Lancaster County with kids

Guide to Visiting Lancaster County PA with Kids

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Are you planning a trip to Amish country with kids? Known for its scenic landscapes, rich history, and charming Amish culture, Lancaster County offers a ton of kid-friendly activities and attractions. Lancaster County is home to a significant Amish population, providing a unique cultural experience for visitors. Families can explore picturesque farmlands, take buggy rides, and learn about the Amish way of life.

We loved learning the history of the region and visiting some local Amish farms and hope you find this guide to visiting Lancaster County with kids helpful in planning your Lancaster County family trip. We only had two days, but managed to fit a ton into our two day Lancaster County itinerary. If you have more time in Lancaster County, be sure to check out some of these fun things to do in Lancaster County. Lancaster County is one of the best Pennsylvania family getaways.

Lancaster County with kids

How to get to Lancaster County

Lancaster County is easy to get to from several big airports in just 1.5-3 hours. We flew into BWI and it only took us 1.5 hours to drive here. The airports in NYC are about 2.5 hours away, and PHL is 1.5 hours away. Harrisburg airport is less than an hour away, but there aren’t many flights available. If you live in the Northeast, it’s simple to drive here from your city.

Things to know when visiting Lancaster County with kids

  • Be alert when driving and maintain the speed limit. You are sharing the road with horses and buggies. I can’t tell you the amount of speeding drivers zooming past these buggies. There have been multiple accidents where buggies were hit by distracted drivers, including a recent one where 3 young siblings were killed as a result of one of these drivers. Give them space and do not pass unless you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so.
  • Be respectful of the locals. Do not approach Amish families and point your camera in their face, they are not your tourist attraction. We saw people pull over to get out of their vehicles to take close up photos of children playing and some walking up to houses to peek through windows, my mind was blown! Don’t be that person. On our tour, we were told by the family doing the tour that it’s ok to take photos with the family members in them but not to shove cameras in their faces.
  • When shopping at local Amish stores, talk to the kids! Most of these stores are run by young children and they are quite chatty. They are super social and very willing to chat, especially with other kids. My daughter loved meeting some of the local Amish kids and they enjoyed chatting.
  • Support Amish businesses! You’re probably in this area because you are curious about the Amish way of life. Support them by buying their baked goods, crafts, etc.
  • Amish businesses are closed on Sunday, so plan accordingly. We also found that many were closed on Monday as well. We were here midweek so it didn’t affect us, but something to be aware of if you only have a few days.
  • Want to teach your children what life is like as an Amish child before your trip? This is a great book written by an Amish person that details life in the Amish community.
Family friendly Lancaster County
Share the road and don’t speed past them!

Where to stay in Lancaster County with kids

Visiting Lancaster County with kids is easy because of all the family friendly accommodations in the area. I had points with Wyndham, so we stayed at the La Quinta Inn & Suites Lancaster. The hotel was in a great location, an easy drive to everything we wanted to see.

family friendly hotel lancaster county

In the past, we stayed at the Red Caboose Motel, where you can sleep in a real train car. If you have train fans, they will love this. There’s also a farm with a petting zoo on site here, making it one of the best family hotels in Lancaster County.

If you want to surprise your kids with a cool themed hotel in Lancaster, the Cartoon Network Hotel is in Lancaster and offers themed rooms from some of their most popular shows.

Want more options? Check out the map with Lancaster County accommodations below.

What to do in Lancaster County with kids

As I mentioned, this area is very family friendly and there are lots of things to do in Lancaster County with kids.

Amish Farm and House

One of the best things to do in Lancaster with kids is to visit the Amish Farm and House. We took a 90 minute bus tour (tiny 20 passenger bus) around the country side, stopping at some local farms and meeting local Amish families. My daughter loved this and learned so much about the history of this area and even got to meet some local kids. If you only do one thing in Lancaster County, this should be it! It’s a great way to learn about the history of the Amish people and all about their way of life.

After the bus tour, you can visit their house and see how the Amish live or head to the farm and explore the grounds. This is one of the best things to do in Lancaster County.

Lancaster County with kids
Family friendly Lancaster County with kids
Amish church we visited on our tour.

Take a tour of Old Windmill Farm

One of the most popular family attractions in Lancaster County, Old Windmill Farm is an authentic working farm in Amish country where you can learn the history of farming, tour gardens and taste vegetables (in season) and see some farm animals. This is one of the best things to do in Amish country with kids and a huge highlight of our trip. We got to tour the farm with one of the residents who told us all about Amish farming and way of life.

Lancaster County with kids

Visit the Red Caboose Motel

Even if you’re not staying there, one of the best things to do with kids in Lancaster County is to visit the Red Caboose Motel. Your kids will get a kick out seeing the train cars, which are actually rooms where you can sleep. And there’s a free petting zoo on site too, making it a great place to visit with kids in Lancaster County.

Lancaster County with kids
You can sleep in one of these train cars!

Visit the area’s covered bridges

Lancaster County has the most covered bridges in PA, nearly 30. Bridges historically linked farmers and communities over waters that were impassable. These are a great way to teach your kids about the history of the region and show them how these bridges were constructed. One of the most famous bridges is the Zook’s Mill Bridge, aka the Log Cabin Bridge. Built in 1849, this bridge is well constructed and amazing to see up close.

