Getaway for a long weekend or a few days and visit Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country. These 15 things to do in Amish Country in Lancaster PA will give you the total Amish experience and also other things in this area too.
If you never explored Amish Country before you are in for a treat. Lets first talk about what is Amish.
Amish is a religion and these people live their lives in a very simple way without modern amenities.
They believe in the old ways like working the land and being self-sufficient. They live their lives as people did 300 years ago.
You get to experience examples of this when visiting Amish Country. Here is a list of facts about the Amish people along with some of their traditions:
- Horse and buggy is their transportation
- They plow the fields with mules and donkeys
- They don’t use electricity in their houses
- Everything from tools to lamps is run by gas (propane)
- They bake everything from scratch
- Children only go to school until 8th grade.
- Schools are one-room schoolhouses with one teacher who teaches all ages
- There are no telephones in their houses rather several households share one phone in a phone booth on the road mostly for business use
- The Amish are very hard-working people
- Before teens turn 18 they can experience the outside world but most choose to stay with the Amish lifestyle
- Sunday is a religious day with church services in the morning and visiting in the afternoon, they do not work on Sundays
- They have no church building as they take turns having church at their house and food all the attendees
- The Amish community works together and always help each other
- They make their own clothes
- Quilting is big business in the Amish community (and they are beautiful)
- Most are farmers
- They only marry in November and December when all farming is done for the year
Things to do in Amish Country
Here is a list of things to do and see in Amish Country as well as non-Amish things in the area to experience. From eating to shopping to many tours, there is something for everyone.
1. Visit Shady Maple
Shady Maple is well known in the Amish Country as one of the best places to eat and shop for over 40 years.
Located in East Earl, PA, it features a smorgasbord, banquet center, farmers market, and gift shop.
Shady Maple is famous for its smorgasbord in its 800 seat restaurant serving more than 1.5 million people each year with 200 feet of home-cooked Amish food. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner 6 days a week (closed on Sunday).
On any given Saturday they serve more than 800 lbs. of bacon. From Amish favorites of fried chicken, dried corn to apple dumplings and shoo-fly pie there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Shady Maple Farmer Market is also open 6 days a week and features many of the foods that are served in their smorgasbord. Here you can get many Amish specialties such as sweet bologna, bread filling, ham balls, slab bacon, and stuffed chicken to name a few.
The store has a big bulk food section including every kind of spice you can think of, dips, soups, cereals, baking products, candy, nuts and so much more. They also have over 100 kinds of smoked meats, fresh seafood, large deli, and prepared salads and desserts.
The in-store bakery employees over 100 and sells over 300 different bake items. With over 75 different kinds of donuts, Shady Maple sells over 3.5 million each year including smores, maple bacon, jelly, and cream-filled donuts. They also are known for their whoopie pies (in several favors including seasonal ones) and make several kinds of cookies, cakes, and pies.
There is the Dutchette Restaurant adjacent to the Farmers Market which serves cafeteria-style for a quick bite to eat.
The lower level of the main smorgasbord has a huge (44,000 sq. ft.) gift shop with all different kinds of items. When visiting Amish country make sure to stop by for a visit.
Be sure to read Restaurants in Lancaster PA, Amish Food at its Best for other places to eat while in Amish Country.
2. Kitchen Kettle Village
Kitchen Kettle Village is a quaint shopping area with 42 shops, 2 restaurants, and a hotel. They are known for their jam, jelly, and bakeshop. You can sample many of there jellies and other products such as pickles, beets, salsa, and sauces. You can watch them make the product they are “canning” for the day.
Other stores include the fudge shop where they make fudge daily and yes you can sample it. It’s so good! A coffee shop, a pretzel shop, an olive oil store, a pottery store, and a Christmas shop. They also offer AAA Buggy Rides at the Village.
One of my favorite restaurants in the area is The Kling House, which serves breakfast and lunch 6 days a week (closed Sundays).
Although not Amish food, they serve fresh homemade meals. Their menu changes seasonally but is known for their Crème Brulee French Toast and Coconut Crème Pie and Crème Brulee for dessert.
3. Turkey Hill Experience
The best part of visiting the Turkey Hill Experience is trying all the different ice cream and ice tea samples. Yes, that’s right, you get to taste some classic Turkey Hill flavors as well as some new flavors not yet in stores. But that’s not all you can do here.
Although this is not an actual tour of the factory, it offers exhibits on how they make their ice cream and ice tea. It’s a kid-friendly experience with many interactive opportunities for your children such as “milking a cow”, creating your own ice cream flavor and making a commercial. In addition, there are several kid play areas.
