The Amish country of Geauga County, Ohio, is home to the second largest Amish population in the state. The northeast Ohio region offers nine free family-friendly things to do for an affordable family vacation.

1) Taste the syrup. March is maple sugar season in Geauga County and the Maple Madness Tour. www.ohiosweetmaple.com/ includes more than 20 sugar houses. Help collect sap, take a wagon ride, and sample the freshest syrup you’ll ever taste.

2) Drive around. Pick up a Geauga County Visitor Guide and drive through Amish Country. Your route takes you down country roads past Amish homes, people out working in their fields and horse & buggies traveling along side of the road. If you’re there on May 8, 2010, join the county’s Drive-it-Yourself Tour/Road Rally, an annual event with a different themed route every year, ending with a finale party, entertainment food & gifts.

3) Play at a park. Geauga Park District offers free programs ranging from “Timber Tot” Nature walks for Mom and tots to Senior Art Displays at a variety of locations, year round.

4) Take a bike ride, walk or run on the Maple Highlands Trail. This former B&O railroad corridor is now a 12.4-mile paved all-purpose trail maintained by Geauga Park District. It stretches Headwaters Park in Claridon Township to the Geauga/Lake County line in Chardon Township.

5) Experience Amish culture at Ridgeview Farm. This family owned farm has converted its barn loft into a collection of Amish clothing, furniture and other things you would find in an Amish home (including the buggy). It’s free to visit the Center and the animals in the barn and learn about the culture and customs of the Amish. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday May through October.

Ohio_llama6) Hear some music. Free outdoor concerts are presented on Historic Chardon Square at 7 p.m. on Fridays from June through Aug. 14, 2009. Bring your lawn chair, blanket and picnic basket for this old fashioned night out.

7) Enjoy the weekly “Burton Cruis’in”
on Wednesday nights through the summer as antique and vintage cars cruise into Main Street in Burton.

8) Visit an alpaca farm. Learn about their care, shearing procedures and see the beautiful fiber that can be made into a variety of clothing and products. National Alpaca Farm Days are Sept. 26 & 27, 2009.

9) Check out a record-breaking pumpkin at the Huntsburg Pumpkin Festival. This annual celebration is always the first Saturday and Sunday in October. Includes old time kids’ games and competitions. musical entertainment, kids parade and Pumpkin Roll.