Lancaster County with kids

Support local Amish families by visiting their shops

As you are driving around the area, you will note that many Amish people built shops on their properties where they sell crafts, bird houses, lawn ornaments, quilts and lots of delicious baked goods. Be sure to stop at some local stores and support these families. Many of these shops are run by young kids, which was so fun to see! They’re super social and interact with the customers, I loved that my daughter got to meet a few and see that they are just like every other child.

One of our favorite local Amish shops is Annie’s Kitchen in Ronks. They have baked goods, lots of homemade canned goods with all kinds of jams, pickled foods, etc., as well as a full gift shop with items handmade by the Amish community. Outside, you will find an ice cream window where you can get some yummy milkshakes and pretzels.

Lancaster County with kids

Visit local theme parks

Have little thrill seekers in your group? Lancaster County has some great amusement parks you can visit. Dutch Wonderland is perfect for the younger crowd, with rides aimed at little kids. Dutch Wonderland is ranked as one of the best toddler amusement parks. If you want some real thrill rides, head to Hershey’s Park, less than an hour from Lancaster County. Here you will find lots of coasters and thrill rides, perfect for the thrill seekers in your family.

Since we live near Disney World (and tons of other theme parks), this wasn’t on our radar as we visit Disney multiple times a month! But if you don’t have theme parks where you live, it might be a good way to spend a few hours.

Visit Hershey’s Chocolate World

So while not in Lancaster County, Hershey’s Chocolate World is just 45 minutes away and definitely worth a visit when visiting Lancaster County with kids! There are lots of thing to do here, including the free Chocolate Tour ride where you can learn about how your favorite candy is made.

Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants

The Turkey Hill Experience

Have you heard of Turkey Hill ice cream or teas? Then you will love the Turkey Hill Experience! You can learn about the history of their products and even have unlimited samples of their teas/lemonades and ice cream. I will be honest, we stopped on our way out of the area after seeing a billboard on the highway advertising it. We have never had this brand before and my daughter has never heard of it til the day we went.

We weren’t fan of their very artificial ice cream and drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (yet inside, they tell you it’s all natural ingredients), but it was cool to see how popular American ice cream differs from other brands. Their French Vanilla ice cream has zero vanilla, just a bunch of artificial colors and flavors, as you can see in the photo. I’m mentioning this place because it’s one of the most recommended things to do in Lancaster and everyone seems to love the brand so go see for yourself!

Lancaster County with kids
Lancaster County with kids
Find the vanilla in their French vanilla! Just a bunch of corn syrup and food coloring.

Where to eat in Lancaster County with kids

Lancaster County offers a range of family-friendly restaurants catering to various tastes and preferences. We only had 2 days so we didn’t eat as much as we wanted, but we still managed to visit some yummy kid friendly restaurants in Lancaster County.

Miller’s Smorgasbord

Located in Ronks, Miller’s Smorgasbord is a traditional buffet-style restaurant offering a wide selection of Pennsylvania Dutch and American dishes. It has a casual atmosphere and a variety of options to satisfy different palates. This is one of the best family friendly restaurants in Lancaster County. There were so many different options here, every member of your family is bound to find something they like.

And bonus: the dessert is included so you can try shoofly pie without buying it elsewhere. We came here over 12 years ago and it’s still the same, great place. This is one of the best family style Amish restaurants in Lancaster.

Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants
The cabbage soup was so good!
Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants
Shoofly pie is a must try!

Dj’s Taste of the 50’s

Looking for a old fashioned diner in Lancaster County? Then you have to check out Dj’s! This retro themed Lancaster County diner has decor that resembles the 50s. The inside is super cute, with a soda shop like bar area. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a variety of desserts.

Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants
Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants
How cute is the interior!

Bird in Hand Bake Shop

One of the best cinnamon rolls in Lancaster County is at the Bird in Hand Bake Shop. We wish we bought several, they were that good! Part bake shop, part ice cream store and part gift shop, this is one of the best places to visit in Lancaster County with kids. They will love sitting outside on the swinging tables and enjoying their treats.

Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants

Mr. Sticky’s

Do you like sticky buns? This place is supposed to have some of the best stick buns in Lancaster County. We didn’t try the sticky buns, but we did get cinnamon rolls from here. If you’re after cinnamon rolls, skip this place and go to the Bird in Hand Bake Shop. They were so much better there!

Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants
Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants
Be sure to try this chocolate milk brand while in Lancaster, it’s the best!

Dutch County Soft Pretzels

It’s not a trip to Lancaster County without trying some freshly baked soft pretzels. You will get many different answers when asking locals about the best pretzels in Lancaster County so just pick one and go! We tried multiple in the past and decided to go here on this trip and the pretzels were awesome! Nice and soft, with lots of dipping sauce options (we chose mustard and cheese).

Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants

The Soda Jerk Diner & Dairy Bar

Now this isn’t a Lancaster County restaurant, but I’m including it because we came here on our way back from Hershey’s Chocolate World. It’s a cute diner, with the typical diner food and yummy shakes. Great place to visit with kids if you are in this area!

Family friendly Lancaster County restaurants

As you can see, a visit to Lancaster County PA, promises an exciting and educational family getaway. From immersing in Amish culture and exploring the great outdoors to hands-on learning at local farms and thrilling amusement parks, there’s something to captivate the whole family. Start planning your family trip today and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in this captivating destination. Want to read this later? Pin one of the images below!

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