10 Cheap and Easy Things to do in Lancaster

Downtown Lancaster
Downtown Lancaster

I’m continuing on with the “10 Cheap & Easy Things to Do in _______” theme with my current home locale of Lancaster.  If you haven’t read the posts on Philly, Scranton or Pittsburgh the basic philosophy behind this is that sometimes you end up at a certain locale to visit friends, or maybe attend a wedding or for business, not necessarily to visit or see that place.  However, it’s nice to go and be able to do some of the local things associated with said place whether you’re able to do so for an hour or half a day.  These lists are meant to give you some stuff to do that’s not going to kill the original schedule or budget you have.  Here’s Lancaster:

1) Lancaster Newspaper Newseum:

The Lancaster Newspaper Newseum is a free museum across the street from The Marriott on Queen Street, arguably the center of Lancaster’s downtown.  It’s a pretty simple affair but takes you through the history of newspapers in Lancaster and by default gives you a simple history of the city.  If you only have a couple of minutes and want to learn something about Lancaster, check it out.  The Central Market and Springhouse Taproom (2 & 5) are in easy walking distance.

2) Central Market:

Lancaster has the oldest operating farmer’s market in the country located in the heart of it’s downtown.  It’s open Tuesday through Friday 6-4 and Saturday 6-2. There’s all sorts of cheap meat, produce and it’s all locally grown if that’s what you’re into.  I go specifically for the chocolate milk and lobster rolls.

3) Beer & Wine Tasting:

Lancaster has a ton of microbreweries and wineries and there are a number located right downtown.  See my “Lancaster Beer Trail” post if you want a more detailed description.  The Federal Taphouse just opened downtown which has 100 beers on tap if you don’t just want to try local brews. If you really have some time to kill, you could also try to the York Ale Trail.

4) Roadtrip to Intercourse:

Lancaster is famous for the strange and somewhat sexual names of the little towns out in the country.  At one time Paradise, Blue Ball, and Intercourse were consecutive stops on the Reading Railroad.  Intercourse has the best name and is the easiest the most going on.  It’s also the easiest to get to, you simply follow Philadelphia Pike off Route 30.  It’s about 10-15 minutes outside of Lancaster City.  intercourse is in the heart of Amish Country and if you visit you could take buggy rides, go shopping, wine or beer taste or simply take pictures of all the “Intercourse” signs (since I have the maturity of a 5th grader, my particular favorite is any of the Intercourse churches).

5) Springhouse Tap Room:

Springhouse Tap Room is already listed in the “Lancaster Beer Trail” I linked to in 3) but I’m giving it its own slot for a variety of reasons.  It’s my favorite of all the Lancaster breweries.  I think it has the best beer and location.  I really dig the chocolate peanut butter stout and the pumpkin (when it’s in season).  They also have a great shuffleboard table.  My perfect Saturday afternoon is spent trying different beers and playing shuffle board.

6) Hiking the Susquehanna Valley:

If you don’t mind heading out of the city and have some time, Lancaster has some pretty good hiking.

7) Bar Crawl:

Coincidentally I just published a Lancaster Bar Crawl post on Tuesday.

8) Scooter in the Country:

There’s a few places out in Amish Country that rent mopeds and scooters.  It costs about $50.00 (for two hours) and is a cool way to see the countryside.  Plus you rent them hourly so it won’t take up your entire day.

9) Take a Scenic Drive:

My mother is a big fan of scenic drives.  I feel like I took a lot of them as a child which is maybe why I have such a high tolerance for them today.  You could pretty much drive any direction out of Lancaster and find something interesting although the best are southeast of the city.  That’s where you can see the most Amish as well as the most hokey tourist attractions.  Route 30 to me is particularly bizarre in some weird throwback route 66 roadside attractions type of way.

10) Drive to Hershey or Lititz or Take the Train to Mt. Joy:

Hershey is 40 minutes from Lancaster with it’s amusement park, breweries (Troegs)and streets smelling like chocolate.  Lititz is just north of Lancaster and deemed Budget Traveler’s “Coolest Small Town 2013.”  Mt. Joy is 14 miles northwest of Lancaster and is an easy drive up 283 or you could take the Amtrak.  I like taking the train out of Lancaster because the station is old and makes me feel fancy and Mt. Joy has a pretty good bar seen for a small town.  Make sure to check out Bube’s if you’re there.

Check out downtownlancaster.com for more things to do in the city.

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