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By Tony Gorick – Digital Content Manager
Lancaster City is charming, vibrant, and rapidly ever-changing—honoring legacy & history while pushing towards new, modern opportunity.
For those looking to explore this up-and-coming destination gaining national recognition and acclaim (Forbes named Lancaster a must-visit spot of 2019, offMetro named it one of the Best Places To Visit On The East Coast in 2019), we created a quick guide featuring some of the top restaurants, shops, arts, entertainment experiences, and more, making the City shine.
Read below and discover where to eat, sip, shop, play, and stay in Lancaster City this year!
Full Of Flavor: The Local Dining Scene
Discover the bold flavors making Lancaster City a restaurant capital on the rise.
Lancaster City has a thriving food scene that continues to grow, with additions like bagel shop Harvest Moon Bagel, fresh burger-making butcher Cabalar Meat Co., colorful restaurant The Imperial, and upscale dining experience Amorette adding unique flavors to the City.
Don’t miss classic staples like the Irish American pub Annie Bailey’s, cafe and popular brunch spot Commonwealth on Queen, and Vietnamese foodie favorite Sprout. In addition, both Iron Hill Brewery and Federal Taphouse provide guests with a large assortment of beer, burgers, pub fare, and more. The Belvedere Inn, consistently among the top fine dining spots in Lancaster, has been entertaining diners in a Victorian Italianate style city mansion since 1998. Foodie destinations LUCA and Ma(i)son have received national acclaim from Food Network star Alton Brown for their intentional, delicious menu selections. Shot & Bottle showcases a variety of local spirits that pair well with a unique, curated menu.
Once the weather warms, make sure to explore rooftop experiences at Altana and Tellus360, giving a beautiful view of the City skyline while you dine. Visit Citronnelle for a global dining experience featuring French American cuisine that changes seasonally, Callaloo—a restaurant Buzzfeed named one of the tops in the state—for Trinidadian cuisine you won’t forget, and Himalayan Curry And Grill for authentic Nepalese and Indian cuisine right in the heart of the City.
Many of the restaurants source local ingredients from the bountiful farmlands surrounding the City (and from Lancaster Central Market), making each dish fresh, authentic, and unique to Lancaster!
If you suffer (or thrive) with a sweet tooth, make sure to visit Lancaster Cupcake (bakery that appeared on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars), Rolled Cold Creamery (shop specializing in a unique rolled ice cream process), and Miesse Candies (candy store full of handcrafted chocolates and an ice cream parlor).
Keep checking back for updates on Lancaster City Restaurant Week—a week-long celebration with specials, new flavors, and more in Lancaster City. It happens twice in 2019!
Cheers: Local Distilleries, Breweries, Coffee Spots
Over the course of the last few years, the rise of local handmade, locally-brewed beer, cider, and mead has begun to take Lancaster City by storm. Plus, the coffee scene is stellar.
With a booming culture scene and an influx of newer generations and city transplants moving to the downtown blocks, Lancaster City has been on the rise over the last decade for local distilleries and breweries. Lancaster Craft Beerfest is a hugely popular event and one not to miss (mark your calendar for August 2019 and learn more!).
Starting in 2014, Wacker Brewing Co. has been a staple in the beer scene in Lancaster, but also echoes a legacy of a previous brewing company. In the same space is Thistle Finch Distillery that features Batch White Rye Whiskey, an award winning aged whiskey sure to impress.
Explore Meduseld Meadery—a delicious destination for authentic mead and a menu pulled from the pages of history. You can participate in some axe-throwing in their space, too! Levengoods offers a variety of local hard ciders like Cherry Cider, Dry Cider, Hopped Cider, and many seasonal flavors.
Explore even more breweries and cocktail destinations in our recent story Cheers To The Rise Of Lancaster City’s Local Craft Beer & Drink Scene!
The coffee culture in Lancaster is also thriving. Make sure to check out our Coffee Guide, with downloadable map, to make sure you hit all of the best spots—including Lancaster County Coffee Roasters (Lancaster’s original coffee!), Passenger Coffee (named the Best Coffee In Pennsylvania by Food & Wine), and Square One (award-winning micro roaster in Lancaster).
Your Shopping Exploration Guide
Unique boutiques line streets, chic styles and designs are just footsteps away, and the nation’s largest farmer’s market is right in the heart of the City.
Shopping local helps infuse the economy and offers the opportunity to purchase unique items not found anywhere else. Discover artisan-made goods and locally-sourced gifts in the many shops and at Lancaster Central Market.
Peruse fine style at Coleson Clothiers, beautiful jewelry at Ream Jewelers, and adorable kids fashion at Bellaboo. Experience the gorgeous home decor and designs at David Lyall Design, then browse specialized gifts for the modern man at Ellicott & Co. Don’t miss TAUPE and Charlotte Shoppe for all the chic fashionistas, then stop by Festoon where Selga—a style-forward clothing line for sophisticated, modern women—is showcased for shoppers.
New shop Telltale Dress is adding an eclectic storefront on the 300 block of Queen Street along with boutique Sophie Stargazer—featuring sustainable fashion and local goods—and Nicole Taylor Boutique. Explore renowned candles from Barrick Design Candles at the local shop in the City, then discover a variety of local makers and craftsman selling their creations at Madcap & Co. and Building Character.
