I grew up in Fredericksburg, Ohio.
Fredericksburg is a one-light town, and that light is of the blinking variety. It practically sits on the county line between Wayne County, and its more famous neighbor, Holmes County.
For those who have never lived in Ohio or its surrounding states, Holmes County Ohio is known as Amish country. Growing up there, and coming from an Amish heritage, I have to admit that I did not understand what brought tourists flocking in every weekend. For many locals, me included, buggies on the roads and swarms of cars with out of county, or even out of state plates were nothing but a nuisance.
After living away for several years, the attraction to Amish country became more clear. It is a beautiful area with rolling hills, fields of corn, and livestock in the pastures. I understand the lure of learning about a simpler style of living and, of course, there is always the food. Amish cooking is something I've always appreciated. It is simple but delicious. And as far as vacations go, Amish country is a relatively frugal choice.
Over the years I have taken friends to Holmes County to see the sights. When I do these are the places I am sure to take them.
This is the center of tourism in Holmes County. It is a very small town, mostly comprised of tourist shops. It is crowded. There are traffic jams. Many of the stores sell "Made in China" items.
With that said there are some very worthwhile places to visit in and around Berlin. If you just can't stand the crowds, don't go on the weekend. Avoid driving through Berlin. Traffic is literally lined up there on the weekends. Get a good map and navigate around the town.
Behalt. Just outside of Berlin, this is a museum about Amish and Mennonite history. I had never gone there until I took some friends. It was worth the visit.
Heini’s Cheese House. Also just outside of Berlin, Heini’s is my absolute favorite place in Holmes County. If you are there at the right time you can watch how they make the cheese. If you miss the live version, there is a video presentation that is almost as enjoyable. The staff is more than happy to answer your questions.
But the real highlight of Heini’s is sampling the cheese. They must make 50 different kinds of cheese, and you can sample them all. It is a lot of fun to try the more unusual kinds, not to mention a great snack. Be sure to take some good Amish Swiss cheese home with you. You'll want it for the "Trail Bologna."
Zinc's Fabric. Right in Berlin this may not appeal to all, but I will throw it in there for those who sew or craft. Zinc's has a huge selection of very affordable fabric. It is worth a stop to stock up.
Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen. By far my favorite Amish restaurant in the area. The food is great and the restaurant draws more of a local crowd than some of the better known restaurants in the area. No website, but you can't miss it if you go to Mt. Hope.
Mt. Hope Auction. Auctions are a great place to pick up trinkets and produce, not to mention the people watching that can be done there. This sale is best known for produce. At one time this was a one day a week sale, but the information on the website says the sale is open every weekday except Wednesday. There are other sales and swap meets on weekends too. Check the schedule on their site.
Troyers Trail Bologna. Oh this is good stuff. Not your average bologna. It isn’t exactly health food, but it sure is delicious. You'll want to eat it with Swiss cheese and crackers. No website, so here are the phone numbers 330-893-2414 or 877-893-2414.
(Alright for those in the know, this is actually in Wayne County, but it should be included in a Holmes county visit!)
Lehmans Hardware. The website says there is a second location in Mt. Hope. I have not visited that one, so I will recommend the Kidron location. This hardware is huge and has a varied assortment of non-electrical items. It is a great place for household and garden tools and gadgets.
Kidron Auction. This is a livestock auction, but even if you aren't planning to take a cow back home with you, it is worth a visit. It is off the beaten tourist path, and a great place to observe and interact with people. Bad news, this only happens on Thursdays.
Inn at Honey Run. The Inn is very unique in Holmes County for the simple fact that it is not an Amish attraction. The setting is beautiful, the staff friendly, and the food delicious. Check out the rooms in the Honeycombs for a romantic get away, or rent a cabin for the whole family.
The Grocery Bag. Located just north of the square, at 189 N. Clay St. This is a completely unremarkable convenience store, save one feature, the ice cream. As a kid, my family often took Sunday drives to The Grocery Bag just for an ice cream cone. The ice cream is hand dipped, the cones are huge, and the price is unbelievably low.
Rails to Trails. Throughout the county an old rail track has been converted to a walking/riding road. The twist to this one is there is a buggy lane on it. A great place to burn off some of that Amish food you enjoyed at Yoder's and to observe the scenery and the people.
Country Roads. The best way to see the real life of the Amish is to stay away from the tourist areas. Get a good map and take a scenic drive. The country side is beautiful, and you never know what treasures you may find in the way of furniture, produce, baskets, bulk food, baked goods, greenhouses, or other shops in Amish homes.
Buggy Rides and Farms. Taking a buggy ride or touring a farm and home is a very memorable experience. There are places that offer these services. I can't vouch for them, as I take my friends for buggy rides and tours at my Uncle Roy's house. Somehow I doubt he'd appreciate me sending his address out over the internet.
I do however have another uncle who earns a little extra cash setting up his horse and buggy along the road between Berlin and Walnut Creek. If you stop for a ride on Uncle John's buggy, tell him that Paul's Stephanie sent you.
If you'd like to write about the activities in your area you can see the details at Your Chance to Play Tour Guide.
Congratulations to Vickie from Mobile, Alabama for winning this weekend's giveaway of a pirate baking set from Kids Central Kitchen. Ahoy me hearties.
Sponsored by Little Window Shoppe--One of my favorite places for products and style and by Pak Naks--Decorate your stuff with these adorable rubber charms.
Technorati tags: travel, activities, children, Ohio