Ideas for off-the-beaten-path exploration of the Amish culture
The stretch of Rt. 772 that runs southeast from Rt. 23 at Leola in the north to Rt. 340 at Intercourse in the south (a bit east of Lancaster city) is full of authentic "finds" without being one of the main tourist corridors (FYI, Rt. 772 is called Newport Rd. during this stretch). Check out these stops:
- Countryside Road-Stand at 2966 Stumptown Rd. (which juts directly off of Rt. 772), 656-9206; Amish-owned and -operated, the store includes wonderful home-made crafts and food items.
- Fisher's Quality Furniture at 3061 W. Newport Rd., 656-4423; beautiful hand-made Amish furniture at a good value.
- Head east or west on any of the side roads on this stretch of Rt. 772. Explore the rich Amish farmlands and turn down any of the farmhouse driveways that have hand-written signs advertising home-made root beer, baked goods, or quilts.
A second idea is to do an Amish VIP (Visit in Person) Tour, from the Amish Experience at Plain & Fancy Farm in Bird-in-Hand that's built around intimate, small-group interaction with Amish farmers, craftsmen, and families. Participants in the three-hour tour visit a farm at milking time, an Amish cottage industry – such as a weaving shop – and an Amish home, where the family hosts guests for an evening chat. This is the type of authentic and personal experience that many travelers hope to have with the Amish, but are rarely able to accomplish in a short visit. The tours run May through November.
In addition, there are a couple Amish-run farmstays in the area, both of them guest houses situated separate from the host family's own house, but both provide some nice opportunities for interaction with an Amish family on their "home turf":
Another great time for some authentic Amish interaction is our annual and unique "mud sales" season, which mainly runs from late February to mid-April (with a few sprinkled in May, June, & August) at locations all over the county. These community auctions benefit local fire companies and provide a wonderful & natural opportunity to mingle with our Amish neighbors as they help to run the sales, or themselves enjoy a fun day full of great deals and PA Dutch eats.