10 Hidden Gems in Lancaster, PA to Explore this Summer
Summer is a fantastic time to experience all that Lancaster County has to offer.
With its stunning green spaces, rich history, and vibrant culture, Lancaster becomes a bustling tourist destination during the summer months. And while many tourists frequent popular attractions featured on travel sites, we believe that the best things to do in Lancaster, PA in the summer are a bit off the beaten path.
So, whether you’re visiting from out of town or you’ve lived here for years, we want to inspire you to get out and try something new! Below, we’ve listed ten of our favorite hidden gems in Lancaster, PA to put on your Lancaster County bucket list this summer.
1. Binn’s Park
Nestled in Downtown Lancaster on the 100 block of North Queen Street, Binn’s Park is a great spot to sit and soak in the sights of the city!
The park features plenty of tables and soft grass for picnics, as well as a dancing water fountain for children to play in on a hot summer day. Just be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat to protect your face from the sun, as there’s little shade available.
Binn’s Park also features a large stage and serves as a hub for many events and live performances throughout the summer, including the city’s annual Fourth of July festivities.
It’s also within a short walking distance from many favorite coffee spots, restaurants, and specialty shops (like Foxduck), making it an ideal place to take a break while exploring the city.
Image courtesy of DJ Ramsay.
2. Farmer’s Markets
Lancaster County is famous for its fresh produce and handmade goodies. So what better way to enjoy the local flavors and faces than by visiting a farmer’s market? We recommend checking out the following two markets while you’re in the area.
Lancaster Central Market
This isn’t exactly a hidden gem in Lancaster, PA, but it’s certainly a must see! Lancaster Central Market has been a staple in our community for centuries, and we’re proud to call it our neighbor.
Originally established in 1730, Lancaster Central Market is the oldest continually-running public farmer’s market in the country! This beautiful, historic building houses over 60 vendors selling a wide variety of locally-sourced items. But the products aren’t the main thing that makes this place special—it’s the people.
So, if you want a better sense of what Lancaster’s all about, head downtown on a market day (Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday) and meet someone new at Central Market.
Root’s Country Market
If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Lancaster, PA on a Tuesday, take a trip up to Manheim to visit Root’s Country Market & Auction! Like Lancaster Central Market, Root’s also holds a title as the oldest, single-family-run market in Lancaster County.
Since its humble beginnings in 1925, the market has expanded significantly with over 200 standholders selling fresh meats, produce, baked goods, crafts, collectibles, antiques, and more! There’s something for everyone to eat and enjoy on market day in Manheim.
3. Pine View Dairy
If you need a neat place to cool down on a hot day, pick up a frozen treat at Pine View Dairy!
Just a 15 minutes drive from the heart of Lancaster City, this family-owned farm is a favorite stop for local ice cream lovers. Not only do visitors get to delight in delicious ice cream and goodies from the farm store, but they can also watch the cows being milked and interact with newborn calves.
So if you enjoy fresh-made ice cream and fluffy baby cows, we strongly suggest stopping by this hidden gem in Lancaster, PA!
4. Lancaster Balloon Rides
Looking for a really unique thing to do in Lancaster, PA this summer? Book a hot air balloon ride over scenic Amish farmland!
Lancaster Balloon Rides offers both private and shared flights for adventure seekers. You’ll float one mile above the ground for about 2.5-3 hours, soaking in the beauty of Lancaster like never before. If this experience isn’t on your Lancaster County bucket list, add it now! You won’t regret it.
5. Historic Attractions
Perhaps you prefer history to adventure? Well, Lancaster County hosts a number of places where you can immerse yourself in the area’s rich history and heritage. From American history to art history, there are quite a few historical hidden gems in Lancaster, PA just waiting to be discovered, such as:
- Wheatland: Visit the historic home of President James Buchanan.
- 1719 Museum: Explore the oldest building in Lancaster County, Herr House, and a full-scale replica of a Native longhouse.
- Historic Rock Ford: Tour the home of Edward Hand, Adjutant General to George Washington during the American Revolution.
- Ephrata Cloister: Take a trip back to the 1700s at this historic monastic settlement which was part of William Penn’s “holy experiment.”
- Demuth Museum: Explore the Lancaster City home of world-famous artist, Charles Demuth.
6. The Wolves of Speedwell
For those looking for a truly unique thing to do in Lancaster, PA, we recommend visiting the Wolf Sanctuary of PA. This non-profit refuge houses over 50 wolves on 80+ acres of natural woodland in Lititz, PA. Take a guided walking tour of the facility to learn more about these majestic animals and see them interact.
As the wolf is a cousin to the fox, be sure to represent the canine family during your visit with one of our Flying Foxduck hats or branded T-shirts!
7. Northwest River Trail
The Northwest River Trail is an ideal spot to enjoy some outdoor activities in Lancaster, PA like biking, hiking, and sightseeing.
The trail begins in Columbia and stretches 14 miles along the Susquehanna River through the towns of Marietta, Bainbridge, and Fallmouth. Along the way, you can enjoy stunning views of the river, farmland, and historic remains from past industrial operations in the area.
Just be sure to pack a water bottle (or two) for the journey!
8. Columbia River Park
Located at the start of the Northwest River Trail lies Columbia River Park and Columbia Crossings River Trail Center.
The park features benches and tables for visitors to picnic, birdwatch, and take in the sights of the Susquehanna. There’s also a launch for boats, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards, as well as a rental service for watercraft during the summer season.
The Columbia Crossing River Center offers historic and environmental educational resources for guests, with rotating exhibits throughout the year.
9. The Pinnacle Overlook
If you want to experience one of the most spectacular lookouts in Lancaster County, then Pinnacle Point Overlook is the place for you.
Located just north of Holtwood, this iconic vista stands 380 feet above Lake Aldred and offers a stunning panoramic view of the lower Susquehanna Valley. The Pinnacle is also a great place to enjoy birdwatching and hiking, as it connects to both the Kelly’s Run and Conestoga Trail Systems.
Although it’s a 30-minute drive south from the city, this is one hidden gem in Lancaster, PA that is well worth seeking out!
10. Pequea Creek Campground
Sticking with the theme of outdoor activities in Lancaster, PA, the summer season is a great time to get out in the woods and go camping. And if you’re looking for a safe and serene place to do so, look no further than Pequea Creek Campground!
Located along the Pequea Creek in Southern Lancaster County, this relaxing campground is a perfect place to unplug for a few days and find peace with nature. With access to fishing, hiking trails, picnic tables, and play areas, everyone in the family will be a happy camper at Pequea Creek Campground.
The campground is open for tent camping and motorhomes from April-October.