12 Things To Do in Lancaster County, PA This Summer

Lancaster County, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, is a cultural destination with wide-open spaces ready to welcome visitors of all ages. Experience the Amish, visit a theme park, or embark on a thrilling outdoor adventure. This list of things to do in Lancaster County will help you enjoy some epic summer fun. 

Living in Maryland, I have visited this area many times and am always surprised by how much there is to see and do. I am also amazed by the number of people who think Lancaster County is only an Amish destination. During the summer months, Lancaster County comes alive; here are my top 12 things to do this summer. 

Where Is Lancaster County?

Lancaster County, PA Courthouse
Image Credit: Daderot – Own work, Public Domain / Wiki Commons.

Lancaster County is located in South Central Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River. It is 70 miles from Philadelphia and 60 miles from Pennsylvania's capital, Harrisburg. It is easily accessible from Philadelphia International Airport and Harrisburg International Airport. If you are visiting by air, you must rent a car to explore the area, as the towns are spread out over 984 miles of rolling countryside and stunning Amish landscapes. 

Lancaster County is more widely known for its day trips and weekend visitors from Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. Lancaster County offers a quiet escape from city life. 

Where to Stay In Lancaster County 

Cartoon Network Hotel
Image Credit: TaurusEmerald – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wiki Commons.

If traveling with the kids, the Cartoon Network Hotel is a must-do! Kids will stay and play with their favorite Cartoon Network characters, including Steven Universe, The Powerpuff Girls, and more. The Amishview Inn & Suites is an adults-only hotel with sweeping views of farms and Lancaster County countryside. 

12 Things To Do Lancaster This Summer 

Lancaster County, PA Amish Farmland
Image Credit: Rlevse – Own work, Public Domain / Wiki Commons.

When visiting Pennsylvania Dutch Country, there is the expected – farmlands, family-style feasts, and the Amish communities. But also the unexpected – city life, exquisite cuisine, and contemporary art. Lancaster offers wide open spaces and a peaceful pace for visitors needing a tranquil getaway.

1. Explore Covered Bridges

Hunsecker's Mill Covered Bridge Lancaster County, PA
Image Credit: Gerry Dincher – CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

Covered bridges are a Lancaster County staple, with over 25 to explore. Seeing a covered bridge brings thoughts of old charm, history, and architectural beauty to mind. You can spend an entire day exploring the bridges and their history. 

Hunsecker's Mill Covered Bridge spans Conestoga Creek on Hunsicker Road and was built in 1848. It's the longest single-span covered bridge in the county and was rebuilt in 1973 after rising waters from Hurricane Agnes. Pool Forge Covered Bridge was supposedly the bridge where President James Buchanan met his fiance, who unfortunately passed away before they could marry. This bridge was once known as the Yohn's Mill Bridge and was built in 1859. 

2. Visit Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park

Dutch Wonderland, Lancaster County, PA
Image Credit: Smallbones – Own work, CC0.

Located next to The Cartoon Network Hotel is Dutch Wonderland, an amusement park built for little ones. Enjoy over 35 rides, attractions, and shows at Dutch Wonderland. Kids can cool off in Duke's Lagoon water play area and make discoveries at Exploration Island, where dinosaurs come to life! 

3. Ride The Strasburg Rail Road 

The Strasburg Rail Road, Lancaster County, PA
Image Credit: O484 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wiki Commons.

Take a ride on America's oldest operating railroad at Strasburg Rail Road. During the relaxing 45-minute train ride, you can soak in the scenery as you travel through Lancaster County's farmland. The authentic steam trains offer Presidential, First-Class, Coach, and Open-Air car seats. Regardless of your journey, it will be an experience to remember. Along with the charming setting, Strasburg Rail Road offers plenty of unique extras like pump cars, a shop tour, and fun for the little passengers, including Pint-Sized Pufferbelly and Cranky Cars.

4. Indulge in the Ice Cream Trail 

Man on Lancaster County, PA Ice Cream Trail
Image Credit: Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, PA – Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov. Fetterman Hit PA Ice Cream Trail, CC BY 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

Enjoy this “cow-to-cone” experience – The Ice Cream Trail is a mobile passport that allows you to check in at participating ice cream shops and rewards you with free prizes. The Ice Cream Trail is FREE and instantly delivered to you via email/text. Visit quaint ice cream shops – some located on working dairy farms and make this summer even sweeter.

5. Dine at the Largest Pennsylvania Dutch Buffet 

Shady Maple Smorgasbord, Lancaster County, PA
Image Credit: Dan Gleiter.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord's large assortment of breakfast, lunch, or dinner foods. Breakfast includes made-to-order eggs, omelets, pancakes, french toast, waffles, sausage, and more. Lunch and dinner include nightly grill features, salads, and desserts. You can also shop in the gift shop downstairs.

