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Amish Country

Sample homespun charms in this Midwest mecca of plain

It may be the sight of a horse-drawn buggy and wagon. Or, perhaps, a sweeping expanse of farmland, dotted along the way with homesteads, some of them built from the ground up by the occupants’ own hands. Or perhaps it is the knowledge that the people who founded this community prize the fundamental freedoms that make America special. There is nothing flashy here unless you count the glint of sunlight that pours into a window of a simple house in the morning or the flicker of fireflies in the dusk preceding night.

These are just some of the images signaling that you are in Ohio’s Amish Country, home to the world’s largest Amish settlement, which welcomed its first Amish families in 1808. Although steeped in tradition, this region of northern Ohio opens its arms to the millions of visitors who come to learn more about the Amish way of life.

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Tourism Ohio

History

Religious persecution drove the Amish from Europe. Their first arrival in America is placed in the 1700s, initially settling in Pennsylvania but eventually pushing westward to Ohio.

Today, there are some 60,000 Amish in Ohio, spread across 52 individual settlements and over 400 church districts. Ohio Amish communities are located in the counties of Holmes, Geauga, Ashland and Medina. Smaller Amish communities are found in Hicksville and Plain City, both more than 100 years old. The Nebraska Amish, the only conservative Amish community outside of Pennsylvania, also call Ohio home.

The tourist industry for Amish in Ohio is largely concentrated in Holmes County, centered around the towns of Berlin, Walnut Creek and Sugarcreek. It is in these communities that visitors will find the handcrafted furniture, quilts and other uniquely Amish treasures that have distinguished the region for decades.

Things to Do

Whether it is searching for antiques on the backroads or trekking out to a farm that welcomes visitors ready to feed the animals, Holmes County is what most locals think of when they say, “Amish Country.” It’s estimated that four million people a year visit this region, which is home to the Mount Hope Auction, one of the nation’s oldest livestock auctions, along with Lehman’s, perhaps the world’s largest retailer of nonelectric appliances.

There are guided tours that take visitors on the backroads, ending up at the dinner table of a real-life Amish home. Known for some of the world’s most delectable cheeses, the area’s cheese houses and wineries entice connoisseurs to pairing the perfect cheese with the perfect wine.

And then, there are the fine chocolates, pastries and all other sorts of delectable choices, whose aromas waft from the doors of local bakeries, making it hard to narrow your selection. Here is one hint: Some of the best chocolates, according to the locals, can be found in Walnut Creek.

Also in Walnut Creek is the state-of-the-art Amish Country Theater, which features a live, family-friendly variety show.

The exquisite carvings of master carver Ernest “Mooney” Warther are a big draw to the Warther Museum and Gardens, located in Dover. In addition to the impeccably detailed examples of Warther’s art, the museum is home to the “Button House,” which features more than 73,000 buttons collected and mounted by Warther’s wife, Freida. There is a gift shop on-site and beautiful gardens on the museum grounds. The museum, which is open daily, is family-owned and operated.

Fine furniture craftsmanship is virtually synonymous with Ohio’s Amish Country. There are some 80 hardwood furniture stores in the region and surrounding area. For those whose hobbies include quilting and needlepoint, there are quite a few shops featuring everything from bolts of fabric to a rainbow of knitting yarns.

You may also find one-of-a-kind items in the various antique shops vying for tourist traffic. Among them is the Swiss Village Time Shop, where wall clocks, mantle clocks and, of course, cuckoo clocks can be found.

No visit to Amish Country can be complete without a ride in one of the horse-drawn buggies for which the Amish are famous. A number of local farms and other Amish businesses offer this unique experience. Some even offer seasonal sleigh rides.

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Tourism Ohio

Where to Dine

There are no limits to the opportunities visitors have to experience dining the Amish way. Think simple, home-cooked fare, and you are well on your way to the most satisfying meal experience you’ll experience in a long time. There are villages, inns and stand-alone eateries eager to have you try any number of local favorites. Virtually all specialize in a homey atmosphere and most are reasonably priced. From brunch featuring homemade cinnamon rolls to dinners showcasing Amish chicken with savory sides and mouth-watering desserts, it is hard to imagine that even the most finicky eater in your family won’t find something to like.

For More Information

Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau

877-643-8824

www.visitamishcountry.com

 

Tourism Ohio

800-282-5393

www.discoverohio.com