When I came to this area almost four years ago, I didn’t expect it to be much different from my rural hometown. I expected a slight increase in the amount of corn fields and Amish culture I would interact with, but I never would have guessed how much Lancaster has come to mean to me.
Lancaster values the arts.
The first time I visited Downtown Lancaster, the Music for Everyone pianos that scatter throughout the streets made the biggest impression on me. When I was younger, I took lessons for seven years, so pianos hold a special place in my heart. I remember sitting down at the piano outside the Ware Center, playing the “Heart and Soul” duet with a friend and thinking how cool it was that music is made accessible to everyone here.
Lancaster is filled with art galleries, theaters for the performing arts and independent films, music venues, and so much more. This area fosters an environment that allows artists to experiment, learn and thrive. On First Fridays, this becomes evident as musicians occupy the sidewalks and art galleries offer exhibits and educational opportunities.
Lancastrians are kind.
Whenever I am hiking or taking a jog in the area, the people I pass almost always smile and say hello. In one of the most embarrassing parking attempts I’ve ever had, strangers on the sidewalk coached me through parallel parking on Orange Street. Countless positive interactions I’ve had with strangers in elevators, restaurants and cafes come to mind when I think of the people who call Lancaster home.
The community is engaged and welcoming.
My favorite part of Lancaster County is the community. The amount of nonprofits, churches and other businesses with missions to help those in need in our community never fails to amaze me. Lancaster boasts the “support local” and “farm-to-kitchen” values, and we exemplify those through flourishing small businesses, our farmers markets and local partnerships.
BBC has called Lancaster City “America’s Refugee Capital.” Our city takes 20 times more refugees per capita than the rest of the U.S., according to the 2017 BBC clip. Many residents of Lancaster County display yard signs that read, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.”
There is always something to do.
Back in my small hometown of New Tripoli, most days you are forced to make your own fun; however, in Lancaster, there is always something to do. From exploring the beautiful nature in the area, strolling around downtown, or visiting one of the county’s many attractions, there is always something new to experience. The constant flow of events in the area also makes it hard to get bored. Whether it’s a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday night, you are guaranteed to find some kind of cool event or food and drink special somewhere in your vicinity.
Lancaster has a little bit of everything.
While Lancaster County is known for its rolling landscapes and agricultural industries, it isn’t all just cornfields and cattle. There is something here for everyone. If you’re a fan of big cities, Downtown Lancaster has been compared to Brooklyn, New York, by the New York Post. Rather spend your time surrounded by wilderness? There are plenty of parks, trails, and other opportunities to enjoy nature. The county is filled with local companies and dedicated business owners. There are endless opportunities to volunteer in the community. We have Dutch Wonderland, a wolf sanctuary, Turkey Hill with their giant cows, and so many other unique, quirky things. Lancaster is rich in community and culture, and I am so grateful to live here, even just temporarily.