You’re probably wondering why I was at Lancaster… what is this place and what is there to do? I asked myself the same questions and purposely booked more time at New York, a city that I’m sure everyone is familiar with, and booked 2 days at Lancaster, Pennsylvania only.
In retrospect, if I had more time, I would have actually liked to have stayed there for one more day, at least one full day without any interruptions. You see, being located in Pennsylvania, I was expecting that this town would be too quiet for my tastes. In general, I’m someone who likes to go to places with lots of things to do and things to eat. The last time I was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I only remembered horses and amazingly delicious Philly cheese steaks (which I couldn’t find this time unfortunately).
That said, now that I have visited Lancaster, a good two full days would be enough for me. I was there for 3 days, but the first day I arrived late in the afternoon, the second day I was only free in the morning, and the third day I left in the morning. For anyone travelling from New York, this would be a perfect day trip or weekend trip.
You see, I was there to attend one of my best friend’s wedding, who’s spouse’s family happens to be from around this area, and hence the wedding ceremony and reception was held here. It’s actually great it was held in this town, because not only did I have an excuse to travel to New York, but also this town was quiet in a good way, charming, and just very pleasant. It’s more than 2 hours from New York by train, yet the culture of the city is 180 degrees different from New York.
Unlike the rush and competitiveness of New York City, Lancaster feels relaxed, laid back, and easygoing. Unlike the ‘rude’ (debatable) manners of New York people, people from Lancaster are genuinely friendly and simple. There are no skyscrapers in Lancaster; this town seems to allow you to imagine what cities were like when United States was just being built.
To get to Lancaster from New York, I took the Amtrak train from Penn station. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there, and 3 hours to return.
During my return trip, when it reached Philadelphia, it shut off the entire train, there was no power at all, and at first I thought everyone had to get off. But actually, they did this to conserve electricity, and after when it was about time to continue the trip, it turned on the electricity again. Just a heads up for those who may be experiencing the same situation.
Hotel Lancaster (website)
Hotel Lancaster was the recommended hotel to stay as suggested by the groom and bride for the two nights we were there. The hotel is extremely convenient and centrally located to most of the things you can do in Lancaster. In fact, it is only a 20-min walk / <5 min drive from the Lancaster station.
The rooms were nothing extraordinary. I was sharing with another person, and we both had twin beds, quite spacious, your typical bathroom with a bathtub and shower. The beds were comfortable and the temperature of the room was adjustable to whatever makes you feel comfortable.
The hotel staff there was extremely friendly and helpful and always with a smile. I give compliments to them as they were also able to carry a friendly conversation and I felt they were genuinely interested in the things you told them.
At the entrance were coffee and hot water, fruit juice (that didn’t seem to be working), and tea, and they were all complimentary and self-served. On each floor and right outside the hotel lobby, there were vending machines for any soft drinks, energy drinks, or water you would like to purchase.
The one thing that may be a ‘weakness’ of the hotel is that it’s actually quite pricey. Probably not as pricey as Marriott which is a couple of blocks away, but more expensive than one would think. If you’re there like me for two days and splitting it with someone, sure the hotel should be fine.
Things to Do
Gallery Row (website)
On most of North Prince street, including areas around it, is an area filled with many art galleries, hence the name Gallery Row. Be sure to spend some time in this area as some of the art there are locally produced, and these artworks are actually more impressive than you would expect.
Visit 300 Block of North Queen Street (website)
Want to find some retro, vintage shops? Visit all the shops above 300 North Queen Street, and a whole block of boutique shops await you. Here you can find clothing fashion, accessories, jewelries, old games, 1960 magazines, quirky items, furniture, books, and more.
Building Character (website) housing an eclectic mix of items
Get Married at St. Mary’s Church
The main reason why I was here was to attend the wedding of one of my best friends. Here, the newly married couple had a wedding ceremony in St. Mary’s Church in Lancaster.
Visit the Central Market (website)
Central Market in Lancaster is one of the most highly rated, and in my opinion overly rated, things to do here. I guess it really depends on who we’re talking to, but for someone like me, it wasn’t my favorite “attraction”. I’m sure people who like to buy groceries and shop for food would like to come here. In my case, since there were no restaurants or anything, I wasn’t interested in it. I guess what’s cool was that they were selling Amish food products.
Restaurants and Eating
So, since there was no eating in the Central Market, why don’t I show you some of the restaurants I did eat at Lancaster? Bear in mind, most of my meals were wedding related, so I didn’t really had a chance to explore the restaurants around here.
Ma(i)son (website). Probably my favorite restaurant that we had in Lancaster.
Have a Wedding Reception at Riverdale Manor (website)
This was such an excellent choice for a wedding reception. A serene beautiful flowing river, a gorgeous sunset, beautiful trees, and of course beautiful wedding couple too ^^ The interior of the manor was cozy and simple, yet elegant in its own charming way.
Places to Party and Celebrate
There were a couple of places to party in Lancaster… all of them were bars that were 2 blocks away from Hotel Lancaster. One was a chill night where the bridal party and the groom and bride’s friends had some chill drinks and good times. The second night, after the wedding reception, was a Friday, so surprisingly in this small town, there were actually a lot of people gathered at tellus360.
Would you want to visit this little enchanting town called Lancaster after this post? What are you most interested in… the restaurant, the parties, or perhaps the potential wedding here?