My husband and I have always loved visiting Ohio’s beautiful Amish country. The pastoral scenery, delicious local cheese and sweet fry pies are all big draws for us. Being a huge animal lover, though, I’d have to say my favorite part of Amish country is seeing all the horses, cows, sheep and other animals. Better yet, there are many opportunities to get hands-on with furry critters, which is especially a plus if you have kids (or are an adult kid yourself). Here are a few of our favorites:
Located just minutes from Charm and about 1.5 hours from Columbus (just off 62 north), the family-owned Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery offers a full line of baked goods, fresh produce in season, and much more. The farm animal petting area is completely free and so much fun, with baby animals galore. There are pony rides for small kids, draft horse rides for bigger kids, and you can see an equine celebrity--Big Ben, billed as Holmes County’s biggest Belgian horse, weighing in at 3,000 lbs! You can also take buggy rides around the farm for $5 per person. Be sure to visit Amish country on a Saturday or weekday, as almost all establishments are closed on Sundays (and most holidays, too).
Rolling Ridge Ranch
Not far north from Hershberger’s is the unique and unforgettable Rolling Ridge Ranch, an Amish farm turned animal park. Rolling Ridge Ranch features over 500 animals and birds, including species from around the world. Board a guided horse-drawn wagon to safari through natural woods and gently sloping pasture land, stopping to feed the animals all along the way. Beware the bucket stealers – giant gazelles who excel at taking the feed bucket right out of your unsuspecting hands! Be sure to bring your camera, as you will be up close to the animals and birds and can get some wonderful shots. Once your carriage tour is over, a large petting area awaits, where you can pet and feed many different types of animals.
By this point in our Amish adventures, we’ve usually worked up quite an appetite ourselves. Our favorite place to buy Amish food and treats is Miller’s Bakery, a hidden gem about two miles from Charm and very close to Hershberger’s Farm. Miller’s isn’t easy to find–it’s an authentic Amish bakery, not a tourist spot–but it’s well worth the effort to get there. We’ve simply never tasted fresher, more delicious baked goods. Get there early for the best selection, and be sure to try their heavenly cheese tarts–they are amazing.
To find Miller’s, take 62 north/east and turn right onto 557 south. Pass Hershberger’s Farm and continue (slowly–this is a narrow, winding road and there’s likely to be Amish buggy traffic) for 1.2 miles. After a sharp turn to the left and a sharp turn to the right, watch for a small, plain sign for the bakery and turn right up a hill onto Township Road 356. Miller’s Bakery will be on your left toward the top of the steep hill. Enjoy!
So, what are your favorite places to visit in Ohio’s Amish country?