Arcola, Illinois might be home to one of the strangest theme parks in the country. Florida has Walt Disney World, California has Universal Studios Hollywood, and Illinois? Well, Illinois has Rockome Gardens, home of (what might be) the world’s only Amish themed amusement park… no I’m not kidding.
Built in 1937 by Arthur and Elizabeth Martin, Rockome Gardens can be found on land that was once nothing but farms. The couple purchased 208 acres of farmland, and dedicated 7 acres to large flower gardens, rock formations, and a summer cottage. Work on the extensive gardens has been an ongoing project since the late 30s, with no signs of slowing down. Today the gardens are some of the most beautiful in the state!
Throughout the years Rockome Gardens has changed hands many times, but over the last 80 it's been owned and operated by the Old Order Amish Community. In 2011 the gardens were once again sold, this time to a locals Steve and Bev Maher. The two had been visiting the park since their childhoods and decided it was time to buy it and begin the process of restoring it back to its former glory days.
“They had been visiting for years, and noticed that Rockome was in need of major repairs and renovations. Steve felt it was God's will to have a change in his life, and they are intent upon bringing warmth and beauty back to Rockome. They are making Rockome Gardens a place where families can come to relax and find inspiration.” - Rockome Gardens
Today Rockome is home to many historic gardens, each with its own theme and rock formations. They also have the Rockome Restaurant, where you can get a home cooked meal six days a week. Swing by the Garden Foods and Cheese Factory, which is open year round, where you can watch cheese being made, or see the active beehives from the observatory window. They also have a bakery, candy shop, and store where you can buy all the handmade goods yourself.
Guests are encouraged to take buggy rides, stop by the Old Hickory Railroad, visit some of the authentic historic homes, cabins, and blacksmith shops, and last but not least, visit the Amish Museum. The museum is dedicated to preserving they history of the Old Order Amish, with features, exhibits, and art. Guests will learn all about the Amish lifestyle and the history of the Amish faith.
If you’re going to be on a road trip through Illinois you might want to take a detour to Rockome Gardens to spend the day playing tic-tac-toe with a chicken, and learning all about what it’s like to be Amish.
Looking for more theme parks? Visit the world's creepiest abandoned amusement parks... if you dare!