A Winter Wonderland in Lancaster

Heartwarming Activities

in Amish Country

Heartwarming Activities in Amish Country

It's no secret that Lancaster's winters are blustery. With temperatures hovering in the 30s and a whopping average snowfall of 39 inches per year, Amish Country becomes a true winter wonderland. Not everybody loves the chill, of course, but many find that the snow gives the region an ethereal type of beauty that goes way beyond its typical visual charm.

Winter might not be peak tourist season, but that certainly doesn't mean that you should stay away when the temperature drops. This is actually an excellent time to visit, as you can enjoy not only the spectacular winter scenery, but also seasonal events.

Lititz Fire & Ice

When planning their itinerary, many Lancaster visitors are quick to search for "winter festivals near me." Thankfully, you don't have to go far to find a unique and incredibly memorable event.

Fun, free, and family-friendly...what's not to love about the Lititz Fire & Ice Festival? This outdoor spectacular spans a full ten days, bringing awe-inspiring ice carvings and even fire shows to the lovely town of Lititz. It's close enough to be an excellent option when you visit Lancaster in February.

If you're in the area with kids, stop by during the youth-oriented Winter FUNderland. This special event includes plenty of winter activities with kids. There's also a scavenger hunt, a pub crawl, and a chili cookoff.

First Fridays in Lancaster City

Lancaster's First Fridays
occur throughout the year but are a whole lot less crowded during the winter. Held the very first Friday of every month, this local favorite provides ample opportunities to see the best Pennsylvania winter attractions. Organ concerts, gallery exhibitions, and free museums are all compelling opportunities on First Fridays.

Ride the Strasburg Railroad

The Strasburg Railroad's route is wonderful throughout the year, but there's something extra special about riding the train during the winter. If you're lucky enough to visit during the month of December, you can hit up the Christmas trains and ride with Santa.

Struggling to find something memorable to do in Lancaster in February? Make the most of the cold by bundling up for an open-air trip known as the Long John Limited. The reward is a complimentary long john donut, plus a cup of coffee.

Expand Your Horizons at Lancaster Museums

Expand Your Horizons at Lancaster Museums

Lancaster and its surrounding communities boast a variety of intriguing museums, where you can learn about science, history, art, and far more. You could dedicate your entire vacation to museum-hopping and still have plenty of locations left on your bucket list. Essentials include:

  • Lancaster Science Factory. Hands-on exhibits are a big deal at this interactive museum, where kids and kids at heart learn by experimenting. The vast location features a water lab, puzzle tables, color filters, and many other intriguing activities that will help you nurture your inner scientist.

  • North Museum of Nature & Science. Another local science destination worth checking out, the North Museum of Nature & Science offers a lot of fascinating exhibits, such as a planetarium and a dinosaur gallery. There's even a live animal room, where you can visit snakes, turtles, and tarantulas.

  • Demuth Museum and Lancaster Museum of Art. Gaze in awe at the gorgeous and thought-provoking works on display at the region's top art museums. While they technically represent two separate and distinct locations, they've merged to bring greater visibility and power to the Lancaster area's artistic community.

  • LancasterHistory. Once known as the Lancaster County History Museum, LancasterHistory provides a thorough overview of the people and events that have shaped this region. One of the museum's most noteworthy offerings is Wheatland — the former home of President James Buchanan.

Check Out a Local Show

The Lancaster theater scene is thriving, as you'll quickly discover while checking out the area's finest shows.

  • Sight & Sound. This faith-based favorite is a go-to option during the holidays, when productions such as Miracle of Christmas remind us of the reason for the season.

  • Fulton Theatre. As the premier theater of Central Pennsylvania, The Fulton is located in historic downtown Lancaster. This location offers an excellent array of shows, including a variety of familiar musicals that will get your toes tapping.

Shop 'Til You Drop

From large-scale malls and outlets to cute boutiques, there are ample opportunities to engage in retail therapy when you visit Lancaster. Park City Center is a definite favorite during the winter — it provides an enclosed space so you can stay warm as you meander from one store to the next. As Pennsylvania's fourth-largest shopping mall, it's stocked with all the essential department stores, plus several specialty offerings.

If you're determined to get the most bang for the buck, head to the local Tanger Outlets. There, you can score amazing discounts on apparel and accessories, not to mention cosmetics and candles. Even more deals can be found when you browse The Shops @ Rockvale.

