From farm tours to hot air balloons, Lancaster, PA, offers some of the best outdoor experiences you can find in the region! Help your family get outside by visiting Lancaster Amish Country. You can find almost any top outdoor adventure within (or just outdoors) the county. Look below at some of what the county has to offer throughout the year.
What exactly does it look like to live on a farm? Get a hands-on experience when you’re exploring Old Windmill Farm, an actual Amish farm you can tour and learn more about what it looks like to live on a farm in Lancaster. This outdoor activity engages participants with fun activities like milking a cow, gardening, gathering eggs, and more! You can even join in on a scenic hayride during your experience.
Because the Amish community doesn’t use electricity, you’ll also learn how they run their farm without it. You’ll experience first-hand how the Amish partner with nature to power their farms. You can book tours directly on their website or by calling the farm at the information on their page.
Catch a bird’s eye view of Lancaster through a helicopter ride! Tours range from 15 minutes to over 2 hours, and show a variety of special landmarks, bodies of water, and farmland that can be found throughout PA. They also offer a VIP tour perfect for special occasions. Smoketown Helicopters also provides flight training for those that are looking to pursue being a pilot, and it’s for both helicopters and airplanes.
They are open 6 days a week, which provides you with many days to choose your tour! You can book your preferred tour style, date, and time directly on their website.
Looking for a climbing excursion? Check out North Fork Adventures for some great learning opportunities in rock climbing and caving. Eric Sauder and Andy Hershey, your personal climbing guides, each have over 15 years of experience guiding and instructing. They’ll be working with you during your tour. Rates include 1 up to 13+ people and are good for full-day and half-day opportunities!
Their website also includes plenty of information on what to bring when caving and rock climbing and more about what each activity entails. They also have multiple courses you can sign up for for beginners, kids, intermediate, advanced, and all those in between the levels. You can even learn how to do self-rescues, lead climbing, fundamentals, and more!
Shank’s Mare Outfitters offers sales and rentals of outdoor adventure equipment. Not only that, but they also have a variety of tours you can hop on to learn more about paddle boarding, hiking, kayaking, and more! Located on the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville, they are the perfect place to plunge into playing outdoors.
Lessons are also offered if you are new to paddle sports like kayaking and paddle boarding. Gear is provided for the lessons, or you can bring your own. They are also set up for longer spring and fall trips, including a journey to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
You can also bring home gear, whether apparel or a paddle board! Look at their online shop (or their full website) to see what else is offered.
One of Lancaster, PA’s more well-known outdoor activities includes exploring the local nature preserves. Lancaster is riddled with them, and you can go to almost every corner of the county and find a nature preserve. This includes Middle Creek (located about 5 minutes from Refreshing Mountain), Kelly’s Run, Shenk’s Ferry, and more!
You can discover more about each of these preserves on Lancaster Conservancy’s website, where you can learn how to explore the outdoors in Lancaster, what they do, and how you can even get involved with Lancaster Conservancy. They also share important tips like rules and regulations, where you can go to hunt and fish, and regional trails. There are over 40 preserves to explore on the website alone, so enjoy your time!
Calling all baseball fans! Lancaster City has its own team that you can visit. Just like for MLB games, get tickets and join in on the fun, whether you are enjoying the game itself or exploring all of what the stadium offers. The stadium spaces include areas for all ages, including a kid’s zone, an arcade, and the Subaru Outdoor Experience (a special space encouraging social engagement with fans through tabletop games).
Lancaster Barnstormers are all about community, encouraging social interaction and community outreaches. One of the ways they do this is by allowing the community to register as a “Host Family” for some of the out-of-town baseball players. They also have birthday displays, bring-your-dog days, and more!
Whether you are new to the arena of horses, or you are a long-time rider, horse lessons are a great way to get outdoors and get familiar with these fun-loving animals! Horse lessons are offered all throughout Lancaster, including at Refreshing Mountain, which gives you plenty of places to choose to get lessons from depending on where you live in Lancaster. Some horse lessons also include trail rides or group rides.
Horseback lessons are great for all ages, so whether it’s your kids wanting to get involved, or even yourself, don’t be afraid to explore this option! Typically riding lessons take place in spring, summer and fall, but be sure to connect with a couple different horse-riding facilities to figure out the best time of year for your personal lessons.
This is an experience like no other, although it’s also in the sky like the helicopter tours! Hot air balloons are seen all around in the Lancaster skies—if you are local, you see them frequently. Lancaster Balloon Rides offers tours and experiences for all ages and events. Whether you’re searching for a romantic evening or want a fun experience for your kids, hot air balloons are a great way to explore Lancaster County!
Lancaster Balloon Rides also offers tours in Chester County and Bucks County, so if you don’t want to just explore Lancaster, you have choices. You can book a private tour or a shared tour. However, read over all the guidelines and regulations before booking, as you may need to call in for weather updates and other important information.
Last, but not least, on our list is our very own Refreshing Mountain. This is the place for adventure, with various fun packages and offerings that include ziplining, wildlife experiences, axe throwing, escape rooms, and more!
Activities are open year-round (even in winter) for you to book a fun excursion. In fact, from Thanksgiving to just after the New Year, we offer our Christmas Light tours, where you can zipline at night with our Christmas lights to guide the way! During the fall months, try out the Aerial Excursion Tour, which includes Pumpkin Smashing while supplies last.
If you’re looking for an overnight stay, we also offer cabin rentals that can hold up to 8 people and are fully furnished with a kitchenette, bathroom, and two bedrooms.
We accommodate groups of all sizes, from one person to hundreds of people! If you want to set up a retreat at Refreshing Mountain, this is our specialty, and we offer great lodging, activity, and meal packages for your event.
Local Insights and Tips
No matter where you go to visit, it’s great to have a few tips and inside knowledge to get you started. Here are some of the top tips recommended when coming to Refreshing Mountain (and many other locations in Lancaster).
1) Dress for the weather!
The weather in Lancaster County can be humid and sunny at one moment, and the next it’s downpouring rain! Wear clothing that you’ll be comfortable in outside, but bring along a hoodie, a raincoat, and a pair of closed-toe shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. If you have an activity like ziplining, keep in mind you’ll be wearing a harness, so T-shirts and longer shortly are typically better than tank tops and short shorts that can cause chafing.
2) Book your reservation ahead of time if possible.
It’s great when you can do activities on a whim, but there are a fair amount of locations in Lancaster that have a lot of foot traffic. If you’re planning to join in on an activity where guides, instructors or staff members are required to be present, having a reservation ahead of time helps to guarantee your space for the activity.
3) Whatever you book, read the information ahead of time.
This is especially important if you’ve never participated in an activity like what you’re about to embark on! Activities (especially at Refreshing Mountain) are very different from each other and can run differently when it comes to timeslots, packages, ages, and more, so read through an activity before you book. If you have questions about the activity, reach out to the local contact who can help guide you through the information!
Join Us in Lancaster County!
No matter the time of year you plan to join us, Lancaster County is a beautiful, nature-filled region with lots of fun outdoor activities. You are not stuck with just a couple of hikes or experiences, nor are you not stuck being inside if your goal is to get outside. Adventure waits for you in Lancaster Amish Country and at Refreshing Mountain!