Simple Pleasures

Go back to basics in beautiful Amish country.

in Regional Getaways, History
August 01, 2016

Photo, James Watkins.

An Amish buggy drives through the fields outside Arcola, Illinois.

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Looking to slow down your hectic life for a weekend? Then plan a trip to picturesque Amish country in central Illinois, where black buggies rule the road, teams of rugged Belgian horses plow the fields of storybook farms and the locals are likely to greet you with a friendly wave as you pass.

Begin your visit in Arthur, where quaint shops sell handmade Amish furniture, antiques and locally made crafts. See the works of regional artists at Villa Galleries, browse the wooden furniture made by local craftsmen at The Woodloft, and sample cheeses or snag an heirloom-quality quilt at Country Cheese and More. Stop by the nostalgic Dicks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain and order a chocolate malt at the 1930s marble counter (and check out the retro soda bottles that line the walls). Or belly up to Yoder’s Kitchen, where the buffet is stocked with comfort foods like chicken with noodles, smoked pork chops and thickly frosted cinnamon rolls. At Yoder’s Bakery, pick up one of the popular angel food cakes, like the sweet raspberry swirl. Hop in your car and drive the scenic surrounding country roads to discover tidy Amish farm shops selling quilts and homemade goodies like apple butter.

Indulge in the hand-dipped chocolates or have a seat at the counter and dig into an old-fashioned banana split.

Experience Amish life firsthand with ACM Tours, which takes visitors to an actual Amish home to enjoy a family-style homemade meal. Listen to live bluegrass and gospel music at Arthur’s new Penn Station Theatre, which features the entertaining Gunny Sack Revue on Wednesday nights. Or see live theater performed by professionals and talented newcomers at The Little Theatre on the Square in nearby Sullivan.

Close by is Tuscola, where you’ll find shopping and dining all under one roof at the Amishland Red Barn. Individual sellers offer everything from handcrafted furniture to antiques. Be sure to check out Flesor’s Candy Kitchen downtown. This restored vintage soda fountain and confectionery features many of its antique fixtures and is run by the granddaughters of the original owner. Indulge in the hand-dipped chocolates or have a seat at the counter and dig into an old-fashioned banana split.

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