3 things to do in Lancaster, PA this weekend with kids
When planning a Pennsylvania family vacation, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh may be the first cities that come to mind, but a trip to Lancaster should be at the top of your list. As one of the oldest towns in America, Lancaster is brimming with tradition, culture, and history. It is also home to stunning countryside landscapes, quaint small-town charm, and a surprising number of family-friendly attractions.
From a historic and large central market to a family-friendly amusement park, to a kid-friendly science center, to an old-fashioned theater, to Amish tours, a cartoon-themed hotel and so much more, you’ll find plenty of ways to stay busy and entertained during your Lancaster vacation regardless of the occasion.
History buffs, families with kids, couples, and groups of friends can all find something to love here. There’s not a better way to see a more unique and underrated side of Pennsylvania than by prioritizing a trip to Lancaster. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Lancaster, PA this weekend, keep reading to learn about our top tips!
Explore the vibrant history of Lancaster County
Lancaster is brimming with history, making it a must-visit for any history buff. The county is filled with historic attractions, and you can even do a mini self-guided tour of all the most significant historic features.
Did you know Lancaster County was the capital of the United States for one short day in 1777? Although it was short-lived, it can still claim its position as one of only 9 cities in the USA to have been a capital city. To this day, however, Lancaster remains home to the oldest farmer’s market in the United States of America! And it is well worth a visit. Hop over to downtown Lancaster to browse the stalls selling homemade goods, crafts, locally grown produce, and delicious traditional Lancaster cuisine.
Lancaster is also the home of the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, and his county estate, Wheatland, which you can visit and tour. Learn all about the history of the President’s life in Lancaster and see the rooms of his house and estate where he spent many years of his life.
While in Lancaster, you can also visit Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, which happens to be the oldest pretzel bakery in the USA! Since they’ve been around for so long, you can count on their pretzels to be exceptionally delicious, and it is well worth a visit to give them a try! Baked fresh in-house daily, no other pretzels will compare after you’ve tried one from here!
Lancaster is also most notably home to the oldest and largest Amish community in the United States, and the county is filled with Amish culture and history. A visit here is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the history and hospitality surrounding Amish traditions and lifestyle. Go on an authentic Buggy Ride tour where you’ll be guided to an Amish village, farmhouse, and market. Visit the Amish Country Homestead & One-Room School to get an idea of how Amish families raise their children and to understand the typical day-to-day lives of the Amish.
The Amish economy is largely based on farming, woodworking, and handicrafts, meaning that a visit to an Amish farm, woodworking shop, and handicraft market is an excellent way to delve deeper into their culture. Before you leave Lancaster, don’t forget to purchase some handmade souvenirs from the central Amish market in Lancaster to bring back home with you. Some of the top Amish country souvenirs to look out for are homemade jellies and jams, quilts, and handcrafted wood items. Also, don’t forget to try the delicious and traditional Shoofly Pie while you’re in Lancaster! It’s a mouthwatering Amish specialty made of molasses with a buttery crumble on top.
Finally, Downtown Lancaster is home to one of the oldest operating theaters in the country, the Fulton Theater. To this day, you can enjoy a tour of the historic theater or even attend a theatrical production here! Be sure to stop by one, if not all, of these historic and entertaining options across Lancaster County!
A fantastic fun-filled day
If you’re planning to spend your next family vacation in Lancaster, you’re in luck because Lancaster is home to one of the best amusement parks in Pennsylvania: Dutch Wonderland. Surprise your children with a fun-filled day they’ll never forget at the world’s best family park! A day spent at Dutch Wonderland is filled with rides, attractions, live shows, and endless magical entertainment.
Take kids on an adventure through prehistoric times as they walk among the dinosaurs and discover ancient fossils at Exploration Island. Explore over 30 different rides and attractions, from kiddie rides to adrenaline-pumping thrillers. Test your bravery on Merlin’s Mayhem roller coaster and reach new heights on Kingdom Coaster. Hop aboard the Wonderland Special to take a magical train ride all around the kingdom. Young children can enjoy a range of kiddie rides, from the Merry-Go-Round to Turtle Whirl, to Bumper Cars, to a bird's-eye view of the park on the Monorail or Sky Ride, and so much more!
