Location, Lodging & Travel


One of the greatest things about HippoCamp is that it gives a sense place to an otherwise “everywhere” publication.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania—the nation’s oldest inland city—is described as “small yet cosmopolitan” and it has found its way into various “top” lists in the past few years including Most Exciting Small Cities in America. Most recently, it’s been touted as “the Brooklyn of Pennsylvania” for it’s good food, good brews (coffee and beer!), and quirky shops and makers’ movement.

Our conference happens in the heart of the city:


Explore more, below. Or, if you’ve been here before to do your research and are back to book- we placed a handy “book now” button right here so you don’t have to go searching for it:

Reserve now.


Special conference rate: $163/night plus free parking (for overnight guests).

Reserve now.

lancaster-marriott-nightHippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers has a block of rooms reserved, at a discounted rate, at The Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square Thursday through Sunday.

The Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square is the ornate anchor of the main intersection in vibrant, historic downtown Lancaster. Part of this hotel—the architectural gem—is the former Watt and Shand department store.

The beautiful Marriott is across the street from Lancaster Central Market, the longest, continuously operated farmer’s market in the country (hint: HippoCamp takes place during TWO market days!) and is within close proximity to many eating and drinking establishments, shops, and attractions.

This hotel’s website has details about the amenities, but we’ll share a few here:

  • Penn Square Grille
  • Rendezvous Lounge
  • Spa
  • Fitness center
  • Indoor pool


Extra discounts for HippoCamp attendees:

  • FREE hotel parking for attendees registered as overnight hotel guests; conference commuters will receive discount parking pass. (Note: the Marriott group rate web template is standard and does not show the parking discount; rest assured, it’s include.)

Other Local Hotels

Staying in the conference hotel is most convenient, especially if you want to take a break or freshen up between sessions or be close to “home” after socializing at the conference and after-hours events. However, there are alternatives.

  • The nearby and newly remodeled Hotel Lancaster is the only other hotel within a few blocks of the Convention Center; at the time this page was published, the average nightly rate at Hotel Lancaster is $149 on the weekend, about $129 on Thursday.
  • If you will have a vehicle or are willing to take public transportation, there are several locally owned as well as many familiar chain lodging options outside of the immediate downtown area and on the outskirts of the city that can fit any budget.
  • Several past-year attendees found AirBnB hosts close by. (If you’ve never used AirBnB, this referral link will save you $20 off your first stay.)
  • If you’re looking for a roommate, we suggest posting in the conference Facebook group.

Note that if you are commuting to the conference either because you live locally or are staying in another hotel, you can take advantage of a discounted Penn Square garage rate for HippoCamp attendees: $11 per day. (Reg. $18)



close up of old building and "historical lancaster" flag

If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, getting to Lancaster by car is manageable and, we think, a pretty nice drive! We’re not too far from these major cities:

  • 65 miles – Philadelphia
  • 70 miles – Baltimore
  • 106 miles – Washington, D.C.
  • 160 miles – New York City


  • Conference commuters (those who live locally or are staying at a different hotel) will get a discounted daily rate at Penn Square Garage – $10 per day. (Reg. $18.)

Ground Transportation

Official conference activities will be within walking distance of the Convention Center, but but if you need to get around once you get here:


exterior of lancaster amtrak station historic, columns

Flickr Creative Commons: The West End


Lancaster Amtrak Station: 1.5 miles from conference center

Save 10% – Use TBA convention fare code [2018 coming soon] – you must book by phone to use this.

Lancaster is a stop on Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and Keystone routes.

  • The Keystone route offers frequent daily service between New York City and Harrisburg by way of Philadelphia.
  • The Pennsylvanian route travels daily between New York City and Pittsburgh. This line also connects in Pittsburgh to Capitol Limited trains 29 and 30, which offer service to Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago and other points.
  • A transfer in Philadelphia also makes the Northeastern Regional Line and the Acela Express a possibility; these lines runs from Boston to Virginia. The Northeastern line has more options.


harrisburg airport graphic logo overlayed on image of planeLancaster is closest to the Harrisburg International Airport, which is actually located in between Lancaster and Harrisburg. Lancaster also is not too far from Baltimore/Washington and Philadelphia.


MDT Information

Being a midsize city in farm country means we’re not big or busy enough of a metropolitan area to attract shuttle companies like Super Shuttle, and downtown Lancaster hotels do not offer their own shuttle service. The estimated taxi fare according to the Marriott website, is $65 per trip from MDT to downtown Lancaster. We suggest other options, listed below.

  • You can find six car rental services in the Harrisburg International Airport terminal: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz and National Car Rental.
  • MDT is about two miles from the Middletown Amtrak stop, which is on the Keystone Line. (An airport taxi could take you to the train station.)
  • Finally, depending on how many people are flying into HIA for HippoCamp, Hippocampus will consider hiring a private shuttle company to offer our attendees a round-trip or one-way ride for a nominal fee. You can note in your registration if you are interested in this option.
  • We’ll be opening up a sharable document where registered attendees can share flight arrival and departure times to help encourage carpooling and sharing costs. More on that to come!



Depending on where are you flying from and/or which airlines you prefer, one of these major airports might make sense. Both are less than two hours from downtown Lancaster, and also offer rental car options and are close to train stations that hook up with the Keystone Line, which runs right to downtown Lancaster.


The Lancaster County Convention Center will be home to most of the conference events, but with break time and dinner-on-your-owns, you will have time to explore downtown’s dining options.

The Convention Center is bright, spacious, colorful and comfortable; the staff is friendly and attentive. Service at HippoCamp 2015 was impressive, and we’re happy to be back.

The Convention Center not only is attached to a hotel that is part of the former Watt and Shand department store, but it also is home to a few other historic gems, including (at press time) an active archaeological site: the convention center was built around the home and law offices of Thaddeus Stevens–evidence shows that his home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. In fact, on the premises is The Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site.



street shot old record store

Flickr Creative Commons: Rachel Carrier

A website for downtown Lancaster says it best: 288 experiences within 20 square blocks. There is something for everyone in this historical, central PA city, from Gallery Row to vintage shops. And, with dinner on your own on Saturday, you have time to explore and literally get a taste of Lancaster!

Major media outlets have (re?)discovered Lancaster as an amazing destination, with a few dozen write-ups about our city. Here’s one from March 2017 from the NY Daily News: “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is much cooler than you think.”

Here are a few links to regional tourism sites to help you get an idea of what to expect from our region. There’s plenty to enjoy and, perhaps, the attractions in our area will inspire you to extend your trip! Your conference packet will have details on our recommendations, too!

The latter bullet? So yum we feel the need to share a video.

We can’t wait to welcome you to Lancaster, Pa!