Amish Country Ohio is located in northeast-central Ohio and contains the largest community of Amish in the world. The Amish community is centered in Holmes County with over 40% of the county’s current population being comprised of Amish people.
The area is generally referred to as Amish Country Ohio and is a great place for visitors to learn about the history and local traditions of the Amish and Mennonite peoples, purchase traditional Amish handicrafts, eat a lot of hearty Amish food, and enjoy the great pastoral scenery of this region.
Visitors can easily find plenty of things to do to fill up a weekend itinerary, whether it is sampling locally made cheese and chocolates, marveling over the famous local wooden furniture, viewing the amazing Behalt cyclorama, petting giraffes, touring a traditional Amish farmhouse, taking a scenic countryside drive, or enjoying a local theater performance.
I was lucky to grow up near this area and have visited this family friendly destination several times. We’ll give you plenty of information and tips and things to do in Amish Country Ohio so you can plan you own Amish Country itinerary. We’ll also provide a little background on the Amish culture and share some of our own experiences visiting Amish Country Ohio.
Basic Information about Amish Country Ohio
Before we get into all the things to do in Amish Country Ohio, we’ll share some basic trip planning information. We’ll share information about how to get to Amish Country, best time to visit, a brief history of the Amish in the area, visiting tips, and suggestions of where to stay in Amish Country Ohio.
Where is Amish Country Ohio?
There is no specific area that constitutes where the Amish live and “Amish Country” is more of a local term describing the main tourist area, but most of the Amish community is centered in Holmes County in the northeast central part of Ohio.
The largest city in Holmes County is Millersburg, with other important Amish Country towns including Walnut Creek, Berlin, Charm, and Sugarcreek. Most visitors choose to base in one of these towns to explore this region.
There are also, of course, Amish communities and tourist attractions in neighboring counties such as Stark County, Tuscarawas County, and Wayne County.
Getting to and Around Amish Country Ohio
The closest airport is the Akron Canton Regional Airport which is about 35 miles (56 km) from Millersburg, OH. The Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Port Columbus International Airport are each located about 60 miles (100 km) from the area.
Driving is the best way to get to and around the area as public transportation options can be limited in many places and this also allows you to fully explore some of the countryside. If you won’t have a car, you might consider booking a tour to see some of the highlights of the area.
Best Time to Visit Amish Country Ohio?
Ohio has four distinct seasons with cold winters and hot and more crowded summers, making late Spring and early Autumn perhaps the choice times to visit in terms of weather and crowds.
However, I have been in both summer and winter and found each to have its own appeal. The Christmas holiday season can be a nice time to visit to see the Christmas decorations and to go Christmas shopping. Just note that opening hours are shorter in the off-season (winter) for some shops and attractions and a few of the attractions may be closed.
If you are visiting in summer, holidays, or school breaks, just note that it will likely be more busy so just be prepared for some crowds.
Who are the Amish people?
This is a very difficult question to answer as there are many Amish subgroups and each have differing practices depending on both their subgroup affiliation and their local congregation. I am not an expert, but here is my understanding.
In brief, they are a Christian group that trace their origin to the 16th century Anabaptist movement that followed the Protestant Reformation and they adhere to the 18 articles of Christian faith in the 1632 Dordrecht Confession of Faith. Almost all Amish use horse-and-buggy transportation and speak Pennsylvania German (also oddly known as Pennsylvania Dutch) dialects in church services.
Each community is governed by an Ordnung, or rules of behavior, that sets the standards for dress, use of technologies, public behavior, allowable occupations, etc. and there is great diversity in these rules across communities.
However, the Old Order Amish are the largest group and some things that most Old Order Amish have in common is that baptism (and entry into church membership) takes place in the late teens or early twenties, beards are required for married men, formal education is discontinued after the 8th grade, members marry within their own faith, and worship services are held in private homes every other Sunday.
The Amish rejection of many aspects of modern technology (i.e., electricity, Internet, cars, computers) is based on Biblical scripture: “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Most also believe that such modern things can degrade close-knit family ties and community life.
Basically it is good to approach the Amish with an open mind as most things people learn from TV are not true (e.g., that Amish never drink alcohol, that most young Amish spend a year partying before deciding to join the church, all Amish reject modern medicine), or at least are not true as a whole as the actual practices can vary widely between groups.
For instance, the more liberal Amish churches, such as the Beachy Amish, may be permitted to own personal automobiles, use computers and the Internet, and receive education past the 8th grade.