All the fun and action will be sure to make you work up an appetite during your Dutch Wonderland adventure, but not to worry, the park has a wide range of dining options from restaurants to snack stands, sweet treats, and more. Satisfy your hunger with a fresh pretzel from Penley’s Pub, eat a satisfying meal at Merlin’s Pizza & Pasta Buffet, enjoy grilled items at Sharkey’s Grill, and grab some extraordinary BBQ at Dragon’s Fire BBQ. One thing is certain during a family visit to Dutch Wonderland: you won’t go hungry with all the delicious dining options available.
Bring all the fun memories you’ve created with your family back home with you by grabbing a souvenir from one of the many gift and souvenir shops before you go. Souvenir shops like Merlin’s Marketplace and the Castle Gift Shop are both loaded with fun and colorful gifts for children and adults alike. Children will have a blast picking out their favorite plush animal or Dutch Wonderland character. Got a holiday or a birthday coming up? This is an excellent opportunity to grab a gift for one of your kids or for someone back at home.
A visit to Dutch Wonderland, the world’s best family park, is by far one of the best things to do in Lancaster PA for families of all ages. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Lancaster PA, be sure to put a visit to Dutch Wonderland at the top of your list.
An animated hotel with fun activities
Are you looking for the perfect place to stay during your Lancaster vacation? Look no further! Cartoon Network Hotel is an excellent choice for families staying in Lancaster. The cartoon themed hotel has it all, from multiple pools to incredible dining options, to themed rooms, fun activities, and so much more. Plus, the hotel is right next to Dutch Wonderland, making it the ultimate accommodation option for families planning on visiting Dutch Wonderland during their Lancaster stay. This hotel is special because it’s an experience you won’t get from any other hotel!
Surprise your kids with a cartoon themed room, where they can have a sleepover with some of the most popular Cartoon Network characters. There’s no better way to get your kids excited to go to sleep! Choose from a variety of themed rooms, from The Powerpuff Girls, to Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and more.
Go swimming at one of the hotel’s three different pools or splash pad. If you’ll be visiting during the summer months, you can enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool with a waterslide. Go for a family dip in the hot tub in the evening before bed to prepare yourself for a restful sleep. Or, if you’re visiting during the colder months or any other time of the year, enjoy swims in the heated indoor swimming pool.
You’ll never go hungry during your Cartoon Network Hotel stay with multiple dining options available. Enjoy delicious menu items from Cartoon Kitchen, start your day with a caffeinated beverage from Bearista Cafe, or treat yourself to some poolside concessions at Land of P’Oool Concession Stand. Even picky eaters will find plenty of menu items to love here. Even better, you’ll get to dine with a front-row seat looking into the kitchen, where you can see some of your favorite characters preparing your order!
Kids can enjoy a range of themed play areas and extra activities to stay entertained. Inquire about daily crafts and games held in the Toon Room. Enjoy coloring sheets and sensory bottles, epic games of hide and seek, and so much more. The Cartoon Network Hotel makes sure families and kids stay happy and entertained throughout their entire stay.
Keep your fun family memories of the Cartoon Network Hotel intact with a one-of-a-kind souvenir from the Cartoon Network Store, which is conveniently located just off the main lobby of the hotel. Kids will have a blast browsing the different toys, apparel, and themed items from some of Cartoon Network’s most popular shows including Adventure Time, Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, We Bare Bears, Steven Universe and the Amazing World of Gumball.
There’s no better way to guarantee a fun-filled family vacation in Lancaster than by staying at Cartoon Hotel. To make it even more memorable, pair your Cartoon Network Hotel stay with a visit to Dutch Wonderland. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Lancaster PA with kids, be sure to put a stay at the Cartoon Network Hotel at the top of your list.
What are you waiting for? If you’re looking for the best things to do in Lancaster PA this weekend, you’ve found it! Browse all the different packages, special offers, and group deals to start planning your Cartoon Network Hotel stay today. We can’t wait to see you and your family here!