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Home > Top 15 Local Favorites in Northern Indiana

Top 15 Local Favorites in Northern Indiana

History, festivals, and exquisite dining collide in Indiana’s Cool North. We asked locals to list their favorite attractions, activities, and events so you can get the most authentic experience possible on your visit to Northern Indiana. Whether you take in one or go for the full 15, you’ll learn just what makes our corner of the country so special.

The Chesterton European Market – A Taste of France in Indiana’s Cool North

Chesterton Euro

Skip the crowded marchés of Paris and get an authentic taste of Europe, right here in Chesterton. Teeming with fresh-from-the-farm produce, artisan breads and freshly made crêpes, the Chesterton European Market boasts over 150 chefs, merchants, and farmers serving up the best local fare Northern Indiana has to offer.

Browse organic meat, decadent pastries, fresh flowers, and handmade jewelry. Visitors flock from Chicago, Michigan, and all over Northern Indiana to take in live glass blowing, pottery making, and live performances by Northern Indiana’s finest musicians. Prepare yourself for a day of indulgence—you deserve it!

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Brauer Museum of Art – Culture and History in the Heart of Valparaiso

Brauer

Stand amongst the world’s greatest painters, sculptors, and photographers at the Brauer Museum of Art located on the stunning campus of Valparaiso University. Boasting a collection of more than 3,700 works of art from the mid-19th century to the present, the Brauer Museum of Art houses the most comprehensive collection of American art in Northern Indiana.

Get lost in the quiet, soothing atmosphere of the university’s state-of-the-art museum as you stroll past spectacular landscapes painted by Frederic Edwin Church, impressionist paintings by Karl Anderson, and the largest known collection of works by Junius R. Sloan, a Hudson River School painter who lived and worked in the Midwest.

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Washington Park Zoo – Lions and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

Zoo

For 85 years, visitors have been flocking to this city-owned zoo, which encompasses 15 acres on a hilly sand dune close to Lake Michigan. It’s home to more than 200 animals, featuring more than 90 species, and surrounded by a natural botanical setting. Step into an exotic paradise filled with African lions, Bengal tigers, Burmese pythons, bald eagles, and more!

Step inside the Discovery Centre, home to creatures that hop and slither, immerse yourself in an Australian Adventure where colorful parakeets fly free, or visit miniature horses, donkeys, pigs, and goats in the Red Barn exhibit. Test your knowledge in the Education Center, explore historical WPA walkways and buildings, and climb to the top of the 70-foot tall observation tower.

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Step Back in Time - LaPorte County Historical Museum

Historical Society

Take a trip back in time at the LaPorte County Historical Museum. With more than 100,000 items on display, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of family heirlooms, antique toys, and rare dolls. History buffs will marvel at the period rooms which house a pioneer log cabin, a Victorian parlor, a kitchen from the 1920’s, and an old-fashioned dentist’s office.

The W.A. Jones Collection of Ancient Weapons, the third largest private gun collection in the world, is not be missed. Jones—a LaPorte County resident—traveled far and wide in search of items for his collection. Many of the guns you can see on display were purchased in Mexico City, Paris, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and other exotic locations. Before you leave, swing by the Kesling Auto Collection, consisting of more than 30 vintage automobiles, including a 1983 DeLorean—the car made famous by the “Back To The Future” franchise.

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East Race Waterway – White-Water Rafting in Downtown South Bend

East Race

Prepare for the ride of your life on a three-mile rafting adventure right in the middle of downtown South Bend! With a water scale rating of 2, this thrilling course is fun for the whole family. Maneuver the rapids and conquer the waves as you race through the historic downtown district.

