15 Wonderful Day Trips from Lancaster PA

April 15, 2021

This post is all about Day Trips from Lancaster PA

Garden View Looking for the some wonderful day trips from Lancaster PA?  If your vacation strategy to find a terrific “home base” and combine that with day trips for an extended stay, then this is the list you need!  We’ve put together this fantastic list where every recommendation is under 2 hours from the Historic Smithton Inn. No matter what you’re looking for, we have great excursions for you, in and around Central Pennsylvania.


Read on to learn more, and check out free Vacation Guide to start planning your whole vacation! It has everything you need to have the best time ever in Pennsylvania, including recommendations for local Lancaster PA restaurants, events, shops, and outdoor adventures!


Here Are 15 Wonderful Day Trips from Lancaster PA


15 Top Day Trips from Lancaster PA

  1. Gettysburg
  2. Longwood Gardens
  3. Jim Thorp
  4. Port Deposit, MD
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Hershey
  7. Baltimore
  8. Annapolis
  9. Doylestown
  10. Hollywood Casino
  11. Lake Tobias
  12. Fredrick, MD
  13. Winterthur
  14. Allentown / Bethlehem
  15. Valley Forge

Gettysburg (About 1.5 hours)

Just an hour and a half from Lancaster, Gettysburg offers rich history and a wealth of activities for people of all ages. Most known for its connection to the Civil War, Gettysburg offers a variety of historical attractions that history buffs will love! Step on the battlefield and explore the Gettysburg Military Park Museum and Visitor Center to learn more about one of the most famous American battles. Or, visit the Museum of History and marvel at exclusive exhibits with more than 4,000 artifacts from several centuries.

When it’s time for lunch, stop by the Dobbin House! Not only does this restaurant serve mouthwatering food, but it also gives visitors an opportunity to time travel; all of the staff members wear colonial clothes, and you can tour the historic building. It was part of the Underground Railroad and features some fascinating exhibits. Be on the lookout for the conduits through which the slaves escaped back in the day!


ProTip: You can explore Gettysburg in many different ways, like walking, driving, horseback riding, or on a scooter. Just keep in mind that the town’s sites are all spread out. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so make sure you have comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a good hat!

RELATED:  Visit Gettysburg  & Gettysburg 150 Anniversary

Longwood Gardens (1 hour)

If you are looking for a gorgeous natural spot to escape to during your stay, Longwood Gardens should be your top destination. It’s considered one of Pennsylvania’s greatest outdoor experiences, and once you see it, you’ll understand why! Walk through this Jane Austen-esque world and marvel at the natural wonders around you. The gardens were built by Pierre S. du Pont, between 1870 and 1921, and today, they offer a wide variety of experiences for visitors. Take a tour with a knowledgeable guide that leads you through the garden’s highlights. You will learn all about history and horticulture along the way!

Before heading back to Lancaster, grab a bite at the Longwood Gardens restaurant, 1906! This onsite establishment serves delicious, refined cuisine. For something more casual, consider The Cafe! It’s perfect for those looking for a quick sandwich, comforting bowl of soup, or a fresh salad.  If you like mushrooms, they're famous for the mushroom soup!

Pro Tip: Make sure you check which flowers are in bloom before you visit! View the garden calendar and plan accordingly.

RELATED:  Visit Beautiful Longwood Gardens

Jim Thorpe (1.5 hours)

Jim Thorpe is one of the most romantic cities in Pennsylvania, and it’s less than two hours away from Lancaster. Head to this nationally ranked town and enjoy a laid-back day with the one you love. You can roam the Victorian streets and discover their secrets at your own pace. Travel back in time at the Asa Packer Mansion, the home of a 19th-century philanthropist, or marvel at the stained glass windows of St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church. You can even hop on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, built in 1917, for an adventure through the surrounding nature. Be sure to indulge in some retail therapy and a fine dining experience! One thing is certain, you will have a lovely day in Jim Thorpe.


Port Deposit, MD (1.5 hours)

Looking for a change of scenery from your change of scenery?  Take a day trip from the rolling hills and farmland of Lancaster PA and enter the Keys West vibe of Lee’s Landing Dock Bar in Port Deposit, MD!  This open-air bar/restaurant is set on the shore of the Susquehanna River, just before the outlet to the Chesapeake Bay.  The menu features fresh seafood (of course) plus other bar favorites like burgers and wings.  Check their website for live music and events.  If you want to get on the water, take the Water Taxi that stops right in front of Lee’s Landing, across the river where you can explore Susquehanna State Park.


