With its miles of rolling farmland, small towns, and Amish community, Pennsylvania‘s Lancaster County has become a popular destination for day trips and long weekends. And Lititz, PA, is rich in that small-town charm. Sitting less than a dozen miles from the city of Lancaster, downtown Lititz is a world away and ideal for exploring on foot. Visitors can gawk at the more than hundred-year-old buildings of exposed stone and wood that dot Main Street. And beyond that, there are further enticements like antique stores, coffee shops, and even an authentic British pub. There are enough things to do in Lititz, PA to keep you busy for several day trips.
A Brief History of Lititz
Named for a castle in Bohemia, Lititz was founded in the mid-18th century as a Moravian community by Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of Germany. The story is not that unheard of for this period of history: a group left Europe due to religious persecution and took up residence in the colonies of the New World.
The fingerprints of the Moravians are still on the town. Many of the most handsome buildings still standing date to this era, often with informative signs out front or wearing a plaque that proudly displays the building’s date. You don’t have to go far to be transported back in time and that’s part of the town’s appeal.
Downtown Lititz is also home to a few precedent setters. Linden Hall is the oldest all-girls boarding school in the country while almost directly across the street is the country’s oldest commercial pretzel bakery.
Get to Know Downtown Lititz PA
This is a town made for strolling and there are plenty of things to do in Lititz. But before you hang out, learn a little about Lititz’s background at some of these great historic spots that you can tour.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
If you want to get this Pennsylvania girl’s attention, a giant salt-covered pretzel is probably a good way to do it. And that’s the first thing that caught my attention while walking up Main Street on my first trip to town. Pennsylvania takes its pretzels seriously!
In 1861, Julius Sturgis founded the country’s first commercial pretzel bakery. Today, the bakery continues to operate at the very same location. And, while you’re there for one of their freshly baked pretzels, you can also take a tour of the bakery in its historic building.
Experience History Upclose
Nearby, the Lititz Historical Foundation has a museum that offers some background on the community that founded the town. And next door, the Johannes Mueller House offers tours from guides in period costume for you to experience first-hand the one-time Moravian settlement.
The Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail-Trail is one of the many railway lines turned into mix-use trails that seem to be popping up across the country. There are a few things I really like about this trail in particular. For one thing, it’s just a lovely, clean, and safe trail. When you encounter others on the trail, everyone tends to be quite friendly. It’s really pleasant.
The stretch that approaches Lititz is lined on both sides with historic buildings and informative signs. The most impressive is probably the picturesque Hans Hess Homestead, with its collection of wood-timber buildings that you can peek at between the trees.
If you’re looking to get a bit of exercise and fresh air en route to Lititz, park at one of the trail’s free parking lots and use the trail to reach the historic district.
Things to Do in Lititz PA
The downtown along and near Main Street is where much of the action is. You can window shop or pop in a restaurant for a leisurely lunch or a sweet treat. And you won’t find big chain stores among the shops in Lititz; these are largely independent shops with owners and employees eager to share their business with you.
A Tea Affair is just one of those shops eager to impress. When my husband and I stopped in for a to-go tea at the Main Street, I was shocked by how the relatively small location was packed with different varieties of tea. The woman in the shop said they had one of the largest selections on the East Coast and after seeing it in person, I believe her. We ended up leaving with a couple of varieties of loose tea in addition to those to-go cups. A Tea Affair also has a tea room nearby on Sturgis Lane.
There are also some boutique clothing shops, antique stores, and an upscale general store. There are a few sweets shops, too, such as Laura the Cookie Lady. The Food Network award-winning cookie baker is known for her elaborating decorated cookies but the freshly baked drop cookies are delicious. (I assure you they pair well with that to-go tea; that’s the kind of selfless and hard-hitting investigation that I offer with Reverberations.)
Hopefully, you saved room for a meal or, at the very least, a drink. The Bulls Head Public House is one of the jewels of Lititz. The British-style pub is remarkably authentic, from the handsome wood-paneled interior to the tasty pub grub. Menu highlights include the Scotch eggs and Cornish pasty. The restaurant is comfortable and remarkably laid back. Just order at the bar and then grab a table inside or outside.
Wilbur Chocolate Company
While the most famous chocolate company in Pennsylvania might have its own amusement park, not every candy company needs all that flash. Founded in Philadelphia during the 19th century, Wilbur Chocolate Company is long since based in Lititz.
While the old factory has since shuttered, there is still a chocolate shop where shoppers flock for their sugar fix. Glass windows allow you to sneak a peek behind the scenes as you shop.
Amongst Wilbur’s popular confections are the Wilbur buds, which debuted in the 1890s. The shape reminds of the Hershey kiss — which was first sold more than a decade later.
If you’re looking for a relaxed weekend away, Lititz is a great spot. And there are a few great options for overnight stays.
Attached to the Bulls Head Public House on Main Street, Lititz Springs Inn and Spa was built in 1764 as the Zum Anker. it has changed hands and names a few times in the following centuries. Today the hotel offers a nod to its historic past while still offering all the modern comforts and amenities.
The Wilbur Lititz is a Hilton hotel inside of the old Wilbur Chocolate Company factory. As such, there are plenty of fantastic architectural details, including exposed brick walls and wooden beams.
Getting to Lititz
In the heart of Lancaster County, Lititz is easy to reach. From Lancaster city, it’s a straight shot up 501. For visitors coming from a bit farther afield, 772 runs through Lititz west and east. It’s conveniently located not too far from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, too, making it an ideal day trip from Philadelphia.
There is metered parking throughout the downtown area.
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All photos, as well as opinions, are my own.