Just a three hour ride from New York City you'll find a place where time seems to slow down and highways give way to cornfields, dairy farms and cozy towns with friendly people. Cows, horses, goats and other farm animals dot the landscape. You have only been away from the city for a few hours but already feel the stress melt away. You're hungry and decide to stop for a bite only to be tempted by local specialties like shoofly pie, Dutch apple dumplings, soft pretzels, smoked cheeses and cured meats. As you savor a snack you notice a horse and carriage on the road. Where are you? None other than in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Located in Lancaster County (in the southeastern tip of the state), Pennsylvania Dutch country is home to a large Amish community known for its simple lifestyle which they've maintained since their arrival 300 years ago. Amish country offers visitors a unique and exquisite opportunity to enjoy a relaxing getaway in the countryside - whether it's for a day or a weekend. Even if you are only in town for a day you'll get to experience what life is like in an Amish village while enjoying many local food specialties.
Take a walking tour of this charming town to soak in it's 200-year plus history. The tour includes a stop at the town's Central Market where you'll be able to buy fresh produce from nearby farms. While in the area, be sure to swing by the Lancaster Brewing Company, a historic microbrewery that serves over 10 award-winning beers. If you are interested in a tour of the facilities, you'll have to reserve your spot. Try their Boss Hog Double IPA.
A town with a name so provocative can only mean trouble, right? Not at all! Intercourse has a reputation for being a foodie town so be sure to stop by Kitchen Kettle Village, a conglomerate of 39 cafes and shops where you can sample local specialties. Visit the Jam & Relish Kitchen where you can watch Amish and Mennonite women produce over 5,000 jars, relishes and sauces. You can also swing by the Intercourse Pretzel Factory and to try making your very own German-style pretzel. A complimentary tour of the facilities is also available so be sure to ask staff about the tour schedule.
Covered Bridges, Ice Cream, Wine and Shoofly Pie
Lancaster county is also home to dozens of historic covered bridges. Plan a day trip to that includes Lancaster, Bird-in-Hand, and Lititz and you may spot a few covered bridges along the way. Here's a helpful list of the covered bridges in the area to help you plan your itinerary.
Since Lancaster is dairy land enjoying local ice cream is a must. Be sure to cool down with a hand-dipped ice cream during a pit stop and ask locals where to get your hands on shoofly pie (a sticky sweet molasses pie). Other sweet treats to be on the look out for include whoopee pies, sticky buns and homemade fudge. Wine lovers will be surprised to learn that Pennsylvania Dutch Country also has a handful of charming wineries. You shouldn't miss a chance to visit award-winning Twin Brook Winery and Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate, which hosts outdoor concerts all summer long.
Hungry for a visit to Amish country? If you do plan a trip to the Lancaster area do keep in mind that many business are closed on Sunday.