The Ultimate Guide to Lancaster, Ohio
If you’re moving to Lancaster, here’s what you need to know!
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Header image courtesy of Only In Your State
Lancaster is a city known for its rich history, beautiful nature, and proximity to Columbus. Though this should give you a bit of an idea of what it might be like to live there, there is so much more to learn about this gem of a city that’s often overshadowed by the nearby Columbus. To find out more about the Lancaster scene, come with us on a journey through the city, featuring:
- Some general information
- A brief history of the city
- Parks and recreation
- The best places to eat
Although it’s the county seat of Fairfield County, the city is quite small in comparison to its neighbor Columbus with a population of over 40,000. The median age is 39.7 years old, which is pretty consistent with Ohio’s overall median age, 39.3 years old. The median household income is $40,235, and the median property value is $118,100. The largest industries in the city are health care and social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing. The city is home to the Lancaster campus of Ohio University, which offers more than 250 majors and is currently attended by 1,728 undergraduate students.
A Brief History of Lancaster, OH
Founded in 1800 by Ebenezer Zane, Lancaster was originally populated by German settlers traveling west from Pennsylvania. The Lancaster Lateral Canal in 1834 and the Hocking Canal in 1841 combined to cause a burst in population, and a railroad connection in 1854 gave Lancaster’s businesses new markets for their products. Many residents became rich during this time, leading to the construction of opulent historical homes that still stand today. While agriculture played an important role in Lancaster’s economy, glass manufacturing also became a vital industry and remains so to this day.
Libraries in Lancaster
Libraries are important to every community, and Lancaster is no exception. The main library within the city is Fairfield County District Library, and nearby are Fairfield County Law Library and GANESA Study Center. The suburbs of Lancaster contain the other branches of the Fairfield County District LIbrary, including Northwest, Baltimore, Amanda, and Bremen branches.
Fairfield County District Library
219 N Broad St
Lancaster, OH 43130
In addition to books, magazines, computers, and all manner of other media, the Fairfield County District Library hosts many events and programs for all ages. Storytimes, arts and crafts, writing events, scientific discussions, and art displays are all available for community members. With a library card, you can access not only the library’s vast resources, but also online learning courses from Creativebug, Gale Courses, and Lynda.com. If you want to learn more about the history of Lancaster, or even about your own history, you can explore the genealogy and local history database that should provide you with everything you need to complete your research. If you get stuck, the knowledgeable librarians are there to help you navigate those confusing documents.
Parks and Recreation
Lancaster is situated in a naturally beautiful area. The city is surrounded by acres upon acres of farmland, and even within the city trees grow on every corner. Lancaster’s many picturesque parks are some of its greatest assets, and to help you take advantage of them, we’ll give you an overview of the best ones.
A strenuous hike ending in picture-worthy views
203 E Fair Ave
Lancaster, OH 43130
The name Rising Park is quite fitting since the park contains land that has risen up to form Mount Pleasant, a hill that’s 250 feet high and somewhat of a famous destination for locals who want to watch the sunset or appreciate the beauty of their city. In addition to this “mountain,” the park also features all of the usual fields and trimmings, including pavilions, a playground, a baseball diamond, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and two scenic ponds.
“GREAT park to spend time, waste time, hang out for hours, etc. The idea is you walk up the hill, not easy but not an intense workout either, then you've reached the view. The cliff hangs over the city of Lancaster and the view is PHENOMENAL.” - Brooklyn B. on Yelp
Rockbridge State Nature Preserve
The famous rock bridge and other natural beauty
11475 Dalton Rd
Rockbridge, OH 43149
Though the Rockbridge State Nature Preserve contains the intriguing natural phenomenon pictured above, for which it is named, the park is usually deserted, quiet, and peaceful — a perfect place to bask in Ohio’s natural ambiance. The park features a few trails, with the main attraction being the Natural Bridge Trail. It’s about 2.75 miles and would be classified as a moderate, with rolling hills and uneven footing. In addition to the bridge, you may be lucky enough to see some wildflowers or a small waterfall that tumbles over a rock ledge when the area is sufficiently inundated with water.