A similar group which shares the same religious heritage as the Amish are the Mennonites which often settled near Amish communities such as in this part of Ohio. While many religious beliefs are the same, the practices differ from those of the Amish, and like the Amish, Mennonite beliefs can differ from community to community. You’ll find both Amish and Mennonite communities living in Ohio’s Amish Country.
Photography Etiquette in Amish Country
Most Amish and Mennonite subgroups forbid the use of photography and posing for face-on photos within its community, and therefore visitors are strongly encouraged to respect these beliefs and not take photos of Amish people without their explicit consent.
The Amish beliefs regarding photography are based on a few different reasons: 1) the Exodus 20:4 Biblical scripture: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”; 2) that it represents a connection to the modern world; and 3) it is considered a immodest and prideful behavior to pose for photographs or videos.
Whereas you should avoid photos of Amish people, especially their faces, you may respectfully take photos of the Amish countryside, farms, food, shops, etc. during your visit.
Some Tips for your Amish Country Ohio Visit
I would highly recommend learning a bit about the Amish and the Mennonites before you visit and to make a stop to the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg. I think that some knowledge can go a long way in better appreciating this area and its people, as well as fostering a respect for a culture that can be quite different from those of visitors.
Many Amish are probably not thrilled to be living in the center of a tourism area, so it is important to be a good guest and respect requests such as not taking their photographs.
Car drivers should also be cautious and attentive on the country roads as they can be quite narrow and Amish buggies travel very slowly. Here are some more good Amish Country driving tips.
Lodging Options in Amish Country
There are many lodging options in the area, from campsites to bed-and-breakfasts to major chain hotels so you should not have too much trouble finding something that will fit your budget and travel style.
I would start by figuring out what you’d like to see during your visit and then choose a nearby town (Millersburg, Walnut Creek, Sugarcreek, or Berlin for instance) that will make a convenient base. All the towns are small and they are all within about a 20 minute drive from one another.
If you are traveling as a couple, I highly recommend considering a bed-and-breakfast or cottage for a more romantic experience such as Hilltop Manor B&B, Garden Gate Getaway B&B, Blessings Lodge, or the Inn at Honey Run. If you are traveling as a family, a hotel such as Carlisle Inn in Walnut Creek, where my family stayed can be perfect for both couples and families.
You can search a full list of lodging options in the area here, but here are several options within Amish Country:
- Carlisle Inn in Walnut Creek – The 3-star hotel includes spacious and comfortable rooms, breakfast, snacks, a fitness center, and a business center. Walking distance to everything in Walnut Creek including the German Culture Museum, Der Dutchman restaurant, and the Walnut Creek Antique Mall. We have stayed here and recommend a room with a balcony.
- Millersburg Hotel in Millersburg – This 2-star historical Victorian era hotel is located in downtown Millersburg. Rooms feature cable TV, free WiFi, and coffee makers. Hotel has an on-site restaurant and bar. Walking distance to everything in downtown Millersburg. One to consider for those who like historical hotel and to be in a downtown area.
- Carlisle Country Inn in Berlin – This well-rated hotel is located just outside Berlin and offers Victorian inspired decor and rates include hot breakfast at the nearby Berlin Farmstead Restaurant. Some rooms have balconies and/or spa bathtubs. A 10 minute walking into downtown Berlin.
- Garden Gate Get-a-way B&B in Millersburg – A well-rated cozy bed-and-breakfast offering 7 themed rooms Includes a cooked-to-order breakfast and there is free WiFi in the lobby. About a 8 minute drive into Millersburg.
- Sleep Inn & Suites near Millersburg – This well-rated and comfortable chain hotel provides all the basic amenities and often has some of the best rates in the area. Includes a continental breakfast. Note this hotel is well outside of downtown Millersburg (15 minute drive) but located next to Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen.
- Blessings Lodge in Berlin – This lodge features log cabin styled rooms and rustic decor. Some of the rooms have spa baths, fireplaces, and/or DVD players. Many of the units include a fully equipped kitchenette so perfect for those wanting to do some of their own cooking. A 12 minute walk from central Berlin.
- Zinck’s Inn in Berlin – This cozy and well-located hotel is a popular place to stay in Berlin. Some rooms have spa baths and/or fireplaces. A stay here includes hot breakfast and evening snacks, and is located within walking distance of the shops and restaurants in downtown Berlin and the antique mall.
- Inn at Honey Run near Millersburg – This 4-star boutique resort is located in a rural area outside of Millersburg and boasts its own restaurant, gift shop, and has a large lobby area and outdoor seating area. Hiking trails are accessible from the property. A good place to consider if you are looking to getaway and want to be outside of a town.
