Amish towns have colorful names, most are unintentionally humorous.
The Amish are a community of Christian Anabaptists, related to the Mennonites and Church of the Brethren. The name "Pennsylvania Dutch" is actually a mispronunciation of "Deutsch" or German. The Anabaptists originally came from Switzerland and were welcomed to Pennsylvania by William Penn and his descendants.
Although Lancaster County thrives on tourism, the Amish community does not particularly like visitors, tourists, or sightseers. They are generally an intensely private religious community doing their best to go about living according to the ways of their religion and culture, and very much wish to be left alone unless you are invited. Don't take photos of them without their permission, harass, or otherwise pester them about their way of living. Above all else, don't trespass on private property.
There are many different Amish exhibits and attractions in Lancaster County that allow you to learn about the Amish and surrounding area in a way that is respectful and positive for everyone involved.
Amish have some of their own vocabulary (related to German) called Pennsylvania Deutsch (or "Dutch"). To them, non-Amish Americans are called "English", regardless of ethnicity.
Lancaster Airport (LNS IATA) provides a number of domestic flights, the closest international airport to Pennsylvania Dutch Country is Harrisburg International (MDT IATA). Rental cars are widely available at the airport (as is Uber and Lyft) and the city of Lancaster is a short, 30 minute drive along Interstate I-283. Lancaster County also has several Amtrak train stations along the Keystone Corridor (collectively known as the Keystone Service).
- Public transportation (bus system)
- Taxi and ride-sharing
- Walking around Lancaster City and other small towns throughout the county.
An excellent way to see the Amish by automobile is to travel along Rt 896. Follow Route 30 East from Lancaster for 3 or 4 miles and make a right turn when you come to Rt 896. It will be directly past the outlet centers. This road will take you to the little town of Strasburg which is a very picturesque place in its own right. Along the way, you will see numerous farms and probably a decent number of horse and buggies. Please remember to drive slowly around the Amish horses in order to avoid scaring them.
- Strasburg Railroad, 301 Gap Road Ronks, PA 17572 (Rt 30 East, turn right on 896, then left on 741. Railroad is on the left side), ☏ . Authentic steam-powered locomotives will take you for a ride back in time. Very realistic and lots of fun. There is also a picnic grounds where the train stops and riders can get on or off. It provides a lovely, secluded area for those wise enough to bring a packed lunch.
- Rainbow Dinner Theatre, 3065 Rt 30 East Paradise, PA 17562 (Take Route 30 East to Paradise. Theater is directly behind the Best Western), ☏ . Very economical and enjoyable way to spend an evening. The food comes highly recommended and the shows are sure to bring a smile and/or a laugh.
- 1 Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center, 455 Camp Road, Stevens, PA (PA Turnpike (I-76) Exit 286), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday-Saturday: 9:00am-5:00pm, Sunday: 1:00pm-5:00pm. Resort offering group retreats, overnight getaways, escape rooms, and a variety of outdoor activities, including ziplining.
- Horse and buggy rides are a popular way to experience Amish living hands-on.
Free Things to Do:Edit
- "Mud Sales" are basically auctions put on by local volunteer fire departments that use them to raise support. They take place somewhere in Lancaster County almost every weekend during late Winter and early Spring.
- Go for a drive and enjoy the rolling hills of Amish farmland. Covered bridges are plentiful throughout Lancaster County.
- Farmers markets (Central Market in downtown Lancaster being the most popular one)
- Petting zoos
- Factory tours
- Parks and trails (including Lancaster County Central Park)
- See more free things to do here.
Amish are known for their well-made wooden furniture. Showrooms are clustered along main roads.
- Wolf Rock Furniture, 3533 Lincoln Highway East, ☏ . (Route 30), Kinzers. Finely finished North American hardwood furniture is made on premises. Also has outdoor furniture. Ships to 20 states.
Many Amish farms have small stores, farm stands, or roadside booths selling anything from fruit and vegetables to dolls to homemade jams and jellies. Keep your eyes open for the often hand-painted signs that list what's available.
- Family-style restaurants
- Any variety of chain restaurants (fast food, sit-down restaurants, coffee shops, etc)
There's a large variety of local breweries, bars, pubs, and even several wineries in Lancaster County (see a partial list here).
- 1 Black Rock Retreat, 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA 17566 (South of Quarryville on Route 472.), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 24/7. Check-in: Varies, check-out: Varies. Christian retreat and conference center that hosts school field trips, retreats, overnight summer camps, summer day camps, and outdoor education classes. Price varies.
- Cameron Estate Inn, 1855 Mansion Lane, Mt Joy Pa (Three miles south of Rheems Elizabethtown Exit off 283), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Historic Country Inn. Secluded on 15 acres surrounded by farmland.
- MainStay Suites of Lancaster County, 314 Primrose Lane, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Offers guests free continental breakfast.
Be extremely careful when passing horse and buggies on the road. Use your turn signal when you enter and then exit the oncoming (or passing) lane.
- Honey Brook - Just across the county line.