Luxury may not be the first word that comes to mind when you consider a trip to Amish country. But the area surrounding Lancaster, Pennsylvania can offer far more than just a chance to see a very different way of life – and yes, there will be Wifi and your smartphone will still work while you’re there.
Pennsylvania is charming year-round, whether dusted with snow or long summer days with blue skies. Let’s get planning.
A Chance to Relax
My husband and I spent a few days in Lancaster County as a getaway for our anniversary. We were looking specifically for a chance to relax and get out of our normal routine. We found it at the Inn & Spa at Intercourse, in the tiny town of Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Along the grin-inducing name, the inn provides a bed-and-breakfast atmosphere among a variety of different suites and a full-service spa.
The Inn at Intercourse is just one of several bed-and-breakfasts in the area that add on the little details that create a truly luxurious stay. There’s certainly a range — many hotels in the area cater more towards antiquers and there are even a few motels perfect for someone who just wants to drive around the different farms in the area. But if you’re looking for just another chain hotel, you’ll have a hard time finding it outside of Lancaster proper.
A Taste of Amish Country
Whether you’re looking for good home cooking or something a little fancier, Lancaster County can provide it. You do need to be prepared to drive — Lancaster itself may have a population of around a half million, but out in the county, most of the towns are dramatically smaller.
For breakfast, there are diners with names like the Family Cupboard, the Stoltzfus Farm and the Good n’ Plenty Restaurants. They’re not particularly fancy, but if you want a good old-fashioned breakfast, cooked just right, they’re perfect.
When you’re ready for dinner, you have plenty of choices. The Historic Revere Tavern (which was owned by President James Buchanan) offers an impressive menu in the town of Paradise. My favorite remains the veal and artichoke involtini, followed by the chocolate bourbon pecan pie. It’s not the only historic restaurant in the area, by far, with options like Haydn Zugs in East Petersburg. For something more modern, there are also restaurants like 201 West in Shillington: the restaurant features an impressive wine list, with a menu to match.
It is worth noting that while it’s not impossible to find vegetarian entrees in Lancaster County, it’s not quite as easy as in other destinations. But there is an emphasis on locally grown food that creates a better taste all around.
There are now over 250,000 Amish people living in over 28 states. While many of the cliches about their culture are true – they don’t like to pose for photographs, and they still strongly believe in their traditions, they still make a supply run at Wal Mart, and the technology they have long avoided is slowly making inroads.
While You’re in the Area
I’m not an antiquer, although there are an impressive number of shops in the area that cater to that market. If you’re after particular pieces for your home, they may be found in Lancaster County. But if the age of your furniture is less important and you enjoy browsing through locally made pieces, there are even more shops you can spend an afternoon or two touring. Many do custom work and, provided they aren’t too busy, there’s always someone on hand to help you decide exactly what your dream dining room table would include — even if you aren’t prepared to purchase today.
There are plenty of other shops selling textiles, crafts and even soft pretzels. There are also scenic drives — both Gifford Pinchot State Park and French Creek State Park are in the area, along with picturesque farms and towns. You can find numerous tours of the area, often by horse drawn buggy, but if you’re fond of a smoother ride and making your own itinerary, you’ll do just as well wandering down side roads and finding your own way.
Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Pennsylvania Dutch Country Tourism Association, except Inn & Spa photos provided by venue.