Forget the Hudson Valley. New Yorkers looking for a quiet respite from city life without sacrificing culture, design and a rich culinary scene should look further west, to Lancaster, Pa., to wile away a weekend.
Just a three-hour Amtrak ride from Penn Station, past the horse-drawn buggies and carriages of the Pennsylvania Dutch, downtown Lancaster doesn’t resemble its Amish surroundings so much as it does a mini-Brooklyn: teeming with art galleries, indie boutiques and restaurants, without the pretensions of the Big Apple.
“I am obsessed,” says Andrea DePablo, a 33-year-old temp from Astoria, Queens, who started visiting the Pennsylvania town a few years ago, when one of her friends started dating an artist who lived there.
“There are so many cute vintage shops and cool boutiques. My friends are trying to convince me to move there, but I am afraid I’m not cool enough!”
You don’t have to go far to encounter that “cool.”
Just steps from the Lancaster Amtrak station is Gallery Row. This four-block stretch, surrounding downtown’s North Prince Street, has more than 40 independent art purveyors, including the Red Raven Art Company, which draws in collectors from outside the area.
“We are seeing more and more people coming from Philadelphia, Washington, New York City,” says Lee Lovett, gallery manager at Red Raven, who adds that big city dealers began visiting the gallery during the economic collapse to scope out new artists for more affordable prices.
Even with the art-market rebound, she says, dealers still come every month to see the new works on display, which sell for between $5,000 and $20,000.
If design is more your thing, check out Mio Studio, where New York City transplants Mai Orama Muñiz and Erica Millner — whose sculptural, Calder-esque jewelry has been exhibited at the Smithsonian, among other museums — sell wooden bangles and wiry chokers for $100 to $900.
North Queen Street, meanwhile, is bursting with antique and vintage boutiques, including midcentury mecca Space, where you can find a modernist George Nakashima-looking coffee table or the occasional silver-plate deco teapot for a couple Benjamins.
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