The lodging options around Amish Country are affordable but are going to be a bit more expensive than those outside of it. So if you are on a tighter budget, I’d consider checking prices in New Philadelphia. It is about 20 minutes outside of the main Amish Country area but offers lodging starting at prices 10 to 20% less than within Amish Country.
Where Can I find More Amish Country Information?
If you are looking for more information to help plan your Amish Country trip, I recommend starting with the Visit Amish Country website maintained by the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, which has lots of great information on the area.
You can also request free brochures that will be delivered to you via email. You can also request information or ask questions by emailing email@example.com or by calling +1 877-643-8824.
Other helpful resources are the Ohio’s Amish Country website and the website for the Village of Sugarcreek. If you are planning to travel more widely in Ohio, check out the state’s official tourism website for state-wide travel planning.
Top Things to Do in Amish Country Ohio
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Amish Country Ohio, in no particular order:
Learn about the Local Amish and Mennonites
If you are choosing to visit Amish Country, hopefully you will set aside some time to learn a bit about the local people. I highly recommend a visit to the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center (5798 Country Road 77, Millersburg, Ohio 44610) which provides a good orientation to Amish and Mennonite culture and traditions, as well their specific role in the history of the local area.
There is an indoor informational exhibit area, a small theatre with a 15-minute educational film about the local Amish and Mennonite people, bookstore, gift shop, and an amazing mural inside the main building. Outdoors you’ll find a one-room school house and a pioneer barn which houses a Conestoga Wagon, a buggy, and some other artifacts.
A unique feature here is the Behalt cyclorama mural painted by German artist, Heinz Gaugel, which is a 10 foot x 265 foot oil-on-canvas circular painting that illustrates the heritage of the Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite people from their Anabaptist beginnings in Zurich, Switzerland in the 1500’s to the present day.
The Behalt cyclorama can only be seen with a guided tour (small fee, no photography) which includes a 30-minute guided tour of the mural by one of the museum guides. Our guide, Mark Oliver, did an amazing job narrating over 500 years of history using the mural as a backdrop; the mural was a definite highlight of my visit. I highly recommend both the museum and mural as a first stop for those interested in a better understanding of Amish and Mennonite cultures.
Another great stop is the German Culture Museum in Walnut Creek that documents the history of the local area from the settlement of the early Amish pioneers until today. The museum covers both Amish and Mennonite history as well as other important settlers and visitors, and includes exhibits depicting local log cabins, schools, and churches as well as a restored John D. Rockefeller family surrey.
There is also the Alpine Hills Historical Museum in Sugarcreek which is a 3-storey museum which has information and artifacts related to Swiss heritage, Amish culture, and local history. Also is a local information center. Visits are by donation.
Other activities you might consider are visits to an Amish home, a buggy ride, or even a meal with a local Amish family. For instance, the Yoder’s Amish Home provides educational guided tours of two Amish residences and a farm as well as Amish buggy rides, and Amish Heartland Tours provides tours that include a meal in local Amish homes.
Make a Visit to the Ultimate Old-Fashioned Emporium
Lehman’s in Dalton is a very unique store that carries a large variety of old-fashioned practical housewares, appliances, tools, and supplies. It also carries a number of food items, from over 300 types of old-fashioned sodas to popcorn to freshly made taffy and fudge.
Family owned and operated since 1955, Lehman’s was originally opened as a small hardware shop to serve the large local Amish population. It has grown to be one of the largest stores specializing in non-electric technology in the country.
What will you find here? Here is a very short list of the some of the items we took a peek at in the large 35,000 ft. store: wood-burning and gas stoves, soapmaking supplies, eco-friendly laundry detergents, cast iron skillets, silicone kitchen utensils, wooden toys, food canning supplies, Amish-made wooden furniture, farm equipment, composting toilets, and wood fire and charcoal outdoor grills. Basically everything you never knew still existed is here!
Not only does it supply products to the local Amish, but has an appeal to those living off the grid, those living in rural areas where electricity may not be dependable, and those interested in do-it-yourself projects (canning, soap making, gardening, home butchering, etc.). It is also popular among shoppers looking for USA made products and those with a bit of nostalgia for simpler well-made appliances and products.
Stop by for a look at their large selection and if you can’t make it in, you can find a large number of products through their website and mail-order catalog. Find out more on their company website here.
Eat Local Amish Food
I think one of the draws of Amish Country is the tasty and filling old-fashioned home style cooking! If you are wondering what is considered Amish style food, it is basically a mix between traditional Midwestern American, Swiss, and German home cooking.
