Want to explore outside the city limits, but not venture too far from The Land we love? Head just one to two hours south or east of Cleveland’s burbs and you’ll find a place where the pace is a bit slower, fields are wide open and rockers line porches. I’ve learned Ohio’s Amish Country isn’t just my parents’ getaway. Sure you can shop for handcrafted furniture, antiques and cheese, but there’s so much more for families and couples alike.
My family kicked off summer with a one tank trip to Ohio’s Amish Country. From buggies and dirt roads to grape vines and clothes lines, around every turn I found reminders to slow down, simplify and enjoy little moments with family and nature. My husband and I make a trip every year with or without the kiddos. Of the eight counties that comprise the region in east-central Ohio, we’ve mainly traveled throughout Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas where we recently had one of our best visits yet as a family of four. Whether you want a family day trip, overnight excursion or couples retreat, consider some of my favorite destinations.
South of Medina County lies Wayne County and Wooster, a college town with a cool downtown, where new restaurants like JAFB Brewery blend with historic romantic dining spots like Olde Jaol Steakhouse and Tavern in a vintage jail. Trips to my hubby’s alma mater with the kids included walks around the beautiful grounds of The Ohio State University OARDC (Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center). Dates entailed performances at the Ohio Light Opera, the Resident Professional Company of The College of Wooster and America’s Premier Lyric Theater Festival.
South of Wayne County is Holmes County, the heart of Ohio’s largest Amish settlement. In Millersburg, my husband and I enjoyed pastoral views from the secluded circular hillside suites of Holmes With a View and stepped back in time inside the 28-room Queen Anne style Victorian House Museum.
Southeast of Holmes County is Tuscarawus County. The highlight of our family’s recent visit was the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum. Unlike any other museum I’ve been to, this WWII-era National Historic Landmark in Dennison is a fun interactive educational experience for the whole family. My four and two-year-old loved wearing personalized dog tags, shoveling coal in the engine house, working a telegraph, playing nurse in a rare WWII hospital car and so much more. This was all while completing a scavenger hunt to find Bing, a WWI mascot soldier dog, throughout the depot building to earn a treat at the end.
After learning what earned Dennison the nickname Dreamsville, USA, we stopped in New Philadelphia at Schoenbrunn Village. This first Christian settlement of Ohio dates back to 1772 and includes a church, cemetery and 16 reconstructed log structures with period scenes and guides.
Next we made our way to Sugarcreek, The Little Switzerland of Ohio, home of the world’s largest cuckoo clock. The kids danced and clapped along to the lively Swiss polka music at chime time. We also got up close and personal with farm animals on a horse-drawn wagon ride at the Farm at Walnut Creek, a working Amish farm and petting zoo set on 120 acres of rolling hills. After dining at the hip farm-to-fork Park Street Pizza, the kids explored the Berlin Resort Children’s Village playground and miniature town, which includes a matinee, chapel and jailhouse, among other colorful playhouses on the Berlin Resort’s grounds.
We spent the night in Walnut Creek at The Wallhouse Hotel. Its modern minimalist style, amenities and kid-friendly breakfast feast will likely make us repeat visitors. And no trip of ours is complete without a traditional Amish meal of broasted chicken, mashed potatoes and pie at one of the Dutch Valley Restaurants. Before heading home, Mommy (and Daddy) even got some adult time at wineries, including a tasting and tour at the turn-of-the-century flour mill turned Baltic Mill Winery in the village of Baltic.
For more information on Ohio’s Amish Country, including the Amish culture and visitor etiquette, you can visit www.OhiosAmishCountry.com.
It’s summertime, so why not take a ride to the simpler side. Where do you like to go in Ohio’s Amish Country? What are your favorite #CLE one tank trips*?
*The phrase “one tank trip” is a salute to the great Cleveland, Ohio travel reporter and author Neil Zurcher (@NeilZurcher), whose TV segment by that name aired on Fox8 Cleveland.