15 Things to Do in Ephrata PA

October 24, 2023

Ephrata PA is a fantastic small town in Lancaster County, PA, also known as Amish Country or PA Dutch Country.  Ephrata (pronounced Eff-ra-ta) is located in the northern part of the county and is best known for being home to the Ephrata Cloister.  Rich in history, tradition, and scenic beauty, this Amish small town is a top destination for anyone visiting the area.  What’s great about Ephrata is you can stay and visit a charming town with tons to do, while being outside, but close to the traditional “Amish tourist fray”.

Here’s our list of things to do in Ephrata.  They include everything from shopping & eating to history & outdoor adventures.

This blog is all about Things to do in Ephrata PA

Experience the Green Dragon

15 Things to Do in Ephrata PA, Historic Smithton InnThe Green Dragon Farmers Market is one of the largest farm markets in the state of Pennsylvania.  It’s sort of a cross between a farmers market, flea market & “fell off the back of the truck in NYC” market.  You can buy everything from Amish foods, furniture & crafts, to dog treats, fresh vegetables, baked goods and cell phone accessories.  The Green Dragon is only open on Fridays, from 9 am to 9 pm.  It’s people watching and shopping at its best!


Hike / Bike the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail (WERT)

gnome village The Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail, also know as WERT, is a wonderful trail that connects downtown Ephrata to downtown Lititz.  The trail is 8 miles long and relatively flat.  What’s great about this trail is there are plenty of great stops along the way.  You can see Nibbles McGibble’s hamlet, shop at Reiff’s Amish market (in season), and pass by Amish farms & wooded areas.


Visit the Winters Leadership Memorial

winters leadership memorial
Winters Memorial along the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail

For history or WW2 buffs who have seen the mini-series “Band of Brothers”, you’ll be familiar with Major Dick Winters, one of the heroes of Easy Company.  Dick Winters’ family is from Ephrata and he lived here until his family moved to Lancaster City when he was in elementary school.  Ephrata installed a replica of a statue Major Winters that stands in Normandy, France in 2015.  Our monument, the Winters Leadership Memorial, celebrates all soldiers who have served, and hope that inspires the young people of Ephrata to be strong leaders like Ephrata’s hometown hero, Dick Winters.


Eat at Terrific Local Restaurants

Restaurant There are so many great places to eat in Lancaster County and Ephrata has a whole bunch of them.  Whether you’re looking for fine dining, a pub, craft brewery, burger place, or ethnic restaurant, we’ve got it in Ephrata.  Here are our recommendations.

RELATED:  MORE Ephrata Restaurants


Tour the Ephrata Cloister

Ephrata Cloister The Ephrata Cloister is at the heart of Ephrata PA.  This early colonial religious community is a PA State Museum site that’s on the list of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”!  The buildings date back to the early 1700s and it’s basically an early American “monastery”.  The site is open from Thursday – Sunday for tours.  There’s also a terrific gift shop that sells unique PA Crafts.

RELATED:  5 Reasons to Visit the Ephrata Cloister

For more information about the HISTORY of Ephrata, here's a short video put together by Lancaster Online!

Treasure Hunt at Terrific Thrift Stores

shop window
Photo: Don Reese

Lancaster PA is a very frugal community so you’ll find many thrift stores throughout the county.  Ephrata is a hub for the best and largest concentration of these stores in the county.   You can find everything from clothing  & jewelry to home goods and furniture.


RELATED:  Best Thrift Shops in Lancaster PA


Try the BEST Ice Cream

15 Things to Do in Ephrata PA, Historic Smithton Inn A recent contest determined that Fox Meadow Creamery in Ephrata PA is the BEST ice cream in the state of Pennsylvania!  With a motto of “Cow to Cone”,  you know it’s going to be great!  Fox Meadow is indeed fantastic with the dairy farm directly behind the ice cream shop / restaurant.  But in addition to Fox Meadow Creamery, Ephrata is also home to Udder Choice Creamery, another terrific local ice cream shop/restaurant.  Both locations make their own ice cream on-site.  For the locals, choosing one over the other is like being a fan of the Yankees vs. the Mets!!  Try both and let us know which side you choose!

BONUS TIP:  If you're looking for sweets / dessert of a non-ice cream nature, Ephrata has some great options on that front too!  Check out Scratch Bakes for some of the most amazing cupcakes you've ever tasted or try some amazing award-winning fresh baked cookies at Laura the Cookie Lady!



