The county of Lancaster in Pennsylvania is known primarily as the home of the largest Amish population in the United States and the intrigue surrounding their way of life has brought in thousands of curious travelers from around the world. Its proximity to a number of major cities on the eastern seaboard, the picturesque farmland sceneries, and fabulous food also makes it a perfect spot to escape the city chaos for the weekend. Planning a trip? Consider these Amish Country Lancaster PA getaway guide tips for maximum enjoyment.
Amish Country Lancaster PA Getaway Guide
Who are the Pennsylvania Amish?
The main reason for visiting Lancaster County is inevitably to learn about and understand the Pennsylvania Amish community. The members of this conservative Christian faith were descendants of the Swiss bishop named Jacob Amman who fled Europe during the Reformation. He and many of his followers came to Pennsylvania in the 18th century to take advantage of the state’s religious tolerance doctrine. Their descendants continued to occupy the same lands and for the most part, maintained the same lifestyles when they first arrived. Their plain clothing, their resistance to modern conveniences, and their strong sense of religion, family and community are just a few of the examples that define their identity. It’s important for travelers to understand that despite the Amish’s hospitality, they remain a very private community.
Best Time to Visit
The best part about your Amish country Lancaster PA getaway is that you’re surrounded by nature. Sprawling farmlands, windmills, and farm animals are the de facto attractions, which makes the seasons of spring, summer, and autumn the best times to visit. Spring brings in the reemergence of wildflowers and seasonal vegetables such as asparagus and spinach.
It’s also where most attractions start to re-open for the tourist season. In summer, you’ll find plenty more activities especially those catered for children, as well festivals and heritage days hosted by nearby towns. Finally, in autumn, the highlights include the foliage and harvest days for pumpkins and grapes.
What to See
When planning your Lancaster County getaway, make it a point to stop by and peruse shops located within a number of small communities along Route 340, 30, and 741. These include the villages of Smoketown, Bird-in-Hand, Plain and Fancy, and Millers. Antique lovers ought to visit Bird-in-Hand Antique Market where you’ll find one of the largest concentrations of local antique sellers under one roof while the adjacent Old Village Store showcases the Amish’s artistic skills. It’s also a great place to shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Those traveling and staying in Lancaster with kids will enjoy a visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in nearby Strasburg where visitors can view a large collection of historical locomotives and cars as well as learn about the history and importance of railroads, particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum covers 18 acres of land and features a 100,000-square foot indoor exhibit. Some of the dedicated programs for kids include lectures and demonstrations about the steam engine. Admission fees begin at $8 for children and $10 for adults.
Where to Eat
Lancaster County has developed a reputation for serving some of the best food in the country because the variety of eateries only use local ingredients, all of which are guaranteed fresh and free of preservatives. If you want to try a traditional Amish meal and sample a little bit of everything, head towards the Plain and Fancy Farm Restaurant located on Route 340, just past Harvest Road. The restaurant offers an “Amish Farm Feast” dinner buffet that features a smorgasbord of typical dishes eaten by Amish families. They include fried chicken, roast beef, chicken pot pie, a handful of potatoes and vegetable side dishes, and freshly made pies for dessert.
There are also a number of specialty eateries worth checking out including Olde Heritage Root Beer located within an Amish farm just 10 miles easts of historic Lancaster that sells homemade root beer, Uncle Leroy’s Ice Cream and Candy Kitchen, where you can choose from over a dozen flavors of freshly made ice cream, and Immergut Hand – Rolled Soft Pretzels, where you can indulge on made-to-order soft pretzels and freshly squeezed fruit juices.
What to Do
There are plenty of Amish related activities you can choose from when planning your Lancaster County getaway but one of the best tours is the Amish Experience offered at the Plain & Fancy Farm. This inclusive feature gives visitors an in-depth understanding of the Amish’s daily way of life. Guests go on a guided tour of an Amish farmland in a horse and buggy, interact with an Amish family to learn about their schooling and day-to-day living, as well as watch a unique theater production of Jacob’s Choice, where visitors learn about the trials and tribulations that being part of the Amish community sometimes carry.
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