“One of the most amazing hikes in Ohio. If you've never been, what are you waiting for? Get in your car and make a day of it.” - Randy B. on Yelp
Chestnut Ridge Metro Park
Hiking, biking, and fishing for all
8445 Winchester Rd NW
Carroll, OH 43112
This park is one of the larger ones in the area, featuring four hiking trails from easy to moderate difficulty and one 9-mile mountain biking trail, with an inner loop for beginners and an outer loop for experts. If you’re looking for a more relaxing than active experience, the park also offers two pavilions and a 2-acre fishing pond. Pets are allowed in the picnic area and on the Milkweed Trail, which meanders through fields and a short wooded area. The trail aptly named Ridge is the most difficult, with a 150 foot climb, but tenacious hikers are rewarded by a view of Columbus’ skyline when they reach the top.
“Chestnut Ridge is great for family hikes, bird watching, fishing and my favorite, trail running. Something about the trails here push me to get my butt into gear. I think what I love most is the views and scenery, something about it always keeps me interested and keeps me running.” - Martha C. on Yelp
Where to Eat
Lancaster’s beautiful parks are contrasted by its hopping downtown, in which many local businesses flourish. Many of these are restaurants, and many of them are delicious. If you’re looking for some exclusively local eats, here’s where to start.
A playful take on health food
203 S Broad St
Lancaster, OH 43130
If you’re on the hunt for a healthy option, look no further. The Well uses all non-GMO, organic, and local ingredients, with many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Despite all the nutrition in their food, it’s still incredibly delicious. Their untarnished five star score on Yelp should speak for itself. Their menu offers salads, bowls, pitas, and delectable desserts that you won’t be able to resist. Stop in to grab a protein-rich breakfast, or a light lunch, or a unique smoothie.
“The Well is our favorite restaurant in the Lancaster/Logan area. We come every chance we get and are never disappointed with the food nor the staff. Everything and everyone here is wonderful.” - Erica H. on Yelp
Cherry Street Pub
A quirky local favorite
202 N Cherry St
Lancaster, OH 43130
Don’t be surprised if you show up to Cherry Street Pub only to find a full bar. This place is well-loved by locals for its eclectic, fun atmosphere and great food and drinks. The building is actually over 100 years old, which is common in downtown Lancaster. While it has all the modern trimmings, the owners have also taken pains to preserve its historic charms. It’s worth a visit just to sit on the patio and enjoy some of their legendary mac and cheese.
“I love this place! Great atmosphere, food and the best mule drink list you'll find! Been to the restaurant a handful of times and never had a bad experience. The spicy chicken sandwich is my favorite thing on the menu!” - Nate M. on Yelp
Delicious Donuts in Lancaster, OH
1021 N Memorial Dr
Lancaster, OH 43130
If you’re looking for a bit of dessert after a hearty meal at the Cherry Street Pub, stop into Dough-Hio Donuts. The store is based in an unassuming strip mall, but step inside and you’ll see a cute blackboard bursting with colors, a table for kids, several colorful beanbags, and of course many delicious donuts. Dough-Hio is all about being creative with their flavors, so you may have to trust that your donut taste as good as it looks (and it will). You can even create your own donut, and watch as the experts make it right before your eyes!
“The inside was so clean & vibrant with such a cute kiddie corner. The staff was super friendly and even stated this was their "fun" side job. They have so many special concoctions it was hard to make my selection especially given the fact they will create your own combination of ingredients as well.” - Commila H. on Yelp
Lancaster, Ohio has much more to offer than can fit in this small post, but at least this will give you an idea of where to start. Overall, it’s a great place to live, with a rich history, a helpful library, peaceful parks, and awesome eats. Some residents may claim it’s boring, but you’ll know better. Now, get out there, and have fun exploring this beautiful little city!