Discover Lancaster- A 3 Day Travel Itinerary
#Sponsored I recently took a road trip to Lancaster County! This beautiful part of Pennsylvania is only a 3.5 hour drive from Long Island, NY making it the perfect weekend getaway. I visited Lancaster a few times as a child on family vacations, and once again in my early 20's for nostalgia, but had not been in years. I was excited to revisit places I knew, but also to see a new side of Lancaster through an adult's perspective. I cannot believe how much Lancaster County has developed. There are new housing developments and apartment complexes building up around bustling revived towns that are full of restaurants offering any type of cuisine you could wish for, and shops with anything you could need. Breweries and wineries are just a short drive from wherever you are. Yet there is still quiet and peace in the countryside with rolling hills and active farms, and farm stands boasting seasonal produce and homemade baked and canned goods. It is the perfect balance, and the people are SO nice.
My boyfriend and I enjoyed ourselves so much that we already want to plan another visit. The food and beverage scene absolutely exceeded our expectations! There truly is something for everyone here, no matter what your age or interests are, so whether you are looking for a romantic weekend escape like us, or to create some family-fun memories, Lancaster is for you! Come along and check out our full 3 day itinerary, complete with links to the local businesses we visited!
Travel: We traveled by car from Long Island, NY to Lancaster County. We left at 5:00am and arrived by 8:30am so we could beat traffic and make the most of our day.
Breakfast: Shady Maple Smorgasbord- 129 Toddy Dr, East Earl, PA 17519, (717) 354-8222
The Shady Maple is the largest buffet in the U.S.A! Breakfast is served from 7-10am Monday-Saturday (closed Sundays) and will run you $12.99-15.99 per person depending on the day, with discounts available for seniors and children. Made-to-order Pancake and Omelet station, standard breakfast fare, as well as local traditional dishes. All was delicious, but the highlight for me was the donuts- hands down the absolute best donuts I've ever had! Make sure to explore the massive gift shop on the lower level after you eat. They have everything from art work, to hand carved wooden furniture, handmade quilts, toys, clothing, and more!
Explore: That Fish Place - That Pet Place- 237 Centerville Rd, Lancaster, PA 17603, (717) 299-5691
I know a pet and fish store may seem odd for a travel itinerary, but this place is huge and we are animal lovers. This pet store has adorable rabbits, chinchillas, ferrets, and hamsters, a reptile room, a cat adoption center, and an aviary. Their fish store is like walking through an aquarium with a huge array of fresh water and salt water fish, and even a sting ray touch tank! Definitely a notable stop even if it's not the norm.
Check In: Homewood Suites by Hilton Lancaster- 200 Granite Run Dr, Lancaster, PA 17601, (717) 381-4400
This all suites hotel provides a spacious home away from home during your travels. We had a 1 Bedroom King Bed Suite that came with a full kitchen, dining table, L-shaped couch with a chaise in the living space which doubles as a sofa bed, separate bedroom with a very comfy king sized bed, TV's in both rooms, walk-in shower, and Neutrogena bath products. Hot breakfast buffet is included in your stay. Coffee and Tea are available around the clock in the lobby. An indoor pool and fitness center are available too! We hung at the hotel for some R&R until dinner since we started our day so early.
Dinner: Shady Maple Smorgasbord- 129 Toddy Dr, East Earl, PA 17519, (717) 354-8222
We enjoyed breakfast here so much we went back to see what they offered for dinner! I know, I know- two buffet meals in one day may seem excessive, but we spread these out and they had completely different options. Dinner on Friday night ran us $23.99 per person, but the price changes depending on the day of the week. Their nightly featured items were Fried Shrimp, Crab Cakes, Salmon, Cajun Catfish, NY Strip Steak, and Beef Brisket, alongside their regular salad bar, bread bar, soups, meat, cheese, veggies, and dessert bar. The Beef Brisket and the Cajun Catfish were the standout items here, but most of the food was fantastic! Dinner service is from 4-7pm Monday-Thursday, 4-8pm Friday, and 3:15-8pm Saturday. The Shady Maple is closed on Sundays.