For a more whimsical experience, stop by one of the region's many antique shops. There, you'll discover unique vintage finds that won't be available just anywhere. Add these gems to your shopping itinerary:

  • Cackleberry Farm Antique Mall

  • Adamstown Antique Mall

  • Mother Tucker's Antiques

  • 272 Antiques & Collectibles Marketplace

Take a Buggy (or Bus) Ride

Bundle up and hit the road in a horse-drawn buggy. This quaint experience need not be limited to the summer, as tour companies operate throughout the year. AAA Buggy Rides, for example, maintains a specific winter schedule — weather permitting, of course. Aaron & Jessica's goes all-out for the winter months, even offering private sweetheart rides for Valentine's.

If a buggy ride doesn't seem warm enough, you can always opt for a bus instead. Several local companies will take you around the countryside so you can view the lovely landscapes. Check their calendars closely, as some (such as The Amish Village) take breaks but also operate during select portions of the winter season.

Indoor Playgrounds & Amusement Centers

Indoor Playgrounds & Amusement Centers

If you visit with kids and are desperate to use up their excess energy, hit up one of the area's many indoor playgrounds. There are plenty of options for tiny tots all the way up to teenagers:

  • Tiny Town. Kids and adults adore Tiny Town, which is home to eleven distinctive playspaces. This play center encourages visitors to use their imagination while exploring tiny salons, fire stations, post offices, and more.

  • Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center. Kids who are too old for Tiny Town will invariably gravitate towards Go ‘N Bananas, where they can monkey around on the ropes course, let loose in bumper cars, or navigate the laser maze.

  • Bounce Kraze. This family-owned favorite should provide hours of fun for kids while parents get caffeinated at the onsite coffee bar. Bounce houses abound, of course, but there are also slides, obstacle courses, and plenty of other opportunities to tire out the most energetic child.

  • Sky Zone Trampoline Park. It might not be exclusive to Lancaster, but Sky Zone is always worth visiting for its abundance of trampolines and thrilling activities. Older kids go wild for dodgeball, while youngsters are content to explore the bounce house.

Curl Up With a Book

Sometimes, the most relaxed days are the most peaceful. Why not immerse yourself in a completely different world while getting cozy with a good book?

There are plenty of excellent shops in Lancaster where you can score a new hardcover, although there's also something to be said for browsing the shelves at the Lancaster Public Library. If you're determined to expand your book collection, stop by DogStar Books, Pocket Books, or Books-A-Million.

Your hotel room provides the perfect environment for devouring your brand-new book, but you'll also have a wonderful time reading at one of the area's finest coffee shops. Favorites include Square One, Passenger Coffee, and Mean Cup.

Dutch Winter Wonderland

Lancaster's beloved theme park comes alive with twinkling lights for the last six weeks of the year, when festive decor keeps hearts warm even when faces are cold. It's worth braving the lower temperatures, as there's only so often you get to hang out with Santa at a theme park. Better yet, nearly two dozen rides and attractions are open for the holiday season.

Even if you simply spend your time wandering among the lights, you'll be glad you set aside a few hours for this iconic attraction. USA Today named Dutch Wonderland as one of the Best Theme Park Holiday Events for 2021 and 2022 — and there's no doubt the park will continue to impress in winters to come.

Cross-Country Skiing

Strap on some skis and hit the trail as you get a workout like no other. There are multiple cross-country trails available in and around Lancaster, so you have every opportunity to bundle up and get those endorphins going.

Lancaster County Central Park is one of the most convenient options. In addition to several miles of cross-country ski trails, the park also allows visitors to explore via snowshoe.

If you're willing to take a half-hour drive, you'll find several excellent trails at the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center in Reading. This education center regularly hosts classes, workshops, and other special events during the winter, so it's worth checking out even if you're not interested in skiing.

Booking Lancaster Hotels During the Winter

The right hotel or resort can quickly amp up your winter visit to Lancaster. A hotel with ample amenities will keep you from wondering: are there family things to do near me in winter?

No matter the weather outside, features such as pools, saunas, and restaurants encourage you to unwind after a busy day. Hang out as long as you want and enjoy the bliss of a sophisticated and welcoming resort.

If you're looking for accommodations that bring instant warmth to Lancaster's cold winter environment, don't hesitate to book a room, suite, or villa at the Eden Resort. Upscale lodgings should keep you feeling wonderfully cozy. You're always welcome to warm up in the sauna or take a dip in the heated indoor pool or whirlpool. Keep comfy with in-room dining or enjoy other onsite dining options for a tasty meal.

The Eden Resort: Your Ticket to Winter Bliss in Lancaster

Whether you embrace the snow or remain inside, you'll find many ways to keep entertained during Lancaster's coldest months. You just might come to appreciate all that winter brings to this beautiful region: outdoor recreation, pristine snow-topped views, and, of course, the glow of moving from the cold to a warmer, cozier space.

Book your winter adventure today and discover the year-round appeal of Lancaster's Amish Country.

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