Thanks to new restaurants and retailers, historic Lancaster has gone hip.
The Exchange at sunset
Until last November, I hadn’t been to Lancaster (discoverlancaster.com) since my sixth-grade field trip in 1990. I decided the time was right for a road trip on the cusp of the pandemic’s second wave and after reading about farm stays in the Amish countryside in National Geographic. Located 90 minutes outside Center City, the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square (marriott.com) was home for the weekend, a recently revived property anchored by two contemporary dining experiences, the modern-American kitchen Plough and a sleek rooftop bar dubbed The Exchange. Across the street from the hotel, crowds gather early to shop for seasonal produce, sticky-sweet whoopie pies and handmade bonnets at Central Market (centralmarketlancaster.com). Around the corner, grab a coffee and a salted caramel treat at Lancaster Cupcake (lancastercupcake.com), featured on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Think of Prince Street as the Walnut Street of Lancaster, with can’t-miss retailers like Gallery Grow (gallerygrow.com), where guests can build their own terrariums at the plant bar, and David Lyall (davidlyalldesign.com), a home and design showroom filled with plush furnishings. Back near the farmers market, Ellicott & Co. (ellicott.co) focuses on a tightly edited mix of maker goods like Lancaster-branded swag, buttery leather rucksacks and barware that will make any home entertainer look like a skilled mixologist. New for 2021, the John J. Snyder Jr. Gallery of Early Lancaster County Decorative Arts (located inside the historic Rock Ford house) brings tall-case clocks, silver and furnishings to Lancaster.
The Lancaster Marriott COURTESY OF DISCOVERLANCASTER.COM The Lancaster Marriott
Hold Your Horses
You’ll hear people refer to Lancaster as hip, but it’s the history that makes this travel destination stand out. Where else can you take a jaunty horse-and-buggy ride down a lonely road cut through miles of farmland handled by an Amish resident? It’s a can’t-miss experience for first-time visitors especially and was a highlight of my stay. “With our wide-open countryside and outdoor recreation combined with a smaller, walkable city and towns, Lancaster County strikes a comfortable balance of activity and spaciousness that appeals to many travelers,” says Edward Harris, president and CEO of Discover Lancaster. “This has always been true of the unique experience we offer, but people are putting an extra premium on that aspect right now.”
Inside home and design showroom David Lyall BY FIG LANCASTER