NYC Escape: AWNY member Heidi Gerschwitz visits Amish country

If you are looking for a great weekend escape, consider a trip to the Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The peace, the lush green, and the simple lifestyle is a breath of fresh air to the busy New Yorker.

Also referred to as Dutch Country, it is located in south-eastern Pennsylvania. I have visited the area 3 times. An easy 3 hour drive from Manhattan brings you to the heart of the Amish country. We go via Philadelphia where we stop for lunch near The Liberty Bell, about 2 hours out of Manhattan. Amish country is another hour from there, a peaceful farming community nestled among quiet country roads, covered bridges and cute towns with interesting names like Bird in Hand, Intercourse and New Holland. It is possible to get there by train but you’ll need a car once you’re there to fully explore the beauty of the outlying areas. You’ll encounter the Amish tending their daily life, working their farms with horse drawn equipment, driving along the roads in their buggies and hanging the washing on their backyard lines.

The Mennonite Information Centre has a very interesting display on Amish and Mennonites history and the differences between the two religions. Lancaster County is home to the second largest Amish settlement in the world – so the history is rich – and a visit to the information center is well worth it. The Amish are very devout in their faith and take seriously the Biblical commands to separate themselves from the world. The more devout Amish do not permit electricity or telephones in their homes, preferring to live a very simple way of life. They refer to themselves as the ‘Plain People’.

Top tips from Heidi:
– Visit The Amish Village in Strasbourg for a look into the daily life of the Amish in the area. Tour the 1840’s farmhouse and wander around the buildings scattered over 12 acres.
– Experience traditional Amish food at Dienner’s Country Restaurant (when I went for dinner it was full of Amish families dining together)
– Explore the scenic countryside and take a driving break at Bird in Hand Bake Shop to sample the mouth watering selection of delicious Amish baked goods such as wet-bottom shoo-fly pie or the famous whoopie pie
– Take the kids to the corn maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Ronks, an interactive 5-acre corn maze with 2.5 miles of paths, scenic bridges, and treasure hunts (from September 18 you can go after dark using torches to light the way.