’s bestsellers include Madagascan Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies n Cream, Mocha Brownie, and much more!

This creamery is 25 minutes from Lancaster.

Enjoy the Lancaster Balloon Rides

View of a Lancaster Balloon

Bo Shen /

If you want a different and unforgettable adventure, try riding a hot air balloon and feel like the king or queen of the world.

Feel the excitement and peacefulness you can only seek in the serene open air of Lancaster County.

Have the ride of your life at the Lancaster Balloon Rides located on Old Philadelphia Pike in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, 16 minutes from Lancaster.

You’ll reach new heights and see the country’s breathtaking beauty from above.

The Lancaster County Balloon Rides usually last between 2 1/2 and three hours from beginning to end, spending approximately an hour in the air.

Scream Your Lungs Out at Field of Screams

Do you have the guts not to scream once you come face to face with your worst nightmare?

At the Field of Screams, prepare to get spooked and get more than you can handle.

The haunted attraction presents four heart-pounding distractions: Nocturnal Wasteland, Frightmare Asylum, Den of Darkness, and Haunted Hayride.

As you enter, you’ll hear frightful screams and see psychopathic creatures and bloody sights unlike anything else.

Every attraction features new and different scenes, and your fear levels will rise around every corner.

They are uniquely different from each other, filled with terrifying thrills and mind-blowing horror.

You wouldn’t want to miss the Field of Screams, located in Mountville, Pennsylvania, 13 minutes from Lancaster.

Final Thoughts

Why not reward yourself with a short vacation?

Make your trip more fun and memorable by bringing your loved ones along.

Enjoy these fantastic things to do in Downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania!

© All rights reserved.