Philadelphia (1 hour)

Most people leave the city and flock to the countryside, but you can change it up and experience an urban day trip while in Lancaster, PA! Visit one of the oldest cities in the country and learn about its history through a selection of fascinating museums. Check out the famous Liberty Bell or tour Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was ratified. Make sure you snap a picture of City Hall from Broad Street, the largest municipal building in the country, and explore the endless rows of delicious food at the Reading Terminal Market! There’s one last thing you must do while in Philadelphia; taste an original Philly cheesesteak. Head to Geno’s Steaks for the best in town.

 Related: Philly Road Trips


Hershey (1 hour)

A day trip to Hershey, PA, is a treat you can’t miss out on! History buffs and chocolate lovers will revel in all of Hershey’s wonderful attractions. Visit the factory and sign up for a tour, enjoy the 4D movie experience, or browse the many shops! Hershey’s Chocolate World offers a lot of variety, and a ton of fun. For more information, make sure you visit their website. Do you want something a little more picturesque and peaceful? Take it slow and visit the Hershey Gardens. With a botanical and butterfly garden, this 23-acre property features delicate selections of roses and shrubs, rare trees, and other beautiful flowers!   Other nearby attractions include Troeggs Brewery, the Antique Car Museum and Indian Echo Cavern.

Related:  Visit Hershey's Chocolate World & Visit Hershey PA & Hersheypark Events


Baltimore (1.5 hours)

Where in Lancaster it’s all about our rolling hills, Amish farms & unique history, the draw for Baltimore is definitely the Harbor.  It’s an easy drive and you’re rewarded with so many fun and interesting things to do, all in one compact location.  We recommend you start with a tour of the National Aquarium.  Since this attraction is probably the most popular in Baltimore we suggest you buy your tickets online ahead of time.

Next, tour one or all of the Historic Ships in Baltimore Harbor.  You’ll find four:  A U.S. Navy tall ship first launched in 1854, a U.S. Coast Guard lightship from the 1930s, a submarine that took two war patrols in Japan during World War II, and the last ship floating that fought in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Not into touring historic ships, you could take a harbor tour with Watermark Tours, or enjoy a paddle boat ride closer to shore instead.  Either way, once you’re back you can shop and eat your way through the Inner Harbor.  If you like a good Irish Pub we recommend Tir Na Nog for great drinks, food & water views.


This post is all about Day Trips from Lancaster PA


Annapolis (2 hours)

Even though Lancaster isn’t located on a large body of water like the Great Lakes or an ocean, we are close enough to Annapolis for a great trip in case you want to incorporate some great waterfront activities into your vacation.  A day in Annapolis should definitely begin at Annapolis Harbor.  We recommend you head over to sign up for an Annapolis Water Tour for a guided boat tour of the harbor, or if you’re more adventurous, rent a Kayak at Capital Sup.

When you’ve finished your tour, head into the downtown district for some great shopping, walking and restaurants (Mason’s Famous Lobster Roll and O’Brian’s Bar & Seafood Tavern are solid picks!!).

If you have more time, consider taking the Naval Academy Tour  or head across the bridge to Eastport… a truly unique, charming and INDEPENDENT town!



Doylestown (1.5 hours)

Doylestown is truly a hidden gem in our book!!  For visitors to Lancaster County who love Lititz, Doylestown is “Lititz times 4!!”  The downtown district is much larger than Lititz, but with narrow, curving and hilly roads, it FEELS really small and quaint.  The town strikes a wonderful balance between small galleries, home décor, ‘foodie”, clothing and gift shops, LOTS of restaurants,  café’s, pubs and even a few national chains.

A favorite restaurant pick is Penn Taproom on State Street where they have wonderful indoor and outdoor dining (it’s worth the wait if there’s a line!).  If you can’t decide what you want, head inside the Main Street Marketplace where you have several restaurants to choose from and everyone can bring their choice to common tables at the center of the venue.

And as if all this isn’t enough reason to spend the day in Doylestown, walking distance from downtown is the "Mercer Mile" which includes Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, Fonthill Castle and the Mercer Museum.


Hollywood Casino (50 min)

Want to do a little gambling while you’re on vacation?  Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Track is an easy drive (just 3 roads) from the Historic Smithton Inn.  They have fantastic restaurants on-site plus live entertainment (check website for schedule).  If you’ve got some time for a really cool outdoor adventure after playing the slots & tables, we recommend you sign up for the Falconry Experience at Hotel Hershey!  Falconry includes free-flight demonstrations, a simulated hunt demonstration, and an opportunity for these majestic birds of prey to land on your hand!


Lake Tobias (Just over 1 hour)

man feeding llama Large buffalo next to bus girl pettnig allegator

When you think of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park you might be thinking it’s just another zoo, why bother??  OH MY how wrong you’d be!!!  Sure, there are some really lovely enclosures with a few exhibits, but most of the attraction is up close and person, either holding, touching or viewing up close in a double decker bus.  I’ve never taken an African Safari, but I felt like I was on an American version of one when this massive buffalo came right up to our bus!  Visitors are able to feed yacks, deer, llamas and a whole host of other animals that are roaming the grounds.  They can watch presentations about some smaller animals and even touch and pet some (small alligators & snakes for example).  While this is a terrific day trip for children & families, your “inner child” will fall in love with Lake Tobias too!


