Pennsylvania Dutch Country
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amish are known for their well-made wooden furniture. Showrooms are clustered along main roads.