Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Photo: Discover Lancaster

Your arsenal is getting long. Quite long. You’ve amassed a list of spots to which you can escape for the weekend. Sometimes it’s planned well in advance. Other times, you just need a quick getaway. You’re prepared either way. You’re about to add Lancaster to that list.

It’s surprising that you haven’t visited Lancaster yet. It’s not like you haven’t heard of the small city in South Central Pennsylvania. It’s a historic town that was briefly the capital of the United States and still contains many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s home to a large Amish population, whose lifestyle (yes to horses and buggies, no to electricity) reflects a simpler way of life. It turned into an arts destination when Gallery Row was established in 2005. Plus the surrounding landscape—rolling hills and farms as far as the eye can see—is picturesque.

Photo: Lancaster Arts Hotel

Your weekend starts at the Lancaster Arts Hotel. The boutique hotel has both a historic and artsy vibe. It’s historic because of the redbrick building, which went up as a tobacco warehouse in 1881. Brick walls and rustic beams still fill the interior. In 2006, it was turned into an industrial-chic hotel. Quirky art welcomes you in the lobby. An art gallery features rotating exhibits. While loft-style rooms feel like artists’ studios.

You’ll also want to make an advance reservation at John J. Jeffries, the hotel’s restaurant. Many restaurants claim to be farm-to-table and seasonal these days. John J. Jeffries truly is. When they say local, it means that the meat and the produce come from farms right down the road. When they say homemade, it truly means in-house. It’ll be a real debate as you try to decide between hickory-smoked Limestone Springs trout and Lil’ Ponderosa grass-fed, dry-aged steak and Highbourne Deer Farms’ red deer.

That’s just the beginning. You’ll visit the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in the country. You’ll eat comfort food and whoopie pies. You’ll visit breweries on the Lancaster County Ale Trail, wineries on the Lancaster County Winery Trail, and downtown distilleries. Then you’ll end the night with live music at a modern Irish pub. Lancaster is definitely on the list now.

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