The Amish Experience
In 1955, a musical called "Plain and Fancy" opened on Broadway....
In the story, a New York couple came to Bird-in-Hand, got lost, and had a fascinating encounter with the Amish. Not much has changed since then. The folks behind the Amish Experience and Plain & Fancy Farm designed a central, interpretive visitor attraction to meet the needs of the serious traveler, the family with kids, busy shoppers, and hungry visitors in search of local food. Just park your car and design your own "Amish Experience."
Eat Yourself Full!
Not long after the musical, the Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant opened as the first family-style restaurant in the county, and the original dining room is still surrounded by Amish farms. The all-you-can-eat menu is the best way to sample the unique foods of the area, like chicken pot pie, dried corn, chow chow, shoo fly pie, and our favorite, their fantastic apple dumplings. Oh, we forgot to mention the chicken, beef, sausage, real mashed potatoes, assorted relishes and vegetables…and ice cream. This is the dining experience that has helped make Lancaster County famous.
The Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant serves lunch and dinner continuously beginning around noon each day. The restaurant is open 7 days a week. For hours of operations or reservations call 717-768-4400.
Amish House Unravels Riddles
Amish people do not want visitors walking through their homes all day…nor would you! So the best way to see the inside of a house is on a tour. At the Amish Country Homestead, the staff is committed to interpreting the changing Amish lifestyle. Rather than a museum, it has the feel of a real "lived-in" house as guides take visitors on a fascinating 45-minute tour. Discover how church is held in the home and see how Mom does her laundry (with a gasoline engine!) Upstairs, learn about Amish dress while the kids enjoy the marble rollers.
Trying to interpret Amish life respectfully and accurately is no easy task. The Amish Country Homestead has been recognized as the only Amish house open for touring that has been designated a Heritage Site by Lancaster County. Thought the Amish don’t have mirrors? They do. You were told Amish dolls can’t have faces? Wrong. Wonder what the problem is with electricity? Get the answer.
The Amish Country Homestead guided tours depart at different times depending on the season. Call 717-768-3600, Ext. 210 for current information. Tours are offered 7 days a week. Tickets are sold at the Amish Experience Theater box office.
One Horse Power
Many visitors wonder what it is like to ride in an Amish buggy as the Amish do. Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides at Plain & Fancy provide guests with the opportunity to experience a form of travel that has virtually disappeared elsewhere. Children will enjoy the fun of a big clip-clopping horse and adults can relax as they chat with their driver. Stop by Aaron & Jessica’s and let them "drive you buggy!"
Aaron & Jessica's Buggy Rides are offered Monday through Saturday from approximately 8:30am until dusk. Tel. 717-768-8828.
In 1995, a new concept in interpreting Amish life debuted when the Amish Experience F/X Theater became only the third "experiential" theater to open in North America. The goal of this project was to give a more personal, intimate view of the Amish. Rather than a somber documentary, the story looks at an Amish family and their son’s decision on whether to remain in the Amish faith.
An important "missing link" in telling the Amish story is the persecution of the Anabaptists in Europe and the perilous journey to America. Special effects, including an amazing technology known as "Pepper’s Ghost," are used to bring the story to life with theatrical smoke and fire effects and a wrap-around 3-D barnyard setting.
A superb blending of entertainment and education, this touching and exciting production moves some people to tears and children to exclaim, "Wow!" The show can only be seen in this specially designed theater, so don’t miss it when you are in the area.
The Amish Experience Theater shows run 7 days a week, with shows every hour on the hour. The show lasts about 40 minutes. For hours of operation call the Amish Experience Theater at 717-768-3600, Ext. 210.
What You Came to See!
Visitors who simply drive around looking at Amish farms rarely come away with much insight into the culture. Amish Country Tours provides certified guides to take visitors down the backroads, with scenery as beautiful now as it was 30 years ago. Guides also provide fascinating information on one-room schools, farming practices, "cottage industries," wedding customs, and more.
But you are not just sitting on the bus the entire time. Countryside stops may include a local bakeshop, roadside stand, and a craft shop or quilt shop on an Amish farm. There’s even an entertaining tasting of Lancaster County wines. Having a guide is recommended over tape tours, which are often outdated and can never answer questions about special activities you may see.
The two-hour Amish Farmlands Tours depart in season Mon.-Sat. at 10:30am and 1:45pm, Sun. at 11:30am only. An all-day Philadelphia Tour departs Wed. at 8:30am from June through October. The Amish Visit-in-Person Tour, running evenings at 5:00pm mid-June through October, is the only designated Heritage Tour in the county. To take advantage of additional savings, there is a Combo and SuperSaver package. Reservations or early arrival at the ticket office are recommended. All tours depart from the Amish Experience Theater at Plain & Fancy Farm. Call 717-768-3600, Ext. 210 for current information or to make reservations on Amish Country Tours.
At the Amish Experience, you’ll find something for every budget, every age, and every taste. It’s obvious why people have been going there for over 50 years to discover and enjoy the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
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