Tickets can be purchased online (and is recommended during peak season) for $10.50 for adults and $10.00 for children ages 4 to 12. Children 3 and under and military personnel are free.
Turkey Hill also offers a Taste Lab (for an additional fee) where you can actually make your own masterpiece. You start with a base flavor (ex. vanilla) and add different flavors and colors to create your own ice cream. Please allow an additional hour for your visit.
You can purchase a combination ticket for $16.45 for adults and $15.95 for children 4 to 12. Children under 3 and military the price is $5.95.
Website: Turkey Hill Experience
Check out other fun food factory tours in Pennsylvania. Some are nearby.
4. Take a Buggy Ride
Experiencing a buggy ride is a must-do when visiting the Amish Country. Can you even imagine only having this as your transportation? I can’t, but this is how the Amish still live today!
AAA Buggy Ride
AAA Buggy Rides, located at Kitchen Kettle Village, offers 3 different rides on a horse-drawn carriage around the Amish Country.
There is a 4-mile ride for $16 for adults and $8 for kids under 12 (under 2 free) that’s around 35 minutes long. A 5 miles ride for $20 for adults and $10 for children which is 55 minutes long, going under a covered bridge. They also offer a 60-minute ride with a tour of an Amish dairy farm for $26 for adults and $12 for children.
Ed’s Buggy Ride
Ed’s Buggy Rides is located on Route 896 across the road from Sight & Sound Theater. They offer a 3.5 mile, 40-minute tour in an authentic Amish Buggy on the back farm roads and a one hour ride that also tours an Amish farm.
Drivers will teach you about the Amish culture and how they lived for many centuries. You can also enjoy a petting zoo for your kids while waiting for your adventure.
Abe’s Buggy Ride
Abe’s Buggy Ride offers the most tours of all ( five in total) depending on how long, how much and what you want to see in a real Amish style buggy. Tours start at $10 and go up to $60 for adults and $5 to $15 for children, respectfully. They are located on Route 340 in Bird-in-Hand, PA.
These are the rides they offer:
- 20-minute ride (2.3 miles) around the surrounding farmland
- 30 minutes (3.5 miles) around the peaceful farmland of the Amish country.
- 45 minutes, 4.5-mile ride passes a one-room Amish schoolhouse where many times you may see children playing on the grounds.
- 1-hour ride that also passes the schoolhouse but gives you an option to stop at an Amish farm to walk around or a craft and bake shop where you can purchase Amish items.
- 1 hour and fifteen minutes non-stop tour (6.5 miles) along the Amish countryside.
All of the above rides are just with your party.
Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Ride
Aaron & Jessica’s Amish Buggy Rides is located on Route 340 next to Plain & Fancy Farm and offers 3 “buggy ride” experiences.
- The Cookie Tour is the shortest at 25 minutes around the farm area with a stop at a farm stand when you can purchase cookies. This tour is $10 for adults and $6 for children.
- A 35-minute tour takes you around the farmland area and is $15 for adults and $8 for children.
- An Amish Farm tour is 60 minutes and you go to a real Amish Farm and see horses and cows. This experience is $22 for adults and $12 for children.
Aaron and Jessica is the only buggy ride available on Sunday and offers 35 minutes around Amish farms but doesn’t make any stops. The Sunday Tour is $16 for adults and $8 for children.
Note: All of the above buggy rides offer discount coupons you can get in the local Amish guide book.
5. Dutch Wonderland
Enjoy a family fun day at Pennsylvania kid based amusement park, Dutch Wonderland. Located right in Lancaster on Route 30, Dutch Wonderland offers 35 rides and shows including 7 just for kids (under 54″) rides.
Many rides are geared for the whole family. Take your kids to Exploration Island, where they can experience 20 life-like dinosaurs on Prehistoric Path and take a gondola cruise around the island. You can also dig for fossils at Dino Dig.
There are roller coasters to bumper cars to a sky ride, there is something for everyone to enjoy. There is also a water section with fun including Duke’s Lagoon, Pipeline Plunge from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.
Admission to for the 2020 season is $38.99 for a day pass for everyone 3 and up. They also offer a 2-day flex plan, good for any 2 days in 2019 for $64.00. Children 2 and under are free.
During November and December, Dutch Wonderland transforms into a Winter Wonderland. This features 20 rides and family attractions with thousands of lights are all over the park and festive holiday music. You can even met Santa and take pictures and give him your kid’s wishlist!
