In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve resisted taking a trip to Ohio Amish Country because I thought it would be a tourist trap and the only thing to see would be stores full of “country cute” things like those faceless Amish dolls and other knicknacky things.
While there are plenty of those things to be found, I also was pleasantly surprised when I finally caved and made the trek. Even though they live a plain life, the business owners are shrewd and have offerings that appeal to a wide variety of interests.
Where is Ohio Amish Country?
Well, the borders seem a bit squishy–because the community is spread out and you might come across small home-based businesses while you’re traveling the area–but most of the action is concentrated in Holmes, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. Some would argue some other nearby counties should be included, but it appears to me the options are limited. If you’re making a short trip I recommend starting with Holmes county, where towns like Berlin, Walnut Creek and Charm are packed with things to see and do.
What is there to do?
There really is something for everyone. Shoppers, crafters, nature lovers, history buffs, antiquers and foodies can find something to entertain and delight them! Here are a few highlights:
I would say shopping is the primary reason people go to Amish Country (nudging eating out by a nose). I saw too many shops to name them all, but here were a few standouts:
- Lehman’s General Store – They have everything, including the kitchen sink! From hardware, to cooking gear, books, cleaning supplies, old-timey candy and sundries they have pretty much everything you need to live a simple life (or look like you do). You can spend hours browsing this shopping compound.
- Swiss Valley Furniture – I got a little taste of their wares in their Berlin mini showroom, but from what I can see they offer a sturdy, handcrafted furniture at an affordable price. I was so impressed, when I upgrade to a new bed I’ll consider them for a new headboard.
- Sol’s – Need a craft fix? Sol’s in Berlin can fulfill that. It’s a craft mall that features the offerings of individual crafters.
- Berlin Village Antique Mall – I love wandering antique malls. I’m never looking for anything in particular, but I love looking at “everyday” items that people used in bygone eras and try to imagine what it would be like to use them.
- Miller’s Dry Goods – If you’re a quilter or sewer, Miller’s Dry Goods is the place to be. Yards and yards of options.
- The Ashery Country Store – I’ll be honest, I had low expectations when I entered this store. It just looked like a small local grocery store. Then I found the bulk spices section. So many things I’ve been wanting to try in my cooking, but I’ve resisted because they’re a bit pricey. At the Ashery I could get at least four times the amount for the same price. They also grind their own peanuts in-house for the freshest peanut butter experience you’ve ever had.
- Walnut Creek Cheese – Don’t let the name fool you. This is a full-on food market with a deli, bakery and bulk food/spices. It’s dangerous to shop there on an empty stomach, so you may want to stop over at their cafe and have a snack before you shop.
If you’ve got some nature lovers in your group, fall is a great time to go for a leisurely drive through Ohio Amish Country. The sprawling farms are surrounded by wooded areas that are in full fall color explosion right now. If you want to get out of the car and take a nature walk try these options:
- Secrest Arboretum and Gardens – You can do a self-guided walk or they offer various guided theme walks throughout the year–and it’s free!
- The Wilderness Center – A non-profit nature preserve and nature education center, you can stroll nearly 10 miles of trails. When you’re tired of walking, there is also a planetarium in the education center.
- Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area – You can explore nearly 6,000 acres of protected marsh and look for wildlife such as deer and otters. It’s also a notable birding area with many species of waterfowl and songbirds using the marsh as a migratory area.
So, you’ve emptied your wallet and stretched your legs (or you want to avoid those things). How about expanding your knowledge of the region’s history?
- Zoar Village – This village was settled in 1817 by a group of German immigrants fleeing religious persecution. The village is known as one of the most successful communal settlements in American history, stop by and learn how it earned that reputation.
- Victorian House Museum/Holmes County Historical Society – A 28-room Victorian era mansion houses a collection of Victoriana and items illustrating the history of Holmes county.
As you can see, there are lots of things to see and do in Ohio Amish Country–and I barely scratched the surface! Why not plan a trip and discover something new?
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