Here’s a bit of weird info – I’ve had a desire to visit Lancaster County, or better known as home of the Amish people, for years. Yeah, I know, odd. Instead of dreams of tropical beaches, I want to check out farmlands of mid-America.
The thing is, that this is a truly unique trip. My kids have been to plenty of beaches. Living in Central America gives us quicker access to this. However, we don’t get much travel to countrysides with pristine farmlands and cultures such as the Amish.
And this year we’ve had an extra special treat. I was able to travel to Pennsylvania with my extended family. More of a family reunion – my parents (the grandparents), my brother and his girlfriend (the uncle), me and the kids. Everyone ended up learning something new.
What we Learned Visiting Lancaster County – The Amish Experience
You can read all you want about the Amish, but the best (and in my opinion, only way) is to not only visit the area, but do a tour to fully understand who they are and what they are all about.
After much researching for the best option for us, I decided on The Amish Village tour.
2 Must-dos on the Amish Village Tour
1. The Amish Village – 12 acres to explore
We did both, and wouldn’t have it any other way. The entire trip was less than three hours, doable for young kids. And even the adults didn’t get bored or tired.
The Backroads Bus Tour – What It Is All About
What exactly is this bus tour all about? The quick explanation – it’s a 90 minute tour that goes through working farms where a guide will tell you about the Amish life – history, customs, beliefs and traditions.
In other words, it is a great orientation of your surroundings and understanding how these people live and what they are all about.
But what really was wonderful is what we learned from the guide.
We had a couple of stops with the tour as well. One main one was an Amish family home and business that owned a miniature horse farm.
These seem to be rather popular here. I didn’t get the reason why miniature horses, but certainly loved that my baby was able to do a little ride. They were simply perfect for each other. I think if my ten year old did the same ride, he would’ve squashed the adorable horse.
The family also had a store where they sold all sorts of homemade stuff from pretzels to root beer.
We also got a chance to see a carpenter at work. Most Amish are manual laborers from farmers to carpenters to construction workers. Their carpentry is respected worldwide for meticulousness and precision.
Fun Facts About the Amish Way of Life
Our guide told us many wonderful stories and facts. These were some of my favorites:
- The Amish don’t have any electricity, computers, phones in their house because they don’t want to become connected to the grid. However, they do use it during the day in their offices and they have phones on corners that are for several families at once.
- They don’t drive cars, only horse buggies.
- Men who don’t have beards – aren’t married.
- The longer the man’s beard – the longer he’s been married.
- They only have up to an 8th grade education. Their kids all go to one room school houses, where there is one teacher and the older kids help the younger kids.
- The Amish don’t like to depend on anyone at all, including the US government. None of them will ever go on Social Security, even though they contribute. They will never go on welfare (most Amish are actually quite well off). None of their farms are government subsided. They always help each other.
- The Amish are extremely humble, which you can immediately see by their appearance. They don’t want to ever stand out as more important as the other, because their religion specifies that every person is the same. And this includes people that are not part of their religion.
- Amish don’t have churches, instead their parishes have around 25 families in each. And every other Sunday a house will hold the services. The minister isn’t chosen by anyone. When it’s time to choose a new minister a piece of paper will be put in the bible and who ever gets that bible will be minister for life.
- A minister is almost like the president who sets and makes all the rules for that parish. They carry the most responsibility. This is super important for the Amish, especially if they have a modern minister which helps them become more part of the society. Since they are farmers, to sell to mainstream America, they need to go by certain rules. I.E. how milk is done. If the minister decides to keep the old ways, which will prohibit some of the farmers to work and earn money, these families will decide to leave. If they do, they normally go to the Mennonite sector, which is still extremely similar to their beliefs but modern with electricity and other less strict lifestyle regulations.
- Did you know – when an Amish boy or girl turn 18 years old, the family gives them money and allows them to enter our world for two to four years. They can drive cars, have computers, dress normally, do everything we all do. This includes partying. This tradition is kind of like ‘sowing your oats’ before committing to a simple, strict and religious life. Only 9% of Amish leave and if they do, they can never have contact with any one again.
- My Favorite Fact of the Day – Amish are usually some of the first people on scenes of natural disasters to help. For instance, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, etc… They believe everyone should help everyone else, but they never want to be mentioned or given any glory for this.
- Fun fact – the Amish don’t use bikes. They have scooters that have wheels like bicycles. The reason why, bikes can take their kids pretty far. However, a scooter not so much. It’s to keep the kiddies closer to home. Until, of course, they get their own horse and buggy.
Read more facts about Amish Here
Breakdown of the Amish Village Grounds Tour
Recommendation – When you first arrive, before heading out on to the main grounds, do the short tour of the Amish House. It’s included in your entrance fee and really gives you a good background about these humble people. And the best part, it’s no more than 15 minutes which is a good enough time for even the youngest of kids to get into the tour. My four year was really enjoying it to my sheer surprise. I was resisting it a bit, but he was awesome.
The Amish House and Village- Fun Facts and Photos
The Kitchen – this is the most important room in the house. And during the winter the warmest since they don’t have central heat.
The Amish Bedroom – usually shared by many people. The Amish are known to have anywhere between 5 – 13 kids.
The Amish Wardrobe – they don’t use buttons, nothing shiny and only certain colors.
The One-Room Schoolhouse – this is where all the kids of a certain area, that is walking distance from the house are taught. Their favorite recreation activity is baseball.
Wooden Covered Bridge – Do you know why bridges are covered? Because a wooden bridge that isn’t covered will usually last around 15 years while a covered bridge lasts 100 – 125 years.
Tools – this is what the Amish use for their farming today. I know, they look like they are from 500 years ago.
General Store – this is a replica of what a real Amish store looks like. I love everything in it!
Information for Amish Village and Bus Backroads Tour
Address: 199 Hartman Bridge Road, Ronks, PA 17572
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9am-5pm; Sunday: 10am-5pm
Children 5-12: $5.50
Children 4 & younger: FREE
(access to the entire Amish Village property is included in the cost of the tour).
Bus Backroads Tour
Amish Village Tour: (Includes guided house tour and self guided farm Tour)
Child (5-12) $5.50
Child (0-4) Free
Bus Tour Only: (Includes 90 minute countryside bus tour)
Child (0-12) $13.00
Premium Package Tour: (Includes both guided house, self guided farm tour and 90 min countryside bus tour)
Child (0-12) $16.00