Ohio's Amish Country... With A Twist!

Amish Country… it makes me think of long rides through beautiful countryside to experience the simple life, open space, and fresh air. When I was a kid my mom, grandma, sister, and I would go to Amish country every fall… we’d stop at cheese places, walk through the towns, and sample great food. Last fall Todd had some photo assignments in Amish Country and we decided to take an overnight trip to the area. I hadn’t been to Amish Country in years and was excited to reacquaint with the area!

As we planned the weekend we thought about a few things… We don’t love big crowds and we knew the weekend would be crowded, so spending a bunch of time strolling through the towns wouldn’t be a good fit. We love the countryside and would enjoy staying somewhere a little out of town with a great view. We love cheese and some of the best cheese shops around are in Amish Country. There are some great places close to Amish country that we’d like to visit. Taking all of this into consideration we decided to do Amish Country with a twist… some of the traditional spots with some areas on the outskirts added in!

Our adventure started at Malabar Farm just south of Mansfield and a few miles from I-71 exit 165. Todd had been to Malabar Farm a couple times taking pictures and insisted that we stop. He said that the farm is great, but what makes the trip spectacular is a stop at the Malabar Farm Inn for lunch. I have to admit that I was skeptical…   

We stopped at Malabar Farm first… what a gem with tons of history… it was built by author Louis Bromfield and was the site of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s wedding and honeymoon!  Today Malabar Farm is a fully functioning farm and state park.  We enjoyed several of the hiking trails and noted that there are also guided farm and big house tours, and there’s a primitive campground.   

After our hike we headed to Malabar Farm Restaurant, which is just up the road from Malabar Farm. The outside of Malabar Farm Restaurant is quaint and pretty, and when we walked in I knew we'd have a great experience... the dining rooms are small and cozy... I wanted to settle in and stay a while!

Malabar Farm Restaurant's menu is not extensive, but offers an array of favorites from comfort food like meatloaf to more gourmet selections like herbed goat cheese.  The wine and beer lists are expansive… I had a great glass of wine and Todd sampled a beer he’d never tried before. 

So how was Malabar Farm Restaurant's food?  Fantastic! Todd had a cheeseburger that he described as the best he’d had in his life!  I had an awesome salad… kale, butternut squash, dried cranberries, homemade yogurt dressing, feta cheese, and grilled salmon. We enjoyed our lunch while taking in the scenery and the relaxed and comfortable vibe of Malabar Farm Restaurant!

From Malabar Farm Restaurant we headed east towards Millersburg. We took a quick stop to check out Honey Run Waterfall. This is a beautiful and serine spot… I enjoyed hiking around while Todd took pictures of the waterfall.

Before settling in for the night we stopped at Fox’s Pizza Den in Millersburg and picked up a pizza and some salads for later in the evening. Though we carried out, we noted that Fox’s Pizza Den has a dining room.

When we decided to stay overnight in Amish Country it was just a week before our visit... we didn’t think it would be hard to find a place to stay, but almost everything was booked! Amish Country in the fall is very popular!  Holmes With A View had 1 room available and we booked it.  We weren’t sure what to expect… we loved it!

Holmes With a View is on the top of a hill in the heart of Amish Country between Millersburg and Berlin, Ohio.  There are 6 round structures, each with a top and bottom suite.  Each structure is a little different, but they all have windows and a deck around about two thirds of the suite overlooking a beautiful valley spotted with cows, horses, a couple farms, and the occasional Amish buggy.  It’s far enough out of town to feel the serenity of the country. 

We stayed in #1 upper suite… beautifully decorated, spotless, private, and very functional.  The suite includes a full kitchen with a Keurig coffee maker and a traditional coffee maker. The kitchen is stocked with coffee, creamer, sugar, baked goods from Miller’s bakery, jam, juice, and yogurt. The bathroom has a Jacuzzi tub, shower, and two sinks.  The bed and lounging areas are very comfortable and include a couch and two chairs (in addition to the bed!). 

On Saturday morning we enjoyed coffee and the beautiful view from our room and then hit the road. Our first stop was Guggisberg Cheese which is located just a few minutes from Holmes With A View on Rt. 557. Guggisberg Cheese has a great selection of cheeses and a lot more… The Guggisberg Swiss Inn offers lodging, Chalet in the Valley features authentic Swiss and Austrian cuisine, and the gift shop includes products from Switzerland and Germany. 

We drove to Millersburg and enjoyed the beautiful fall scenery… as we got closer to town the roads got more and more crowded! Amish Country is a very popular spot for weekend trips including bus tours. Instead of parking the car and walking around we took a more targeted approach and headed for Kaufmann’s Bakery and Heini’s cheese… two places we wanted to visit. 

Kaufmann’s Bakery has a great selection of bread, pies, cookies, doughnuts… I could go on and on!  We got some awesome bread and a black raspberry pie for Todd’s grandma… her favorite. 

Heini’s cheese is across the street from Kaufmann’s Bakery.  Heini’s quite an operation… the selection of cheeses that Heini’s produces is pretty amazing. We picked up a number of cheeses, but one really stood out… smoked sharp cheddar… it is one of the best cheeses we’ve ever had!

We weren’t in the market for crafts or wood furniture and decided to spend some time driving through the country enjoying the scenery. 

What next? How about a hike? The Holme’s Trail is a great paved bike and buggy trail from Fredericksburg to Killbuck (the trial goes through Millersburg). However, we weren’t looking for a paved trail and did a search of close hiking trails… we came up with the Friends of Wooster Memorial Park just west of Wooster.  Hmmm… Wooster… neither of us had been to Wooster in a while and thought it would be fun to check it out! 

The Friends of Wooster Memorial Park hiking trails are awesome! There are multiple loop trails which can be done quickly or connected for longer hikes (about 7 miles of hiking in all).  The trails lead through the woods and up and down hills and the valley, and are suitable for most hikers. If you plan to visit Friends of Wooster Memorial Park note that there’s a “Memorial Park” in the city of Wooster and it’s easy to confuse them. The Friends of Wooster Memorial Park is west of Wooster off of Rt. 250.

After our hike we had time to stop for a late lunch before going home and headed back to Wooster.  Wooster has a number of restaurants that look great… we chose Broken Rocks Cafe and loved it! The atmosphere is fantastic… big windows, awesome art work, and a really cool bar that was handmade by the owner.

Broken Rocks Cafe's menu has a great variety of salads, sandwiches, and entrees, and the beer and wine lists are expansive. I had the peasant salad… mixed greens topped with hard boiled eggs, grilled onions and red peppers, maple glazed bacon (triple yum!), asiago cheese, croutons from their homemade bread, and I added grilled scallops.  It was delicious and the scallops were cooked perfectly. 

Todd had a hard time choosing between pad thai and jumbalaya… he decided on the pad thai and described it as the best he’s ever had… and we’ve been in Thailand 3 times!  The noodles were perfectly cooked, there was a lot of shrimp and chicken, and there was just the right amount of heat.

As we headed home we talked about all the places we’d been in the last 36 hours… wow… Ohio has so much to offer!  We’re heading back to Amish Country this October for a camping trip and can’t wait to visit some of our favorite spots again!