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Places to see in Lancaster County

By Edited Nov 29, 2015 1 1

Lancaster County is an extraordinary vacation (or day-cation, if you live close by) spot. It’s inexpensive, close to several major Northeast cities, and it oozes historical and cultural traditions. Why wouldn’t you want to take a trip there?

There are kitschy tourist-trap sections of Lancaster (pronounced LANC-uhster if you’re a native), but for the most part, you’re better off elsewhere. There’s too much in Lancaster to get stuck in a gift shop buying faux Amish wares. In no particular order, here is the Lancaster you you need to see:

5. Katze Boucle Weg: There are a few places in Lancaster County that have great views, but this is one of the best. The Katze Boucle Weg (Pennsylvania German for “cat’s back road”) is officially called Peach Road, and it crosses over a ridge in Farmersville, a small farming town in Northeast Lancaster County. A retirement community sits on top of the hill. You can usually find parking at a few different spots in the community. I recommend going on a day that isn’t too hazy, or your view will be dampened (although early-morning fog can create a beautifully tranquil scene). Take your camera. Thank me later.

Just a half-mile down the main road through Farmersville is a semi-private driveway leading up to a large house. This also has spectacular views.

How to get there: Point your GPS to S. Fairmount Road and E. Farmersville Road. When you get there, go up the hill.

Trivia to know: Floyd Landis, the one-time Tour de France winner (he lost the medal after he was accused of doping) grew up in Farmersville. Before his Tour de France days, he was known for having biked up the Katze Boucle Weg the long way, from the north, while pulling a wheelie.

4. Central Market: Central Market is in the middle of Lancaster City, and it’s not something you want to miss. You can find everything from farmers selling produce to gourmet bakeries in Central Market. The market is ancient (OK, just 275 years old), and you get a good sense of the history when you’re there, not to mention a taste of can’t-be-beat Lancaster food.

How to get there: Head to the intersection of Queen and King streets. You may be able to find parking in the surrounding blocks, or there are paid lots, the closest of which is at Prince and Grant streets.

Trivia to know: Andrew Hamilton helped create the space for the market, which was open-air before the current structure was built in the late 1800s.

3. Susquehanna River: Specifically, Chickies Rock. Chickies Rock refers to both the park, located along the Susquehanna River, and a large outcropping of rock 200 feet high that sits next to the river. Again, bring your camera. There are spectacular views, and you can sometimes see rock climbers scaling the face. Carve out some time for Chickies Rock, since you’ll probably want to poke around the hills a little while.

How to get there: From Lancaster City, take US Route 30 West to the 441 Exit to Columbia/Marietta. Turn right and head north on Chickies Hill Road. You’ll see a parking area about a mile up the road.

Trivia to know: “Chickies” does not refer to a person named Chickie, but to an Indian tribe that once lived in the area, known as the Chiquesalunga.

2. Bird-in-hand Farmer’s Market

Bird-in-hand is, in general, a fairly tourist-heavy town in Lancaster. Don’t let that scare you away from the farmer’s market there, though. It has great vendors and great food. There are some kitschy souvenir items there, but plenty of authentic and worthwhile goods as well. And like I said, you can’t beat the food. (Lancaster County food is worth its own article. Shnitz pie, shoo-fly pie, whoopie pies - and that’s only the sweet stuff. Wherever you go in Lancaster, make sure you eat traditional Lancaster County food at least once. You won’t regret it.)

How to get there: From Lancaster City, take 340 (Old Philadelphia Pike) east to 2710 Old Philadelphia Pike.

Trivia to know: According to local lore, Bird-in-hand’s name came from two surveyors deciding if they should travel on to Lancaster or stay at the inn there. The decision was made to stay when one of them quoted the phrase, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Lancaster natives usually pronounce the town BIRD-inan, where the “in hand” is said as one word.

1. Central Park

Central Park, located south of Lancaster City, is a peaceful wooded get-away just minutes outside of the city. The entire park is worth exploring, but if you’re looking for a quiet place to have a picnic, there is a grassy patch right next to the creek close to the Environmental Center. There is plenty of parking, it’s serene and secluded, and you can listen to the babbling water as you eat your whoopie pie and wonder how many calories are in just one. (A lot, but it’s so worth it.) Park hours are sunrise to sunset.

How to get there: 3 Nature’s Way, Lancaster. From Lancaster City, take S. Duke Street south out of the city, until you get to Eshelman Mill Road. Make a right unto Eshelman Mill. Go straight until you come to a Y. Keep right at the Y, then go straight until you get to a gray stone barn with red wooden paneling on one side. Turn into the driveway, and continue until you come to a small loop with parking spaces. Park. Facing away from the barn you passed coming in, there is a trail to your left. It goes down to the grassy strip by the creek.

Trivia to know: History buffs can get their fulfill their historical guilty pleasure at the Revolutionary War-era Rock Ford Plantation, once the home of General Edward Hand. The mansion and grounds are located next to Central Park.
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Comments

Aug 18, 2011 3:14pm
mlee
Interesting facts about Lancaster, PA! Thought it's just a sleepy little town, but now I suddenly want to visit Lancaster! :)
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