Outdoor Activities in Lancaster PA

July 2, 2022

Outdoor Activities in Lancaster PA, Historic Smithton Inn

One of the best things about visiting Lancaster, PA is the scenery!  We’ve got everything from rolling hills & farmland, to rivers, creeks, forests and cliffs.  With options like these, it is no surprise that there are a number of fantastic outdoor adventure attractions that visitors can enjoy; these are our favorites:

This Blog is All About Outdoor Activities in Lancaster PA

Strasburg Scooter Tours

Scooters and Covered Bridge
Source: Dave Gallagher

If you can only fit in ONE adventure tour when you’re visiting Lancaster County, Strasburg Scooters is our pick!  It’s the tour we take over and over again when our own friends come to visit from out of town.  Their flagship-tour is the “Covered Bridges Tour”, but over the years they’ve added additional options like an “Ice Cream Experience” and “Amish Culture Tour”.  The tour guides are fun and knowledgeable and the equipment (scoot coups & traditional scooters) are well maintained and easy to learn to operate.

While You’re There:

  • Strasburg Creamery is a must-visit for ice cream lovers. This eclectic shop also sells gifts & locally made foods… plus there’s the Strasburg Wine Shop next door too!
  • If you’re in the area around dinner time, Fireside Tavern is the place to go! We highly recommend the Tavern Fries and the Fireside Crab Cakes.

Refreshing Mountain Ziplines

Upside Down Ziplining While well known for our farmland, believe it or not, we’ve got a MOUNTAIN here too!  OK, it’s not exactly Colorado, but Refreshing Mountain does have the perfect terrain to create an amazing collection of zipline runs and obstacle courses.  Our hands-down favorite is the Aerial Excursion Course which includes 7 zipline runs, 3 skybridges and a 40 foot controlled rappel!!  Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned zipliner, you’re sure to have a blast!

While You’re There:

  • Reward yourself with some homemade ice cream at Fox Meadow Creamery! You’ll pass the creamery on your way to ziplining, so you’ll have something to look forward to!
  • Hursh’s Country Store is a charming Mennonite-owned gift shop located in an old stone building near the turn-off for Refreshing Mountain. If you want to get in a little shopping either before or after your adventure, we recommend you pop in to check them out.

Lancaster Hot Air Balloon Tours

Hot Air Balloons
Source: Zad Leggett

If riding in a hot air balloon is on your bucket list, then you should definitely sign up for a tour next time you visit Lancaster PA!  Because these rides are weather-dependent, it's best if you're saying over 3 days or more, to give you rescheduling options if the weather isn't cooperating.  Contact Lancaster Balloon Rides for pricing and availability.

Abe’s Buggy Rides

Abes buggy
Source: Rebecca Gallagher

One of the most unique things to see Lancaster is the Amish culture and way of life.  The Amish community in Lancaster County is one of the largest in the country and visitors are eager to see and learn about their lifestyle.  A great way to do that is to dive right in and tour the back roads in their primary mode of transportation, a horse-drawn buggy.  Abe’s offers tours that run 30 minutes – over an hour based on the distance you travel, we highly recommend the 5 mile tour.  We also suggest you arrive early to check out their animals

While You’re There:

  • If you’re interested in doing a little clothes shopping in a small, privately owned shop, then you’ll want to stop in at Ruthie’s Boutique
  • Visiting Kitchen Kettle Village, and especially Waltz Vineyards Tasting Room, is something we highly recommend you do while you’re in the area. If you like our Weathered Vineyards wines, you’ll definitely enjoy these too!

Shanks Mare Paddle Trips

kayaks What could be better on a hot summer day then paddling on the Susquehanna River where you can take in the dramatic cliffs, charming inlets and soaring birds?  Shanks Mare offers a number of guided tours of the river and no matter what your fitness or experience level, they’ve got a tour for you.  You can even choose one of their “Paddle & Dine” programs if you want to finish off your trip with a great meal along the banks of the river.

Before you return:

  • Two of our favorite “River-town” pubs are McCleary’s Pub and the Railroad Tavern. They’re located just a few blocks apart along the river in Marietta so you can definitely stop in at both.  McCleary’s is a well known live music venue … so maybe have dinner at the Railroad Tav & then kick back for live music and drinks at the McCleary’s!

Bike the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail

bike rider near bridge
Source: Historic Smithton Inn

If you prefer to keep yourself dry, right in the same area as Shanks Mare is the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail where you can bike along the Susquehanna rather than paddling it!  There are plenty of sights along this wonderful trail including a spooky tunnel, cliffs, parks & pubs.  Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way!  Here's everything you need to know for biking the river trail:  READ MORE

Smoketown Helicopter Tours

Helicopter over farmland
Smoketown Helicopter Facebook Page

If you think the scenery in Lancaster County is amazing from ground-level, imagine how extraordinary it is from the sky!!  Smoketown Helicopter rides are the best way to experience the spectacular views – morning rides are the smoothest, while evening rides offer incredible sunsets and colors across the horizon.  They have several tours to choose from depending on how much you want to see / spend.  The helicopters are climate controlled and require a minimum of two passengers.  They suggest you pack light, but definitely do NOT forget your camera to capture the amazing arial views.

While You’re There:

  • Bird in Hand Bake Shop is an area favorite where you can get some of the best pies, whoopie pies and sticky buns around. They also have a gift shop, breads, and canned goods… all the things Lancaster County and the Amish are known for!
  • Smucker Village is a collection of shops and galleries where you can get everything from a fantastic cup of coffee to the perfect farmhouse table & chairs or decorative accessories.

Enjoy Fantastic Outdoor Dining

outdoor dining
Source: Funck's Restaurant

Lancaster has a fantastic collection of restaurants with outdoor dining.  Between stunning views of the Susquehanna river, sweeping rooftop vistas & cozy courtyards, you have plenty of options to choose from.  Check out this list of over 41 outdoor dining venues in Lancaster PA.

Spend the Night at a Top Bed and Breakfast with Lovely Grounds

Fire pit and garden After a day of adventure, you’ll be eager to return back to the Historic Smithton Inn where you can grab a drink and relax by the fire pit or in the privacy of your own room, savoring everything you’ve seen and done!  You may even want to book your NEXT trip before you leave to fit in the things you weren’t able to get to this time!! There’s no shortage of memories to be made here!!

Visiting Lancaster County this summer? Book a stay at the Historic Smithton Inn, a historic-hip bed and breakfast in Ephrata, PA.

This Blog is All About Outdoor Activities in Lancaster PA

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