Amish Country Scenic Drive
|Mileage||102 miles (164 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||3 hours, 11 minutes|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||All Seasons|
|Roadways||Pennsylvania Highways 23, 272, 283, 340, 462, and 82, US Highways 30 and 322, Lincoln Avenue, Musser Road, North Railroad Avenue, and Rothsville Road|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, pharmacies, etc.||Lancaster, PA▼, Lititz, PA▼, Manheim, PA▼, Millersville, PA▼, Paradise, PA▼, Ephrata, PA▼, Soudersburg, PA▼, New Holland, PA▼, more...Gap, PA▼, Exton, PA▼, Denver, PA▼, Columbia, PA▼, Adamstown, PA▼, and Marietta, PA▼|
3.2 average from 540 votes
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Lancaster County is known as Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch Country. A drive along its scenic back-country roads will acquaint you with a way of life that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. Learn about Amish culture and history, touring through charismatic towns brimming with old-fashioned charm. This adventure is just a short drive from Baltimore and Philadelphia and makes a perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
We begin our tour in the city of Lancaster, the heart of Amish Country and home to the largest and oldest Amish community in the United States. The Amish and Mennonites are religious communities that shun worldliness and most do not look kindly on having their photograph taken. Please respect their beliefs and refrain from taking photos.
History abounds in Lancaster, established in 1730 as a wilderness trading post. Construction of the railroad in the 1800s led to Lancaster becoming an industrial center with tobacco production at its core. It eventually was lauded as the second largest tobacco seed leaf market in the country. Tobacco farms can still be seen in the countryside.
Lancaster was Pennsylvania’s capital from 1799 to 1812 and almost became the nation’s capitol. Hundreds of historical landmarks remain and it boasts the largest National Historic Register District in the United States. Discover eleven different architectural styles spanning from 1710 to 1945 by strolling downtown on your own or on a guided tour with a costumed interpreter.
At the Downtown Lancaster Visitors Center (I1), find local and regional information, maps, exhibits, and tour info. The Mennonite Information Center (I2) features exhibits, information, books, gifts, recordings, Amish and Mennonite cookbooks and more.
Lancaster is a vibrant city, featuring museums, theaters, cafes, shops and art galleries. Peruse the work of local artists on Prince Street better known as Gallery Row. On the first Friday evening of each month, over 90 galleries are open, and you can meet artists and enjoy special receptions. On North Queen Street, explore antique shops, glass studios and collectible shops. Be sure to note the lively, outdoor murals painted on many of the downtown buildings.
Don’t miss the hustle and bustle of Lancaster Central Market (A3), the oldest continuously-operating farmers market in the country. Delight in the assortment of fresh produce, cheeses, meats, baked goods, tea and handmade crafts.
The Fulton Theatre (A1) has been a cultural focal point since 1852 and is the oldest continuously-operating theater in the country. Experience this historical landmark with a contemporary theatre performance or register for a backstage tour.
Our drive begins leaving Lancaster on PA-462 east to PA-340, the Old Philadelphia Pike. Passing miles of verdant farmland, you will notice Amish farms, barns and homes, recognizable for the lack of electric wires leading to them.
You then arrive in the gracious village of Bird In Hand which dates back to the 1700s and was a meeting place for farmers and a convenient rest stop for travelers. Today, you’ll discover homegrown hospitality — quaint shops with hand-crafted items, a farmers market, bakeries and restaurants offering Pennsylvania Dutch delicacies such as hand-rolled Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels. Bird In Hand is also part of the Country Murals Trail.
There are a number of Amish buggy ride businesses along the route. Consider getting off-the beaten-track touring the Amish countryside, homes, one-room schoolhouses and covered bridges to the clip-clop of horses’ hooves. At Plain and Fancy Farm and the Amish Experience Theater (A4), observe life on an Amish farm with a guided tour and buggy ride. The theater uses multiple projection screens, a three dimensional set, and special effects to explore 400 years of Amish culture and tradition. Then indulge in a traditional all-you-can-eat Pennsylvania Dutch dining experience. There is a fee for the film and dining. Coupons are available on their website.
At the junction of PA-340 and PA-772 is the town of Intercourse. Founded in 1754, this has long been a destination for farmers to replenish supplies and socialize. There are unique shops to explore and sample Pennsylvania Dutch food. Celebrate every season with special events such as the Rhubarb Festival, the Seven Sweets and Sours Festival, and the Berry Jam Festival.
Take the 15-minute free tour of the Intercourse Pretzel Factory (A6). Learn about the craft of pretzel-making and try your hand at twisting your own pretzel. Check the website tour hours.
Arrive hungry, as your taste buds will be tantalized at Kitchen Kettle Village (A8), a conglomeration of over 40 shops focused around the Jam and Relish Kitchen. Fresh fudge, kettle corn, locally-smoked meats, cheeses, ice cream entice, while you shop for quilts, boots, Colonial accents, lighting, kitchen gadgets and more.
Continue on PA-340 to the tranquility of rolling farmlands as you travel through White Horse, Compass Gap and Wagontown. After Wagontown, turn left to continue on PA-82 north to Loag’s Corner and Elverson. On the way is Loag’s Corner Turkey Farm, where you can purchase a natural Thanksgiving bird.
Here, you may want take a side trip to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (A9) which showcases the beginning of industrialization in America. Learn how iron was melted and cast, cannons molded and about the lives of the workers and their families through costumed-interpreters, living history programs and exhibits. Hopewell Furnace consists of 14 restored structures including an original water wheel, the blacksmith shop, the “big house”, as well as 848 wooded acres perfect for a hike, wildlife watching and a picnic. The site is free, donations are appreciated. In autumn, enjoy picking historic apple varieties (a fee is charged).