Late Night: Bube's Brewery- 102 N Market St, Mount Joy, PA 17552, (717) 653-2056
Lancaster has some great night life! There are so many breweries, but we chose Bube's Brewery (pronounced Boo-Bees) for their unique handcrafted beers and their Ghost Tour. We learned all about this historic 19th century brewery, and got to explore the Bube’s family residence and inn, as well as their Catacomb cellars originally used to age beer 43 feet underground! While we didn't see any ghosts, we heard stories about those that inhabit the facility and have been seen by employees and visitors over the years. This site has been featured on Ghost Hunters and has been confirmed to be haunted. Our tour was from 10-11pm. Tickets are required and can be purchased on their website. We went to the BottlingWorks tavern part of Bube's for a few fantastic beers before the tour started. The brewery houses several restaurants, so you can really make a whole night of it!
Breakfast: Sara Faye's Soft Pretzels at Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop- 542 Gibbons Road Bird in Hand PA, 17505, (717) 656-7947
This was a total stumble upon, but wow am I glad we did! Outside of Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop is a pretzel cart that serves up hand-rolled soft pretzels, and something I'd never seen before, Breakfast Pretzel Wraps. These wraps are only served from 9am-12pm and are made to order. They take about 10 minutes to make, so build in a little time. Think of this like a pretzel calzone, stuffed with bacon, egg, and cheese- absolute heaven! There are some outside tables so you can sit and enjoy, and watch the goats and chickens play.
Explore: Central Market Lancaster- 23 N Market St, Lancaster, PA 17603, (717) 735-6890
Located in Downtown Lancaster, which is the city section of Lancaster, is this gem of an indoor marketplace that houses vendor booths from local farms, butchers, fishmongers, and small businesses. They are open from 6am-3pm on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday only. If your trip happens to align with their hours, definitely go take a walk around and grab some goodies to take home!
Explore: Lancaster Cupcake- 4 W Orange St, Lancaster, PA 17603, (717) 553-5287
This was one of those stops where I wish I had a second stomach. The cupcakes in this adorable bakery were so cute and creative. Both the cupcakes and the shop were decorated with great attention to detail, and even better, the cupcakes tasted GREAT! I am super picky about bakery cupcakes, and these lived up to my expectations and beyond. I tried the Fresh Fruit Tart Cupcake and it was perfection in both flavor and texture. This location is right around the corner from Central Market, so pair these two stops together.
Explore: The Turkey Hill Experience- 301 Linden St, Columbia, PA 17512, (717) 684-0134
We ended up here because we were meeting up with friends who live locally that have two small children. This is not a factory tour of Turkey Hill's Ice Cream facilities, but rather a children's museum about how Turkey Hill Ice Cream is made. Awesome stop if you have little ones. Fun stop if you're an adult and want unlimited generous scoops of Turkey Hill Ice Cream and cups of Turkey Hill Iced Tea. Admission is $10.50 per adult, $10 for children ages 3-12, and free for children 2 and under. Ice Cream and Iced Tea sampling included with price of general admission.
Lunch: Big Dog Craft Brewing- 1559 Manheim Pike, Lancaster, PA 17601, (717) 517-7466
On our way back to the hotel for a midday break we decided we wanted a snack and a beer. We had spotted Big Dog Craft Brewing down the street from our hotel the day before, so made a pit stop. Another great find! This is tucked away in a strip mall, so may not be on many people's radar, but the Wings and Crab Dip we tried were awesome and their beer is hand-crafted on site. I tried the Strawberry Blonde which was light and refreshing- just what I needed.
Dinner: Noodle Shack- 1032 Lititz Pike, Lititz, PA 17543, (717) 627-0375
Our Saturday night turned out to bring some uncooperative weather so we decided it was the perfect night for some Pho! Noodle Shack is a great asian-fusion restaurant with plentiful choices of Ramen, Udon, Pho, Poke Bowls, and more. We started our meal with the Vietnamese Egg Rolls stuffed with pork, veggies, and noodles, and the Takoyaki, which are pancake like balls stuffed with octopus that are super delicious. We tried both the Lemongrass Chicken and the House Special (Beef) Pho, and they were both so satisfying.
