FIVE OFF-THE BEATEN PATH PLACES TO EXPERIENCE AMISH CULTURE
By Kevin Williams
Okay, before you take me to ask for not including your favorite local Amish settlement here, keep in mind this list is only five. I could have done a list of 10 or 15 or 25, but one has to draw a line somewhere, so I chose 5. Also, we have readers all over the world, so I was aiming for "geographic balance." Honestly, St. Ignatius, Montana isn't probably the best place in experience Amish culture, but it is one of the few places "out west" where one can, so I included it. St. Ignatius is gorgeous, but there isn't a ton to do there. Of course you can get a much larger overview of various off-the-beaten path Amish country trips in my Williams Guide to Amish Country.
When thinking about the Amish, the usual suspects come to mind: Northern Indiana, Holmes County, Ohio or Lancaster, PA. While there is nothing wrong with places (I count them among my favorite places to experience Amish culture), there ARE other places worth exploring if you want to experience the Amish. And, no, no one sponsored these posts or anything, these are just my opinions (boy, I wish someone would, some of these tourism bureaus - Adams County, Ohio - probably owe me!) Here are five of my favorite.
ADAMS COUNTY, OHIO: Stay overnight at The Murphin Ridge Inn and then spend a couple of days exploring the Wheat Ridge Amish community and its collection of Amish-owned shops, plus the nearby Old Order Mennonite community in Bainbridge, Ohio and Swartzentrber settlement at Sinking Spring. Also, make time to visit The Home Place, a Mennonite-owned market near Georgetown, Ohio. For birders, each March features the well-regarded "Amish Birding Symposium."
CHERRY CREEK, NEW YORK: Stay overnight at the Cherry Creek Inn and explore the numerous Amish home-based businesses spread throughout the Conewango Valley. Or use the nearby western New York city of Jamestown as your base and before heading out into Amish country, visit the Lucille Ball Museum here, birthplace of this comic legend.
PINECRAFT, FLORIDA: Stay overnight at the reasonably priced Ringling Beach House (a converted former circus quarters) close to the beach, but minutes from Pinecraft where you can experience Amish culture under the West Florida sun.
ARTHUR, ILLINOIS: Bar-none one of the most “shop dense” Amish settlements you’ll find. Just get in your car and explore the literally hundreds of Amish home-based businesses tucked away into the countryside outside this small Illinois town. Be sure to visit Roslen’s Coffee Shop, one of the few Amish-owned restaurants that I know of,
ST. IGNATIUS, MONTANA: Experience Amish culture in Big Sky country. Visit the Ronan Café in Ronan, a Mennonite-owned eatery which serves up superb food. And then explore St. Ignatius with a visit to the Amish-owned Mission General Store, all while enjoying stunning scenery.