These 6 Places In Virginia Amish Country Are Unique And Worth Visiting
The Virginia Amish have long been a source of fascination. From their simplified way of living to their religious practices, they are a fascinating cultural anomaly in that they seem to integrate into society through trade and public recognition, without ever becoming part of it. Despite seeing their culture everywhere from Hollywood to reality TV, the day-to-day life of the Amish often remains an enigma.
Amish communities in Virginia started as far back as the late 1800s and early 1900s, but today only four recognized “formal” communities remain, one each in Giles County, Charlotte County, Halifax County, and Lee County. Earlier Amish communities included Fauquier County (Midland, 1892-1901); Princess Anne County (Kempsville, 1900- early 1940s); Portsmouth (1927-1945); and Augusta County (Stuart’s Draft, 1942 – 1981). While these communities formally disbanded, it’s not uncommon to find Amish residents and places of business in these areas.
The Amish, like the Mennonites, formed from a 16th century group called the “anabaptists.” When a Swiss Anabaptist leader, Jacob Ammann, felt that the larger group was not keeping a strict enough separation from mainstream society, he broke away, forming a new group soon known as the “Amish.”
Today, the Amish are distinguished by many of Ammann’s original guiding principles, including untrimmed beards (Mennonite men do not wear beards), horses and buggies instead of cars, horse-drawn farming implements, plain clothing, no electricity (or limited solar power), and little to no interaction with banks or government entities.
The following images show life in Virginia’s existing Amish settlements, as well as some of the Amish establishments and places of business throughout the state. Please note that while the Amish do not generally like to have their photos taken, and will rarely pose for an image, these images have been gathered with permission or the understanding that general public photography is not offensive.
In addition to the four “formal” Amish communities, the Amish can be found in other parts of the state, as well.
Despite their commitment to close community and spiritual separatism, the Amish remain an entrepreneurial group. Their goods can often be found for sale within larger organizations.
For example, Alan’s Factory Outlet in Luray sells and delivers Amish Sheds to locations in Virginia and West Virginia.
And Amish Originals, in Prospect and Farmville, offers beautifully handcrafted Amish furniture.
In addition to Amish businesses, it’s not unusual to find Amish-Mennonite collaborations, often run by Mennonites, that offer traditional Amish woodworking, foods, spices, and baked goods. Many of these shops feature items from Amish communities outside of the state. For example, Yoder’s Country Market, a popular Madison County destination just off of Route 29, is run by a Mennonite family but offers Amish items and handmade furniture from both Amish and Mennonites communities in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
And don’t think that the Amish only stay in their own small communities. Even the Amish like to take a vacation now and then …
It’s nice to stop and reflect on the beauty of the Amish way of life, especially when life can get so busy and sometimes overwhelming. I am not eager to give up my car, cell phone, or internet just yet, but seeing the simplicity and faith of these communities in Virginia does make me reflect on the important things in life.
If you’ve been wondering, “are there any Amish communities near me,” you’ve just had a peek at six of them. Have you visited any of these Amish communities? How about Amish businesses in Virginia? We would love to hear your thoughts and contributions in the comments!
What are the best small towns in Virginia?
Now that you have your answer to “are there Amish communities near me,” and you know where to find the Amish in Virginia, you might want to check out some of the other charming small towns in Virginia. If you’re all about the mountains, you’ll absolutely love the darling town of Abington. Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the small town is brimming with things to do, from visiting museums to exploring its markets. Lexington, the home of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is another must-visit Virginia destination. The quaint small town offers a walkable downtown area, darling shops and restaurants, and an old-fashioned drive-in theater.
Staunton oozes charm and also boasts a gorgeous downtown area that looks straight out of yesteryear. It’s tucked in the Shenandoah Valley and offers everything from history to the arts. If you like tiny, you’ll absolutely love Middleburg, which spans a mere six blocks. However, it’s perhaps best known as horse country, so if you love horses, you’ll definitely want to make a point to visit.
Are there any natural wonders in Virginia?
After you’ve visited an Amish community in Virginia, you might want to seek out some of its natural wonders. In fact, you might want to start a bucket list that includes the many natural wonders in Virginia. At the top of that list, be sure to add Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County. The natural bridge stands an impressive 215-feet tall and is 90-feet long. It’s one of those places that, if you’re in Virginia, you really have to visit.
Add First Landing State Park, near Virginia Beach, too. The breathtaking state park offers a little bit of everything from sandy beaches to bald cypress trees. If you’re up for an adventure, follow the trail to Devil’s Bathtub. It’s a challenging one. However, if you make it, you’ll be well-rewarded with some of the most gorgeous blue water in all of Virginia. Some people even wade in the water; just be careful as there are obviously no lifeguards around. If you love waterfalls, make sure you also add Crabtree Falls, the tallest waterfall to the east of the Mississippi River.