Amish Country of Lancaster in Pennsylvania is a home to the largest and oldest Amish population living in the United States. It attracts thousands of visitors every year to see the authentic lifestyle of Amish people shunning the modern technologies in the 21st century.
I came to know about the term ‘Amish’ for the very first time when I watched Harrison Ford’s crime-thriller movie – ‘Witness’ couple of years ago in which he protects a young Amish boy who becomes a target after he witnesses a murder in Philadelphia. Since then, I was curious about Amish culture and visiting Lancaster Country was on my bucket list. Fortunately, I got the chance to visit Amish Village during my last epic travel of 2016. I visited Lancaster with a group of my old buddies on the second last day of the year and it was an astounding experience which you never experience in your everyday life.
We started our drive from Philadelphia around 11:00 AM. It was pretty cold that day and the temperature was below 50 with a chilled wind that can make you shiver from within. The drive from Philly to Lancaster is around 1 hour and 40 mins. The drive was quite scenic.
Our first stop was The Amish Village visitor center. It provides an authentic look at today’s Amish lifestyle. It provides various tours such as Farmhouse & Village Tour, Backroads Bus guided 90-minutes farmhouse tour as well as you’re free to explore their 12-acre village grounds that include an Amish one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, barn with farm animals etc.
We didn’t want to experience Amish life inside the closed bus but we wanted to ride on authentic Amish buggy to explore their lifestyle in a typical Amish way. Thanks to our friend GOOGLE, we found Aaron & Jessica’s Amish Buggy Rides. There were two kinds of tours available such as the ‘Amish Town Tour’ and the ‘Amish Farm Tour’. We chose the farm tour because we wanted to visit an Amish house and experience non-commercial farm experience.
Nothing can beat the experience of riding in a buggy and stepping back in time to enjoy a slower, more peaceful pace – one where the horse & buggy remains the primary form of transportation, and where windmills dot the landscape, providing power harnessed from nature. Doesn’t it sounds quite fascinating…right?
We waited for only 15 mins and then our buggy driver Benjamin came to greet us! He was an Amish old man in his 50’s with a beard and dynamic persona. Then our legendary 60 minutes Amish farm tour started. Benjamin started the tour by sharing various interesting information about the Amish lifestyle. He told that Amish living in the United States follow simple customs and refuse to take oaths, vote, or perform military service. They shun modern technology and conveniences. They do not have phone, mobile, television, internet and electricity at their homes. Their mode of transportation is only horse or buggy. The men usually wear beards and pants with buttons instead of zippers. The women wear white head coverings and plain dresses, usually without buttons—they use straight pins to fasten the clothing. They have their own schools and they study only up to standard 8th to get the basic education required for living their lifestyle.
Within 10 mins, we reached Benjamin farm house. It was more than 10 acres. The place was free from any shallow streams of the materialistic world. Everything was looking pure and fresh giving the vibe as if I’ve rolled back in time.
Then our barn tour started. Benjamin had more than 50 cows, horses, mules and other animals. He showed us how he takes care of all his animals. He also explained us the typical Amish mechanism of storing milk in the milk tank that was quite fascinating!
At the end of his farm tour, he offered us some homemade honey oatmeal cookies made by his daughter-in-law to buy and I’ve to say that it was the best honey oatmeal cookies I ever had in my life! Apart from cookies, you can also buy homemade pretzels and horseshoe – a good luck charm for your house!
After completing the farm tour, we rode in Benjamin’s buggy to take a glimpse of Amish Village. I’ve to admit that it was an experience of a lifetime!
Where to eat?
When you’re in Amish Country, you should experience the food in a typical Amish restaurant! We went to Fisher’s restaurant surrounded by picturesque farmlands. The restaurant serves authentic homemade cooked food. I ordered BBQ Cheddarburger with onion rings and mashed potato on the side which was incredibly delicious.
When we ordered the check, I was delighted to see this warm gesture from our waitress Esther!
Also, if you’re looking to buy a souvenir from the Amish Country, don’t forget to buy Amish faceless voodoo dolls! It is the popular form of Amish American folk art.
Where to stay?
If you’re driving from New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you can complete all the attractions in a single day. But if you want to stay in Lancaster Country, you can check the staying options here.
Tips for visiting Amish Country, Lancaster, PA
- You can visit any time of the year to Amish Country. However, Fall is the best time of the year when you can taste seasonal baked goods, homemade crafts & wares at roadside stands and farmers markets.
- While doing Amish town or farm tours, don’t click pictures of the random Amish people without their permission.
- Whoopie Pie Festival is one of the famous events in the Lancaster Country which is celebrated each year on a Saturday in September at Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn. You can participate in whoopie pie eating contest, a whoopie pie treasure hunt, or set your eyes on the largest whoopie pie ever made!
- For checking the seasonal activities in Lancaster Country, you can click here.
- If you want to witness authentic Amish lifestyle, always choose Buggy tours rather than conventional bus tours.
Do share your experiences if you’ve visited Amish Country in Lancaster in the comments below? If not, what do you think about my experience?
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