I have been trying to go to Ohio Amish Country when we go to Marietta for years. But it just never seemed to work out. When we decided to go to Ohio with my mom in July, I knew we had to go!
Ohio Amish Country
Sarasota has a big Amish and Mennonite community, so we were somewhat familiar with Amish history. But I still learned quite a bit during our trip, which I always enjoy.
The Amish and the Mennonites
Both the Amish and Mennonites are a part of the Anabaptist movement in Europe. The Mennonite faith began first, with the Amish sect splitting 150 years later. They were considered radical for rejecting infant baptism and mandatory military service. With the hope of religious freedom and escaping the religious persecution in Europe, the Amish immigrated to America in 1730.
Today there are close to a dozen variations and sects among the Amish and Mennonites. Some are very conservative in their beliefs and lifestyle while others live and dress much like the non-Amish (or English as the Amish say). The most conservative is the Swartzentruber sect, founded in 1913. They live as people did in 19th century Europe so they will not ride in vehicles. They must work at home or close enough that they can travel by horse.
The largest group is the Old Order. They travel by buggy or as a passenger in a vehicle and do without modern conveniences and technologies. The most progressive of the Amish sects are the New Order Amish. Founded in 1968 they do not drive cars but allow electricity and telephones in their homes.
Holmes County, Ohio
You’ll find Amish communities in much of Indiana and Pensylvania too. But with about 36,000 Amish residents calling Ohio’s Amish Country home, it has the largest Amish community in the world.
Ohio’s Amish Country is centered in Holmes County and extends to the surrounding counties (Wayne, Ashland, Tuscarawas, and Coshocton). The first people of Amish faith came to Ohio from Somerset County, Pennsylvania. They settled along Sugar Creek and Walnut Creek in the early 1800s.
These Amish and Mennonite communities brought with them the ideals of self-reliance and independence that can still be seen today. They farmed for a living and everything else they needed to survive was grown, produce or crafted. Ohio Amish Country, you’ll see that everything is the product of a skilled trade passed on from generation to generation. Profits and bottom lines take the back seat to quality and authenticity.
Specifics differ but there are key five elements of how the Amish and Mennonites live.
- They are Biblicists who live in simple obedience to the word of God.
- Voluntary, adult baptism is seen as a personal faith commitment.
- Peace and reconciliation are central to Christ’s life and message; defending oneself with violence is not an option.
- There must be a separation of Church and State.
- Christians should live in distinction from the world around them.
Amish Country Etiquette
I was really happy to see that the visitors’ guide I picked had a guide on etiquette. We wanted to make sure that we were respectful during our time in Amish Country. And I wanted to make sure that we were able to enjoy the experience of looking at gorgeous handmade quilts and eating delicious baked goods without infringing on their lifestyle.
If there is anything you take with you when you visit Ohio Amish Country is to understand how the Amish feel about having their picture taken. The Amish religion forbids posing for pictures so be respectful and do not photograph the Amish, especially if their faces are visible.
A great way to interact with the Amish without being intrusive is to visit an Amish-owned business. One of the first towns we stopped at had a great little Amish-owned cafe where we got a cup of coffee. I was able to chat with one of the girls working at the pastry counter and get to know more about her without making her feel like a sideshow attraction. She taught me a few words in Pennsylvania Dutch that I was able to use throughout the day and explain that younger Amish kids generally don’t learn English until they are older, so they typically keep quiet when around non-Amish visitors.
Something else to keep in mind and an eye on while you drive are the buggies and bikes that you commonly share the road within Ohio Amish Country. Buggies usually travel at 4-5 miles an hour so make sure you slow down, especially at the top of hills and take care not to frighten the horses!
Holmes County’s Amish towns each offer visitors a way to connect with a simpler way of life where the “clip-clop” of horse-drawn buggies is the soundtrack to beautiful landscapes.
- Mt. Hope
- Walnut Creek
Here, ice cream is hand-churned. Furniture is built to last. Farmers still plow fields by horse. Meals are homemade from scratch. Vegetables are freshly grown in the garden. We spent our day driving from one town to the next, taking back roads, and enjoying the beautiful views. Every mile of state and federal highway in Holmes County is designated as an Ohio Scenic Byway so you’ll have some amazing views wherever you go.
Millersburg was one of the first towns we visited. It is the county seat and has a quaint historic district which is perfectly paired by the Millersburg Courthouse and Victorian House Museum.
In Millersburg, you can tour Yoder’s Amish Home. The property isn’t a working Amish farm anymore but it shows you exactly how the Amish live. The barn is always the heart of an Old Order Amish homestead and the barn at Yoder’s was built in 1885! If you stop by the schoolhouse on the property you can meet an experienced Amish teacher and find out more on how the Amish parochial school system is run and why they only go to 8th grade. I really loved that most of those working on the homestead were members of the Amish church making the experience feel genuine.
