So you’re planning a late summer vacation in Lancaster County and wondering what to do for fun? Well, you came to the right place! No matter your age or interests, you’ll find plenty of fun in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. From spectator sports to active adventures to al fresco dining, arts, shopping and entertainment, once your vacation starts, the choices seem endless.
At Bird-in-Hand, we take our tradition of hospitality very seriously, so we put together a list of seven suggestions—in no particular order—to help you make your Lancaster vacation memorable.
1. ENJOY OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT
Lancaster City offers lots to do, and one of the best ways to enjoy the downtown area in summer is to take in First Friday, starting at 5 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. Stroll the tree-lined streets, browse boutiques and galleries, and enjoy a variety of special events and showcases that might include free museum admission, musical performances, opportunities to meet local artists and more. If you’re staying all weekend, stick around for the concerts at Long’s Park Amphitheater at Harrisburg Pike and Route 30, just northwest of the downtown area.
The summer concert series is held on Sunday evenings from June through August, and each week features a different performer in a different genre. Past performers have included The Steel Wheels, Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Stu Huggens and the Susquehanna River, Arlo Guthrie, Terrence Simien & the Zydeco Experience and US Army Pershing’s Own band. Bring blankets or lawn chairs and pay what you can.
2. GO FOREST BATHING
The Japanese practice of “forest bathing” means to spend time in nature, appreciating your surroundings. If that sounds appealing on a warm summer day—or if you’d rather burn off some energy with a bike ride, run or hike, you’ll find miles of nature trails throughout the county. In fact, a look at Lancaster, PA Trails and Maps shows more than 102 trails covering more than 550 miles. Bird-in-Hand offers easy access to the Mill Creek Trail, the Conestoga Greenway Trail and the Northwest Corridor Linear Park, and many more are just a short drive away north and west of Lancaster City.
3. SHOP FOR LOCAL LANCASTER PRODUCTS
When you’re vacationing in a place that’s famous for its farmlands, do yourself a favor and check out the farmers’ markets. In the center of the village, at The Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market, you can browse and buy farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, along with locally produced meats, cheeses, jams and jellies, candies and more from 30 Lancaster County vendors, including our own Bird-in-Hand Bakery & Cafe, which offers a selection of fresh-baked bread, whoopie pies and other baked goods. The Green Dragon Farmer’s Market in Ephrata, about half an hour north of Bird-in-Hand, is open on Fridays. It draws visitors from far and wide to what has become one of the largest flea markets on theEast Coast, with seven indoor market buildings, outdoor stands and 30 acres of free parking.
In downtown Lancaster, in the 1889 Market House, Lancaster Central Market is the country’s oldest continuously running public farmers’ market. Today, the market hosts more than 60 local vendors. You can find a wide selection of locally grown and produced items and a diverse menu of prepared foods. Northwest of Lancaster City, Root’s Country Market & Auction in Manheim began as a poultry auction in 1925. Today it is home to more than 200 standholders that offer goods ranging from foods and flowers to crafts and collectibles. It’s open on Tuesdays.
4. MAKE A SPLASH
For many people, summer = seashore. But visiting Lancaster County doesn’t mean you have to give up the beach. You can enjoy the best of both worlds at Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach, a family-owned and operated swim and recreation facility in Lebanon, which is about 45 minutes from Bird-in-Hand. It features a sandy beach with no-step access to the water, a guarded swimming area, kids’ dock, diving board and high dive, volleyball, a picnic and a snack grove. Inner tubes, canoes, kayaks and beach chairs are available for rent. The lake is open to the public, but reservations must be made online in advance.
5. DINE AL FRESCO
Take advantage of the weather and dine outdoors. The deck at the Bird-in-Hand Bakery & Cafe provides the perfect perch for watching the world go by while savoring handcrafted sandwiches on our fresh-baked bread, crisp salads and soups, all made with local meats and produce grown on nearby farms whenever possible. And save room for a scoop of our artisan ice cream or Pennsylvania Dutch goodies like whoopie pies for dessert.
For the ultimate outdoor dining experience, reserve a place at one of the Cornfield Banquets we hold in late summer at the Smucker homestead. The farm-fresh menu includes Amish Country favorites like barbecue chicken, fresh-picked corn on the cob, traditional Pennsylvania Dutch side dishes, and dessert. Participants can take a hayride around the farm, navigate the corn maze, and enjoy music around the bonfire. It makes for a truly unforgettable memory.
6. GO UNDERGROUND
For a unique way to beat the heat, visit Indian Echo Caverns, where the temperature is always about 52 degrees. You can explore the commercially operated limestone cavern with its beautiful geological formations and interesting ecosystem, which once sheltered the Susquehannock Indians who lived along the Swatara Creek.
The caverns have been open to the public since1929. Today, Echo Dell also includes a playground, a free Discovery Barnyard and Gem Mill Junction, where budding minors can search for chunks of amethyst, jasper, calcite, agate and other gemstones.
7. TAKE ‘EM OUT TO THE BALLGAME
What’s summer without America’s favorite pastime? The Lancaster Barnstormers play home games at Clipper Magazine Stadium on North Prince Street in Lancaster’s Northwest Corridor neighborhood. A franchise of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, they play teams like the Staten Island Ferry Hawks, the Lexington Legends, The High Point Rockers and the York Revolution, with a full schedule of home and away games throughout the season. The home stadium was recently voted the #1 Stadium in the Country by Ballpark Digest. Its concession stands offer foods from various vendors, and the summer schedule includes a number of special events.
If you’re planning a visit to Bird-in-Hand, our friendly and helpful reservation or front desk staff would be happy to offer suggestions to make your summer stay with us more memorable. Just ask!