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Pennsylvania Dutch Country Visitors Center       501 Greenfield Road, Lancaster, PA 17601       717-299-8901       www.padutchcountry.com

Travel Tools

FAQs

The uniqueness of Lancaster  County prompts lots of questions about the heritage, customs, things to do in the area and of course - our Amish neighbors. Read below to see what others are asking, and to learn the answers.

Things To Do
Heritage & History
All Things Amish
Transportation & Directions


Things to Do

What highlights of the area do you recommended that I see?

Working farms, amusement parks and other family attractionsoutlet shoppingfarmers' markets and theaters have been at the top of vacationers to-do-lists for years. This very website is an excellent resource, packed with things to dosample itineraries and a travel planner
 
Where can I find bargain shopping?

Whether you prefer outletsantique dealers, or local shops, a bargain is definitely waiting for you in Lancaster. Travel country roads and stroll historic villages  for shops packed with treasures of the past, crafts, handmade quilts and Amish furniture. 
 
Can I find antiques in Lancaster?

Lancaster is full of old and unique treasures. View a list of antique shops throughout the county. In particular, Adamstown  is known as "Antiques Capital, USA" and is recognized as the premier year-round antiques destination in the Northeast.
 
Where are the farmers' markets and when are they open?

Farmers' markets scatter the county with their fresh-picked produce and homemade goodies. They are bustling places, stocked with local meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables and the sweetest of desserts. A must see! Days and times for each market vary, so be sure to check out our full list of farmers' markets.
 
Where are the outlets?

Rockvale Outlets Lancaster and Tanger Outlet Center are the primary outlet centers in the county, offering hundreds of stores with brand names at bargain prices. They are located on US Route 30 East of Lancaster, between Routes 896 and 462.
 
Is there anything to do at night? How late do places stay open?

Although some tourist attractions and shops close in the evenings, many theaters, restaurants, and shops stay open late into the night. The first Friday of every month is one of the best times to experience Downtown Lancaster, when shops extend their hours to 9 p.m. Our events calendar  is always a good resource for checking out evening events. Check out the "After Five" category!
 
Is anything open on Sundays?

Yes! Sunday is a wonderful day to spend with the family exploring Lancaster County's scenic countryside or visiting one of the many attractions, museums, wineries, breweries and shops that are open on Sundays. See our Things to do on Sundays list (138 KB pdf).
 
What can I do outdoors?

Bike or hike one of our many trails, and explore our scenic back roads, which have been voted one of the best places to "get lost." The Susquehanna River and River Hills region create opportunities for water activities like fishing, kayaking and boating, and our covered bridge trails lead you through these architectural beauties and surrounding towns and villages! View a complete list of outdoor activities.

Heritage & History

How do you pronounce Lancaster?

Lancaster is pronounced LANK-ih-stir, instead of the more common pronunciation of LAN-cast-ter.
 
Have any famous people lived in Lancaster?

The nation's only single president, James Buchanan, called Lancaster home; visitors are welcome to tour his home, Wheatland. Lancaster's neighboring town of Hershey is where Milton S. Hershey started his first chocolate company and began his chocolate empire. Take a look at more heritage attractions  that tell the tale of Lancaster's rich history.
 
Where can I find hex signs?

Hex signs are not common in Lancaster County. The Lancaster settlement was predominantly plain German, and they did not use hex signs. The "fancy" Germans often decorated their barns with the colorful signs. They are commonly found north of Lancaster, close to Reading and Allentown.
 
How did the town of Intercourse receive its name?

There are a few theories. One is that Intercourse was originally named for an old tavern known as Cross Keys and re-named to Intercourse in 1814 because of its location at the intersection of the Old Philadelphia Pike and the road from Wilmington, Delaware. The second theory is that the town was named after an old race track on Old Philadelphia Pike called Entercourse, which later evolved into Intercourse. Learn more about Intercourse and other historic towns and villages.

 

All Things Amish

What's the difference between the Amish and Mennonites?

Amish groups tend to be more cautious with technology and involvement with the larger world than most Mennonites. Most Old Order Amish drive horse-drawn carriages or buggies, dress "plain," refrain from the use of electricity, emphasize occupations close to the farm and the home and forbid higher education.

Mennonites are considerably more acculturated. They embrace education and technology as opportunities, accept reluctantly the stress which modern life places on marriage and the family and encourage an enlargement of the fellowship through worldwide missionary activities.
 

What are "Old Order" and "Modern" Amish and Mennonite families and how are they different?

"Old Order" are those who take their cues for decision-making primarily from their faith fellowship. "Modern" are those who are more influenced in their primary decision-making by what the larger society thinks than by what their faith fellowship believes. The Old Order groups are growing much faster than the modern groups and have doubled in membership in the past 20 years.
 

