In a life where we are always looking to slow down, cultures like the Amish are inspiring to many who are looking for the simple life. With no cell phones constantly buzzing, no technology, growing their own food, and relying on family, it can seem like a slice of heaven looking in from the outside bustling world.
Growing up in Lawrence County, Tennessee, I took the Amish community for granted. My family visited the Amish community, made a few Amish friends through the years, and asked them for help on various tasks we needed to hire out at our home. Seeing a horse and buggy rolling down the highway beside my car doesn’t even make me blink an eye. It is just a part of life growing up there.
On a recent visit to my hometown, and based on my four-year-old’s reaction, I quickly realized this wasn’t the norm for my kids. When we stopped at a red light, beside a horse and buggy filled with an Amish family, my son Cooper’s reaction was priceless: “Are they not hot?” “Where is their car?” “Mommy, why are they driving a horse?”
That is when I knew it was time for a little trip to Amish country.
It was definitely worth it! The entire family had a blast as we traveled down back country roads, stopping to admire the farmland, buying local produce, and answering hundreds of questions about farm animals and the Amish way of life.
I hope you’ll visit Amish country too, so I’m sharing a few tips, must-stops, and rules for making your trip to Amish Country a success:
Nestled in the small town of Ethridge, Tennessee, lies one of the largest populations of Amish families in the Southeast. A three-hour drive from Chattanooga will take you back in time to beautiful farmland, families living off the land, and a culture that is all its own. The best place to start if you have never been to the area is the Amish Welcome Center located in Ethridge. There, you will find maps with the best stops, wagon tours of the area, and some local goods to kick off your tour.
My Favorite Stops
Being a native, I have my favorite stops. I have listed some below, which are in the heart of Amish Country, that I think will make your trip even more fun.
- Plowboy Produce Auctions is a great way to kick off your weekend trip on Fridays. Farmers from across Lawrence County (90% Amish) come together under the pavilions to auction off their fresh picked produce. Buyers need to arrive by 12:30pm CT. You can see the great variety of what the community has to offer all in one stop.
- While visiting, most people not from the area do not realize that you need to go to the Amish families’ homes to buy goods. One time, when bringing friends to take a tour, my friends were astonished to see that we were pulling into the driveways of many Amish families’ homes to buy goods and visit. This is normal and how they make their living. The Amish Welcome Center will be able to give you a full map of best places to go.
- Also, if you are looking for certain things, ASK. Everyone in the Amish community knows other families who specialize in specific goods. Looking for fresh eggs? Looking for a new wooden porch swing? Looking for custom flooring? If you stop at one family’s home and they do not have what you’re looking for, someone at that house can point you in the right direction.
- Flower’s Creamery is a must-stop every time I visit Lawrence County. While this is not an Amish family, this family of local dairy farmers has some of the best dairy products. If you go, you must try the cheese. I always come home with a huge load of fresh Nashville Hot Cheese, fresh butter, and chocolate milk. They also do tours of the dairy farm if you call ahead and schedule before your trip. Trust me; it is worth the stop and sitting on the rocking chair out front while sipping on the best chocolate milk is such a fun experience.
Where To Eat
If all of that freshly picked produce has you hungry, make sure to stop by one of the local restaurants. Some of my favorites include: Amish Smoke House, Shaffer Farms Custom Meat Market and Texas BBQ, Bob’s Cafe, and Hinnie’s BBQ. For a full list and directions click here.
Where To Stay
If driving from Chattanooga, you will most likely want to make this an overnight trip to fit everything in. I have linked some great stay options here for you.
Tips For Trip Success
- GPS is a must if you are not from the area. You will be traveling down lots of small roads (you may even find yourself off on a dirt road).
- Take it slow. Speaking of small roads, the Amish are out and about living their life as normal while you are visiting. This means they will be out riding along on horses, in carriages, and pulling wagons. Go slow in this area. You do not want to hit them or spook their horses while buzzing by. Be patient and kind.
- No photos. I mean this. The Amish in this community are serious about not having their photos taken. Feel free to snap away at the countryside, animals, your children, etc., but please respect their wishes of not having their photos taken.
- Check out the local Visit Lawrenceburg, TN website before you go. There is so much to do once your tour of Amish Country is over. From the home of David Crockett, to hiking trails, water fun, and more. You will have more than enough to do to fill up a weekend of family time outdoors.
I hope you have enjoyed my guide to Amish Country. If you decide to visit or have visited in the past, I would love to hear your stories.
Safe travels, friends!