So you will find things like roast beef, pork chops, sausage, bologna, chicken, chicken soup, bean soup, butter noodles, green beans, corn, peas, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, potato salad, Jello salad, and fruit pies. Expect local, homemade, rustic, hearty, and huge portions of everything.
There are dozens of local Amish Country restaurants to choose from and I recommend eating in at least a couple while on your trip. Ask about what the local specialities are in the restaurants you select and try to eat seasonal vegetables and fruits if you can.
Some places my family likes are the Boyd and Wurthmann Restaurant which is located along Main Street in Berlin. This is a great casual local diner which is perfect for breakfast or lunch. It is known for its large selection of homemade pies so leave room for dessert. Note that it is not a huge place and lines to get a table are common here on weekends and summer.
If you are looking for a hearty Amish style dinner, my family loves Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek. I grew up eating at Der Dutchman restaurants (original location: 967 Walnut Street, Walnut Creek, Ohio 44687), which specialize in Amish-style country cooking. Good for lunch or dinner. Come hungry as portions are huge and hearty.
Note that many local restaurants (and stores) are closed on Sundays and holidays. So plan ahead if visiting on a Sunday. Consider picking up local goodies on Saturday to have as picnic on Sunday.
See the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
If you like roadside attractions, you’ll want to make sure to make a stop in Sugarcreek to see the Wold’s Largest Cuckoo Clock. It was built in 1972 for an alpine-themed restaurant in Wilmot Ohio and was later moved here in 2012 after the restaurant closed.
The clock is located on the square in downtown Sugarcreek and is 23 feet tall. The clock still works and performs every half hour from 9am to 9pm (except during winter). You’ll see a cuckoo bird popping out and a couple dancing to Swiss polka music played by a 5-piece band.
Sugarcreek is worth exploring with its Brick Wall Sculpture (over 100 feet long depicting local history), Swiss themed shops and houses, Alpine Hills Museum. There is also a downtown trolley you can take during warmer months.
Check out some the Local Amish Artisan Products
Most people I know in Ohio have at least something in their homes that was made by the Amish, whether it be a wooden bench, a quilt, a leather wallet, or a jar of apple butter. Given their reliance on being self-sufficient and reluctance to use modern technology, the Amish are notably very skilled artisans making crafts, clothing, quilts, leather goods, art, furniture, candles, and all sorts of food products using traditional methods.
If you enjoy artisan products, you’ll have a fun time shopping in Amish Country which has a large number of shops offering you everything from handmade brooms to homemade fudge: check out this list of local area stores.
The Amish are particularly skilled at making hardwood furniture, and one store you might consider visiting is Homestead Furniture (8233 SR 241, Mt. Hope, OH 44660) which offers a large array of furniture in its showroom as well as factory tours where you can see Amish craftsman actually making custom-built hardwood furniture.
If you like chocolate, you’ll want to stop at Coblentz Chocolate Company in Walnut Creek for old-fashioned candies and chocolates. You can see the workers making chocolates and taste some samples. Some popular options we recommend here are the buckeyes (chocolate and peanut butter Ohio candy), cashew clusters, sea salt caramels, dark chocolate peppermint patties, and truffles.
Heini’s in Millersburg is the place for any cheese lover and has been producing cheese from the milk of local Amish farmers since 1935. They offer free guided tours (check tour times before your visit) to show the process, and their specialities include their Swiss cheeses and their yogurt cheeses. Lots of samples to try before you buy. I always end up stopping here on every visit to Amish Country and I don’t really even like cheese!
If you are looking for some foods to buy and take home from Amish Country, consider local jams and preserves, cheese, trail bologna from Troyer’s Trail (been making it since 1912), seasonal produce, apple butter, peanut butter spread (many Amish eat this on homemade bread), local chocolates and candies, and fruit pies.
Attend a Local Festival or Fair
There are events happening almost every week in Amish Country Ohio, whether it is just the local farmers’ market, an art exhibit, a county fair, or a local festival. Local events are a great way to meet the local people and enjoy a unique experience in Amish Country.
One of the biggest festivals is the Ohio Swiss Festival that occurs each autumn (usually end of September) in Sugarcreek Ohio. Begun in 1953 to promote Swiss cheese to visitors, it is now a popular local festival with 2 full days of events that include parades, races, cheesemaking demonstrations, stone throwing contests, tractor pulls, musical performances, alphorn playing, and even yodeling!
There are a number of holiday related events in late November and December throughout the area. To see what is happening during your visit, you can check out these local online calendar: here and here.
