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Amish Country (Lancaster County)

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Hey fellow hounds -- parents will be coming into town soon and are insisting on checking out Amish country. Having never been, I am clueless as to what we are going to do for the day? Does any one have any eating (or other recs)? Many thanks!

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  1. Having been born and bred in an Amish area, I will never understand peoples desire to view it or shop it or eat it as a tourist, especially Lancaster County. Beautiful farm land but the traffic! Anyway, that wasn't what you asked.....

    What are they interested in? There are any number of "Amish" farms to visit, which may or may not be run by Mennonites. This type of attraction will offer carriage rides and food, usually baked goods, bread and other treats to purchaes.

    I think Strasburg is nice. The train station and museum are very nice if they like that sort of thing. Check the train schedule, there are hour or so rides that go through the country. The parlor car is particular nice with large chairs and couches and a bar. (this car costs extra)

    1 Reply
    1. re: cleobeach

      The Strasburg train attractions are well done, but there is nothing Amish about them,(except the scenery from the train window) so it may not be what your parents want, especially if its a day trip and your time is limited.

      If they would like a tour the Mennonite Information Center (run by the Mennonite Church), will provide a guide to ride in your car and explain the area and way of life. This will probably include stops at some Amish Farms where you can speak to Amish residents, who will,of course attempt to sell you baked goods and/or crafts.

      Did this years ago with my mother-in-law, and it was actually educational and not as crassly commercial as it sounds. Have heard good comments in recent years from those to whom I've reccomended it.

      We also did the Amish Experience at the Plain and Fancy complex. which was a respectfull mixed media presentation of the basics of the Amish way of life. I'm sure its a differentshow now, and don't have any current info.

      With regard to food, the best buffet is Dienners on Route 30. Closes at 6PM except Friday when its open until 8. Actually pretty good comfort food. Closed Sunday, as are almost all Mennonite run places.

      However better Pa Dutch food can be found by ordering from the menu at Oregon Dairy Family restaurant (on route 272 northeast of Lancaster)

      For non-pa dutch fare, you should probably lookat the posts on this site for various restarunts in and around Lancaster City.

      For farmers markets the best is the central Market in downtown Lancaster which is only open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Try to go in the morning when selection is best.

      Smaller than Reading Teminal and with many fewer take out food choices(besides which there is nowhere to sit and eat). Excellant butcher, bakery and produce(in season) stands.Actually fewer Amish run stands than at Reading.

    2. Having had the occasion to host a few visits to Amish Country I can tell you that one of the most important things is setting the correct expectations. As mentioned by others here it is Beautiful farm land being farmed in large part by Amish and Mennonites, plain people. Horse and buggies, quaint clothed people looking ever bit out of the 18 or 19th century. The food, PA,Dutch food that is prepared properly is fresh, honest, straight forward cooking. Mentioned here and on the Lancaster County Visitor sites one can find interesting attractions. The traffic on Rt.30 is very heavy in the spring and summer; but it is the other back roads which will provide a look into the real Lancaster Co. There is a auction in New Holland which is interesting and a real example of a farmer oriented event. The Green Dragon outside Ephrata has become a bit too much of a flea market over the years but can also be interesting. Check the visitor sites and avoid all the shopping as it is no different than anywhere else. The only exception might be Hamilton Watch as it was originally in Lancaster and although it is now owned by a Swiss company still produces great watches and replicas of early classics. There are some great country stores with PA Dutch good. The Strasburg RR is interesting. Eats, well my favorite in the area is not really PA Dutch, just sort of a nice throwback on an old steakhouse, The Stockyard Inn in Lancaster. Lancaster Co. is a huge tourist draw, many love it and many who do are underwhelmed and that is exactly what they wanted when they came. Good luck, check the visitor sites.

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      Stockyard Inn
      1147 Lititz Pike Ste 1, Lancaster, PA 17601

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bacchus101

        Bacchus said what I didn't know how to convey. My post comes across as snarky, which is not what I intended.

        1. re: cleobeach

          Bacchus' points are well taken. Note that Green Dragon is open Friday's only, but well into the evening. It will be out of your way, unless you are coming via the Turnpike and then Southwest on 222. The worst of the flea market is outside. The stands in the buildings are better .
          The New Holland auction is a livestock auction held every Monday. Many Amish attend.
          Stockyard Inn was better 30 years ago when the steaks were fresh from the stockyard(now shuttered but at the time the biggest east of Chicago). I really should not critique it as my only recent experience was Mothers Day 2010, which is probably not a fair test of any restaurant.

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          Stockyard Inn
          1147 Lititz Pike Ste 1, Lancaster, PA 17601

          1. re: brookquarry

            Thirty years ago, Brook??? Right you are; it is not a fair test of any restaurant to compare it today to a memory of 30 years ago. But hey, you already knew that based on your comment ! I only get to Lancaster a couple of times a year so I am probably no better of a gage on how consistent the Stockyard might be today. The quality of service and food is ,IMHO, extraordinary for the price. A throw back to a more gentile time. Not that I would have been eating a steak 30 years ago.

            1. re: Bacchus101

              30 years ago, when I was in College Stockyard Inn was one of the few upscale restaurants in Lancaster. It was thus a true 'special occasion" restaurant,(especially considering my budget) and I may have inflated its quality then based on that.

              As noted, we took my Mom there at her request for Mothers Day last year. It was extremely busy, and I think the quality of service suffered because of that. As I said, probably not a fair test.

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              Stockyard Inn
              1147 Lititz Pike Ste 1, Lancaster, PA 17601