What to Do in Amish Country

Down in Pennsylvania right now, visiting my parents at long last while also working remotely at the same time. (I attended two different Zoom meetings yesterday while sitting in different parking lots in Lancaster County. It all went swimmingly, except for the one time when it seemed for a moment like I’d found a pocket of internetlessness, which I suddenly realized I should have seen coming. But thankfully I found a stronger cell signal soon after that, and all was right with the world.)

The kids are also Zooming school during the day, and then we’re heading out trying to do fun things in the afternoons and evenings. So yesterday’s activity was “what can we do fun in an afternoon in Lancaster County?” This wasn’t my first buggy ride (well, actually it would have been, had we ridden in a buggy), so I had some idea of some good places to check out, but it still required a fair bit of planning. (Figuring out what everyone wanted to do, what times we had what meetings, and how to piece everything together as best as possible.) In the end, this is the agenda I came up with:

  1. Stop by Immergut Pretzels in Intercourse: (The Amish in Lancaster are a fountain of interesting town names. Intercourse. Paradise. Bird-in-Hand. Blue Ball, etc.) I’ve visited several different pretzel places in Lancaster over the years, but this is by far my personal favorite. They’re soft pretzels (which I like much more than the hard variety), and they come in different flavors and toppings. Think of this place like an upscale Auntie Anne’s, and you’re about right. Delicious.
  2. Head over to Mr. Sticky’s for some sticky buns. (It’s not just interesting town names, folks.) This doesn’t look like much: it’s basically a small shack next to a “Welcome to Lancaster” tourism center. But they make some wonderful sticky buns and cinnamon rolls. (The ones I got yesterday had peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Sublime.) Yes, I suppose you could just order them online and have the shipped to you anywhere in the country, but there’s something about buying them fresh, you know?
  3. Check out the wares at Riehl’s Quilts and Crafts. There are a ton of quilt stores in Amish country. I don’t pretend to be a connoisseur of the art, but I do know that prices vary widely. (Case in point: Denisa was looking for a new corn broom. She found one at Riehl’s that was handmade and only about $15. She bought it. She found the same broom almost everywhere else we went. Sometimes for $20. Sometimes for $26.) Riehl’s has a great selection and very good prices. Quilts and all manner of handmade things. It’s hard to find (I have no idea how I would have found it without a GPS), but I think they cater to tour buses to keep them in business.
  4. Get some baked goods at Bird-in-Hand Bakeshop. I assume you’re seeing the theme here. A lot of why I go to Amish country is food-based. Again, this is a very nice bakery with a wide variety of cookies and pies and treats. We picked up a shoofly pie and some molasses cookies. Mmmmm . . . Shoofly pie.
  5. Head to a restaurant for some Amish food. I’m most familiar with three: Miller’s, Hershey Farm, and Good ‘n Plenty. Miller’s and Hershey are both buffets, and of the two, I’m more partial to Miller’s. (Better selection, though Hershey is great too.) Good ‘n Plenty serve their food family style at your table, meaning they bring out dishes and you pass the dishes to each other, just like at home. I love their food, but I don’t really dig family style, mainly because (pre-COVID) they sat you with other families at your table. I’d rather just eat with my own, thanks very much. But thanks to COVID precautions, they were seating everyone separately. (Plus, Millers was closed.) So we got to go to Good ‘n Plenty instead. (I had only actually eaten a pretzel up until this point, for the record. Everything else was bagged to eat for later. Like, say, today . . .) I ate far too much food, but that’s kind of the point.
  6. Walk off some of those calories by heading to the outlet stores at Tanger. This wasn’t really high on my to do list, but it was for Daniela and others, so we finished here. Shopping isn’t typically my thing, but I get that our home town doesn’t have much in the way of shopping, so when you can actually find stores, you strike while the iron’s hot.

All-in-all, it was a fun afternoon, and a great time to spend with the fam. If you’re in the Lancaster area, or even passing through, I highly recommend it.


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2 thoughts on “What to Do in Amish Country”

  1. We spent some time there when I worked in Delaware. Great food and met some really nice people. I liked the family style best.

    1. I tend to think it probably led to me eating a fair bit more than I would have if I had to get up to get more food . . . 🙂

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