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Destination Illinois: Welcome to Amish Country

ARCOLA & ARTHUR, Ill. (WCIA) — When you think of Amish country, you often think about a slower and more peaceful pace to life. The care and craftsmanship that go into Amish crafts, furniture, and of course the food, is of a higher level of quality. You also have to look out for the occasional horse and buggy out on the road. Douglas county, specifically Arthur, is where the hub of activities are. You have the famous Yoder’s Kitchen (more on that in a minute!), crafts, and antiques, but in Central Illinois, you can also add camels, zebras, and even dinosaurs to that list too!

AIKMAN WILDLIFE ADVENTURE

Aikman Wildlife Adventure, located on the outskirts of nearby Arcola, is like nothing else offered in the area. It’s a drive-thru wildlife park that is home to about 200 animals from six continents! Local brothers James and Andrew Aikman had the idea for the park, and in 2016, they made it a reality.

We have children that love us, and we have 90 year old ladies that love us!

Andrew Aikman, Vice President of Aikman Wildlife Adventure

You can chose from a drive-thru pass to a more hands-on adventure with the wagon tour or UTV tour where you can feed the animals along the one mile loop!

The nice thing about the drive-thru pass is that you can take your time. You can upgrade your pass for a behind the scenes tour that gives you more access to the park.

There’s also a separate walking tour too with petting zoo and the Museum of Prehistoric Life that is open year round. That is the newest addition to the park, and features huge 3D printed animals that used to roam millions of years ago.

IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY

Every time we go out there, it’s a new experience. I’ve taken thousands of wagon tours out there, and I always tell my wagons I’ve never had one like the one before. We never know what we are going to experience!

Andrew Aikman, Vice President of Aikman Wildlife Adventure

Even during Covid, park visitors have been coming from all over the Midwest to experience this one of a kind park in Illinois. It’s hard work to care for all of these animals, but Aikman says the smiles are worth it!

We want to make memories for people and for families. We want to have a safe, family friendly place to come to and to not only come through once, but to continue to come through over the years. So that’s why we do it

Andrew Aikman, Vice President of Aikman Wildlife Adventure

Now that you’ve seen all of these animals, I’m sure that you’ve worked up an appetite for some good old fashioned cooking!

YODER’S KITCHEN

If you are in Arthur, it is a requirement to eat at Yoder’s Kitchen. It is an institution and is the benchmark for which Amish cooking is based off of! The fried chicken is juicy, the pies are fresh, and the wait staff is as friendly as can be.

The Yoder family opened up the restaurant in 1994. Anna Herschberger and her husband Nelson are the current owners of Yoder’s Kitchen. In keeping with family traditions, she worked there as a waitress beginning in 1994 and was able to purchase it in 2002. Her two sons also work on staff.

GOOD & HONEST COOKING

Keeping what was here and adding a few of my own touches has helped us to grow into what we are today.

Anna Herschberger, Owner of Yoder’s Kitchen

Despite the slower pace of change the Amish enjoy, Yoder’s has been the opposite. It has grew in size multiple times, and now includes catering and the gift shop. The most recent addition is called the Porch.

Growing up, my Mom doing meals on her porch, so I kind of wanted to bring that here, so we did that addition.

Anna Herschberger, Owner of Yoder’s Kitchen

Once you’ve gone to the buffet and had your fill, don’t forget to look in the gift shop!

Amish Country in Central Illinois, a different way of life right in our backyard!


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