9 Things to Do in Downtown Lancaster PA

May 18, 2021

If you're wondering if there are things to do in Downtown Lancaster PA, the answer is a resounding YES!

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a city of seven square miles and 60,000 permanent residents. It offers a central, drivable location to surrounding cities like New York, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Lancaster may be easily overlooked at first glance; but upon taking a closer look, especially at the bounty of greenery and brick buildings, it begins to feel like a big small town. Instead of using Lancaster as a pass-through town on your way to a big city, stop and stay with us at the Historic Smithton Inn. Our inn has been in Lancaster since 1763, so it’s safe to say that we know how to have the best day in downtown Lancaster! For more information on the whole of Lancaster County an even more getaway ideas, check out our complete  Lancaster Vacation Guide.

This blog is all about 9 Things to Do in Downtown Lancaster PA

9 Things to Do in Downtown Lancaster PA


1.  Browse the Lancaster Central Market

Stop by the Lancaster Central Market after breakfast. The market is the perfect start to your day trip and is an easy, 30-minute drive southwest from the Historic Smithton Inn. The Lancaster Central Market is the oldest public farmers market and hosts a variety of local vendors. It has something for everybody, from specialty cheeses to home décor. But, it’s only open on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, so plan accordingly!


2.  Shop the 300 Block of North Queen

Head to BUilDiNG CHARACTER for another type of marketplace experience. This downtown market provides handmade, vintage, and recycled products. It spans 10,000 square feet of North Queen Street warehouses and is home to over 60 unique vendors. BUilDiNG CHARACTER is proud to say that most of their vendors utilize environmentally friendly practices in their craft.  The entire 300-block is filled with unique shops & eateries for you to browse and enjoy.

RELATED:  Unique Gifts from Lancaster PA

3.  Take a Downtown Lancaster Tour

There are two wonderful tours for anyone interested in learning the history of downtown Lancaster.  Did you know that Milton Hershey learned how to make candy as an apprentice in Lancaster?  Or that Lewis & Clark learned surveying in Lancaster to prepare to make the Louisiana Purchase?  You'll learn about all that and more on the Lancaster Historical Walking Tour.

If you'd rather have a fun and entertaining evening of true ghost stories, real haunted houses and hearing where they buried the bodies, you should sign up for the Lancaster Ghost Tour!

RELATED:  Lancaster PA Tours

4.  Check out the Lancaster Art Scene

Barnstormers mural Downtown Lancaster has a thriving art scene with renown galleries and museums located in our walkable downtown.  The 100 and 200 blocks of Prince Street are considered "Gallery Row" and that's where you'll find the largest concentration of galleries.  Click here for the full list of downtown Lancaster museums and galleries.

Downtown Lancaster also is home to over 43 wonderful murals that capture history, heritage and life in Lancaster PA.  Click here for a map if you want to make it a take scavenger hunt art-walk!

5.  Spend the Evening at a Lancaster Theater

Theaters in Lancaster PA are alive and strong!  The quality of live theatre might surprise visitors.  If you choose to catch a show at one of the downtown district's theatre venues, you won't walk away disappointed.  The Fulton Theatre is a historic venue located on N. Prince Street and is the best known of the downtown venues.  Three other fantastic downtown theater options include Prima Theater, the Ware Center and the Marionette Theater.

RELATED:  2021 Live Theater in Lancaster PA

6.  Downtown Lancaster has Craft Breweries!

Visiting craft breweries is a great way to experience the local vibe when you're traveling!  Downtown Lancaster has three great craft breweries you should check out!  All three of these pubs are within walking distance of one another.  Isaacs is a local sandwich chain that just transformed one of their downtown locations into Isaac's Brewhouse on N. Queen Street.  Next up is Our Town Brewery, a wonderfully restored and renovated building that used to be a car dealer but now features wonderful beer, food and atmosphere on N. Prince Street.  And finally, Spring House Brewery Tap Room on W. King St.

7.  Enjoy Some Amazing Views

Lancaster rooftop view
Photo: The Exchange Lancaster

A trip to downtown Lancaster City wouldn't be complete without seeing the sights from above!  There are some great venues where you can grab a bit to eat, maybe listen to some live entertainment and take in the wonderful downtown landscape from 20+ stories up!  Our top choice is the Penn Square Marriott's rooftop bar, The Exchange.  Between the stunning views and the terrific libations, your spirit is bound to be lifted.  Two other rooftop options include the Altana Rooftop Lounge and Tellus 360!

8.  The Downtown Lancaster "Foodie Scene" is Second to None

There are so many delicious, creative, privately-owned eateries in downtown Lancaster that it's hard to narrow down a list of recommendations, so we'll give you a few categories to choose from & you can take it from there!

For a Snazzy meal: Try The Belvedere, Himalayan Curry & Grill, or John J. Jeffries

For something more Casual: Check out Annie Bailey's, Cabalar Meat Co., Lancaster Dispensing Company, C’est La Vie Bistro, Luca, or Horse Inn

For Coffee & a Snack: Stop in at Prince Street Café, Passenger Coffee & Tea, Square One Coffee Roasters, or Café One Eight

RELATED:  Favorite Daytime Eateries and More about Luca

9.  Prepare to be Entertained

Looking for some terrific evening entertainment APART from live theater?  Downtown Lancaster has that too!!  Check out these three options:  Live music at Tellus 360, Bowling & Arcade Games at Decades or Cinema & Stillhouse at Zoetropolis.  Who knew downtown Lancaster could be so much fun?!!!

After Spending the Day in Downtown Lancaster PA, Come Back to the Historic Smithton Inn 

king bed Retire to one of our nine guest rooms after your full day out in downtown Lancaster. We recommend staying one of our Romantic Suites. With a fireplace, King Bed, Jacuzzi Tubs or Luxurious Spa Shower and plush, complimentary robes, these rooms are great for unwinding after a long day.

Are you ready to experience the great things to do in downtown Lancaster? Check our availability and start booking your trip today!


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