Capital of the Colonies for just a single day, this central district offers a fascinating trip through American Revolutionary history.
With a thriving market and an active theater from the 1700s, Historic Downtown Lancaster has some of the oldest architecture and institutions in the U.S. Recognizable by its redbrick layout, the district is packed with cultural highlights and activities. Piece together the city’s exceptional history on your visit to Historic Downtown Lancaster.
Learn about Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish cultures by speaking with various stallholders in the Central Market, near City Hall and the Lancaster County Convention Center. Pick up traditional cheeses, meats and other products from Pennsylvania in this indoor market, which dates back to the 1700s and is one of the country’s oldest continuously operating markets.
In the Demuth Museum, study paintings by Charles Demuth. The site features a rotating exhibit of Demuth’s collection in his former studio.
Stroll through the center of the district and admire historic homes, such as the 18th-century Sehner-Ellicott-von Hess House.
The city is known as the birthplace of the Pennsylvania long rifle and the Conestoga wagon. Note that it was also the site of the Lancaster Treaty of 1744, which resolved a territorial dispute between the Colonies and the Iroquois nation.
As you wander down the central avenue, check out the boutiques and trendy cafés. Attend a concert, theatrical performance, lecture or poetry recital in the Ware Center of Millersville University. Bring your family to watch a children’s show, musical or play in the historic Fulton Theatre, which stands on the site of a former jail. Admire the redbrick façade of Historic St. Mary’s Church and marvel at its ornate interior.
Arrive at the Lancaster train station and walk south for about 10 minutes to reach the northern end of Historic Downtown Lancaster. Just outside the district, you’ll find other attractions such as Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster Community Park and Lancaster County Central Park.
Historic Downtown Lancaster has a string of surprises, with some of the nation’s most interesting historic attractions.