Arriving in Lancaster County in the 1720s, the oldest and largest Amish community in the country is the Amish of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When I found out that Lancaster was, with a slight detour, on our way from Washington DC to our next stop in Philadelphia, I just had to take the kids there! The Amish way of life has always interested and appealed to me so I was quite excited about this adventure.
It was a complete contrast to our previous day in Washington DC. It was more like stepping back in time to how things used to be and it was definitely a refreshing change to spend a more relaxing day in the Pennsylvania countryside.
I had booked one activity for the day and that was an Amish buggy tour. We arrived at Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides and checked in for our ride. I chose the Town tour, a 35/40 minute tour round an Amish town. They offer other tours including a farm tour. We were given two complimentary tickets in exchange for this review. All opinions are our own.
We waited in the covered outdoor waiting area for our turn to ride. While we waited we were able to say hello to the horses waiting to go out on tours. This was great as, for my son, it made it feel like we were not waiting but instead visiting animals, which he loves. This immediately put him at ease. When it was our turn to ride we were called over to board the buggy. The younger kids were invited to sit in the front with the driver and everyone else got into the back. The buggies had roofs which protect you from the weather and there were various sizes of buggy which could be used depending on the number of visitors. Our tour was quiet, as we visited near opening time, so it was just our group and a lady with her two children. Blankets were provided in case we got cold during the ride which was a nice and, at times, necessary touch.
Our friendly driver introduced himself as John and the horse, Morgan who was around 10 or 11 years old. John had lived in the area his whole life and his family were amongst the first Amish settlers in the area. The horse pulled us round the village as the driver pointed out local Amish homes, all with traditional Amish clothes hanging on the line outside. He pointed out the little Amish school house, which around 25 pupils attend, and the farms. He told us all about some of the issues the dairy farms have faced and that its forcing some to close. The organic farms however seem to be doing a lot better. John also pointed out a great little shop to visit to try local apple cider.
We rode past an Amish buggy shop and learnt that the buggy’s cost around $10,000 new, which compared to John’s first buggy is a lot of money. What struck me most about the village is how open, flat and spread out it was with its endless fields and many farms.
The tour we did was a loop around the village and then back to the start where we decided to take a walk and visit the previously mentioned apple cider shop. Then, armed with a giant bottle of apple cider and some organic peanut butter, we drove on our way to our next adventure, passing Amish buggies strolling down the road amongst the cars.
We all really enjoyed our experience on the Amish buggy and I would recommend taking a detour to do this if you are ever nearby.
Taking an autistic child on Aaron and Jessica’s Amish buggy rides?
The waiting area was situated outside between the road and the car park. There were fences around so wandering into either was not an immediate danger.
Whilst waiting it was possible to ask to meet the horses and if you explain that your child is autistic and likes animals then the staff will let your child pet them before or after your ride.
In the waiting area is a sign with wheels on it that my son liked to spin.
The buggies are covered and have doors.
My son was able to sit at the front and liked this because he could see the horse. This was optional.
Depending on how many of you there are, there is normally the need to share a buggy tour with other visitors.
The village tour was the shorter tour (around 35 minutes) and was the right length for us.
There were no loud noises other than normal traffic noises and the whole experience was relaxed.
This adventure was a relaxed, fun experience that involved animals. My son loved it.
Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides is located at Plain and Fancy Farm, 3121 Old Philadelphia Pike, RONKS PA.
Call 1(717) 723-0478 for more info.
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