ABOUT LANCASTER, PA
Last month, our family took a little road trip and traveled to Lancaster City, PA for a family staycation. With us having a little one, we want to still be able to travel and show him different places around where he lives. And for us, knowing the special experiences and hidden gems in a drivable distance is super special. From the city of Philadelphia, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive to get to Lancaster City – highly dependent on the traffic and time of day, but I will say that once you reach your destination, you’re in for a great little surprise.
So with another little easy trip, we packed up ourselves and took the very short scenic drive to Lancaster, PA.
Many people think that Lancaster is all farms, Amish, and horses, and, to be honest, I thought the same thing for quite some time. But I’m here to say that there is so much more to Lancaster, especially traveling into Downtown Lancaster or Lancaster City. It’s more vibrant, has an urban feel, and there are so many things to do and things to experience.
So to give you some insight on traveling through Lancaster, PA, here is a Lancaster Travel Guide that will take you through a place to stay, places to eat, and what you can do.
Stay IN LANCASTER, PA
LANCASTER MARIOTT AT PENN SQUARE
Where to Eat IN LANCASTER, PA
PLOUGH in Lancaster, PA
Easily accessible from within the Marriott as well as from the outside, Plough is a restaurant that brings the freshness of historical Lancaster while also giving it a. modern spin. From the drinks to the food, everything was delicious – even the fries. And for someone who eats fries just something that is there to eat and doesn’t pay much mind to it, these fries were delicious. For dinner, I ended up ordering the Farmer’s Cassoulet which included a selection of meats that just melted in my mouth on top of a pork and bean ragu. Let’s just say I left my plate empty and did not share it with my husband because the meal was absolutely delicious. Even after dinner, we indulged in the Dutch Apple cake that we ended up coming home and trying to recreate because it was so delicious.
THE EXCHANGE in Lancaster, PA
The Exchange is a rooftop bar and restaurant that is reserved for adults only. I will admit that we were able to get in with our son because we visited during a pandemic and it was earlier in the evening, but during normal operation, they do have a no-kids policy. From the rooftop, you can eat indoors or outdoors and enjoy the beautiful view while also eating and drinking from their fabulous menu. A special note about their menu is that it does periodically change depending on the season. You may have one special plate that comes during the Winter that you may not be able to enjoy in the Spring. So it becomes a destination that you want to visit over and over again. The food and drinks were marvelous. Again, this is another place where I left nothing on my plate and ate everything because it was so good.
NEW HOLLAND COFFEE CO. in Lancaster, PA
If you’re looking for a quiet and quaint place to have breakfast, I highly recommend New Holland Coffee Co. Right across the street from the Marriott, you’ll find this breakfast location that serves coffee, tea, parfaits, specialty toasts, and so much more. The décor inside was super cute and the ambiance that was created is relaxing and just the speed that you need for a morning while on a staycation. I delved in a tea latte and a salmon toast one morning and it got my morning started off in the right way. It’s a great sit-down location where you can place your order, have a seat, get served, and enjoy your breakfast at your own speed, and then be ready to head out for your day.
CAFE ONE EIGHT in Lancaster, PA
Sometimes we don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast and we just need something quick and to the point, and that’s where I feel Café One Eight comes in. This small coffee shop is a block away from the Marriott and is a little café where you can grab your morning beverage and a little breakfast and head out. But if you are looking to sit down, they do have space for you to sit and enjoy your breakfast. My recommendation is to get there early if you’re looking to sit down. This popular spot had no room left to sit both times that we went, so we ended up getting our breakfast to go.
LANCASTER CUPCAKE in Lancaster, PA
The one place that you have to visit if you are in Lancaster City is Lancaster Cupcake. Before actually arriving in Lancaster City, I had found their cupcake shop on Instagram and pinned it as a place that we needed to visit before we left the area. Their specialty cupcakes are scrumptious and so are all the other little treats that they have. Between my husband and my little man, they devoured a couple of cupcakes, I delighted in slurping down a milkshake and our pup enjoyed his doggie treats that we brought back for him from our trip. There are so many options on the menu for a sweet treat and it is a must-go place. Their one location is located a block over from the Marriott and they also have a second location in Lancaster depending on where you are staying.
What to Do IN LANCASTER, PA
While staying in Lancaster City, PA, don’t forget to visit the Central Market that is open during specific hours on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. This farmer’s market is the oldest continuously operated farmer’s market and you can find so many great things there. From produce to meats and flowers and little knick-knacks, it’s like a little wonderland when you visit. I absolutely loved the one bakery and sweet shop that was there because there were so many options and everyone in the family was able to get what they wanted without having to think of another item that they like but didn’t necessarily want at the time.
STRASBURG RAILROAD in Lancaster, PA
For a little entertainment for our little man and a little historical trip for us, we visited the Strasburg Railroad. Depending on the day that you go, you can get a variety of different trip options such as riding on a single locomotive through scenic Lancaster to learn about its rich history or you can buy a ticket for a specific car on a multi-car train ride and either ride like someone is first-class would or even ride like the President would if he took the train. We decided on the single locomotive option since that was what was available on the day and during the time that we visited and it was a special moment that our little guy absolutely loved. And after the train ride, there were little shops around and a little eatery that was available in the case that we wanted to stick around and enjoy our time while there.
SHOPPING in Lancaster, PA
In walking distance of the Marriott are a number of different places to shop. These one-of-a-kind shops will have you finding unique pieces to purchase such as novelty books, antique home décor, clothing from little boutiques, and so much more. We popped into a record store just to see what was there. For years, I have been considering buying a record player because I love the retro aspect and unique sound that it plays, and to be able to see the records from various artists of decades past was super fun.