Touring Amish Country

Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip, clop

Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip, clop down the road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip, clop down the road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s a soothing sound, this steady beat of horse hooves on asphalt. And it’s a sound heard often in Amish Country.

Driving the country roads that zigzag Indiana’s Amish communities, you’ll pass numerous horse-drawn buggies—a visible reminder that life is different here.

You’ll share the roads with Amish buggies and marvel at these quiet people of faith who choose to live a simple, uncluttered lifestyle. Think of it as an opportunity to slow your pace and enjoy the calm of the country.

And that’s one of the best things about Amish Country—taking things slowly.

Time seems to travel backwards, asphalt changes to dirt with scenes becoming more 1800s than 21st century.

Young girls wearing bonnets and homemade cotton dresses maneuver horse and buggies and horse-pulled lorries loaded with colorful fall produce.

Amish arts and crafts in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Amish arts and crafts in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Green squares of lawn with unadorned white farmhouses advertise fresh eggs, honey, and chickens and if the timing is just right, bake sales of just out-of-the-oven breads and fruit pies made by Amish women.

Rows of black pants and pastel-colored dresses flap from the clotheslines in the autumn breeze.

It is 19th century farm life in an area of Northern Indiana called Amish Country.

Each of the communities in Amish Country—Nappanee, Shipshewana, Goshen, Middlebury, and Wakarusa—has its own distinct personality and unmistakable charm.

Amish Country is famous for its wide variety of skilled artisans. In fact, the area has gained a reputation as one of the finest places to shop in the Midwest. Furniture crafting is one of the most widely acclaimed arts in Amish Country.

Hundreds of farmhouses dot the countryside and many of them have signs outside, indicating that you are free to stop there and purchase what it is they may be selling.

You’ll pass houses and cottage industries selling quilts and quilting frames, popcorn, peanut brittle, plants, crafts, oak furniture, baked goods, jam, relish, strawberries, kitchen cabinets, nuts, egg noodles, honey, rabbits, antiques, and brown eggs.

One of the first things you think of when someone says Amish Country is food. Throughout Amish Country, you’ll find bakeries and restaurants that not only serve this wonderful food but also offer items for sale.

Why, you can almost smell the aroma of one-of-a-kind caramel cinnamon doughnuts at Rise ‘n Roll Bakery and Deli. There are sample boxes throughout the store, so you can try the doughnuts, chocolate cookies, caramel rolls, spreads, and just about everything else!

Another specialty food shop that’s particularly tasty is Guggisberg Deutsch Kase Haus, the Cheese House. Located between Middlebury and Shipshewana on County Road 16, this shop offers homemade cheeses, including Colby, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, and Pepper Jack. In the mornings you can watch as the cheese is made.

Amish fabric store © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Amish fabric store © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quilting is another craft associated with Amish Country—and rightly so. Beautiful quilt shops can be found throughout the area as skilled quilters patiently create hand-sewn quilts destined to become heirlooms.

Heritage Trail

Driving Amish Country’s 90-mile Heritage Trail takes you on a winding loop along rural highways, down quiet country lanes, through friendly cities and small-town Main Streets.

The Heritage Trail will take you through the towns of Goshen, Elkhart, Bristol, Middlebury, Wakarusa, and Nappanee. You’ll wind through the heart of the Amish communities, passing fast-trotting horses pulling black buggies and Amish children riding bicycles home from school. If you’re wondering which farms and homes are Amish-owned, just look to see whether there are electrical lines running to the farmstead.

A free audio tour DC packed with fun facts leads you to can’t-miss attractions and local gems like Shipshewana’s Davis Mercantile, Elkhart’s historic Lerner Theatre, or tasty finds like the jumbo jelly beans at the Wakarusa dime Store.

Free DCs and maps at the LaGrange County Visitor Center, the Elkhart County Visitor Center, or download both at AmishCountry.org

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

A wooden spoon compels even the strangest of ingredients to get their acts together.
—Amish Proverb

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