Summer travel

amish old faithful yellowstoneThar she blows!  A nice photo of what looks like Lancaster folks* at the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone park.  I’m pretty sure these guys are on vacation and not scouting settlement locations.  Amish do take vacations, some more extravagant than others.

Summer is upon us which means road trips.  Though with gas up and the economy down maybe less than usual.

This summer I will be making two, possibly three trips to Amish communities.  The first is scheduled for August and will take in Holmes County and also (85-90% certain) Indiana including the Adams County Amish and the Elkhart-Lagrange community.  That’s for research and visiting friends and probably also fattening up.

My second will be late September to Lancaster County for about 10 days, in part for the forgiveness conference at Elizabethtown College.  From what I read in the comments on that last post I might even be seeing some fellow Amish Americans (Amish Canadians too?) at that event.

Also, will spend a week at the beach in South Carolina.  It’s an annual family thing.  While there I visit old friends in Savannah, Georgia.  No Amish in SC or GA (though Georgia once had a community).

(In case you’re wondering I’ll be doing a good bit of work in the midst of all this running around–including on a new book–so it won’t be all fun and games!)

How about you?  Any interesting trips on tap, Amish or otherwise?

*Brock has brought to my attention what looks like a single suspender on Big Boy (single suspenders are seen for instance in Big Valley among Renno Amish).  However Little Boy has what looks like doubles.  Brock notes that little boys actually do wear Y-style double suspenders in these communities.  So, not Lancaster after all.  Trying to stay on top of Amish clothing variations is fun.

Photo: Richie Diesterheft

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    1. kristin jager

      Amish on Vacation

      Hi Erik,
      As always, I enjoy reading your posts about the Amish. I had heard more and more Amish Families take vacations. I would think they would be more interested in seeing the sights , like Yellowstone Park than going to places for entertainment reasons…like Disney. Last year while vacationing in NH we did spot a group of Amish ladies at Clark’s trading post. They were enjoying the bear show with the rest of us. Maybe we will see more and more Amish vacationing as it is becoming more difficult for the average American to afford to do so with the gas prices the way they are and the cost of living at it’s highest.
      Hope it is not as hot in Poland as it is here. Look foward to reading your future posts. Blessings, Kristin

      1. Amish vacation spots

        Amish do tend to favor these natural attractions; Washington DC and other historic sites are of interest too. Hunting is big for some; as you’d expect it’s more a male thing, though families and women may go along for the trip itself though not necessarily hunt. To be honest I’ve never heard of an Amish woman hunting though I wouldn’t say it’s never happened 🙂 I go into a little more depth on Amish vacations at the Amish vacation link at the top.

        It is scorching right now in Poland but that is a relative term 🙂 The weather changes so much, one day I am sportin a sweater and umbrella and the next pouring down sweat. I kind of like changeable weather though, keeps it interesting.

        1. Dana

          My cousins from Germany say the weather is really crazy this year.
          Przyjemnego pobytu w Polsce

          1. Thanks Dana, you are right. A thunderstorm just rolled in after a scorching day. Never used to be so humid, at least from what I recall. Will probably be putting my jacket on again soon!

    2. Mary Brandenburg

      Heading Out To Ohio

      Hi Erik, what a timely post. We are leaving tomorrow (Wednesday) morning bright and early for Mt. Hope, Ohio, to visit with our OO friends down there (we are in Michigan). It’s the weekend of the annual Rainbow of Hope Auction. The ROHA manages to earn in excess of $300,000 every year and every penny of it goes to help families from the Holmes County area that have mountainous medical bills. It’s a pretty incredible weekend in the Amish community. We’ll also be taking in the Doughty Valley Steam Show down by Charm, Ohio, not to mention just general running around and eating lots of good food! This time I am taking Amtrak train schedules and vacation brochures. The 9 of us are going to be looking at doing a combined travel vacation by rail next year. Take care, stay cool and may you have safe travels next week!

      1. Mary have a fantastic trip. What a great event. And rail next year would be a unique way to do it–definitely more “Amish” in its own way!

    3. Lowell

      Amish on vacation

      While a number of the Amish from the Kalona area will take vacations usually on the train or hire a driver and many of them will go to places like the Ortman Clinic in South Dakota
      or the radon mines in Montana under the guise of health care. I always suspected that the health trips were an acceptable way to get away and see the world

    4. Alice Aber

      No vacations for me this year :-(


      No vacations for me this year, I have to move across town. 🙁 But then again I have not had a real vacation in a long, long time. On the bright side I do not have to move my computer to the new location until August 9th so that gives me a little more time on here, LOL.

