The Lure Of Amish Country
The Amish, a Christian sect that
immigrated to the U.S. in the 18th century to escape religious
persecution in Germany and Switzerland, have long attracted the
attention of the modern world. By opting for a simpler, more
old-fashioned lifestyle, they are irresistibly fascinating to
Those visiting Amish country are not just intrigued
by their different lifestyle, but perhaps seek a reprieve from their
own. Needless to say, Amish life is a sharp contrast to our
high-tech, high-stress, high-consumption society. The Amish prefer
to separate from the world and maintain self-sufficient communities
that are free from modern conveniences like electricity, cars, etc.
Amish leaders fear that such things would introduce worldly
temptations into the society, causing people to stray from the
simplicity and virtues that they value. A drive through Amish
country will certainly evoke the feeling of being in a different,
more placid era.
Where to Go
134,000 Amish live in North America, three-quarters of them in
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. As tourist areas go, these three
are the states to visit. (The Amish also reside in Delaware,
Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland,
Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina,
Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and
Amish community is perhaps the most famous. Although its inhabitants
are known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, they are not Dutch at all—they
are Deutsch (German). The largest Amish population in the
state is in Lancaster Country. Five million visitors frequent the
area, which hosts the traditional Amish pastimes of roadside stands,
farmer's markets, and antique and furniture shops. The commercial
side of the county offers abundant lodging along with more
mainstream festivals, museums, historic buildings, and steam-powered
locomotives. For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Dutch
Convention and Visitors Bureau website or call
There are also several large Amish populations
in western Pennsylvania. The Smicksburg/Dayton community, located
about an hour-and-a-half north of Pittsburgh, has more than 800
Amish settlers. While in Smicksburg, take time to enjoy the Amish
Wedding Feast at Stockdale's Restaurant, where a narrator tells a
story as you experience the wedding event in the true Amish
tradition. You'll enjoy an Amish meal, served family-style in a
typical Amish setting, and you'll learn all about the traditional
Amish wedding customs. For more information, visit the
boasts the largest Amish community in the world, estimated at
between 35,000 to 45,000 people. The best place to get a look into
their world is in and around the town of Berlin in Holmes County.
Many farms and homes are open for tours, and you will have the
opportunity to ride in a buggy and visit craft shops. As is the case
with most Amish communities, you will find Amish specialties like
cheese, furniture, and quilts for sale at establishments throughout
the local area. For more information, visit the Holmes County
Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau website.
There is a large Amish
population in northern Indiana near the Michigan border. In the town
of Nappanee, you can get an inside look at the daily lives of the
Amish at Amish Acres, a historic farm
which offers guided tours, buggy rides, and craft demonstrations.
There are also a number of inns and restaurants that serve
traditional home-cooked Amish cooking. Dinners are served
family-style where heaping dishes of meat and potatoes will arrive
at your table for you to help yourself. To find more information,
visit the Amish Country of Northern Indiana website.
for Visiting Amish Country
Driving in Amish communities
is different than driving on other rural or urban roads. In Amish
communities, you will see horse-drawn buggies or equipment on the
roadway as the people travel to town or the fields. Here are some
guidelines for driving in and visiting Amish country.
Other notes: Keep in mind that the Amish speak
Pennsylvania Dutch to other Amish, but can speak and understand
English. They call non-Amish people English or "Englishers."
Furthermore, all Amish businesses are closed on Sunday because of
- Be respectful, polite, and courteous.
- Do not honk unnecessarily at the horses. Only use the horn to
- Do not ask the Amish to pose for pictures as this is against
- Do not enter private property without permission.
- Do not pet or feed horses that are tied to a hitching
Understand that the Amish are a devout, quiet
group of people who believe in a plain style of life. With their
beards and plain dress, they may look strange to others, but
poverty, crime, and disorder are virtually unknown to them. In that,
we might all take a lesson from the Amish.
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