Breakfast: Tomato Pie Cafe- 23 N Broad St, Lititz, PA 17543, (717) 627-1762
I first discovered Tomato Pie Cafe years ago when staying in Harrisburg, and enjoyed it so much I went back twice in that trip, so I was super excited to see that they now had a second location in Lititz, a great town in Lancaster County! I started my day with their Cookies & Cream Latte, which is a seasonal Summer beverage, and of course had to have their signature Tomato Pie. If you haven't tried it before, Tomato Pie is not pizza, but a literal pie baked in a pie crust consisting of ripe fresh red tomatoes, herbs, cheese, and a whole lot of flavor. Tomato Pie Cafe is open for Breakfast and Lunch from 7am-3pm 7 days a week.
Explore: Lititz Springs Park- 24 N Broad St, Lititz, PA 17543, (717) 626-8981
Nothing like a stroll through the park on a Sunday morning! Lititz Springs Park is a beautiful place to get out and enjoy nature. The grounds are well kept and feature fountains, flowers, a playground, a band shell, and even a refreshment stand. We even fed the resident ducks with food we bought from the feed dispenser!
Explore: Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery- 219 E Main St, Lititz, PA 17543, (717) 626-4354
I remember coming to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery when I was a kid and loving the tour, and I definitely still did as an adult. Thankfully, my pretzel twisting skills have improved greatly since then! Founded in 1861, this is America's first commercial pretzel bakery. The Sturgis family keeps their tradition going, and while they no longer make their pretzels at this facility, you can enjoy an interactive tour to learn the history of the company, how to properly twist a pretzel, and see the original ovens where Julius Sturgis and his family baked. Don't forget to pick up some bags of pretzels at the gift shop on the way out, and definitely try their Soft Pretzel- it's one of the best I've ever had! Tours are by appointment only, and cost $4 per adult, $3 kids ages 4-12, and are free for kids ages 4 and under. Book yours here!
Explore: Nissley Vineyards- 140 Vintage Dr, Bainbridge, PA 17502, (717) 426-3514
Nissley Vineyards is a stunning winery with a wide variety of red and white wine ranging from dry to super sweet, so there is something for every palate. A tasting costs $8 and includes 6 wines of your choice and a complementary stemmed wine glass to take home. Wine is also available by both the glass and by the bottle, and bottles are available for purchase to take home. If wine isn't the thing for you or someone in your party they also have local beers available, as well as cheese and crackers for sale to snack on. The Seyval Blanc and the Cabernet Franc Reserve were my favorite of their wines!
Explore: Stoltzfus Produce and Market Fare, 96 S Groffdale Rd, Leola, PA 17540, (717) 656-1933
Looking for some fresh produce, homemade root beer, canned goods, or yummy baked goods to take home? Look no further! We were blown away by the variety and value of homegrown and local items here in Amish Country. They are open Monday-Saturday 9-5 and closed on Sundays.
Explore: Fox Meadows Creamery, 2475 W Main St, Ephrata, PA 17522, (717) 721-6455
It’s not a Summer vacation without Ice Cream, and we found some of the best at Fox Meadows Creamery! This spot was the perfect sweet ending to our 3 day road trip. Their Ice Cream is made with farm-fresh milk and quality ingredients, and you can taste the difference in every bite. I had a hard time deciding which flavor I wanted because they all looked insanely yummy- thankfully they had a sampler where I could choose 4 scoops. I went for Belgian Cookie Butter, Caribbean Breeze (Mango, Guava, and Passion Fruit), Honeyed Lavender, and Chocolate Covered Strawberry. I definitely need to go back because I want to try all the flavors, and explore the lunch menu from their cafe too! Flavors rotate and are updated in-store and on their website.
Dinner: J.B. Dawson's Restaurant & Bar, 491 Park City Center, Lancaster, PA 17601, (717) 399-3996
For our last meal on this vacation we ate at J.B. Dawson's. If you're looking for steak and seafood, this is the place. We started with the Seared Ahi Tuna, which was prepared rare with soy sauce, wasabi & pickled ginger- so much flavor! Next we had the Lobster Bisque which came absolutely packed with chunks of lobster, just the way I like it. For my entree I enjoyed Cajun North Atlantic Grilled Salmon with Seasoned Green Beans and Creamed Spinach. J.B. Dawson's was the perfect upscale romantic date night atmosphere to unwind and reflect on our visit to Lancaster after a packed weekend!