If you took the side trip, the 7,730-acre French Creek State Park (H2) is nearby and offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities. The Park has been designated by the National Audubon Society an Important Bird Area and Important Mammal Area. Thirty-five miles of trails offer a variety of hiking for every level, exploring forest and wetland and lakes. Enjoy fishing for northern pike, chain pickerel, bass, walleye, or boating on Hopewell Lake and Scotts Run Lake. Park naturalists lead guided hikes, bike trips and paddling programs where you can get close to herons, turtles and beaver. Make it an overnight with year-round modern cabin and cottage rentals and tent camping. In winter, the park is a draw for cross-country skiing, sledding, ice fishing and skating.
Our drive continues from Elverson. Take PA-23 west, the New Holland Pike, passing the little town of Blue Ball to New Holland. Visit the New Holland Area Historical Society Museum (M2) which features 1000’s of photographs, artifacts, memorabilia and farm equipment. Admission is by donation.
From New Holland, take N Railroad Avenue to join US-322, Division Highway, to Ephrata.
Founded in 1732, Ephrata was an agricultural community and pleasure resort renowned for its spring waters. Tour the historic downtown and enjoy unique shops, art galleries and restaurants.
At the Ephrata Cloister (A7), discover what life was like for this religious community who sought spiritual goals rather than earthly rewards. Guided tours examine the Cloister which was founded in 1732 by German settlers and is now a National Historic Landmark. The Cloister features a collection of over 20 sites, including Conrad Beissel’s House, Weaver’s House, Shady Nook Farm, Bake House, the Cocalico Creek and Spring. The members were accomplished in music and art, evident in the collection of printed books and manuscripts, artifacts and furniture. There is a fee to enter.
Open every Friday, the Green Dragon Farmers Market and Auction (A10) is one of the largest markets in the area. The carnival atmosphere is bustling with a dizzying mix of Amish items, quilts, collectibles, handmade goods, clothing, fresh food, restaurants, books, flowers, jewelry, toys, yard sale items and fine antiques. Or try to score a great deal at one of the auctions for household goods, small animals, or hay and straw.
From Ephrata, take PA-272, South Reading Road.
Nothing beats the romance and nostalgia of a covered bridge. Turn right on Meadow Valley Road to see Schenck’s Mill Covered Bridge (B2). The single span burr arch bridge is 102-feet long and was built in 1885. There are great vantage points for photography.
Continue on Millway Road to PA-772 and the town of Lititz. Here, you can visit the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery (A2). Established in 1861, this was the first commercial pretzel bakery in the country. It is still operated by the Sturgis family and during the 20-minute tour, get a hands-on lesson in pretzel making, learn about the different varieties, such as traditional hard and thin pretzels, and soft pretzels. There is a small fee for the tour which includes a sample bag of pretzels.
If you love wolves, you won’t want to miss the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania (A11). This non-profit organization provides a safe habitat for over 40 wolves. Learn about wolves and their behavior with a guided walking tour by day or register for a Full Moon Tour for and enjoy a bonfire as well. There is a fee to enter which supports the sanctuary.
The wonderful smell of chocolate permeates the air at the Wilbur Chocolate’s Candy Americana Museum (M1). Like a kid in a candy store, indulge in hand-made chocolate treats, observe chocolate and fudge-making and explore the history of chocolate through early machinery, tools, memorabilia and video at the Candy Americana Museum. The museum is free.
Lititz Spring Park (H1) is a pleasant place to relax. Enjoy a picnic lunch by the fountain, kids playground, and take part in special events by the band shell. Relive the “Golden Era” of the Reading and Columbia Railroad at the replica of the 1884 Lititz Passenger Depot and Express Station that is also the town Welcome Center located on the northwest corner of the park.
Back on the road, depart Lititz on PA-772 and head towards Manheim. The “Main Street” Community features a town square, boutique wineries and is home of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire held at Mount Hope Estate and Winery August-October.
Lancaster County boasts over 25 covered bridges. To see the Kaufman’s Distillery Covered Bridge (B1) along the way, turn left from PA-772 onto W Sun Hill Road. Spanning Big Chickies Creek, the covered burr arch-truss bridge was built in 1900. Nearby is Schenck’s Mill Covered Bridge (B2). The single span, double burr arch truss bridge was built in 1855 and is still open to traffic.
Continue on PA-772 through Mount Joy to Marietta where you turn left on PA-441 traveling along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Our official drive heads back to Lancaster, though you may want to consider another side trip. Just 30 minutes from Mount Joy on PA-743 North is Hersheypark (A12) offering thrills and excitement with 11 roller coasters, over 65 rides and attractions including a water park, arcades, food and entertainment.
Our drive continues left onto PA-441 to PA-23 towards Lancaster, weaving through expansive views of country-side and farms.
Turn left on US-30 to arrive back in Lancaster. Just outside Lancaster is Neff’s Mill Covered Bridge (B3) built in 1875. Spanning Pequea Creek, the single span, wooden, double burr arch truss bridge is only 11-feet wide and the narrowest in the county.
If you’re up for one more adventure from Lancaster, take a short drive to Strasburg on PA-741, where you can step back in time at the Strasburg Railroad (A5). Pulled by turn-of-the century steam locomotives, climb aboard the President’s car, first-class lounge car, freight cars, dining car, or one of the many wooden passenger cars and embark on a 45-minute adventure along a historic short-line route. Then visit the shop where engines are restored or try operating one of the vintage pump cars.