Spend your next family vacation exploring one of America’s most fascinating towns
Lancaster is home to a unique culture, a fascinating history, and stunning farmlands. The rural city boasts a unique small-town atmosphere combined with bustling attractions and top-rated restaurants, boutique shops, markets, and galleries. Go on a farm tour, shop for locally made products, and explore the stunning nature of the area!
Lancaster is commonly referred to as “Pennsylvania Dutch Country,” after the early German immigrants (Deutsch) who settled in the area. This can be confusing, however, because the term “Dutch” typically refers to Nederlanders, or people from the Netherlands. But in this case, the “Dutch” community in Pennsylvania strictly refers to German-speaking settlers who arrived during the 18th century.
There is truly no other place like it in the United States. Lancaster embodies a culture and a way of life that is completely unique, which can mainly be attributed to its historical influences.
Lancaster offers a wide range of attractions and activities for all types of visitors to enjoy. The rural countryside surroundings are popular for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, and more! Learn about the history of the local culture and the present-day community with a farm tour, where you can visit a working farm and village. Or, visit the Lancaster Central Market, where you can browse and purchase home-made products sold by members of the local community.
To enjoy a more modern take on Lancaster, pay a visit to Dutch Wonderland, a top-rated family-friendly amusement park offering a whole world of fun, rides, live entertainment and more!
Keep reading to learn some of our top tips on fun things to do in Lancaster PA!
Explore the outdoors at the Holtwood Dam
If you’re a nature lover looking for unique things to do near Lancaster PA, look no further! When the weather is nice, a long walk around the Holtwood Dam is an excellent way to spend some time outdoors in the area. There are many options for ways to spend your visit here.
Make your first stop a visit to see the stunning rushing waters of the dam, which makes a fantastic backdrop for family photos! The dam itself is surrounded by dense and beautiful forested areas, which are particularly beautiful during the fall months when the leaves turn colors, offering breathtaking visual scenery. For the best views of the surrounding area, head to the area above the dam, or snap some photos from the bridge.
Whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced hiker, there are several options for hikes around the dam to choose from. Hikers can enjoy an easy and scenic hike along the old canal system, where you can even learn some history about the canal as you walk along. The hike starts along the Mason Dixon Trail, just past Lock No 12. When you start walking, you’ll pass along some scenic small waterfalls and large boulders. Be aware that after the waterfalls end, the trail gets a bit strenuous, so it’s best for beginner hikers to turn around here, and only advanced hikers should proceed past this point. If you’ll be continuing along for the advanced part of the trail, you’ll find some stunning vantage points at the top of the dam.
If you’ll be hiking during the summer months, you can even wade around in the falls on the Mill Creek Falls Trail, so be sure to bring your bathing suits, sunscreen, towels, and plenty of water to stay hydrated!
See the best views of Lancaster from a hot air balloon
Experience Lancaster from a unique point of view, from high in the sky on a majestic hot air balloon! Float above the clouds, enjoying peaceful views of the quaint villages and farms down below. It’s an excellent photo opportunity, as well as an experience you and your family will never forget.
A hot air balloon ride above Lancaster is perfect for families or couples seeking a special and memorable activity in Lancaster, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. If you’ve never tried it before, a hot air balloon ride is a peaceful and smooth flight, hovering just high enough to see the area from a bird’s-eye-view. You’ll get to soak up all the best sights of Lancaster, including the stunning rolling hills, farmlands, and sights, from high in the sky!
Lancaster Hot Air Balloon Rides is one of the top-rated companies in Lancaster to book a hot air balloon ride with. The company offers private or shared hot air balloon rides over Lancaster. Discounts are offered for shared rides, while private rides give you the intimate opportunity to have the balloon basket all to yourselves. You’ll spend around an hour floating up in the air, not including the time for landing and take off. Balloon rides are completely safe and flights are operated by highly experienced professional pilots.
Treat your family to the adventure of a lifetime combined with breathtaking scenery, excitement, adrenaline, and guaranteed laughter! It’s a fantastic way to spend a birthday, an anniversary, or to celebrate a special event.
Whether you’re seeking a memorable family vacation, an adrenaline-pumping adventure, or a romantic date, a hot air balloon ride above Lancaster is truly one of the best things to do near Lancaster PA.
Enjoy the ultimate family vacation at Dutch Wonderland
Will you be visiting Lancaster with your family? A visit to Dutch Wonderland amusement park is hands down one of the top family-friendly destinations in Lancaster! Don’t miss out on the 35+ rides and attractions, including a mini water park area, games, dining options, live shows, and so much more. Dutch Wonderland offers something special for every member of the family.
If you’ll be visiting Lancaster during the summer months, be sure to bring your bathing suits, sunscreen, and pool towels and head straight to Duke’s Lagoon! This mini water park located within Dutch Wonderland is the perfect place for families with kids to cool off from the hot summer sun. Kids can run around the park as they get sprayed and splashed by tropical themed water features, including palm trees with water spilling coconuts! Blast down the water slides and splash around in the kid-safe shallow wading pool. Kids can play on the fun, colorful structures and jungle-gym features all around the water park.
Want to enjoy your day at the park to the fullest? Your family can rent a private cabana for the day during your visit to Dutch Wonderland! It’s the perfect shady space to relax and cool off. The airy, family-sized cabanas include two comfy lounge chairs, a dining table, and four chairs. Cabanas are conveniently located in Duke’s Lagoon, so you can rest in between your splashin’ water adventures!
The 30+ rides and attractions are the crown jewel of the park, offering a full day of smiles and excitement! Throw your hands in the air as you zip along a roller coaster track. Slide down the Fun Slide, and fly high on scenic gondolas at Sky Ride. These are just a few of the many fun rides offered at the park. The best way to try them all is with season passes so that you can enjoy multiple park visits!
Don’t miss out on a visit to Exploration Island, a dinosaur-themed area of the park where kids can go on a prehistoric adventure. Walk along the Prehistoric Path to meet 22 lifelike dinosaurs, and then dig up ancient fossils at the Dino Dig sandpits! It’s a fantastic educational journey for kids, allowing them to use their imagination to go on a time-traveling adventure.
Take a break from all the rides and excitement to fuel up at one of the park’s many excellent dining options. Dutch Wonderland offers a diverse selection of restaurants to choose from, all of which offer kid-friendly menus and a range of food options. Enjoy fresh pretzels, chicken tenders, cheese steaks, fries, burgers, salads, wraps, and so much more! No sweet tooth will be left unsatisfied with the vast number of ice cream shops and sweet treats offered in the park. Snack on Dippin’ Dots, grab a cone of Turkey Hill Ice Cream, sip on a slushie, or treat yourself to a creamy Dole Whip.
Don’t leave the park without grabbing a souvenir to keep the memories of your family park visit alive forever! There are numerous gift and souvenir shops to choose from throughout the park. Browse majestic gifts at the Castle Gift Shop. Choose a special toy or plush character from Merlin’s Marketplace, or dig up a dino fossil at Artifacts.
What are you waiting for? Start planning a family adventure that your kids will never forget! Choose from our selection of ticket and season pass options. Buying tickets in advance or visiting the park on a weekday is the best way to enjoy discounted admission rates. For the best value and unlimited visits, check out our season pass options.
We look forward to seeing your family creating magic memories at Dutch Wonderland in the near future!