Take a tour of Craft Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries

15 Things to Do in Ephrata PA, Historic Smithton Inn Ephrata is a unique small town in Lancaster PA in that it’s a hub for craft breweries, distilleries and wineries!  Within a 2-mile radius, you can find 3 craft breweries:  St. Boniface, Pour Man’s and Black Forest Brewery.  2 distilleries:  Old Republic and Hillside Public House.  And one craft wine bar:  Weathered Vineyards Ephrata.


RELATED:  Lancaster’s Best Winery, Brewery & Distillery Tour


Visit the Seiverling Antique Car & Peddle Car Museum

The Seiverling Peddle Car Museum is one of the largest toy pedal car collections in Eastern Pennsylvania, with 140 in all owned by and operated by Seiverling Museum, LLC.  The Museum is currently open by appointment only, other than open houses scheduled during holidays and peak seasons.


Support Live Music

Who doesn’t love live music?  There are two venues in Ephrata that regularly host live music events.

  • Weathered Vineyards Ephrata has live music on Friday & Saturday nights from 5 – 8 pm year round. In the warm-weather months when the weather cooperates, music is outside in the Courtyard.  For inclement weather and during the winter months, the music is brought inside into the wine bar.  Mediterranean Bistro-style food is served.
  • Live music and Trivia Nights are also hosted at Old Republic Distillery, check their calendar for details.



Go Ziplining!

15 Things to Do in Ephrata PA, Historic Smithton Inn AKA: Go BIG or Go Home!!  Refreshing Mountain is a 5-star canopy and ziplining experience in Lancaster County!   With 7 zipline courses, climbing tower, and giant swing, plus an escape room and wildlife center, there’s something fun for all ages to enjoy.


Catch a Show at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center

15 Things to Do in Ephrata PA, Historic Smithton Inn The Ephrata Performing Arts Center, also known as EPAC, is community theater at its absolute best!  This award winning theater puts on Musicals, Plays and Cabaret performances that thrill audiences of all ages.  A few famous actors have gotten their start at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center including Betty White and Jonathan Groff!  We highly recommend you check their schedule and plan your visit around a time when they're performing.


Play Arcade Games and Skee Ball for FREE at Pour Mans!

15 Things to Do in Ephrata PA, Historic Smithton Inn If you love old-school arcade games and Skee Ball, then make plans to grab a local craft beer, eat a delicious Hoagie sandwich and play-away at Pour Mans Brew Pub.  Pour Mans is located in the heart of downtown Ephrata, making it the perfect stop after you've walked the rail trail, shopped the thrift stores or toured the Ephrata Cloister!


Attend a Special Event!

Ephrata PA hosts many special community events throughout the year.  These wonderful festivals, fairs & concerts bring community members together and draws visitors from near and far. Here's a list of just a few of the annual special events in Ephrata:

  • Ephrata Fair:  [September] Pennsylvania's Largest Street Fair
  • Party on the Plaza:  [Summer - Fall] Always takes place on a Saturday during summer & fall in Downtown
  • Craft Beer Festival: [June] Takes place in June in downtown Ephrata at the Whistle Stop Plaza
  • Annual Christmas Tree Lighting: [November] A truly special event on Black Friday
  • Christmas at the Cloister: [December]  This choral concert will transport you back in time!
  • Lantern Tours at the Cloister [December]  Student Historians reenact stories from the Cloister's past.

Spend the night at a Bed and Breakfast Ephrata PA - The Historic Smithon Inn

Smithton Inn - winter lights For a getaway to Ephrata PA, we hope you'll book your overnight stay at the Historic Smithton Inn Bed and Breakfast. This boutique Ephrata Inn is a destination in its own right, as one of the oldest buildings in Ephrata, that’s fully restored for guests’ comfort and convenience.

Book one of our Fireplace Rooms and enjoy a cozy room with a fireplace and a private bath. Put on one of our high-quality robes before nestling up by the fire. Above all, we make a delicious breakfast each day! A few of our specialties include Crunchy Baked French Toast with Berries or Margarita Breakfast Pizza with Roasted Potatoes. We bet it will be your favorite part of the day!


Book your stay at our Bed and Breakfast Ephrata PA today and have the perfect Ephrata PA long weekend getaway at the Historic Smithton Inn!


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