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staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

philadelphia, pa
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staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

hi everyone. my partner and i are jumping on a free babysitting opportunity to spend one night in lancaster this weekend. we'll be arriving saturday afternoon (around 3) and staying at lancaster arts. heading out of town around 1pm on sunday, so this is really a quick getaway from philly. suggestions for good dinner/lunch/brunch spots? casual food, good beer, good vegetarian options, great ice cream? other than that, should we just head to the main shopping area and stroll around? is there plenty to look at to spend a couple hours? i know the hotel has bikes to loan, so would that be suggested?

we aren't really looking to "do" much other than get away, relax and enjoy each other's company and a new town. ideas are appreciated. i've never been to lancaster.

thanks!

Bangor, Pennsylvania
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1. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

These are all in or close to Lancaster City

Ice cream; Carmen and Davids

Annie Baileys is a nice Irish Pub

Lancaster Brewing has excellant microbrews although their food, last time we went, was only okay

For higher end, check the menus at John Jeffreys(in your hotel), Gibraltar, Carrs, Maison or Fenz and try the one that appeals most

Shopping in Downtown Lancaster is mostly boutiques and art gallerys

Elizabethtown...
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2. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

Great! My husband and I have done this several times. If you'd consider fine dining, I highly recommend Ma(i)son with a trip down the street to Pour for a before or after dinner drink. You could also go to Pour for a more casual dinner. I have not been incredibly impressed with the food, but the libarions are worthwhile. A second choice would be the restaurant right in your hotel, John J. Jeffries. Both are VERY accommodating, and usually have one or 2 veg options, but you may want to talk to someone when you make your reservation - they are the types of places that will go out of their way.

If you want casual, Sukothai is nearby with decent but not great Thai food, so several veg options. You could also head down to the square for Isaac's. It is a deli, but local and fun with lots of veg options. The downtown location also has The Pickle Bar where there are often special events on weekends. Another option close to your hotel is Iron Hill Brewery - they have a very extensive menu and are a chain regional to SE PA, so you are probably already familiar with them.

Annie Bailey's is a hoppin' place on a Saturday night, typically featuring live music. I admit I'm not a huge fan of the food. It's where we tend to end up later, just for fun, especially if we are at an event at the nearby Marriott.

We always eat at Rachel's on Queen street for a breakfast crepe. We just love it there. But, if you eat breakfast at the hotel and are looking for a cool lunch spot, go behind the Lancaster Arts Hotel and check out The Fridge. Spectacular gourmet pizzas, salads, soups and a plethora of specialty beers with several offered on tap. Even if you don't decide to dine there, stop in a create a pick and choose 6 pack to take home.

You absolutely can't go wrong with Carmen and David's. The salted caramel is my personal favorite.

My only concern is that most shops will be soon to close at your arrival time, and not open at all on Sundays. Check out www.figlancaster.com for city related dining, shopping and events for links to websites that will list specific store hours.

Have a great time!

Edited: 11:20 pm, April 30, 2013
Over the Rainbow
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3. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

Breakfast place - On Orange..Fabulous!

Lancaster, PA
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4. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

All really great suggestions so far! I'll add that I'm not a huge fan of Fenz. The food is actually great, but it's really overpriced for the portions....we always joke that we somehow leave there $100 lighter, but not an ounce heavier. In fairness though, it's been a few years since we've gone, so perhaps things have changed. Also to add on to Brookquarry...the Lancaster Brewing Company has changed things up in their kitchen and the food has been consistently fantastic for about 2-3 months now. Much better than in years past and now they've added outdoor dining that looks great...not sure how I'd feel about sitting at that major intersection though.

For higher end, I'll throw in Checker's Bistro. My favorite restaurant in town, lots of options, decent beer selection and very accommodating. They also sometimes have profiteroles with home made ice cream that are out of this world. For more casual, check out Lancaster Dispensing Company. Typical bar food, some really good, some just ok, but nothing bad. Ok beer selection, but a fun atmosphere and live music on Saturday nights. One other suggestion would be The Taproom. Not much in the way of food (it's good though!) but they always have some interesting microbrews on tap from Springhouse Brewery.

