Life slows down in Lancaster County, and that's just the way the locals -- and visitors -- like it. Dinners revolve around all-you-can-eat platters of homemade fried chicken and biscuits at restaurants in Bird-in-Hand. Children learn how to shape and bake German-style pretzels in Lititz, and their parents shop for handcrafted, one-of-a-kind quilts in Intercourse. Families walk through an electricity-free Amish house in Lancaster and share the road with black, horse-drawn buggies across the county. There's no point in hurrying through this Pennsylvania landscape, and little reason to try.
Learn about the Amish way of life at the Amish Farm and House in Lancaster, which takes visitors on a 10-room house and barn tour. What's it like to roll along in those black Amish buggies? Find out with a visit to Ed's Buggy Rides in Strasburg. The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz, the nation's oldest, shows visitors how it's made the salty snack-food favorite since 1861, and will even let guests try making their own.
Eating and Drinking
Amish dining revolves around American comfort food: fresh, slow-cooked and satisfying. Miller's Smorgasbord in Lancaster and the Plain and Fancy Farm Restaurant in Bird-in-Hand serve dinner family style. Expect heaping platters of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, chicken potpie, and homemade bread followed with a slice of fresh sticky-sweet shoofly pie.
Wedding Ring, Log Cabin and Lone Star are among the most popular (and colorful) patterns painstakingly stitched into Amish quilts. Sort through hundreds of coverlets at the Witmer's Quilt Shop in New Holland or at The Old Country Store in Intercourse. Shops in Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse sell Amish- and Mennonite-made crafts including delicate crocheted doilies and table coverings, as well as sturdy oak tables and rocking chairs. Antique stores dot the country roads, but especially Adamstown's "Antique Mile."
Arts and Culture
Locals help visitors tell a Sunshine and Shadow quilt from a Lone Star at the People's Place Quilt Museum in Intercourse. A dazzling array of designs fills this free museum, and a docent offers an overview of the Amish art form. The large, open-air Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster sheds light on the Pennsylvania Dutch culture, folk arts and language that permeate the region. Visitors learn about local crafts from costumed weavers, printers and tinsmiths.