Visit a Local Farm with Exotic Animals
The Farm at Walnut Creek in Sugarcreek is a working farm that allows visitors to tour two large non-electric farmhouses, feed and pet local farm animals, and see exotic animals such as giraffes, lemurs, bison, and zebras.
Visitors can either tour the property from the comforts of their own vehicle or reserve a horse-drawn wagon ride. The driving tour takes about one hour.
There is also a produce stand, blacksmith shop, petting zoo, small playground, and a gift shop. This is a great stop if you have children. I had visited as a child and enjoyed feeding the animals from the wagon, but my last visit with my family was in winter so we drove and there were fewer animals around due to the cold weather.
It was still a fun visit in the winter, but I would try to visit in warmer weather if possible to best enjoy the outdoor areas. I would allow at least 2 hours here if you want to tour the farm houses and visit the rest of the property.
Enjoy a Scenic Drive
If you have your own vehicle and enjoy rural views, I highly recommend spending some time doing some scenic drives through the country roads. Every mile of state and federal highway in Holmes County is designated as an Ohio Scenic Byway.
You might try this 76-mile “Amish Country Byway” drive which will take you past many of the main sights in Amish Country Ohio.
Just drive slowly and carefully as you’ll likely pass slow-moving horse-drawn buggies along the way!
Take in a Theater Show and Spend the Night
The recent opening of two professional theaters in Amish Country Ohio makes it an ideal place to spend the night after having dinner and attending an evening performance. You now have two theaters to choose from, the Amish Country Theater in Walnut Creek and the Ohio Star Theater in Sugarcreek.
The Amish Country Theater in Walnut Creek, Ohio features a family-friendly variety theater show and the barn-themed venue can hold up to 600 people. The typical 2-hour show is a comedy variety show that features live bluegrass music, actors, comedians, and ventriloquists. There is also quite a bit of audience participation with both my parents and Ethan being asked to come on stage during the show, sparing only my brother and I.
In addition to the regular performances, they also have special performances that often feature tributes to a specific performer of band such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, or the Beach Boys. You can check the latest schedule and buy theater tickets here. We have found the online ordering site to not always work correctly, so if you have any issues or questions, I would call them at (888) 988-7469.
The Ohio Star Theater in Sugarcreek opened in 2017 and is a 500-seat theater that also focuses on family-friendly shows. Performances include musicals, plays, concerts, gospel music, tributes, variety shows, and more. I haven’t been here but it has become another popular theater venue.
We spend the night in Walnut Creek at Carlisle Inn so it was very convenient to have dinner at Der Dutchman and then drive over to catch the theater show at The Amish Country Theater. My whole family enjoyed the show.
Other Interesting Area Attractions
There are plenty of other things to do in the area if you have more time to explore, depending on your interests. For instance if you have a taste for beautiful Victorian era houses and furniture, you can check out the Victorian House Museum (84 Wooster Road, Millersburg, OH 44654) which is a beautifully appointed mansion built by a wealthy industrialist from Cleveland.
If you like covered bridges, Holmes County got its first covered bridge in 2009, named Stutzman’s Crossing after an early Amish settler Jonas Stutzman. It is located in Walnut Creek on County Road 145. There is also a covered bridge located in Sugarcreek at The Farm at Walnut Creek. But if you really enjoy covered bridges, you can head a couple of hours north to Ashtabula County which has 19 bridges and has been named the “Covered Bridge Capital of Ohio”.
If you enjoy intricate carvings, you might want to visit The Ernest Warther Museum & Gardens in Dover where you can see a large collection of intricate wood and ivory carved trains. If you prefer carved boats, you can check out David Warther Carvings in Sugarcreek which document the history of boats. Both places are amazing.
Lovers of the film Shawshank Redemption, may want to head to Mansfield Ohio (about a 1 hour drive away) to tour the Ohio State Reformatory and other filming sites. Mansfield is also home to BibleWalk, a nondenominational Christian wax museum featuring scenes from the Bible.
Sports enthusiasts might want to head an hour northwest to gawk at the football treasures housed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
So that is our guide to things to do in Amish Country Ohio! Which of these things would be on our list of things to do on a visit?
If you’ve been to Amish Country in Ohio, what was your favorite place to visit. What tips or advice would you share to a first time visitor? If you are planning a visit, feel free to ask us any questions in the Comments section below!
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**Disclosure: One of our trips to Holmes County was supported by the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau which paid or waived some of our food, lodging, and attraction costs in order to review the destination; however, this article contains only our own honest thoughts and opinions.**