      Blessings, Alice

    5. Al in Ky.

      Later this summer, I’ll take Amtrak from Indianapolis to St. Paul,
      Minn., for my annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair. I always
      see a number of Amish traveling by Amtrak,also. On my way back
      to Ky. from Indy by car, I’ll take a side trip to Daviess and
      Orange Counties, Ind., to visit with some Amish friends and go to
      the Daviess County Produce Auction.

      1. Karen Pollard

        beach vacations

        I was curious if the conservatie Amish/Mennonite folks wre allowed to swim or wear some type of swimsuit. I have seen extremely conservative swimsuits that are made to fit people advertised.
        I asked Sherry Gore once about bathing suits and she told me you would see everything there in Pinecraft, but I was really wondering about a more specific answer. If bathing suits are worn, what do they look like? Are they purchased just from the rack like everyone else or do they make or have them made in a more conservative fashion.

        My second question is for you Erik. Do you speak Polish or teach in the Polish language and what do you teach and to what grade level?
        I’m a retired teacher and love to hear teaching stories.

        1. Hi Karen, I do speak Polish (have learned it over the past 10 years) but I teach English as a second language. I teach primarily university level and young working adults. I enjoy it and it does get me out of the house and away from the computer part of the time.

          On bathing suits, some Amish men will wear trunks. Others will go in the water fully clothed.

          1. Kurt

            I took a few pictures of youngish Amish ladies on Siesta Key in English bathing suits. Heads were covered, but buns weren’t entirely. I won’t post them.

    6. Richard

      Im truly home now..........

      Since moving up from Florida and living now in the Lancaster area i pretty much live where i used to vacation to, so I’m just re-exploring the northeast after being away from it for so many years. But in truth one day id love to go to Colorado or Utah for a start, and then explore the Canadian wilderness and its own Amish/Mennonite communities. I wouldn’t be gone too long because i know i would be getting home- sick because there’s no place like home, And this truly feels like home now. Richard from

    7. Lattice

      Do they need permission from a bishop to vacation?

      1. Do Amish need permission to go on vacation?

        Lattice, good question, no Amish do not need permission from the bishop, but what is seen as acceptable in a given community varies.

        In your more progressive and business-oriented communities (Lancaster County, Holmes County Old and New Order, Arthur Illinois, etc) you see more of the Old Faithful type of vacation, what we English would consider a typical family trip.

        For more conservative Amish, a vacation might mean traveling by bus or rail to visit family or go to a wedding or funeral in another state (more progressive Amish will take these types of trips to of course, though more often would hire a driver and van). Or as Lowell adeptly notes above, “health tourism” is another justifiable way to hit the road.

        “Pleasure” vacations may be seen as wasteful in some circles, so it helps if you have a justification–family, doctor, etc.

    8. Tom

      Already went

      I have already took my trip. I too, went to South Carolina. I went to the Isle of Palms and explored Charleston.

    9. Travel

      Five years ago, my husband and I took an old 20′ travel trailer across Canada and back. I think it was the only extended vacation we have ever had, and the only time we traveled together for pleasure. I’m glad we did that when we did, as Nicholas isn’t able to travel anymore. Travelling “Plain” is different. People outside the traditional Plain communities do stare.We were mindful that we look Amish-Mennonite, and since our interests and tastes are rural, we had no problem with skipping the casinos and nightlife! We so enjoyed the scenic parts of the trip, and the experience of going to Vancouver Island. The funny part of that trip is that when we stayed on a first nations reserve, people there thought my husband, who has long silver hair, should be applying for aboriginal status! We figured that people thought he was native, married to a Mennonite. The conference in Elizabethtown sounds interesting, would love to attend.

    10. Conference

      Erik, can you post or send me the information on that conference? Is it free? Now I sound like a beggar. 🙁
      Oh, by the way, speaking of freebies, dont forget that Unser Leit book givaway. 🙂 🙂
      I saw Leroy the other day and he told me that he has a couple sets that have a very slight water damage on the outer jacket for $60. So I may break down one of these days and buy one. I sure would hate to buy one then you offer a giveaway. 🙂

      1. Unser Leit, E-town forgiveness conference

        And I wouldn’t blame you Mike 🙂

        I haven’t heard anything on Unser Leit. I believe someone passed word along to Leroy but I haven’t had a chance to be in touch with him. If Leroy would like to do a promo interview and/or give away a copy here, let this be an official invitation. We’d love to have him on here. If anyone sees him, feel free to pass it on.