Website: Dutch Wonderland
6. Strasburg Railroad
The Strasburg Railroad is a scenic 45-minute train ride through beautiful Amish farm country.
You get to choose from one of five steam trains and ride in one of 20 passenger cars. This equipment is all original and has been restored before the railroad became a tourist attraction.
The train travels to Paradise, PA. You can get off at one of two picnic recreation areas. Groff’s Grove and Leaman Place Grove offer picnic tables, charcoal grills, and porta-potty and at Groff’s a playground area.
You can experience a number of different cars, from parlor to dining and presidential, and open-air, each car offers a different experience.
The railroad also offers events during the year including Thomas the Train, Easter Bunny, and Santa’s Paradise Express, the Great Train Robbery and so much more.
The Strasburg Railroad is open all year, visit their website for more information.
7. Visit a Farmers Market
They are four farmers market around Lancaster, all selling Amish goods. All of these markets carry homegrown and homemade products from many different vendors.
You can find homemade baked goods, spices, jellies, and canning products in addition to wood products, quilts, and paintings. Vendors bring meats, fruits, and vegetables as well as soft pretzels and funnel cakes.
Some are indoor and outdoor markets and some are just indoor.
The Bird In hand Market is opened Friday and Saturday all year and Wednesdays from April to November and Thursday, July to October. Its located on Route 340 in Bird-in-Hand.
If you only have a short time in the Amish Country this is the market to see. Its the smallest one but has many vendors. This is my favorite market and is well worth the trip. You will get the all-around experience of an Amish market here.
The other three markets are much bigger and could take 4 to 5 hours to see all the many buildings. Also if staying on the main strips of Route 30 or Route 340, these markets are a bit of a ride.
- Green Dragon (opened on Fridays)
- Roots Market (open Tuesdays)
- Lancaster Central Market (opened Tuesday, Fridays, and Saturdays)
8. Go See a Show
They are many theaters around the Lancaster area offering different types of entertainment.
Sight & Sound Theater
The Sight & Sound Theater is “where biblical stories come to life”.
The theatre is known for magnificent sets and costumes, live animals, spectacular music, and special effects.
For the 2020 season, beginning March 14th, the story of a Jewish girl from the Old Testament, Queen Esther, will be playing for the remainder of the year (last performance December 31st).
For more information visit here.
American Music Theater
American Music Theater located on Route 30 in Lancaster offers Broadway-style musicals and celebrity concerts. With over 300 shows each year including a Christmas musical show there is something for everyone.
The Bird-In-Hand Stage offers musicals and magic shows. They are having six shows for 2020 including:
- Josiah for President (4/2 to 10/23)
- Ryan & Friends (4/8 to 10/17)
- Our Plain & Simple Life as told by the Yoders (4/16 to 5/30 and 9/10 to 10/17)
- Comedy Jubilee (5/22-10/20)
- Bag of Dreams (6/3-8/15)
- The Christmas Tree Ship (10/30 to 1/2/21)
9. Try Some Amish Food
Shoo-fly pie, apple dumpling, apple butter, funnel cake, soft pretzels, scrapple, buttered noodles, sweet bologna, country sausage, ham, and dried corn are some of the many Amish foods.
When visiting the Amish Country in Lancaster be sure to experience some of there many favors. Amish cooking is hearty and made from ingredients from their farms. Many types of meat are cured and they offer many smoked kinds of cheese and the Amish love their sweets!
There are many Amish restaurants in Lancaster that serve traditional Amish food. Many of these restaurants are smorgasbords or family-style.
Some to consider are Shady Maple, Miller’s Smorgasbord, Dienner’s Country Restaurant, Hershey Farms, Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant, Yoder’s Restaurant & Buffet, and Good ‘N Plenty.
Read Amish Foood at its Best for more information in dining the Lancaster PA.
10. Shop at the Outlets
Lancaster is also known for there outlet shopping. They have two major outlet centers, Tanger Center Outlets and Rockvale Outlets located on Route 30.
Rockvale Outlets offer 3 sections with over 75 stores from restaurants, clothes stores, shoes, housewares, and specialty. To name a few. Vanity Fair, Reading Glass, Lenox, Disney, Kirkland and Cracker Barrel and among the many outlets available for your shopping pleasure. A new playground was opened in 2019 for your kids to enjoy.
Tanger Outlets have over 70 stores featuring apparel, jewelry, home furnishings, shoes, and accessories. Some stores are Old Navy, The Gap, Bath & Body Works, Coach, and Justice.