Heini’s Cheese Chalet is another must in Millersburg. Not only can you sample cheeses, jams, and other culinary treats but you can see how they make their cheese when you go on a tour.
Don’t forget to stop by Troyer Country Market. You can enjoy samples of cheese other goodies or grab one of the market’s made-to-order sandwiches and homemade ice cream for a quick bite. Just make sure you save room for dessert because there are some delicious baked goods with your name on them too!
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, look at the Hotel Millersburg. The historic hotel is where former President Grover Cleveland once stayed. A copy of the registration log from December 8, 1900, when he stayed containing his signature is located in the first-floor hallway. The hotel is an antique lover’s dream! The hallways are lined with over 750 antique pictures & calendars.
Berlin has a variety of stores that attract shopping visitors like Tim’s Aunt Darcy. There are more than 60 retail businesses located within a two-mile stretch so it is each to explore by foot.
Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant is where the locals eat in Berlin! With Amish cooks in the kitchen, its practically guaranteed this will be a delicious meal. But if you’re looking for ice cream, you’ll want to head to Millie Dindots.
Walnut Creek has a little bit for everyone even though life here is slower. The view the Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek and the Der Dutchman Restaurant is one of the best in the area! And with its sister restaurant in Sarasota, we had to stop by!
A favorite among visitors is Coblentz Chocolate Company where you can watch as the chocolates are made. Trust me, it is almost impossible to make it out of there without a buckeye or truffle! There are also a number of shops filled with candles, quilts, and other handmade goods. But the real gem in Walnut Creek is The German Culture Museum.
This museum is more than a collection of artifacts- it’s a keeper of local history. It does a great job of presenting Amish history and culture while answering many of the questions visitors to Ohio Amish Country have.
This 1829 community was named after Weinsberg in Germany since it reminded the founders of their own home village. They wanted a place where their fellow countrymen felt at home and could do business in their mother tongue.
Winesburg has quiet streets and is nestled among scenic rolling hills peppered with barns. There are a number of lovely inns and cafes making it a great place to stop by as you explore Ohio Amish Country. Make sure to stop by the Carriage Museum and Winesburg Meats to really get in touch with the culture of the town.
Find the essence of quiet contemplation, Amish and European heritage, and small-town America in the lovely setting of the Doughty Valley. Charm offers a slower pace of life founded on faith, generosity, hard work and friendliness. Savor the homey atmosphere, with picturesque countryside and a lifestyle reminiscent of American life a century ago. Understanding and service to the community are bywords. Meet the locals at festivals and events or all year round, and enjoy the real thing.
Loudonville is the “canoe capital of Ohio.” It is located along the Black Fork of the Mohican River and sits in both Holmes and Ashland counties. The nation’s oldest continuously family-owned and operated hardware store, Raby Hardware, is in Downtown Loudonville. You’ll also want to stop by the antique grist mill while you’re in town.
Along the streets of Mt. Hope you’ll see what life is like in an authentic small town in Ohio Amish Country. From good food to handmade Amish furniture, you can experience village life here starting with breakfast at Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen.
After you’ve had a delicious, homemade breakfast you’ll be ready to head over to the Mt. Hope Auction. At the auction, you’ll see both Amish and English who are looking to buy anything from household goods to buggies and livestock. The auction is a big part of Amish culture and attending can really be a fun experience.
Sugarcreek is full of Swiss heritage. While you’re in town, stop by Troyer Furniture to see what exactly makes Amish furniture so special. And try some artisan Swiss cheese at Heine’s Cheese Chalet. Hillcrest Orchard is another must. This 75-acre orchard is family-owned and has been for four generations! You’ll be able to enjoy fresh apples, peaches, and plums along with local produce and honey that is for sale.
If you’re in Sugarcreek, the Farm at Walnut Creek is another working farm that is open to the public. Depending on the season there could be plowing, sowing seeds, canning, milking, quilting, and baking taking place!
Sugarcreek is also home to the Ohio Swiss Festival which happens every fall. And keep an eye out for The Budget. It is the most widely distributed newspaper serving Amish and Mennonite throughout the world! While you’re at it, try to spot the cuckoo clock in town.
You can also stock up on fresh and frozen meat, Certified Angus Beef, Gerber’s Chicken, deli meats and cheeses at the Dutch Valley Market before you leave town. We’re big fans of having a picnic while we explore so we bought some bread and made sandwiches to hold us over until dinner.
While we didn’t have time to go to all of them but spending a weekend in Ohio Amish Country would give you enough time to see all the towns, shops, and farms that are open to the public. There are a number of bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels, like the Sunset View Bed & Breakfast, that looked absolutely charming!