        On the conference, here’s the official info from E-town:

        There is a conference that is paid attendance and also a free public evening program.

    11. Diane Paulson

      What's with the dress?

      Any explanation on how strangely the tall, young Amish girl in the Yellowstone photo is dressed? Could it be some kind of rumspringa thing?

    12. Daine: She has her jacket tied around her waist. Her little sister is wearing the same style jacket. Teenagers everywhere do that.

    13. Thanks Erik. Sounds interesting, with Robert’s mother being involved.
      On Unser Leit, I was thinking that you would maybe shell out the dough and offer a free book. You know that it makes for jumps in the web stats when you offer free stuff. 🙂 WRite if off as site advertisement. When you are in Holmes County, look Leroy up. He lives by Kline Lumber just off 39 east of Berlin. He lives by the little Ohio Amish Library that may be of interest to you. It is not advertised, but if you stop in at Kline Lumber they will give you the key and you can go in and study and read. Leroy lives upstairs or next door to that library. Mike

      1. Mike, I will keep it in mind 🙂 But I’m going to have to afford my own copy first! Thanks for the directions to Leroy, I might need to say hello this summer.

    14. Debbie Welsh

      Having learned so much from this sight, it makes sense now when we remember seeing some Amish at a nature park in Sarasota, FL., a few years ago. We also saw some on the beach ( fully clothed ) in Cape May, New Jersey.

      We took a drive down to Dover, DE, again last week and drove around the Amish farms where we came upon a little roadside stand that was selling their homegrown vegetables ( green & yellow squash 4 for $1.00; big beautiful purple onions 25 cents; red & green peppers 25 cents, etc. ), as well as some delicious homebaked cakes and cookies. It was manned by a very tall young man, probably 18-20, that was just starting to grow a beard , and we just assumed he was covering for someone else as we couldn’t imagine a big strapping lad like that sitting at a little stand all day! Then we stopped at Shady Lane Selections ( 1121 Victory Chapel Road ) which is a two level Amish variety store that sells all kinds of neat things. And then we went to Byler’s Country Store which is a combination grocery store/gift shop/furniture & appliances ( Amish style ). They also have an outlet grocery section ( sort of like a bent & dent ) with some really great bargains. But what we like the most is their famous, delicious ice cream, which, get this, is only $1.00 for a big single scoop cone, or $2.00 for a huge double! Everyone, and I mean everyone including the Amish, walks around the store or leaves it with an ice cream! My husband & I like to do our shopping, take it out to the car, go back in for our ice cream cone, then join all of the other’s sitting out front on the porch of the store ( where they have all of the deck & outdoor furniture for sale ) and watch the Amish coming and going and pulling in with their horse and buggies.

      We’re not planning any big vacations this year, just another jaunt to Lancaster in September where we plan to attend the Gordonville Fire Co. Auction, on Old Leacock Road, on Sept. 24th. This will be attended by many Amish along with the sale of their quilts and their food. Also that day is the Kinzers Fire House Pig Roast Dinner, 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm, $13.00 for adults for fresh pork, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, rolls, applesauce, cake, & ice cream. This is located on Lincoln Highway ( Rt. 30 ) in Kinzers, and also attended by some Amish and Mennonites.

      BTW, the weekend before, on Saturday, Sept. 17th, is the big Benefit Auction for The Clinic for Children with Special Needs, at the Leola Produce Auction on Rt. 23 in Leola. Unfortunately my husband & I can’t make it that weekend, but this is the big one amongst the Amish as it helps all of their children who are born with genetic diseases. So if you can, please attend and help support this very worthy cause, and have alot of fun and great food while you’re at it!

      1. Debbie thanks for all the details and super info on these places and events. I’m sure it will be useful for some people. And if you’re going to spend money what better place than a benefit auction. The Special Children Auction is a moving event.

    15. Richard

      The hot and dry conditions we are all having.....

