Getty Images

Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Lancaster County and the broader space between Reading and the Susquehanna River is the center of the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch community. The term refers to myriad religious orders and cultures of Germanic roots (Deutsch – mistakenly anglicized to Dutch) who have lived here since the 18th century; Amish, Mennonites and German Baptist (Brethren) are the best known. One common cultural thread: all are devoted to various degrees of low-tech plain living.

This simple life, with its picturesque horse-drawn buggies, ironically attracts busloads of visitors and has spawned an astoundingly kitschy tourist industry. Get onto the back roads and you can appreciate the quiet pastoral serenity these religious orders have preserved.

Small settlements in the area include train-mad Strasburg and pretty, red-brick Lititz. Ephrata is headquarters of Ten Thousand Villages, a massive Mennonite-run fair-trade imports store with branches all over the country.

Explore Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Guidebooks

Learn more about Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.