Tag Archives: Ohio’s Amish Country

Scenic Backroads: Ohio’s Amish Country

25 Jul

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It’s true the shortest distance between two points is a straight line;  it is usually the most boring too.  With an overnight trip to Pittsburgh planned, Kris chose a route that would take us through the rolling hills, gorgeous farms and tiny towns of central Ohio; I’m talking about Amish Country. We did a post on the area last summer, it’s so unique and pretty we think it’s worthy of another.Ohio’s Amish country is made up of 8 counties; together they are the worlds largest Amish/Mennonite settlement. The topography of the area is made up of picturesque farmland that carpets  hills and valleys; barns are immaculately kept as are the homes. The roads are a treat for those that love a road that winds around tight corners and hugs wide curves, as the rise and slope challenge your driving skills; precisely the reason Kris enjoys them so much. It seems to be one photo worthy scene after another as you reach the top of a hillside or come around a curve; fields resemble a patchwork quilt of greens and gold; cows and horses appear content within their fences grazing on the land.  All the while you are traversing the roads you have to remain conscious to the fact that you are sharing the road with an entire community of non-motorized travelers. Horse-drawn buggies are the most common means of transportation for local families; bicycles are right up there too; I have great admiration for the thighs that are able to pedal a bike up some of these hills….not to mention women do it wearing a dress! Life is lived at a much slower pace here, you can feel it as soon as you start to explore the area.

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Speaking of exploration, that’s exactly what we do on our visits. We have no specific plan; we just simply drive around turning here or there on any road that looks interesting. I have a wonderful visitors map of the area and our Jeep has a compass, with that and a sense of adventure we are destined to have a great time. We were ready for lunch when we reached BerlinBoyd and Wurthmann, open since 1938, is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Berlin; one of the most popular too. With no open tables we took two seats at the counter; we ordered a salad and a club sandwich then sat back and watched as waitresses cut and served more slices of delicious looking pies than I could count. Waiting gave me the opportunity to study the list of the day’s pies; from Apple Brown Bag and Fresh Peach to Southern Coconut Cream and Raisin, pieces disappear as fast as they can cut them! After polishing off our tasty meal we couldn’t help but indulge in a piece of Peanut Butter Pie…..YUM! We returned to the Jeep, back to the other side of Berlin and further east through Walnut Creek, Winesburg and Wilmot; stopping in here and there to wander through quaint shops. We dropped in at the Wendell August Forge, America’s oldest and largest forge featuring the well-known, hand-wrought metal ware. The elegant giftware and jewelry made from aluminum, bronze, pewter and sterling silver is still handmade in the US! Definitely click on the link and take a look at the magnificent pieces they make. We passed furniture stores, Inns and markets; there are wineries and farm tours, so much to see and do. We made another stop at Heini’s Cheese Chalet, wow! now that’s a lot of cheese. The cheese making tours were over for the day, but you could still get a look at the area and equipment used. This place was packed; samples of each kind are readily available; customers wander about with armloads of cheeses. This is good stuff. 

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North of Charm ( yes, it really is charming) is one of my favorite places; Hershberger’s Bakery and Farm. We start out in the animal petting area where I quickly regress to the age of 10 or so and want to take home a bunny, a duckling or even a goat?  My lifestyle is not conducive to pet ownership, but one look at those cute little faces, a pet on the head, a scratch behind the ears and I’m hooked. We walked from pen to pen, I getting my animal fix and Kris taking photos, until we had visited all the critters. At the bakery next door we joined the crowd staring at the large volume of cookies, cakes, pies and jams; everything looks so good.

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We were staying at the Berlin Hotel & Suites in Millersburg, so we thought we check in and freshen up before dinner. This time of year hotels and Inns fill up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation well in advance. Upon check-in we each received a warm oatmeal raisin cookie; once in our room I slid it out of the wax paper bag and took a bite, mmmm mmmmm good! I find that all baked goods in Amish country are outstanding. After a little R&R it was dinner at Chalet In The Valley located on SR 557 in Millersburg. The restaurant is quaint in its Swiss decor; known for its Swiss cuisine and Amish favorites, it appeals to tourists and locals alike. We thought we’d go with something traditional; Jaeger schnitzel, spaetzle, German potato salad and a side of sauerkraut balls. Each item was delectable, the mushroom sauce on the tender schnitzel was to die for, in addition to the sauerkraut the little deep-fried goodies had shredded pork and came with a side of mustard for dipping. Don’t even get me started on the spaetzle…I am a pastaholic and found these amazing. We finished our meal in the glass enclosed dining room overlooking the countryside. Back in Berlin, which I would say most people consider “town” we happened upon a couple of performers on an outdoor stage. Plastic chairs were set up inviting passerby’s to sit down and enjoy the music. The performance ended at 9pm; a coffee shop remained open kiddy corner from the venue, so we stopped in for an iced coffee fix. Back at the hotel there are wonderful outdoor spaces to enjoy, so we did just that. The back of the hotel has a large patio; two fire pits were burning bright surrounded by groups of chairs. The temperature had dropped into the 60’s so we had a seat fireside while we finished our coffees. Further down the grassy hill is a lovely gazebos; you can sit and listen to the sound of running water as two man- made waterfalls run into a large pond, the set up is made for relaxation. It was getting late and we had a full day ahead; tomorrow we would say goodbye to countryside and hello to the city; Pittsburgh that is.