      We are having extremely dry and hot conditions in the Lancaster/Lebanon area the last week with grass dying with no relief in the near future. Even the Amish seem fewer on the roads with all this heat so maybe they are doing that for the horses as well as for themselves. I remember all too well the fires that we had when i lived in Florida, so I’m hoping there is no repeat of that up here. Richard

    16. JP59

      Thanks for the explanation about single suspenders. I’d never even heard of single suspenders until I started reading about the Amish. It looks awfully uncomfortable to me. Are double suspenders considered overly showy by some affiliations?

    17. Alice Mary

      Amish Libraries?

      Mike piqued my interest by mentioning that “little Ohio Amish Library.” Are there other Amish libraries anyone has visited, or has photos of (outside or inside)? Working in a library for decades, and being a book lover as long as I can remember, I “gravitate” toward libraries & bookstores (I’ve ordered several titles from Raber’s), and would LOVE to see/hear about them. (Living above or behind or next to a library sounds like a dream come true!)

      Is it common for Amish communities to have libraries anywhere other than in their own (private) homes? I mean, I know they have their own schools, so I just wonder…

      My “vacation” (as usual) will have to be through everyone else’s travels, photos, stories, which I eagerly await!

      Oh, Erik. I neglected to tell you I saw your name mentioned (you were quoted) in an article about the Amish (their “work” ethic, I think)in the Chicago Tribune earlier this summer. What a pleasant surprise! (Any hints of the subject matter of your “book in progress”?)

      Hope things cool off in Poland (here in my part of Illinois, it’s 96 degrees, with heat index over 100—and hotter tomorrow!) Keep hydrated, everyone!

      Alice Mary

      1. Amish libraries

        Alice Mary: Here in Lancaster County there is the Lancaster County Historical Society and the Muddy Creek Farm Library. These are both geared toward history and genealogy of the Amish/Mennonite community. They are both open to the public. In the same building as the Muddy Creek Library there is the Home Messenger Library and Bookstore, which is operated by the Weaverland Conference, commonly known as the “Horning” Mennonites, or “the black-bumper Mennonites.” It is a combination bookstore/lending library, with the lending part geared somewhat toward children/youth, to provide good, sound reading materials to the community. Most of the books would come from Amish/Mennonite publishers.
        In Goshen, Indiana is the largest collection of Anabaptist materials in North America, I believe. I have never been there, but I think they would have quite an archive of old materials. In Alymer, Ontario I understand there is some sort of Amish library. And then the one I mentioned in Holmes County. They do not advertise it, I think because they dont want a busload of tourists dropping in to see an “Amish Library.” 🙂 Not that they dont want any visitors, but it is aimed for the Amish community, to provide mostly historical and genealogy for their own people. I think they would gladly welcome anyone with a genuine interest, they just dont really want busloads of curiosity seekers coming through.
        Muddy Creek Library does have the little museum, which would welcome visitors. It is not big, one large room.

        1. Alice Mary

          Thanks for library info!

          Thank you for the Amish library info. I also love genealogy, museums…just about any kind of “historical” place or event. I hope to visit some of the places you mentioned, as they sound fascinating to me (and I’m sure they’re MUCH quieter than the public library where I work…what a din! And we’re strongly discouraged from “shushing” people these days…to my chagrin, and that of many other patrons who “remember” libraries as “quiet” places!)

          I certainly understand their reluctance to “advertise”…busloads of tourists can be hard to deal with anywhere!

          Alice Mary

      2. My new book

        Alice Mary, nice to hear you caught that piece in the Tribune, that was the one on Amish money practices I believe. I’ve been meaning to mention it but there has always been something else to post about 🙂

        I can give a hint about the upcoming book: it is about the lesser-known sides of Amish life. Some very interesting facts and info about Amish culture and customs. I have really enjoyed researching it, and I think it’s going to be a fun and light but info-packed read. A lot of things people might not realize about Amish. I have actually learned a good bit myself.

        I keep saying I’ll have a more formal announcement and teaser soon. It’s getting close…;)

        1. Alice Mary

          Such a tease!

          Erik, your new book sounds VERY intriguing, and I’m sure it’ll be a great read! I’m sure looking forward to it! “Strange but true” always interests me!

          I’ll be looking for it…and more teasers!

          Alice Mary

    18. Nice photo. Nothing going on here for us other than the heat! LOL! Not even able to take our country drives right now with gas prices and working on the house!