Browse Lancaster home decor and gifts at Details, then check out the global blends of spices and teas at Lancaster Spice & Tea Exchange (we love their hot and cold tea bar to grab a drink while we shop!).
And of course don’t miss the Lancaster Central Market! Since 1730, Market has impacted thousands and thousands of lives—both locals and visitors—with its unique array of goods and stands. More than 60 local vendors call the beautiful 1889 Market House home three days each week (Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday), when it opens its doors to welcome the surrounding community. We at Fig absolutely love Central Market and enjoyed sharing our top picks with readers recently!
There are many more shops all around town, so be sure to stop at the Lancaster Visitor’s Center right in Penn Square to discover even more places.
The Booming Arts & Culture Movement
Big stages, musical experiences, museums, art galleries, and more, are all around the City.
The Fulton Theatre has been around for hundreds of years—it’s known as the longest-running theatre in the country. It went through many iterations since the first building opened in the late 1770’s, but now it’s a nationally-acclaimed theatre that showcases award-winning musicals and plays. Favorites like Chicago and Mamma Mia! are hitting the main stage in 2019!
In addition to the Fulton, there is more that adds to the booming musical scene in Lancaster. Discover the fresh theatrical experiences at PRiMA, see all that Millersville University’s Ware Center has to offer, explore a variety of events at The Trust Performing Arts Center, attend renowned orchestra concerts with Allegro, and engage opera favorites with Penn Square Music Festival. There are always some great bands and shows at venues like Tellus360. Another hidden gem is the Lancaster Marionette Theatre, a unique one-man performance experience.
You don’t want to miss all the exclusive art galleries all around the City. Gallery Row, on Prince Street, features some of the most prominent artists right on the main strip. Susan Gottlieb specializes in multi-media paintings, and Christiane David Gallery creates art that pops off the wall in vibrant, eclectic colors. Make sure to stop by Freiman Stoltzfus Art Gallery to see rich artwork full of intention and meaning. There are so many inspiring artists in Lancaster—find many of them working on projects during Lancaster City’s popular First Friday event! Pennsylvania College of Art & Design also features a variety of touring work and student work (browse their upcoming events).
For the history buff, go on a historic Lancaster City Walking Tour, explore the North Museum for interactive exhibits and fascinating events for the whole family, and visit LancasterHistory.org to explore a variety of past and present content to learn more about the area.
Outdoor & Wellness Opportunities
Bike around the City, walk the trails, discover an eclectic array of yoga spots, and get a breath of fresh air.
Bike It is the new bike share program in the City, with bike stations placed at some of the busiest areas including Rotary Park, College Square, West King Street, South Duke, Amtrak, and North Duke Street. Just download the app and you are good to go!
The City has an assortment of parks with trails, playgrounds, areas perfect for picnics, basketball courts, and more. Check out Buchanan Park (complete with a dog park!) and Long’s Park—the latter having a gorgeous pond tucked in the center of the park near a large amphitheater that hosts a summer music concert series and a renowned Art Festival.
For the sports fan, Clipper Magazine Stadium features the Barnstormers, a baseball team in the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, right in the City. The atmosphere is perfect for the whole family!
Where To Stay
Reside in the heart of Lancaster City with some of these overnight options.
The Lancaster Arts Hotel emphasizes a unique stay and each room—from the lobby to each guest room—is filled with original, unique works of art, especially from local Pennsylvania artists.
Lancaster Marriott Convention Center is in the heart of downtown Lancaster, footsteps away from Lancaster Central Market and the Lancaster Visitor’s Center.
Explore the above websites to book your stay and make 2019 your year to explore all Lancaster City has to offer!
Keep Updated On New Destinations, Experiences
Follow Fig Lancaster for up-to-date information on new destinations, restaurants, and happenings in Lancaster City.
Lancaster is always growing, changing, and adding new experiences to explore!
We are excited to visit Decades—a new restaurant, bar, six lane boutique bowling alley, skee ball lanes, and hub of favorite retro arcade games—when it opens later Spring 2019. The Creatively Lancaster Makers Market is a vendor event full of local makers that happens once a month and will continue in 2019. It is a great way to engage with many creatives in the community and shop small.
101NQ—new live, work, and play destination hitting Lancaster City late 2019—is going to transform the entire center of the City with new restaurants and boutiques (the renderings of the space are breathtaking).
For new experiences, happenings, and events, stay up-to-date by following Fig Lancaster on Facebook and Instagram. We love to share our content featuring Fulton theater show reviews, Fig Table dining spotlights, transformative community game-changers, and more, to readers—both local and visiting.
This year, make Lancaster the destination at the top of your list—we look forward to having you here.
Want More Lancaster Love? Read These Stories:
- Your Map & Guide To Lancaster City’s Renowned Coffee Scene
- Funky Fresh Flavor: New Oola Bowls Opens In Lancaster City
- Art Works: Meet Creatives That Enrich Lancaster City
- Fig’s Favorite Finds at Lancaster Central Market
- The Humane League’s Kitties Of The City