A Journey into Holmes County

Where can you eat delicious home cooking, visit an antique mall, tour an Amish home, and pet a buffalo, all in one day? Only in Holmes County, Ohio — one of the largest Amish communities in the world!

The summer sun rises over Sugarcreek. Its rays spread out over a gorgeous countryside. The landscape is a combination of flat farm fields and rolling hills. Bright red barns speckle the abundant farmland. Black and white cows graze in the lush pastures, mingling with powerful, sturdy workhorses. Here and there is a field filled with sheep, scattered about like someone dropped a giant bowl of popcorn. Horse-drawn buggies scurry along the roads. A bicycle travels down one road, a big red tractor down another.

The rural scenes are absolutely stunning, and the towns are filled with quaint little stores that are unique in content and character. Holmes County is famous for its food, people, scenery, and connection to an old-fashioned life.

Holmes County Towns to Visit

If you travel north of Sugarcreek, you will come to the little town of Walnut Creek. Here you can eat a delicious breakfast at Der Dutchman. Then you can visit Walnut Creek Cheese, a grocery store with shelves bursting with Amish foods.

About three miles west of Walnut Creek lies Berlin, the most famous town in the area. Berlin is loaded with interesting stores. There are antique malls, furniture stores, quilt shops, coffee shops, grocery stores, and oodles of trinkets. Amish vendors sell homespun baskets and fresh produce. In the evenings, a bluegrass band plays on the square. Berlin is like a vision from the past. Best of all, there’s a museum named Behalt with a huge, painted mural that displays the history of the Amish.

After Berlin, travel south to visit Charm. This town is as charming as its name suggests. There’s a cheese house, a rocker shop, a marketplace, a gift shop, a fabric shop, and several delicious restaurants. And then there’s Keim. This store sits on top of a hill in the middle of town and is absolutely magnificent. The Amish are known for their craftsmanship, and Keim offers every tool needed to make that craftmanship happen. Keim combines a hardware store, Home Depot, lumberyard, and cafe. Anything you could possibly need in your home — Keim has it.

The Farm at Walnut Creek

The biggest highlight of Amish country can be found in the middle of the big circle created by these three towns. This is a huge animal park/Amish homestead called The Farm at Walnut Creek.

A long gravel lane winds in toward the gift barn. Beyond it, you can find a pond filled with flocks of ducks and geese. You can stand on the dock beneath the willow tree and enjoy the din of quacking and honking.

A pavilion and a huge playground sit in the background. Beyond that is the Amish home. Here you are free to tour the barn and house.

The barn hosts sheep and several brown Jersey cows. You can watch the farmer do the milking. Then you can browse the house, where fresh cookies and homemade bread are served. You can see the simple furnishings — bedrooms with quilts spread on the beds and kerosene lamps on the nightstands, a kitchen with a cooking stove, a living room with rocking chairs and elderly ladies quilting, and a basement with rows and rows of canned food on the shelves.

After the house, you can visit the blacksmith shop and walk through the rows of bird pens. There are pheasants, quail, cranes, and parrots. There’s another large pond graced with a covered bridge that leads to the picnic area. Swans glide by on the water.

You can visit the lemur island. These adorable primates have soft fur, long striped tails, and inquisitive faces. The little babies ride on their mothers’ backs.

Around the island is a stream filled with colorful koi. The stream is fed by a thundering waterfall that crashes down from the rocks above. Lush green ferns and bamboo canes complete the picture, creating a little slice of paradise.

Beyond the waterfall are the kangaroo and porcupine pens and tortoises, turkeys, and peacocks. Now, you have arrived at the grand destination: the horse barn.

At the horse barn is the wagon loading area. A wagon ride is a mist at Walnut Creek Farm. The Amish farmers harness up their teams of workhorses and hitch them to the wagons. Each wagon has three rows of bench seats. You climb aboard and receive a bucket of animal feed. The farmer clucks to the horses and into the exotic park you go.

As the wagon circles the mile-long park, it frequently stops so you and the other passengers can feed the animals. There are llamas, elk, buffalo, cattle, deer, ostriches, pot-bellied pigs, and much more! The four-legged animals you feed with your hands, the two-legged eat right out of the bucket. But don’t feed the zebras — they bite!

The trail winds through the pasture and travels into the woods. Everything is quiet and peaceful, with only the jangling of the harness tinkling through the trees. The views from the top of the ridges are utterly breathtaking as you admire the Amish countryside. Twice the wagon stops beneath a tree, and the farmer feeds a peanut to a parrot sitting on a limb.

Photo courtesy of the Farm at Walnut Creek.

Towards the end of the journey is the giraffe pen. Huge, towering giraffes stick their necks over the top of their enclosure and reach down into the wagon. Their incredibly long black tongues scoop feed out of your bucket. As you watch the giraffe’s head ascend back up into the sky, it almost makes you dizzy.

You can drive through the park with your vehicle, too, but nothing compares to a wagon ride. After it’s over, you can stroll past the camel and donkey pastures. You can watch people working in the fields. There is sugarcane, hay, and a pumpkin patch. You should see the splendor at the annual fall festival! Or the beauty of the Christmas event in December. But those are stories for another time.

Amish country is a place worth visiting. The sights are beautiful, whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter. Come and see; we will treat you as our own. This community might just steal your heart.

Photos courtesy of the Farm at Walnut Creek.

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