    19. Mary

      The picture was either taken from Belleville, Pa. or Juniata Co. Pa. Amish. Young boys are allowed to have the Y suspenders. Once older they either go without suspenders or then have only one.
      By the way, some Amish women do hunt. I used to go hunting when I was Amish 30 some yrs. ago already. Her in Rexford, MT. where we live many of the Amish women and and young girls go hunting. One 16 yr. old girl shot a deer, a bear, and an elk 2 yrs. ago!

      1. Mary, right on. Regrettably, as I was in a hurry to make my “post deadline”, I didn’t give the photo a close enough look before I posted…but I soon heard about it anyway 🙂 Glad you and others were on the ball here, I added a short addendum at the bottom of the post.

    20. Ed

      Lakeside, Ohio

      I understand that Lakeside, Ohio gets some Amish visitors. This is a gated Chautauqua community, started by Methodists, that has recreational and educational activities all summer long. One doesn’t need a car to get around within the community, and it is not too far from the Sandusky Ohio train station.

      I hope to visit there sometime — the place is known as the “most trusted community in America”.

    21. Patty Miller

      Summer travel

      Is there anyway for me to post a picture on this comment section? I have 2 of an Amish family I took to Pikes Peak.

      1. Hi Patty, sounds interesting. There’s no photo posting feature, but if you send it along to me at ewesner(at), I might be able to share it here somewhere.

    22. Karen In Sacramento

      We ran into a group of Amish or Mennonite families traveling by bus in Northern California last week.

      The leader of the excursion was a very nice man, who had planned a month-long trip to see the natural wonders and beauty of the West. He had bought and outfitted a bus for the trip (to be resold afterwards), and the other travelers were extended family.

      I hadn’t realized that the Amish or Mennonites traveled much at all, partly because the transportation required is at odds with daily life, and also because I had assumed that they stayed close to their local communities other than for rumspringa. It was gladdening to see how happy the group was to see all of the new and beautiful places on their tour.

      I was able to persuade the leader to detour through the Lassen Volcanic Park, since it was practically on their planned route already. I hope they did so, and that the rest of their journey is as amazing as they had all hoped.

    23. Lindsay

      I saw an Amish family in Chicago last weekend walking along the Lakeshore Path. I was riding my bike with my skull and crossbone head band, femhawk hair and looking generally like a hipster…I wonder what they must think when they come into the city. You literally see every walk of life around, and I’m pretty mild looking compared to some folks!

      I see Amish quite often at Union Station taking Amtrak, and in and around the restaurants in that area of the loop. There is a Chinese buffet not far from the train station that seems to be very popular with plain folk.

    24. Alice Mary

      Interesting, Lindsay! I wonder the same…

      About 6 years ago, my husband & “kids” (then ages 23 & 29 at the time, daughter & son, respectively) were coming back from some concert in Millennium Park (or Grant Park?) and a young Mennonite woman (late teens, I’d guess) greeted me (I guess it was obvious I was the “Mom”) and handed me a brochure about Menonnite beliefs & Christianity in general. She was dressed fairly plan, though no prayer cap. I saw a few other plainly dressed young people in the general area—male & female.

      I was born & raised in Chicago, and was used to the Hare’ Krishnas and other groups in the Loop, but this was the first time I ever encountered a “Plain” group (albeit, not as “plain” as the Amish).

      I wonder how common it is for this kind of thing—even by Mennonnites—evangelizing in a big city, handing out brochures. Do any of the more liberal Amish groups ever do it, Erik?

      1. Amish evangelizing in the city?

        Alice Mary and Lindsay, thanks for the interesting anecdotes. I’ve never heard of that with any Amish, even with the New Order groups (I have received a written tract or two from New Order, but it certainly wasn’t at a concert–just in regular ole Holmes County). Big city proselytizing would probably be at least a step or two too far, even with those inclined to be more vocal about faith matters.

    25. Lindsay

      Alice Mary – I know what you’re talking about. I see them usually when Lollapalooza is going on. I talked to a gal one year as I grew up with a lot of Mennonite friends (albeit, very liberal Mennonites). I guess her particular group is more evangelical than others, as my friends and their families never tried to evangelize me even when I went to their church services and events. There is just as much variety with the Mennonites as there are with Amish…one of my girlfriends from high school went to Goshen to become a pastor, which I would guess in more of the plainer groups wouldn’t be allowed.

      The Hare Krishna’s…their main Chicago temple is a few blocks from my house! I feel sorry for them in winter when I see them walking around in the snow in sandals!