Amish Country, Ohio offers many great attractions, but not all of them are easy on the wallet! As a mom of 4, I frequently take my children to the place I grew up, Holmes County, and play tourist. However, I visit without the tourist budget! Sometimes traveling on a budget requires some creativity, and here is my advice for things to do in Amish Country with kids that are FREE.
Take a scenic drive on the Amish Country Byway
Looking to take the scenic route? Amish Country is the perfect place to hit the road! 160 miles of roadway throughout Holmes County create the Amish Country Byway. My favorites are SR 514 that runs from Danville to Nashville, SR 557 that runs from eastern Millersburg to Charm, and SR 515 that runs from Walnut Creek to Trail.
On all of these routes, you’ll enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of Amish Country. Pass a horse-drawn buggy, see local farmers using machinery from a bygone era, and maybe even witness an Amish family walking to church or a wedding. Talk to your children about what life may be like for these families that operate at a slower pace – and without electricity in their homes!
You can read more about the Amish Country Byway at the Ohio Dept. of Transportation website.
Have a cultural experience at the Mt. Hope Auction
If your family is interested in the livestock & farming business, take a trip to the Mt. Hope Auction. Every Wednesday you’ll find a livestock auction. This is free to attend (just keep your hands down or you may walk away with a new calf ;)).
The grounds of the Mt. Hope Auction are extensive! You’ll also find a flea market – and many of the vendors and buyers are Amish families. Make sure to marvel at the number of buggies tied to the hitching post, and their unique ways for carting home their purchases.
Walk or bike on the Rails to Trails
Formerly a rail line, the Rails to Trails is now a multipurpose trail through western Holmes County. The trail runs for 12 miles from Killbuck to Fredericksburg and offers space for runners, bikers, walkers AND horse n buggy or horseback riding.
The best place to enter the trail is in downtown Millersburg. The trailhead at Depot Street offers a playground.
Visit Chalet in the Valley’s resident goats
As previously mentioned, one of my favorite drives along the Amish Country Byway is Route 557 near Charm. The campus of Chalet in the Valley and Guggisberg Cheese is one of the most idyllic spots!
If you’re willing to spend a few bucks, there are some things you may want to purchase. Guggisberg Cheese was just voted #1 in the world and Chalet in the Valley offers its own fondue appetizer! However, for those trying to spend as little as possible, your children may enjoy a trip to visit the goats that reside outside of Chalet in the Valley.
On our recent visit, we didn’t offer the goats any treats. I think they eat pretty well on leftovers from the restaurant salad bar.
Hike through Holmes County’s Open Air Art Museum
When thinking of Amish Country, what probably doesn’t come to mind is a curated, outdoor art collection in the beauty of a wooded hillside. In 2015, The Inn at Honey Run built an Outdoor Art Museum using one of the Inn’s hiking trails. Visitors to the property can enjoy this art for free – you don’t have to be a guest of the Inn.
One of the earliest pieces at Holmes County’s Open Air Art Museum was the piece Woven, by Walter Hermann. Our first visit to the OAAM was in the spring of 2016 and I enjoyed seeing how this piece has evolved since then. Woven is made of sticks and twigs found entirely on the grounds of the Inn at Honey Run. You’ll have to see it to believe it, a massive arch of sticks made without the use of glue or nail.
While the OOAM is kid-friendly, the hiking trail is quite hilly, rough terrain. Make sure that everyone has proper footwear. This area would not be suitable for a stroller. Also, the Inn at Honey Run is an adults-only property. In other words, you’re not welcome to take your kids inside the hotel for a potty break.
Read more about our visit to the Outdoor Art Museum at Travel Inspired Living.
Go cuckoo for the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
Sugarcreek, Ohio is known as the Little Switzerland of Ohio, so it’s no surprise that the town is also home to the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock. Kids of all ages will be delighted to see the cuckoo appear, along with the dancers and band!
Be sure to time your visit right, as the clock does its routine only on the hour and half-hour, from 9 am – 9 pm. The cuckoo clock is winterized during Ohio’s coldest months.
Parking is free throughout the village.
Have you visited Ohio’s Amish Country? What’s your favorite free attraction? What do you like to do with kids?
Looking for more things to do with kids while visiting Amish Country. Check out my list HERE.
Need restaurant recommendations? Here are my favorite places to eat in Amish Country.
If you’re willing to travel a little farther, here are some free attractions within one hour of Amish Country.
Disclaimer: I am a member of the Amish Country Byway Committee. All opinions are my own.