Carr's has the best Sunday brunch IMO (the eggs benedict is outstanding and can be modified to be vegetarian). Rachel's is great though for something more casual, as is On Orange. Carr's is the only one where you can get a Bloody Mary though ;)

Whether you get to Rachel's or not, just stroll down the 300 block of N. Queen St. Really cute, fun, eclectic shops...antiques, boutiques and even a magic shop. Not sure of their hours, but if you can make it, Bellaboo is a super fun (but expensive) kids/baby store. There are other cute boutiques in that general area around Central Market as well. If you do borrow bikes from the hotel, please use caution. Sadly, our city isn't very bike friendly. People do ride them, but drivers aren't always as respectful as they should be and many of the city streets are a little narrow.

Have fun!!

philadelphia, pa
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5. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

Thank you so much for all of the responses! It seems like we should try to stroll around Queen street when we arrive around 3pm on Saturday before the shops close. From the description, Building Character seems interesting, as does Bellaboo. I'll keep all the restaurant suggestions with me and we'll see what we come across. I'm hoping we can just walk around town from our hotel and that the restaurants are in the same general area as the shopping. Is this correct? Fridge, Lancaster Dispensing and of course the Brewing Company all sound like good, casual options. The hotel restaurant seems a little out of our price range, but we'll stop in for a drink if possible. And we'll definitely go for ice cream.

Thanks for the info about bikes. Weird-- I would have thought Lancaster a great place for getting around on bikes! If we wind up getting up early Sunday morning with some time, would it be worth walking around F & M, since bikes don't seem like too much of a relaxing activity? Or just sitting outside somewhere people watching?

Great list so far.

Lancaster...
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6. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

You picked the perfect weekend! The weather will be perfect. Too bad you are not here on Friday, as that is First Friday. But, you will be here Saturday and Sunday for Lancaster Art Walk! Visit LancasterArtWalk.org for a list of the events, galleries and more in the City of Lancaster. You can walk or ride the bikes as the City is totally walkable and easy to get around. You will want to check out Building Character which is located on the 300 block of Queen Street. 10,000 sq. feet of artisans, consignment shops and antiques. Their website is BuildingCharacter.biz. The BEST icecream in the City can be found at Carmen and David's Creamery on Prince Street across from the Fulton Theatre. Their site is CarmenandDavidsCreamery.com. Have a wonderful time in Lancaster. Sandy

Lancaster, PA
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7. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

I would definitely ride a bike around the F&M campus...and it's a beautiful campus that's worth checking out, as well as Buchanan Park right next to it. On a Sunday morning though, I'm not sure how much people watching you'll get anywhere in the city. If it's nice out, maybe head over to Chestnut Hill Cafe and sit outside with a cup of coffee. You'll probably see a few people walking dogs and there's a Unitarian church across the street so you can watch people arriving for services.

Things are a little more spread out than you might think, but not too far from one another. Your hotel is near The Fridge, F&M and some of the fine dining places mentioned above but not much shopping. Downtown is about a 15 minute walk from The Arts Hotel (with mostly residential areas in between), but once you're there, most everything you want to see is only 5-10 minutes apart. And BrewCo is the farthest afield...maybe 20-25 minute walk from your hotel on the other end of the city.

Have fun!

Edited: 8:40 pm, May 01, 2013
Elizabethtown...
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8. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

Just wondering how your weekend went.

philadelphia, pa
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9. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

Thanks, everyone. We had a nice 24 hours or so in Lancaster. We were able to get to town around 3pm, so headed right for the shops on Queen Street. We went to Building Character, and had a lot of fun shopping and looking around in there. We walked down Queen Street and back up Prince. Once the stores closed, we headed back to check in to our hotel. We stayed at Lancaster Arts, which was beautiful and the staff was very helpful. We were upgraded to a king suite.

We intended on going to Lancaster Brewing Company for dinner, but then got confused with all the different options and wound up going somewhere no one had recommended (!)-- Characters Pub. The food was good but lacked any kind of real atmosphere. It also seemed to be an older crowd. But we had a good time.

Sunday we opted for the breakfast at the hotel so we could head out early and drive around the county before going home. We had a great time meandering around the roads, seeing the horse and buggies and small towns. We will definitely go back when we have more time and bring the kids!

York, Pennsylvania
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10. Re: staying in downtown lancaster this weekend. suggestions?

We are actually doing the same this weekend. We are doing a scooter tour of Covered Bridges and staying at Eden Resort & Suites.

Looking for suggestions of things to do after dinner!

(Have not yet decided on WHERE dinner will be but have taken and are considering all suggestions. Co-worker of DH mentioned a "railroad" restaurant?)