Guest post by Jamie Rhein
Berlin, Ohio in Holmes’ County is known for everything Amish from apple butter and fried pies to handcrafted furniture. Cheese is another Holmes County claim to fame. Years ago, we bought a roll top desk from an Amish woodworker whose shop is in nearby Charm. When it was ready, we received a notice by mail to come pick it up.
If you head to this part of northern Ohio in the summer–or in the fall when leaf peeping is at its finest, tourists seem to take over. Two weeks ago when I was on assignment researching Donna’s Premier Lodging for an article on romantic getaway stays, I experienced Berlin dressed up for the holidays on a weekend where the weather was keeping most people home. The result was quiet restfulness accompanied by down-home cooking and a morning of window shopping that gave me the urge to return soon.
I did find out a few details to consider when planning a Berlin weekend getaway. Many shops are closed on Sunday, so if you have your heart set on finding that perfect antique or fine crafted item like a quilt or a basket, make sure you have time on Saturday or you are staying until Monday.
Also, several restaurants are closed on Sunday as well. Fortunately, I arrived in Berlin in time Saturday evening to head to the Farmstead , a family-friendly, crowd-friendly restaurant with Amish style food and a buffet with so many options that I ordered meatloaf off the menu so I wouldn’t overdue. The mashed potatoes that I chose as a side dish are a customer favorite. There’s a video you can watch when you wait to be seated that shows how the mashed potatoes are made. As with many Amish-themed eateries, there are plenty of items to take home. Fresh baked breads and jars of jam and butter pickles are hard to pass up.
After dinner, when I headed back to my cottage at Donna’s Premier Lodging to enjoy the fireplace and the ambiance of the tasteful coziness, I thought, “Here’s where planning ahead would have come in handy.” A glass of wine or a beer seemed like the perfect cap to the evening. I didn’t have any, and Berlin doesn’t have a place to buy alcohol. A short drive to Millersburg, the next town over, fixed the dilemma.
Millersburg is the county seat of Holmes County and is worth a visit for its shopping and dining. If you go, notice the hitching posts outside the courthouse. These are for Amish to use when they come to town with their horse drawn buggies. After picking up beer at a gas station, I headed back to Berlin for the night. On the way, a buggy passed going the opposite way, its light flickering in the darkness.
Although every store in Berlin was closed when I looked around on Sunday before heading home, I took time to drive along the country roads and stopped by Guggisberg Cheese, the go-to place for cheese wheels, Baby Swiss and more. My other favorite stop, Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery across the road from an Amish farm was also closed. But the scenery was worth the drive.
If you do go, I highly recommend Donna’s Premier Lodging. There are 17 units from which to chose ranging from the one room cottage I was treated to, to a upscale rustic cabin in the woods. Each unit has an in room Jacuzzi tub made for two. I found it a mighty fine stay for one. A continental breakfast is included in the rate. You can order a country breakfast from an extensive menu for an extra fee.
If I had planned ahead, I could have ordered a bottle of wine. Wine is another extra. So are rose petals, candles and chocolate covered strawberries. Add to the Amish experience and ask Donna or her staff to arrange for a buggy ride.
Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein (I was hosted by Donna’s Premier Lodging. Since my stay, I’ve raved about it to several friends. It’s terrific.)