The hip culture and culinary scene add to the attractiveness of Lancaster. Value-driven groups relish the town’s walkability, sophisticated restaurant scene, burgeoning arts and gallery district, and architecture and historic gems such as Lancaster Central Market at Penn Square. The market opened in 1730 and is the oldest continuously operated food market in the country.
Here’s a primer for planners:
The Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square
This visionary project is at the core of Lancaster’s decadeslong revival that created an integrated convention and hotel facility, incorporating the iconic Beaux Arts façade of the landmark Watt & Shand department store.
Opened in 2009, this Marriott recently completed a full-room renovation and opened the newly developed East Tower. The final product added 110 rooms, upping the total to 416 for the property. Planners find dedicated space for meetings up to 5,000 attendees in the form of 90,000 square feet of flex-space in 27 meeting rooms, including and a 46,000-sq.-ft. exhibition hall.
“We’re excited about our new offerings including our M Club Lounge,” said Josh Nowak, director of sales and marketing at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. “Our brand-new rooftop lounge and restaurant, The Exchange, overlooks downtown and will be the sought-after venue for making connections.”
Nowak notes the convention center has hosted a diverse slate of groups, including the returning Zenkaikon, Anime & Sci-Fi Convention (more than 5,000 attendees), and the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania, which had more than 4,000 attendees.
Two additional Marriott properties bolster Lancaster’s accommodations offerings. Courtyard by Marriott Lancaster is Marriott’s first U.S. property to be 100% solar-powered. There are 133 rooms and meeting space for up to 40. Marriott’s Residence Inn Lancaster opened in early 2019, offering 127 studio and one-bedroom suites. Popular with traveling sports teams and family groups, the property is less than 15 minutes from downtown and located at The Crossings, a lifestyle center featuring shops, restaurants and entertainment.
With nearly 100 restaurants in the downtown core, Lancaster provides a broad selection of dine-around options for groups.
Favorites include the newly opened Plough at Marriott Lancaster, where chef Ryan McQuillan oversees a menu of fresh, locally grown produce, artisan meats, seafood and dairy. Situated directly across from the Central Market, Plough delivers big flavors with innovative dishes.
The Press Room is an inviting King St. bistro and lounge serving local brew, sophisticated pub-grub and craft cocktails.
Amorette is a gastronomic dream created by owners Tom and Donna Ponessa. World travelers with a passion for fine dining, the couple created a true gem, evocative of Michelin haunts in Paris and New York City. An extensive wine cellar, beautiful event space, lush dining room and knock-out bar all frame American fare prepared with French technique.
Group tours and show tickets are available for the Fulton Theatre, the oldest continuously running regional theatre in America. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, Fulton Theatre attracts top talent and produces more than a dozen shows annually.
Historic Lancaster Walking Tours provide a glimpse into nearly 300 years of local history. Churches, gardens and centuries of American architecture are on display on this city walk that starts and ends at the Central Market.
While groups are at the Lancaster County Convention Center, they can visit The Federalist Montgomery House, home of Civil War-era abolitionist Thaddeus Steven, since it’s incorporated into the facility. Groups can arrange to use the house for meetings, meals and receptions.