Antiquing and Amish country seem to go hand in hand. Add in the quiet ambiance of the rolling countryside in the fall with leaves changing to vibrant colors of red and orange, the scent of drying corn stalks and the hypnotic rhythm of horses and buggies meandering along the roadway and the moment becomes a perfect Saturday.
As I stroll through the antique shops and vendors in Millersburg and Berlin hoping to find something nostalgic from my childhood, I feel the urge to drive the backroads between sprawling Amish farms with no agenda on tap and no specific destination. It is the best way to enjoy fall in Ohio’s Amish country. While the Amish populated counties of Holmes, Wayne, Stark, Tuscarawas, Geauga, Ashtabula and Trumbull offer stunning scenery throughout the year, the fall transformation brings something special.
Roadside farm markets are in almost every direction. I stop at one to buy acorn squash that I cannot wait to bake with melted butter and brown sugar. An Amish woman appears from the back barn as I make my selection among the many gourds and decorative Indian corn piled high on a wooden cart.
“Where do I pay,” I ask the elderly woman.
“It is the honor system,” she says. “You can place your money in the envelope near the front of the market.”
As I put my cash into the money envelope I am reminded of the reason that Amish country is so special – it is a retreat from technology, credit cards and mistrust. It is a pure and simplified way of life that I get to experience when I come here.
Beyond the farm markets, it is easy to stumble on fall festivals nearly every weekend and autumn traditions like apple-picking and homemade apple pie. Plan a stop at Yoder’s Amish Home where the end of harvest season on the farm means fresh cider, apple butter stirring and pie baking. If you have never experienced a fry pie in Amish Country it is a rite of passage and they can be found at almost any restaurant or roadside bakery.
Millersburg Brewing serves fall-inspired seasonal brews like Pope’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale made with 10-pounds of pumpkin per barrel and most local eateries serve up seasonal soup and baked goods.
If you want a more active way to enjoy Amish Country in the fall you can walk, run or bike along the Holmes County Trail or take an afternoon horseback ride through the countryside at the Guggisberg Swiss Inn.
My stops along the back roads take me beneath tree canopies with falling leaves as if I am in some kind of farm-life painting. I twist and turn on winding state routes passing farmhouses with laundry drying on the line, Amish men working in the fields and Amish women doing chores. Occasionally I pass a collection of young Amish and Mennonite children along the side of the road selling handmade baskets of varying sizes and fresh jam made from berries on their farm.
To make a fall weekend out of your visit plan to stay at one of the many quaint inns and B&Bs. You will experience the brilliant stars surrounded by a black sky away from the city lights at night and enjoy a tranquil night’s sleep.
For more on Amish Country, Find It Here at Ohio.org.