March 6, 2018
Explore Amish Life in Wisconsin
Posted by: Jennifer
Many people are surprised to learn that Wisconsin is a state with a large Amish population. Wisconsin actually has the fourth largest Amish population in the United States, behind Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. A journey to west central Wisconsin takes you into the heart of the state’s Amish country, where cars, telephones, and computers disappear and a simpler way of life begins. You’ll find horse-drawn buggies, quaint shops filled with traditional handmade goods, and the humble, hard-working people of the community. If you’ve ever wanted to get a taste for Amish life, here are the answers to the most common questions and concerns.
Q: What does it mean to be Amish after all?
A: We all have a vision of what Amish life looks like in our heads that usually involves things like horse-drawn buggies and bonnets. However, fewer people actually know just what Amish life means. The Amish are a group of traditional Protestant Christians that believe in simple dress, plain clothing, and a reluctance to adopt modern technology. Though the Amish date back to the early 18th century, Amish communities remain all across the United States. The Amish value rural life, manual labor, humility, and a strict adherence to their interpretation of the word of God. Visiting Amish communities is a great way to experience a different way of life, buy high quality handmade goods, and step away from modern technology, even if it is only for a few hours.
Q: Where are Wisconsin’s largest Amish communities?
A: Though there are communities all over the state, you will find the most in west central Wisconsin. Here is where to go:
- Vernon County – Hillsboro
- Monroe County – near Cashton/Wilton/Norwalk/Tomah
- Taylor County – Medford
- Green Lake County – Kingston-Dalton-Marquette, Redgranite, and Richford
- Clark County – Owen, Neillsville, and near Greenward/Willard
Q: What Can I Do Once I’m There?
A: Life without cars, telephones, or computers might sound dull. In reality, an afternoon spent exploring Amish country can prove to be incredibly memorable and fascinating. Visiting an Amish community is truly like stepping back in time. It is worth a trip simply to experience a way of life so different from your own. It might even inspire you to unplug once you get home. The best way to experience Amish culture firsthand is to visit their shops and roadside stands. The Amish do not advertise their businesses, especially not online, so to find what you’re looking for, you’ll simply have to explore on your own. We recommend you look for quilt and woodworking shops as well as cheese factories and bakeries. You can also find high-quality fabrics, furniture, and leather goods.
Q: I’m a little nervous to explore these Amish communities on my own. Are there any guided tours?
A: Yes, and we highly recommend them! Guided tours take you to the places you won’t visit if you go on your own and provide the type of in-depth, first-hand knowledge you can’t get out of a book. You'll get the chance to go inside schoolhouses, barns, and churches and chat with actual Amish people. Tours are also the best way to learn about the Amish community’s history and culture. If you are interested in taking a guided tour, consider contacting one of these operators:
Q: Can I Post My Photos on Instagram?
A: No. In fact, the Amish community kindly asks you respect their wish not to be photographed and put your cameras and smartphones away while you are there. Take this as a unique chance to put away the screen and simply enjoy the world before your eyes. Mental pictures are always allowed.
Looking to get a taste of Amish life in Wisconsin? Book a stay at the historic Franklin Victorian Bed & Breakfast in Sparta for close proximity to the state’s many Amish communities.