Trip Planning

Underrated Destinations - Lancaster, PA

Jeremy Puglisi shares his favorite things to do and see in Lancaster, PA.


Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is a wonderful part of the country to explore by RV. The Amish countryside is peaceful, and its backroads and byways are filled with antique shops, roadside produce stands, and sweet treats like whoopie pies, caramel corn, and apple dumplings. This section of Dutch Country also offers plenty of outdoor activities for those that love to hike, bike, kayak, canoe, fish, or go zip-lining, so, you can burn the calories off right after you put them on.

RV travelers that venture to this section of the Keystone State often feel like they have journeyed back in time to a place filled with classic Americana. Lancaster County has diners, smorgasbords, amusement parks, corn mazes, charming downtowns, and train rides galore. Thankfully, it also offers an incredible range of excellent campgrounds, some of which are destinations in their own right, while others are quiet, sleepy and perfect for campfires under the stars.

In Lancaster County, your options for activities and excellent RV accommodations are seemingly endless, much like the winding roads that fill its delightful countryside.

(Photo by Bill Sferrazza)

Family Fun and Outdoor Activities

Looking for the best hiking in Lancaster County? Then look no further than Susquehannock State Park. The hikes at this lovely park are almost all short, so you might consider doing a few of them in one day. The “Nature Trail” is easy and perfect for families with young kids. The “Overlook Trail” is just over a half-mile, but it is strenuous. The payoff is well worth it, though. Gorgeous views of the Susquehanna River will be waiting for you at the top.

Dutch Wonderland is an affordable and family-friendly amusement park that calls itself “a kingdom for kids.” The rides here might not thrill your teenagers, but those twelve and under will have plenty of fun. You can also camp right next door at Old Mill Stream (see below). The ‘Kingdom Coaster” (pictured above) makes a great first roller coaster ride for those that are 46 inches tall and over. Concessions are reasonably priced for families on a budget.

The Strasburg Railroad offers authentic steam train rides through Amish country with options that are suited for couples and families. The “wine and cheese” train ride offers first-class seating for a cozy and creative romantic escape. Family options include an escape-room experience for an evening that your kids will never forget.

Leave your towable RV or motorhome at the campground and Take a Tour of Lancaster’s Historic Covered Bridges. There are over 25 covered bridges in Lancaster County, and they all provide a sense of old-world charm, and photo ops galore for those who don’t leave home without their cameras. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it.

(Photo Courtesy of Dutch Wonderland)

Where to Eat

Hungry for a big breakfast? Many locals will point you to Gracie’s on West Main in Leola. This family-owned favorite has an entire section of its menu dedicated to bacon! Order up a side of sweet garlic chili bacon for an epic breakfast treat that you can’t get anywhere else. The coffee is also good, and refills are plentiful.

Looking for some of the best burgers and shakes in Lancaster County? Look no further than DJ’s Taste of the 50s. Ordering the “Sloppy Burger” with a “Creamy and Dreamy Shake” on the side while listening to Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly is like stepping into a time machine with cherry red swivel seats and black and white checkered floors.

Want a unique “Dutch Country” dinner and have a Lancaster Country-sized appetite? Then make sure to indulge at the Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord. They offer a full menu, but the popular smorgasbord option includes soup, salad, and dessert. Make sure you leave room for the red velvet whoopie pie!

Photo Courtesy of DiscoverLancaster.com
Photo Courtesy of DiscoverLancaster.com
Photo Courtesy of DiscoverLancaster.com

Campground Recommendations

Sun Outdoors Lancaster: Sun Outdoors Lancaster (formerly known as Lake-in-Wood) is one of the best RV resorts in the entire country.  Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, a spacious hot tub, and sports courts galore. The back-in sites along the field near the lake are excellent, and so is the hand-dipped ice cream in the camp store, especially on a warm summer night.

Old Mill Stream Campground: This adorable campground is the perfect place to kick back and relax after spending a long day at Dutch Wonderland. Sites are spacious and shaded and the lazy river that runs along the edge of the campground is a perfect place for an evening stroll. The campground is conveniently located next to the highway, but surprisingly quiet at night.

Jellystone Park Quarryville: If your family loves non-stop action and activities, then this Jellystone Park will hit your sweet spot. The pool and water zone area are gigantic and have basketball hoops and a volleyball court for summer fun. If you feel like splurging, you can also rent a comfortable and convenient cabana so you can eat lunch in the shade. The RV sites here are spacious and shaded with room for the biggest rigs.

Country Acres Campground: Looking for a quieter camping experience and don’t need resort-level amenities? Then check out this pretty, little campground in the heart of the Lancaster County countryside. Their pull through sites are easy to navigate and the customer service is warm and friendly. Some sites are shady, and some are in the sun, so make sure to explain your preference when making a reservation.

Best Time to Visit

Most campgrounds in Lancaster County are open from April to October, so plan accordingly. The weather in springtime can be a bit chilly, so we recommend a summertime visit if you want to swim, hike, or paddle, but fall may be the best time to visit if you love colorful foliage and crisp nights spent around the campfire.

Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is an RV destination worth adding to your bucket list. Just make sure you bring an appetite for comfort food, and a willingness to explore miles of open countryside and quaint downtowns. If you go, you will come back again and again.

Ask me how I know.

Jeremy Puglisi

Author and co-host of the RV Atlas podcast

Jeremy Puglisi is the co-host of the RV Atlas podcast and the co-author of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations. He loves nothing more than hitching up and heading out to the next campground with his family.