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Always on a Sunday

How to Make The Most of a Weekend in Pa.'s Amish Country

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By Sue Kovach Shuman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 16, 2008; Page C02

Washingtonians travel to Lancaster County, Pa., about 2½ hours from the Capital Beltway, for a glimpse of Amish life. Horse-drawn buggies. Men in broad-brimmed black hats. Women in bonnets and long dresses.

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And don't forget those "No Sunday sales" signs.

Lancaster is home not only to Amish but also to Mennonites. Sundays, many locals go to church and relax . . . and close up shop for the day.

So how do you pack the most into a Pennsylvania Dutch weekend if many things are closed half the time? Not to worry.

Lancaster is quiet, but we found plenty to do on a Sunday. Tip 1: Make the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-723-8824, http://www.padutchcountry.com) on Route 30 your first stop.

1. Learn about the Amish. At the Amish Experience (Route 340, Bird-in-Hand, 717-768-3600, http://www.amishexperience.com), you can see a 40-minute film ($9.95), visit an Amish home ($8.95) and tour farms via bus ($28.95). The film "Jacob's Choice" is about a 17-year-old's decision to join the Amish church. It's shown in an "experiential" theater where five projection surfaces propel you through 400 years of history while you're pummeled by thunderous sound effects.

Other attractions open Sundays include the 1805 Amish Farm and House (Route 30, Lancaster, 717-394-6185, http://www.amishfarmandhouse.com; $7.75) and the Amish Village (Route 896, Ronks, 717-687-8511, http://www.800padutch.com/avillage.html; $7.75).

2. Look for covered bridges. We counted 45 buggies along roads with more cows and donkeys than people as we sought out the area's covered bridges. Pennsylvania once had about 1,500 covered bridges; 28 remain in Lancaster County. Pick up a map at the visitors bureau.

3. Ride a buggy. Experience the ultimate Amish-country cliche with Aaron and Jessica's Buggy Rides at Plain & Fancy Farm (Route 340, Intercourse, 717-768-8828, http://www.amishbuggyrides.com; $10). During the week, Amish drivers provide the rides for tourists, said Bobbie Nikodemski, who has been at the reins for 20 years. On Sundays, you get the same 3 1/2 -mile ride through farmland -- minus the Amish clothing.

4. Shop. Bargain hunters head to Adamstown before 7:30 a.m., when Renninger's Antique and Collectibles Market (Route 272, 717-336-2117, http://www.renningers.com) and Stoudt's Black Angus Antiques Mall (Route 272, 717-484-4386, http://www.stoudtsbeer.com/antiques.html) open. Both have hundreds of indoor vendors, plus hundreds outside starting at 5 a.m. some Sundays. (Bring a flashlight, Jim Renninger advises.)

Other Adamstown shops open at 9 or 10, as does Cackleberry Farm Antique Mall in Paradise (Route 30, 717-442-8805). It's smaller -- 125 dealers -- but draws G.I. Joe doll and toy train aficionados.

And, yes, you can get your kitsch fix. At Dutch Haven in Ronks (Route 30, 717-687-0111), warm, gooey shoofly pie was shoved at us. It worked: We bought a pie ($9.99), then browsed for hex signs and T-shirts ("Virginia is for lovers, but Pennsylvania has Intercourse").


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