Country Respite: Millersburg
Embrace the simple life in Millersburg
Photos by Tessa Berg & Jodi Miller
Learn more: ohiosamishcountry.com
About two hours before sunset in Holmes County, a warm glow washes over bright red barns in rolling wheat fields, buggies clacking along quiet byways and cash-only roadside stands stocked with family-grown produce.
Ohio’s Amish country can overwhelm first-timers (you’ll lose count of the signs for antique malls and apple butter), so start in Millersburg, a town founded 84 miles northeast of Columbus in 1865. The character of the Holmes County seat thrives in a walkable downtown with three-story Victorian buildings, a museum of glass produced by local artisans in the early 1900s and a stone courthouse that hosts outdoor movies on the second Saturday of each month through October.
10 a.m. From Millersburg, take a 20-mile scenic drive north to hardware paradise Lehman’s (4779 Kidron Rd., Dalton). Here, you can shop for goods ranging from copper kettles to barber brushes to heirloom seeds, plus 40 kinds of root beer, including a house label.
Noon A few miles south, hungry regulars rip open to-go containers before leaving the parking lot of Gerber Poultry (5889 Kidron Rd., Kidron). Skip sides for a half-chicken barbecued to a sultry mix of grease, sweetness and spice.
2 p.m. Continue your route back to downtown Millersburg, then saddle up at Amish Country Riding Stables (5025 State Route 557, Millersburg). Ask for friendly Amish guide Laura Yoder, who shares about life and faith during an hour-long ride through forest patches to a panoramic farmland view.
3:30 p.m. At Guggisberg Cheese, just north of the stables, sample more than 60 types the company makes nearby. Smiling, dirndl-wearing staff insists you try the baby Swiss, invented by founder Alfred Guggisberg in the 1960s.
5:30 p.m. An Amish specialty, “broasted” chicken has all the crunch but half the fat of fried birds. Grab some a few miles away at Berlin Farmstead Restaurant (4757 Township Road 366, Berlin). If you’re feeling adventurous, head about 20 minutes northeast to the hotel, restaurant and farm market at Amish Door Village (1210 Winesburg St., Wilmot).
Visitors can sample Amish culture without driving more than 10 miles from downtown—grab schnitzel at plucked-from-the-Alps Chalet in the Valley Restaurant and explore the breathtaking 265-foot-long mural of faith and history at the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center. Others use Millersburg as a home base to branch through the five-county region home to about 36,000 Amish eager to sell homemade wares from furniture to pies.
“You’ll see signs along the road that don’t look like much,” says La Vonne De Bois, who’s been guiding excursions with Amish Heartland Tours since 1993. “That’s fun, just stopping in and saying hi. The Amish in these little stores love to see where you’re from.”
From Millersburg, options abound for horseback riding with an Amish guide, shopping at grocery stores equipped with hitching posts, grabbing furniture crafted by master artisans and enjoying home-cooked specialties like blackberry pie.
Country roads bind Amish Country like the hoops of an apple barrel, so leave time for a long drive from Millersburg through neighboring towns with nothing but a country-tinged playlist and cash.
Take hilly U.S. Route 62 north to Winesburg Antiques (2119 U.S. 62, Dundee). Sift through the rustic clutter of books, vinyl, farm trinkets and fishing reels, then have spunky teenaged curator Jocelyn Nisly show you a basement museum of beautifully restored cruiser bikes.
Head west on County Highway 160, turn right onto a stretch of County Highway 77, then stop to photograph red barns and sprawling farmsteads. If you’re heading up on weekdays, you’ll see young Amish frolic during recess at a homespun schoolhouse at Moreland Road.
When to go: About 25 miles east of Millersburg, the Dover Steam Show celebrates 50 years from Aug. 16 to 18 with steam-powered machine demos, an antique truck show and Saturday night tractor pull. doverohio.com
Where to stay: Heartland coziness meets Victorian pomp at Millersburg’s Hilltop Manor Bed and Breakfast (121 Alexander St.). Pencil in time for afternoon tea in a peacock-accented sitting room—and never miss breakfast. Chef Shawn Wilcox learned to cook as one of 160 grandchildren in his family and prepares decadent treats like apple fritter French toast. hilltopmanorbandb.com
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