Fall is a great time to head to the Lancaster, Pa., area where there are new things to explore along with some old favorites.
Before crossing the Susquehanna River into Lancaster County, stop at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage. Weekend programs at the center include a Native Lands hike, a look at the nature of the river and its impact, and a look at the Susquehanna River Art Collection to see how the river inspires artists, authors and poets. New this year, the popular River Discovery Boat Tours will continue through Sept. 22. The 75-minute environmental and history tours “take you to a part of the river behind Safe Harbor Dam that you can’t see any other way,” said the center’s Paul Nevin. (susquehannaheritage.org)
The bridge crossing the river to Columbia, Pa., becomes an event venue itself on Oct. 19, for Bridge Bust. More than 300 antique, art, craft and food vendors line the bridge, which is closed to traffic that day.
Almost as soon as you enter Columbia, the Turkey Hill Experience sign beckons you to try your hand at inventing your own ice cream flavor, learn about iced tea and explore the area’s heritage.
North of Lancaster, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire continues weekends through Oct. 27. The 35-acre village on Mount Hope Estate holds hundreds of characters performing 90 stage shows daily and serving food from 20 Royal Kitchens. (parenfaire.com)
The Landis Valley Heritage Museum’s Harvest Days on Oct. 12-13 includes demonstrations, exhibits, live music, horse-drawn wagon rides, and a children’s discovery tent. See apple butter- and cider-making and watch wool go from sheep to shawl. Don’t forget to pick and decorate your pumpkin, too.(landisvalleymuseum.org)
The Warwick-Ephrata Rail Trail, opened at the end of 2018, follows the former Reading Railroad corridor and provides a 7-mile linear recreation zone in the northeastern part of the county. It’s already proving to be a big hit. (warwicktownship.org/wert)
East of Lancaster, experience the Amish culture at The Amish Village in Ronks (amishvillage.com) where you can tour the village and farmhouse or add to the experience with a backroads tour. Check out the small towns like Intercourse, where Kitchen Kettle Village (kitchenkettle.com) also provides a great shopping opportunity with 40 shops and restaurants as well as a chance to sample and buy lots of homemade jams, pickles and other goodies. Bird-in-Hand offers lodging, a great restaurant and a theater where you can see Amish-themed musical plays and magic shows by illusionist Brett A. Myers. A host of Amish experiences is available to guests. (bird-in-hand.com)
The Strasburg area is railroad central, with the Choo Choo Barn (choochoobarn.com) and National Toy Train Museum (nttmuseum.org) providing great model train layouts to enjoy while life-size trains dominate the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (rrmuseumpa.org). The Strasburg Railroad (strasburgrailroad.com) takes you on a scenic 45-minute ride through the Amish countryside, but September brings the popular Day Out With Thomas train rides and activities, Sept. 14-22 and Oct. 25-27.
The Lancaster Fall ArtWalk is Oct. 5-6, when you can tour almost three dozen downtown galleries and venues during special exhibitions, meet-the-artists events and live demonstrations. (lancastercityartgalleries.com) You can surround yourself with art by staying at the Lancaster Arts Hotel, where all the rooms are filled with original works of art, many by local Pennsylvania artists. The restored warehouse features 63 guestrooms and suites that combine modern comforts with the artwork as well as exposed beams and brick walls. (lancasterartshotel.com)
New in town is Decades, located in the historic Stahr Armory building. The six-lane boutique bowling alley and arcade also offers a full-service restaurant and bar, all evoking nostalgia with class. (decadeslancaster.com)
A bit of a new concept, the Zoetropolis Cinema Stillhouse combines theater space with a restaurant and micro-distillery. The restaurant works with local farmers and purveyors to highlight the bounty of Lancaster County in its shared plates/tapas menu. (zoetropolis.com)