Fredrick, MD (2 hours)

During a trip to Fredrick, MD you can visit a civil war battlefield, hike the Appalachian Trail, take in scenic views at a local winery, and eat cutting edge cuisine in a civil war-era building set next to specialty shops… all in one day! A few things we highly recommend are a walk along Carroll Creek Park where in-season you can enjoy Fredrick’s famous water lilies.  Then head into downtown and take a walking tour to learn more about the historical and cultural heritage of Fredrick.  If you’d like to check out some local wineries, breweries and distilleries, here’s a list for you.  There are a whole bunch of restaurants to choose from along Market Street.  For a touch of Spain in Maryland, try Isabella’s Taverna and Tapas for great atmosphere and delicious small plates!


Winterthur (1.5 hours)

Winterthur is a museum, garden and library founded by Henry Francis du Pont in Winterthur, Delaware.  The centerpiece is du Pont’s former 175 room mansion which rivals the Biltmore Estate, Hurst Castle and Monticello.  The mansion/museum is surrounded by 60 acres of gardens and a 1,000 acre preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands.  The gardens are considered one of America’s “great gardens”.

The museum is devoted entirely to American History and has wonderful permanent collections as well as temporary exhibits.  Take the Garden Tram Tour or walk the grounds instead.  If you love history, grand mansions, and gorgeous gardens you’ll love this day trip!  For something to eat there’s a café on-site or just a short drive from Winterthur you’ll find Cromwell’s American Tavern & Taqueria, a combination pub/taqueria with great food & atmosphere.


Allentown / Bethlehem (Just over 1 hour)

Most people think of Allentown and Bethleham as run-down industrial towns whose heyday has passed.  Not so!  The Lehigh Valley is alive and well with rich history, revitalized downtown districts, and outdoor adventures along the Delaware River.  Visit the world-class collection that even includes a Rembrandt at the Allentown Art Museum.  Take in early German / Moravian history at the 1741 Gemeinhaus, home to the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem.  While you’re in the historic district of Bethlehem, grab a glass of wine at the 1741 on the Terrace restaurant where you can admire spectacular views through their famous floor-to-ceiling Palladian windows.  And then, of our favorite things to do is stay for the evening to catch a live music performance at Bethlehem’s famous Steel Stacks.   The venue is the largest revitalized brownfield site set on the 10 acre former Bethlehem Steel site and it's vibe is as great as the musicians who play there.


Valley Forge (1 hour)

The focal point of any trip to Valley Forge is of course the Valley Forge National Historic Park.  Best known for its Revolutionary War significance, the park has grown and evolved over the years to become so much more than that.  Take the 90 minute trolley tour run by the Encampment Store for a great way to experience the park in a short amount of time.  There are extended stops at the Muhlenberg Brigade Huts and Washington's Headquarters.

Our lunch or dinner recommendation is the Black Powder Tavern located in a historic building built in 1746.  They’ve got great food, plus a legendary story!  Then, for an extremely moving & reflective experience, you should visit the 52 acre Metal of Honor Grove.  "It's not hallowed ground. No blood was shed here. There are no graves here. But it is a place of profound respect and deep reflection."  The Grove has been celebrating Metal of Honor recipients since its opening over 50 years ago.

Finally, another point of interest is for anyone who lives in a town without a GREAT mall.  A trip to one of the best malls in the United States would definitely be an adventure for you.  King of Prussia Mall has fantastic national and international retail stores and restaurants, the sorts of places you often only find in New York, London, Paris or Madrid!

Related:  Brandywine Valley PA

Make Yourself at Home in our Stunning Lancaster PA B&B

colonial mansion

There’s nothing more exciting than a fun day trip to an unknown destination! Coming home to a cozy room is also exciting, and the Historic Smithton Inn provides just that. Discover our B&B and enjoy our historic atmosphere and elegant amenities. We’re right in the heart of Lancaster!

Browse our guest rooms today and pick your favorite! They’re all uniquely furnished and offer the peace and serenity you’re looking for. Experience Pennsylvania in the best way possible from our Sage Room. Snuggle up with the one you love by the fireplace, drink a refreshing glass of wine, and take a hot bath in your private bathroom. You can rest assured that you will get a good night’s sleep in our queen bed with its beautiful, handcrafted headboard. Wake up refreshed the next day and follow the smell of coffee downstairs where a delicious, homemade breakfast awaits. We won’t let you leave for your next adventure with an empty stomach!

Book Your Stay Today!


This post is all about Day Trips from Lancaster PA


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