Is the Plain Community a Christian group or does it represent a different religion?

All Mennonite and Amish groups are devoted to the Christian faith and life and have fostered special emphases on peace and simplicity, following the traditional tenets of protestant theology.
 

Why do they dress that way?

Amish and Mennonites believe that how one lives reflects one's faith. Clothing such as aprons and head coverings and modest dress are simply another expression of their deepest convictions. They practice humility, simplicity, nonconformity and modesty.
 

Where did the Amish come from?

Amish descended from Swiss Mennonites in the 17th century. The founder, Jacob Amman, broke from the traditional church because he believed the church was losing its purity.
 

How many Amish people live in Pennsylvania Dutch Country?

Pennsylvania has the second largest population of Old Order communities totaling approximately 30,000 people.
 

Where can I see the real Amish? Where is their "village"? How can I learn about them?

The Amish do not live in towns or villages; they live on farms located throughout Lancaster County. The greatest concentration is to the east of the Downtown Lancaster in the area around Route 340 east of the village of Bird in Hand. The Amish live private lives and all attempts are made to respect this privacy.

To learn more about this culture, you'll find many Amish-themed attractions such as homesteads and buggy rides, plus the Mennonite Information Center. A one-hour farmlands tour departs from the Visitors Center. Shop for authentic Amish produce and handmade goods at roadside stands and local shops offering authentic crafts, quilts and furniture.
 

Are the "working farms" that are open to tourists real Amish farms?

For the most part, no, working farms are not Amish farms. However, that doesn't mean you won't find a truly authentic experience at our working farm bed and breakfasts! Visitors enjoy milking cows, feeding newborn calves, gathering eggs from the henhouse, taking hayrides and much more. 
 

How do the Old Order Amish dress?

The Old Order Amish wear plain and modest clothing. The women never cut their hair, and wear it pulled back from their face. Long beards are the mark of an adult man. Both men and women use solid colored fabric for their clothing. Learn more about the Amish style of dress.
 

Can I take pictures of the Amish?

The Amish believe that being photographed violates the Bible's second commandment not to make a graven image. As a general rule of thumb, avoid snapping photos of the Amish, although some don't mind being photographed as long as they are not recognizable. More information on the Amish and photographs.
 

Do Amish speak English?

Yes, and many are trilingual. Worship services, bibles and hymnals are in German. English is spoken when the Amish correspond with the community. Among themselves they use a German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch. Learn more about the Amish and language.
 

Is PA Dutch food the same as Amish food?

Yes. You won't go home hungry after visiting family-style restaurants and smorgasbords to sample these hearty dishes! View a list of PA Dutch restaurants.
 

Why don't the Amish use electricity?

The Amish do not believe in "conforming to the world" (Romans 12:2) and choose to forgo electricity  because it could lead to worldly temptations. The Amish culture values simplicity and abstinence over comfort and convenience.
 

Do the Amish pay taxes?

Many Amish are self-employed and do not pay social security tax, while those employed by non-Amish companies do pay taxes. Just like other citizens, they pay real estate, state and federal income taxes, county taxes and other typical taxes. The Amish community prides itself on being self-sufficient and do not collect social security benefits, unemployment or welfare checks. More about the Amish and financials.
 

Why can Amish be passengers in cars, but not own cars?

Being a passenger is no compromise to the Amish belief that owning cars breeds pride and inequality. Accepting rides from neighbors or hiring a driver is a way for Amish to use cars as a means of transportation but not disrupt the Amish culture or social structure. Learn more about the Amish and transportation.
 

Where was the movie "Witness" filmed?

Within the Amish communities of Intercourse and Strasburg.


Transportation & Directions

How do I pass a buggy?

When you find yourself behind a horse and buggy, be patient and don't get too close. Once the opposing lane is clear of traffic, carefully pass the buggy on the left.
 
Do I need a car when traveling around Lancaster?

Finding your way around Lancaster County could be a challenge without a vehicle, and you might feel more comfortable having the freedom to travel in your own vehicle. Rentals are available, as is public transportation via buses and taxis. View transportation options.
 
Where can I find directions to Lancaster County?

View the Getting Here  page on our website, which lists directions by car from Baltimore, Harrisburg, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. It also includes tips for getting to Lancaster by air and train.
 
How do I get to the turnpike?

To go east on the turnpike, take US 222 north to the turnpike at Denver, PA 23 east to the turnpike at Morgantown, or US 30 east to US 202 North to the turnpike at King of Prussia. To go west on the turnpike, take PA 283 to the turnpike at Harrisburg.

Miscellaneous

What is your stance on commercial breeding kennels in Lancaster County?

The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau strongly supports efforts to ensure that the inhumane conditions in large-scale breeding kennels are swiftly brought to a halt by state officials. Read more.