The Amish are a community of Christian Anabaptists, related to the Mennonites and Church of the Brethern. The name "Pennsylvania Dutch" is actually a mispronunciation of "Deutsch" or German. The Anabaptists orginally came from Switzerland and were welcomed to Pennsylvania by William Penn and his descendents.
Although Lancaster county thrives on tourism, the Amish community does not particularly like visitors, tourists, or sightseers. They are generally an intensely private religious community doing their best to go about living according to the ways of their religion and culture, and very much wish to be left alone unless you are invited. Don't take photos without permission, or harass or otherwise pester them about their way of living. Above all else, don't trespass on private property.
There are official tourist exhibits set up by the local government and various private enterprises that will allow you to learn about the county and the Amish in a way that is respectful and positive for everyone involved.
Revision as of 04:34, 10 March 2009
Pennsylvania Dutch Country is a region in South Central Pennsylvania. While the area consists of rural areas, towns and three small cities and is noted for its high Amish population, it is home to over 1.5 million people and maintains one of the highest rates of population growth in the Northeast United States due to lower cost of living but close proximity to major metropolitan areas. It is truly a diverse region with rolling hills, orchards and farms but also growing, bustling and vibrant cities.
Amish have some of their own vocabulary, related to German (Pennsylvania Deutsch). Non-Amish Americans are called "English".
The closest international airport to Pennsylvania Dutch Country is Harrisburg International. (MDT) Rental cars are widely available and the city of Lancaster is a short, 30 minute drive along Interstate I-283.
Plain and Fancy Farm, . Good all-around tour of the Amish community including a restaurant, bus tours and a movie. Particularly good if you're a foreign visitor without a car.
An excellent way to see the Amish by automobile is to travel along Rt 896. Follow Route 30 East from Lancaster for 3 or 4 miles and make a right turn when you come to Rt 896. It will be directly past the outlet centers. This road will take you to the little town of Strasburg which is a very picturesque place in its own right. Along the way, you will see numerous farms and probably a decent number of horse and buggies. Please remember to drive slowly around the Amish horses in order to avoid scaring them.
Strasburg Railroad, 301 Gap Road Ronks, PA 17572 (Rt 30 East, turn right on 896, then left on 741. Railroad is on the left side), ☎ 717-687-7522, . Authentic steam-powered locomotives will take you for a ride back in time. Very realistic and lots of fun. There is also a picnic grounds where the train stops and riders can get on or off. It provides a lovely, secluded area for those wise enough to bring a packed lunch.
Rainbow Dinner Theatre, 3065 Rt 30 East Paradise, PA 17562 (Take rt 30 East to Paradise. Theater is directly behind the Best Western), ☎ 717-687-4300, . Very economical and enjoyable way to spend an evening. The food comes highly recommended and the shows are sure to bring a smile and/or a laugh.
Miller's Smorgasbord, 2811 Lincoln Highway East Ronks, PA 17572 (On the left side of Rt 30. About a mile past rt 896 when travelling East.), ☎ 1-800-669-3568, . Very authentic Dutch food for a fair price. Restaurant is often crowded, so reservations are highly recommended. There are many shops on the premises which are well worth checking out.
Amish are known for their well-made wooden furniture. Showrooms are clustered along main roads.
Wolf Rock Furniture, 3533 Lincoln Highway East (Route 30), Kinzers, +1 717 442-8990, . Finely finished North American hardwood furniture is made on premises. Also has outdoor furniture. Ships to 20 states.
Lancaster County Pennsylvania Dutch Country Official Visitors Center