An easy getaway from Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, and Washington, D.C., Lancaster County, the epicenter of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, is best known for its Amish and Mennonite communities. Sightseers flock to the area to look for farmers in straw hats plowing their fields with mule teams, and to watch black-clad families driving country roads in horse-drawn buggies. But the county and the eponymous city that anchors it have, in recent years, evolved into surprisingly varied destinations. Nowadays, Lancaster’s energized downtown buzzes with galleries, restaurants, and nightlife. At the same time, the mellow countryside offers wineries, hiking trails, and antique markets. Underlying it all are intriguing “English” (non-Amish) history and unique “gentile” traditions that stretch back to the colonial era, along with a 21st-century appreciation for the finer things in life. Today’s Lancaster County is, in a sense, an undiscovered place. Here’s the lowdown on why you should check it out.
By Constance Jones