Pennsylvania Dutch food is all about wholesome, stick-to-your-ribs dishes made from scratch with plenty of love and care. Be sure not to miss the chicken pot pie, ham balls, pork and kraut, brown butter noodles, and whoopie pies! 

6. Play a Round of Mini-Golf 

Village Greens Mini Golf, Lancaster County, PA
Image Credit: Village Greens Mini Golf.

Village Greens Mini Golf is one of the most challenging courses I have ever played! Here you will find not one but two spacious miniature golf courses covering over 10 acres; it is one of Lancaster County's hidden jewels. This unique miniature golf experience provides a relaxing atmosphere and a challenging game for all ages. 

7. Zipline and More at Refreshing Mountain

Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center
Image Credit: Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center.

Refreshing Mountain is a year-round retreat and adventure center providing family-friendly outdoor activities. With fun and unique outdoor adventure packages for all budgets, you are sure to find the right fit. Offering elevated obstacle courses, seven zip lines, and three sky bridges, you will get an adrenaline fix as you soar through the Lancaster County trees. 

If you want to keep your feet on the ground, enjoy their wildlife center, escape rooms, horseback riding, and community pool. 

8. Explore Lancaster City 

Downtown Lancaster City, PA
Image Credit: Discover Lancaster.

The city is situated in the center of Lancaster County, and its seven square miles are packed with art, museums, historical attractions, restaurants and cafes, theatres, shops, and boutiques. The 300 Block of North Queen Street is home to a quirky, eclectic selection of retro, antique, and collectibles shops, brand-name fashions, a glass studio, art galleries, casual cafes, and Downtown Lancaster's most extensive collection of indoor shops. If craft beers and microbrews are your scene- stop by The Fridge, which is stocked with 400 varieties of hard-to-find beers. 

9. Immerse Yourself in Amish Heritage

Amish Country, Lancaster County, PA
Image Credit: Discover Lancaster.

The Pennsylvania Amish of Lancaster County is America's oldest Amish settlement, where tens of thousands still live a centuries-old “Plain” lifestyle. Amish Country allows you to step back in time to enjoy a slower, more peaceful pace – where the horse & buggy remain a primary form of transportation and where windmills dot the landscape, providing power harnessed from nature. 

Enjoy authentic Amish meals at Katie's Kitchen or Bird In Hand Family Restaurant, where you can dine on homemade bread, relishes, fried chicken, fresh veggies, and more. Visit the Amish Village, which will give you an intimate glimpse into the daily life of the PA Dutch Amish, and you can even take a horse and buggy ride. Be mindful of the Amish and their ways, and never take a photograph of them as it is against their beliefs. 

10. See a Show at Sight and Sound Theater 

Sight and Sound, Lancaster PA
Image Credit: Sight and Sound.

Sight and Sound is the premier theater in Lancaster County to see the Bible come to life on stage in a way never seen before. Now through October, you can see MOSES, a truly spectacular experience with massive sets, special effects, and live animals in this original stage production. 

11. Spend a day at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm 

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm
Image Credit: Discover Lancaster.

With 25 acres of outdoor activities, Cherry Crest Adventure Farm offers the perfect space to capture the beauty of Lancaster County. Offering over 60 Farm Fun activities for kids and adults of all ages. Prove your skills by conquering the interactive 5-acre corn maze with 2.5 miles of paths, scenic bridges, and clues. Learn about farm animals as you pet and feed friendly farm animals in the Farm Animal Center and Animal Grove.

Test your aim at the Paintball Range, Apple Blasters, and Battle Zone. Let your children's imagination soar in Sproutsville, a miniature town of 15 shops and services designed just for them. Burn some energy on the giant slides, jump pillows, or pedal carts. When ready for a break, take a narrated Farm Tour Wagon Ride through Cherry Crest's 200-acre cattle, poultry, and farming operations. Be sure to take home their homemade kettle corn and apple cider donuts! 

12. Shop Till You Drop 

Women in shopping. Two happy women with shopping bags enjoying in shopping, having fun in the city. Consumerism, shopping, lifestyle concept
Image Credit: Bobex-73/Shutterstock.

Treasures await every shopper- discover Lancaster's outlet stores, local shops, Amish quilts and crafts, and plenty of antiques. Whether browsing for a bargain or seeking the ultimate find, you won't go home empty-handed. 

Kitchen Kettle Village is a collection of 42 shops featuring everything from jewelry and accessories to delicious jams, fudge, and cheese. Stroll through the village for a morning of shopping, watch fudge and candy being made, and even enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride there.