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Roadtrip; Ohio’s Amish Country

6 Jul

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Our destination for the Fourth of July was Cleveland, but you know what they say; getting there is half the fun! We packed up our  SRT4 and headed south on I-75, it is truly the most boring stretch of road but it’s the quickest way out. We rarely take freeways and if we do, it’s only for a short time. Once outside of Toledo we exit the freeway and make our way to the small town of Galion.

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Kris loves a good country road, through the years he has refined routes to our favorite get-aways, he has perfected the trip to and from Cleveland. Anyone who likes to drive back roads will surely enjoy the ride, Amish Country is by no means “on the way” , but if you’re not in a hurry it makes for a great detour ! Take 97 out of Galion and continue east through Lexington, Bellville, and Butler.This stretch of road takes you through numerous tiny towns and past beautiful farmsteads. Cows of all sizes and colors graze, goats stand on top of their houses as knee-high corn waves in the warm summer breeze, it is all very relaxing.  The roads start to get curvier here and hills are more frequent,  You will come upon the Mohican Memorial State Forest, and it’s a beauty; more than 4,500 acres of white and red pine, gum, aspen, ash, cherry and walnut trees inhabit the land. If you have the time stop and go for a hike, hiking trails wind through the primitive and scenic areas of the forest and park, ending up in places like Pine Run Creek, The Fire Tower and Clearfork Gorge, maps are available. We made a stop at the fire tower and the gorge overlook, time was short, so no hiking today.

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Once in Loudonville follow 39/60 into Amish country. Notice how peaceful it is, the farms are stunning, as you climb the hilly roads fields look more like paintings than the real thing, the lush green of crops in contrast to amber waves of grain. Horses and buggies rule the roads here, bicycles are also a favorite mode of transportation so you must be watchful. Berlin is Amish country’s most popular town, furniture stores dominate the area, there is a nice variety of shops and restaurants too. Speaking of restaurants, we had lunch at a little place called Boyd & Wurthmann, a local favorite since 1938 it is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Berlin. We ordered a BLT on homemade wheat bread and a chef salad when suddenly our eyes were drawn to the most incredible strawberry shortcake ever seen. A chunk of the most amazing shortcake is first placed in a large bowl, followed by generous scoops of sweetened, fresh sliced Amish strawberries, next it’s your choice of ice cream or homemade whipped cream, yes, we definitely were ordering one. The thought of it still brings a smile to my face, the shortcake was like no other, it had the texture of a tres leches cake with maybe a touch of cornmeal in it, not like a biscuit or sponge cake at all. It had air pockets in it that gratefully soaked up the juice from the strawberries, with a generous serving of whipped cream it was summer in a bowl. 

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We walked up and down the main street of Berlin, going in and out of lovely little shops, this is a girlfriends weekend shopping paradise! After sampling cheese, and chocolate we were ready to drive some more. Going south on 557 you will come across Hershberger’s Farm & Bakery; Stop In! If you like animals and or food, this is paradise. There’s a pavilion filled with farm animals and it seemed all just had babies; fenced in areas contain goats of all sizes and colors, baby cows and sheep relax in their pens. Looking for a pet? Puppies and bunnies are waiting to be adopted too. The animals are gentle and eager for attention, they sell ice cream cones filled with food you can feed them. Visit the giant horse, I’ve never seen one so big. The bakery has much to choose from and also sells produce, you can even get a bite to eat here.  There are several Amish towns in this particular area, next we were headed towards Charm, with a name like that what more can I say? Again, lots of agriculture here, Kris could drive for hours on these scenic roads, the view never grows tiresome. Walnut Creek, Winesburg and Wilmot are also nice stops, don’t hesitate to just drive around, each turn in the road brings another picture postcard view. 

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The time passed too quickly, as always, and we still had to make our way to Cleveland. We took 93 north till dusk fell around us then got on 77 to the city. After checking into our Bed and Breakfast, we had dinner at Momocho Mod Mex in Ohio City, just a few blocks from where we were staying. Their specialty is guacamole, and they offer many varieties, the menu is packed with delicious selections, we chose three small plates, empanadas with goat cheese and butternut squash, chilles rellenos that were out of this world, and a queso fundido with chorizo, yum! It was a day filled with breath-taking scenery and delectable food, now it was time to wind down and get some sleep.

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