Both outlets are open 7 days a week with hours varying depending on the season.
11. Go to an Amish Store
I’ve been going to the Amish Country for over 40 years so I’ve come to know and love this area. There are many Amish stores that it’s just too many to list so I’m going to mention some of my favorites that I always go to when I visit.
Kaufman Fruit Farm & Market
Kaufman Fruit Farm & Market is located on Route 340 in Bird-in-Hand. Its a family run business, known for its homemade apple cider.
I go there for apples in the fall, apple cider (the freshest you’ll ever have) and bulk baking items (every kind of sprinkles you can think off, vanilla, and fruits in a pouch).
Don’t forget their famous apple cider donuts if you’re there between June and October.
The Old Candle Barn
The Old Candle Barn is located on Route 340 in Intercourse, PA. For over 40 years they’ve been making candles the old fashion way, hand-dipped and poured into moles.
This large store carries all kinds and sizes of candles with decorative items that you will love in your home.
The factory is in the lower level of the store and you can take a free tour Monday to Friday from 8 to 4 to see how the candles are made.
Peaceful Valley Amish Furniture
With three locations, Peaceful Valley Amish Furniture is handmade furniture made by the Amish.
This store is known for its handcrafted wood furniture and outdoor furniture. They also carry beautiful home decor items that enhance the beauty of your home.
Stoltzfus Meats, located in Intercourse, PA., is a family-run market since 1954, known for its homemade sausages and meat products.
At this location, there is a small retail market, butcher and cheese shop in addition to a very good restaurant serving breakfast and lunch called Amos’ Place.
I go there for maple breakfast sausage and their famous grillers that come in many favors. They also have delicious cheese spreads.
12. Lancaster County Food Tour
There are many food factory tours within a short ride of the Amish Country (Lancaster). Here are a few but you can get more details of all the Fun Food Factory Tours in Pennsylvania.
Herr’s Snack Factory Tour
Come see how Herr’s chips and pretzels are made in this real working factory tour. You will see the actual products and learn what kinds of seasonings and ingredients they use in their products.
Tours are Monday to Thursday from 9 to 3 and Friday from 9 to 11. Productions cannot be guaranteed on Thursday and Friday.
Tours are $4 for adults, $3 for 4 to 17 and free for children under 3. They last approximately one hour.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Tour
Located in Lititz, Pa, this is Sturgis original bakery and houses the original equipment used by the company.
You learn about the history of making pretzels and are able to hand twist you’re very own.
At the end of the tour, you can purchase soft pretzels and drinks and also their horse and buggy hard pretzels, which are made for the Amish, and sold in stores in Lancaster.
Tour prices are $3.75 for adults, $2.75 for ages 4 to 12 and free for children under 3.
13. Tour an Amish Farm
Old Windmill Farm, Amish Farm Tour
Located in Ronks, PA the Old Windmill Farm offers farm and garden tours. You will be able to milk a cow, feed a calf and pick up eggs.
In addition, you will also learn about the crops grown on the farm and the way the Amish farm uses mules.
The Amish Farm & House
There are four different tours you can take at the Amish Farm & House located on Covered Bridge Dr in Lancaster.
They offer a bus tour along the country roads than you tour an Amish house and get to learn how the Amish live with no electricity.
In addition, you can add a self-guided tour of their 15-acre farm and see the animals. They also offer a dinner combo tour.
14. Wolf Sanctuary of PA
The Wolf Sanctuary of PA is a non-profit organization caring for over 40 wolves that were rescued from environments that were not suited for them.
These wolves and wolf dogs are being taken care of, on over 80 acres, by donations and money raised from wolf tours.
You can see these beautiful animals during tours offered by volunteers on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. These tours range from one to two hours and are between $12 to $15.
They also offer full moon tours for $20 and photography sessions for $35.
15. Northwest Lancaster County River Trail
The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail is a 14-mile multi-use rail trail. It runs along the Susquehanna River beginning in Columbia, PA and goes through Marietta and currently ends in Bainbridge.
This paved trail offers beautiful views of the river, Chickie Rock and some remaining river “locks”. You also pass the abandoned brick kilns at Clay Iron Furnace ruins.
There are benches for rest along the way and a fresh spring for water. At Columbia station, you can get something to eat and restrooms are available.
As you can tell, there are many things to do in the Amish Country. It’s great to experience this simple way of life, even for just a couple of days.
Be sure to take the buggy ride and shop in an Amish store and eat Amish food cause, after all, that’s what it all about, to experience Amish Country.
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