Drive Under Five: Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Experience a piece of America's self-reliant past with a weekend visit to Lancaster and surrounding countries.

Drive Time from Downtown: 4 hours, 8 minutes

So, you think you’re “living green?” Take a trip east to Pennsylvania Dutch Country in Lancaster and surrounding counties to witness a living piece of America’s self-reliant past. Varying in religious beliefs, the people of Dutch Country—Mennonites, Amish and Brethren—trace their ancestry to Germany rather than the Netherlands. (“Deutsch,” the German word for German, was misinterpreted as “Dutch.”) They lead astonishingly self-sufficient lives, and many families live without electricity.

Visitors can take scenic rides through the countryside in horse-drawn buggies or immerse themselves in early 19th century farm life by visiting The Amish Village (theamishvillage.net) in Strasburg. For those wishing to learn new culinary techniques, Intercourse Pretzel Factory (intercoursepretzelfactory.com) gives free lessons on twisting the perfect pretzel. Just down the road, Dutch Haven bakery (dutchhaven.com) in Ronks claims to make “America’s best” shoo-fly pie and offers handmade Amish dolls and glassware in its gift shop. Perfect for sunny days, Longwood Gardens (longwoodgardens.org) in nearby Chester County features its “Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrances” exhibit through fall, which gives visitors hands-on insight into the creation of perfumes.

All of these great destinations are less than an hour apart. Fantastisch!