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8 Top Historical Attractions Near Lancaster, PA

The Soldiers and Sailors monument, one of many historical attractions in Lancaster, PA | Lancaster Balloon Rides

While many people visit Amish Country to learn more about the Amish and Mennonites and sample their food, they may not realize the rich history of Lancaster County, PA.

Indeed, Lancaster and its nearby towns have many historical sites to explore and learn from. And there’s no better way to see these historic landmarks than riding in the sky in a hot air balloon.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss discovering Lancaster’s rich history, exploring the top eight historical attractions in Lancaster, PA, and finding the best way to see Lancaster.

Discovering Lancaster, PA’s Rich History

Did you know Lancaster, PA, was the nation’s capital for one day in 1777? Officially, Lancaster was the National Capital of the American Colonies for one day on September 27, 1777. The British had overcome Philadelphia, and the Continental Congress escaped to Lancaster for safety.

Lancaster was also the Commonwealth’s capital from 1799 to 1812, when the capital was moved to Harrisburg.

Lancaster became an incorporated town in 1742. Since then, this colonial town has been home to many interesting 18th-century people and events. For example, the Great Treaty of 1744 was signed in Lancaster that protected Pennsylvania settlers from Indian raids during the French and Indian War from 1744-1748.

The Conestoga wagon and Pennsylvania long rifle were invented in Lancaster. Notables, such as President James Buchannan, U.S. Representative Thaddeus Stevens, Andrew Ellicott, Charles Demuth, F.W. Woolworth, and Milton Hershey came from Lancaster, PA.

Fortunately, many of these historical sites have been preserved as museums for people visiting historical attractions in Lancaster, PA.

Top 8 Historical Attractions in Lancaster, PA

The historic Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA (also known as the Fulton Opera House).

It’s hard to narrow all of Lancaster’s historic landmarks to just a handful. However, these historical sites are ones that you can see from the sky, where you can appreciate the manicured landscapes, farmlands, and the architecture of historic homes in the context of their properties.

  1. LancasterHistory (formerly Lancaster County’s Historical Society)

LancasterHistory sits on the same property as Wheatland, President James Buchanan’s, the 15th president of the U.S., home. LancasterHistory aims to showcase the important people and places significantly influencing America’s history. You can visit the grounds, research your family tree, or photograph the artifacts on display.

  1. President James Buchanan’s Wheatland

Wheatland is the former home of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, where he lived until he died in 1868. Two surviving outbuildings that were built in 1828 are still standing with the mansion: the privy and the icehouse/smokehouse.

  1. Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

Learn about rural life in a Pennsylvania German community at Landis Valley Museum. In this living history museum, you walk the grounds to learn about an agrarian society in the 19th and early 20th centuries. You’ll observe how each trade benefitted the community on your tour.

  1. The Fulton Theatre

The Fulton Theatre, a historic landmark in Lancaster, PA, was built on an 18th-century jail’s foundation in 1852. Since then, the theater has undergone many transformations in its 170-year history. Today, the Fulton Theatre has live performances and is one of America’s oldest and longest-running theater.

  1. Historic Rock Ford Plantation

A colonial historic landmark, the Rock Ford Plantation was built around 1794 and sits on 33 acres adjacent to the Lancaster County Central Park. Visitors to Historic Rock Ford Plantation learn about 18th-century Lancaster with its diversity and complexity.

  1. Ephrata Cloister Museum

Another living history museum featuring the life of the Ephrata Cloisters was founded by Conrad Beissel in 1732. When you tour the grounds, you’ll learn about this unique group of people and their simple lifestyle dating back to the 18th century.

  1. Strasburg Rail Road

Return to the early 20th century when you hop onto a train at the Strasburg Rail Road. The Strasburg Rail Road is the longest-running railroad in the U.S. Take a ride on one of their trains as it journeys through Amish Country farmland.

  1. The Demuth Museum

The Demuth Museum, as a member of the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios, celebrates Charles Demuth’s life and legacy as an American Modernist Artist. This historical landmark sits at 120 East King Street in Lancaster.

The Best Way to See Lancaster, PA

Two hot air balloons (from Lancaster Balloon Rides) in the air overlooking Lancaster, PA .

If you’re looking for a unique way to visit Lancaster and its historical sites, take a hot air balloon ride to see the beautiful architecture of Lancaster’s historic landmarks from the sky.

Early morning or evening hot air balloon rides display the wonder of Lancaster County. A patchwork quilt of farms, barns, country roads, and city life takes on a magical quality from the air. 

You’ll be amazed at historical buildings’ architectural visual aspects and character when you look down on them from your hot air balloon. 

You’ll be able to observe how historical sites were laid out in the 18th century when you fly over Lancaster. You’ll gain a new appreciation for your favorite historic landmark when you see it from a skyview perspective.

Plan Your Visit to Historic Lancaster, PA

While visiting Lancaster, PA attractions, don’t forget to take in the historical sites throughout the county. You can go back in time, from the 18th century through the early 20th century, with each historic landmark you tour.

Don’t forget the top eight historical attractions in Lancaster, PA, when you visit Amish Country:

Take a magic ride in the sky to see your favorite historical attractions in Lancaster, PA, when you book a flight with Lancaster Balloon Rides!