Between Lancaster and Philadelphia, the second largest Amish settlement in the United States is spread out over a collage of traditionally farmed land. Nearly 70,000 citizens observe long standing methods of travel, work, religious practice, and daily living that shun most modern technologies.
Visitors to Dutch Country can see Amish going about their routines in the classic clothing most closely associated with the group – women wear bonnets and aprons, and men sport suspenders and broad-brimmed straw hats. Most walk, though some drive black horse-drawn buggies, and there is even an occasional scooter.
While fascinated crowds of tourists come to the area every year to understand the whys and the hows of this unusual rural life, the Amish are not interested in celebrity and prefer to be given their privacy. Respectful ways for visitors to learn more without intruding include guided tours, sometimes in buggies, of the Amish countryside, where you can see mules plowing fields and the one room school houses for which the people are so well-known.
The Amish Experience Theater at Plain & Fancy Farm offers a paradoxically modern, high-tech experience full of special effects that explores the history of the Amish and gives a look into the present-day life of one family. The family’s home is also open for guests to tour for an up close view of daily living, as seen in the film. Afterwards, sample the old-fashioned Amish home cooking at one of the many family restaurants in the area. Look for “Smorgasbord” in the name for a guarantee of authentic treats, including schnitz und knepp, shoofly pie, and chow chow.
Quality museum exhibits include the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, which displays traditional furniture, handcrafted needlework, and quilts. For those interested in deep research, there is a large library collection containing extensively archived historical records. The Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum brings you the dramatic colors and elaborate designs of the famous fabric workers. What was once a simple craft to warm up cold winter nights is now regarded worldwide as artistic treasure. If you can’t leave without a quilt of your own, spend some time shopping in the many farmer’s markets, craft stores, and dedicated quilt boutiques.
Before you explore Pennsylvania Dutch Country and get to know the Plain People of the Amish community, go to MyTravelMoney.co.uk and compare holiday money.