Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Staycation Adventures: Ohio's Amish Country, Part Two

My family and I are old hats at traveling around Ohio's Amish Country so I wanted to share some of our destinations with you. I hope you take the opportunity and short drive to discover Ohio's beautiful Amish community and countryside. This post continues our recent one-day trip with my family, my son's cousin, and Gramma and Grandpa from New York. For Part One, click here.

Stop #7
The Secret Garden Shop
108 West Main Street
Sugarcreek, OH 44681 (330.852.0716)

 Only one word describes the Secret Garden shop found on Sugarcreek's main street: whimsical. I think this shop must be the world's caretaker of dragon's, fairies, and all things enchanting. The decor takes you into another dimension and you get lost in all the amazing findings from another place, hidden from the world. Get lost in the magic and mystery the Secret Garden offers.

Chug, chug, chugging up the Swiss Mountain

While still in Sugarcreek, walk a little ways up through the town and you'll see a bank at the very end of town. Not a bank as in a geographical physicality, but rather a bank as in savings and loan. If you look up above the bank's entrance you'll notice a hand-painted scene of a Swiss mountain side (did you not notice the Swiss music broadcasting through the streets of town?) and if you wait for it, you'll soon see a little train emerge from the mountain and travel up, chug, chug, chugging, out of site, back into the wall. Not so much a tourist destination, just an interesting site knowing that train does that same route 24/7.

Stop #8
Walnut Creek Cheese
2641 State Route 39
Walnut Creek, OH 44687 (877.852.2888)

Through our travels over the years we've experienced many different "grocery stores" around Amish Country and this one is at the very top of our list. Our various experiences with other stores in the area single out Walnut Creek Cheese as having the best pricing on bulk foods overall. The breads are freshly baked and the cheese is spectacular. Like I said in Part One, bring a cooler! Our favorite cheese there is the Smoked Cheese sampler. Smoked swiss, smoked provolone, smoked cheddar, etc. all packaged for your sampling enjoyment across from the ice cream line. The beef sticks are also recommended. And, if you're in love with maple syrup as my family is, you know the cost of nature's gold is more than a barrel of oil. Walnut Creek Cheese has been the best buy we've found for maple syrup.

Stop #9
Lehman Hardware & Appliance
4779 Kidron Road
Dalton, OH 44636 (330.828.8828)

If you're following the schedule in the order I'm suggesting, you'll notice it's beginning to be about 5:00 pm. The shops around Amish Country tend to close around this time on a Saturday (and a majority are NOT open on Sunday) so we'll be heading outside Amish Country and into the countryside for more simple adventures. Lehmans is the cat's-meow of hardware stores. If you're not careful, you could spend the rest of the day there, meandering through the various departments and offerings. But you'd miss the next several stops and have to make another trip down on another day and that wouldn't be too bad, now would it? But if you're determined to make it a day trip, then FOCUS people!

My boy has turned Amish due to excessive visits to Amish Country
The Amish patron Lehmans for many of their non-electric appliances like wood stoves, propane-driven refrigerators, hand-cranked washing tubs, it goes on and on. It's fascinating to see these types of appliances and allows you a glimpse into the lives of the Amish's daily chores. It also really makes you appreciate your own appliances back home did I just say that? but strangely also makes the simplicity of a daily chore without electricity somewhat beautiful.

There are too many departments to mention so I urge you to further explore your interests and make your own discoveries once there. I do recommend a little sit-down at the cafe, in the jail, for a refreshing taste of Lehmans-own bottled soda. Delicious!

Get us outta here! I heard there's a toy department!

Stop #10
J M Smucker Company Store & Cafe
333 Wadsworth Road
Orville, OH 44667 (330.684.1500)

With a name like Smuckers...get ready to have some more fun! Although not an outlet store, this Smucker's Company Store offers many lines not found at your local grocery store. When I shop here I stock-up on their Orchard's Finest brand. It's the only brand I can find where it only has 3 simple ingredients: fruit, sugar, and fruit pectin. This store is absolutely charming. You may be surprised at the numerous brands that fall under the J M Smucker name. If you're interested in the company's history, there's a great self-guided tour in the back of the store highlighting the company's growth. Don't forget the samples in the middle of the store. They always give great recipes to accompany the sample. Enjoy!

Stop #11, #12, #13, and #14
Toyrifix, The OakCupboard, Buchanan Place, The Barn Restaurant
4642 Akron Road
Smithville, OH 44677 (330.669.3737)

Think of it as a countryside shopping mall, but so much prettier. All of the places on Stop #11 are in the same vicinity. Now, you're going to have to make some decisions. Are you going to eat dinner at The Barn? They offer several different dining experiences including a buffet or something off their menu that includes their famous ham, pulled pork sandwiches, and their own Farm-raised Tilapia. If you decide dinner is the route you want to take, go put your name in and if there is a wait, go shopping!

On our trip, we were too full from the der Dutchman so we skipped The Barn and just got a pizza back home. But, if you want the full experience and have enough time to shop the stores and have dinner, then go for it!

In walking distance is Toyrifix, a great little toy store the kids can experience and feel they got something out of the day, as well.

Outside of Toyrifix
The Oakcupboard is another bulk foods store and their pricing is comparable to Walnut Creek Cheese. This is the place where we feed our passions for popcorn. We get pounds of it here and have been very happy with the various selections. The best item in this store for me is the wide variety of sprinkles. Yes, sprinkles! You know, for cupcakes. You can find little black and white cow sprinkles, little football helmets, dolphins, you name it. And not to mention, beautiful colored sugar sprinkles that seem to glisten in the container if the light catches it just right. Love it, love it, love it.

Buchanan Place is a store similar to Carlisle Gifts from Part One - a treat for the eyes: so many beautiful items to look at for your home.

Afterwards, take a walk to the pond and say hello to the ducks. Say goodbye to the spectacular, fun-filled day you enjoyed with your loved ones. The simplicity Amish Country offers is a welcomed gift to us as we dodge the busyness of our lives most of the time. In one day you can experience the fresh country air, the simple life, and uninterrupted time with family and friends while on an adventure you won't soon forget.

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