Prefer to leave adventure to the experts? With more than five miles of stunning paths along the St. Joseph River, you can easily take in waterway activities, all while staying warm and dry. Fishing enthusiasts will want to try their hand at reeling in the big one, and can visit the fish ladder for seasonal viewing of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

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University of Notre Dame – Sacred Spaces to Fuel Inspiration

Sacred Place

Find your inner peace in the sacred spaces of Notre Dame University, a place where beauty abounds and faith is treasured. Surrounded by acres of breathtaking views, gothic architecture, and intricate outdoor sculptures, Notre Dame is an exquisite escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Modeled after the French shrine where the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette in 1858, the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes is a special place to spend a few quiet moments. Hundreds of students have proposed marriage here; outdoor Masses are celebrated regularly; and the Rosary is prayed every day at 6:45 p.m., every day of the year, rain or shine. Next, look for the spires of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, step inside, and feel a sense of calm surround you. Take in the stained-glass windows, first installed in 1873, and view cherished artifacts dating back centuries.

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Downtown South Bend – Where Old Meets New

Downtown Southbend

Trendy boutiques, vintage cars, and white water rafting—downtown South Bend has it all! Discover an upbeat vibe where you can live the city life and revel in a bit of outdoor excitement too. Amble along the historic streets, take in the scenery, and fall into the easy rhythm of life in Northern Indiana.

Visit eclectic studios, galleries, and museums, indulge in some retail therapy, or take in a performance at the Morris Performing Arts Center. Tour an old-fashioned workman’s cottage and an antique-filled mansion built by an early industrialist. Looking to pick up the pace? Hop on a white-water rafting adventure that takes you right through the middle of town! No matter your speed, Downtown South Bend is sure to please.

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Downtown Goshen – Energetic, Eclectic, Exciting.

Downtown Goshen

If you’re searching for excitement in Indiana’s Cool North, look no further than the bustling town of Goshen. The downtown scene is thriving and simply begs to be explored. Between the burgeoning arts scene, historic architecture, and intriguing places to eat and shop, there’s always something new to see.

Foodies rejoice! The culinary scene in downtown Goshen ranges from vegetarian to fusion, homemade chocolates to organic produce, and crispy wood fired-pizzas to flaky pastries. Start your day with a cup of freshly roasted coffee and finish it with a glass of local wine. And, with over 29 downtown festival days and themed events free to the public, there’s plenty of opportunity for people to discover Goshen’s eclectic vibe.

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Round Barn Theatre — World-Class Theatre at Historic Amish Acres

Round Barn

It’s been more than a quarter of a century since this 1911 round barn was dismantled and resurrected at historic Amish Acres. Since then, the resident cast has delighted visitors with more than 100 Broadway musicals. Shows on tap for the 2017 season include new and old favorites such as Legally Blonde, Guys and Dolls, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Don’t miss Plain and Fancy, an Amish Acres tradition and the first musical to hit Broadway in 1955. A light-hearted look at the differences between the Amish of Lancaster County and a young couple from New York City, Plain and Fancy was one of the first depictions of an Amish community in American pop culture.

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Shipshewana Auctions — It’s a Win-Win

Auctions

Going, going, gone! From pigs to horses, antique dressers to vintage toys, you can find just about anything at Shipshewana’s famous auctions. Serving buyers and sellers from all over the country since 1922, you’ll be hard pressed to find excitement quite like this.

With three distinct auctions—Antique, Livestock, and Horse—it’s easy to get swept up in the action. Before you know it, the bids will start flying, and the auctioneer will rattle them off in a speed you never thought possible. Whether you’re looking to snag the perfect souvenir, or simply taking it all in, a Shipshewana Auction is a must when visiting Indiana’s Cool North.

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Rise’n Roll Bakery and Deli — Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth in Middlebury

Rise Roll

Trust us, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve tasted a Rise’n Roll donut. Yeast-raised, drizzled with homemade caramel icing, and topped with a gentle dusting of powdered sugar, it only takes one bite to see how Rise’n Roll grew from a front porch bakery stand to a blossoming Indiana franchise.

Step inside and feast your eyes upon rows and rows of freshly baked cookies, pies, breads, granola, and the Rise’n Roll’s famous crunches—buttery creations in varieties that include pecan, peanut, cashew, and chocolate. Stock up on treats to take home as gifts, or keep them all to yourself—who could blame you?

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Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Museum — Where Every Day is Christmas

Hallmark

Tree trimming will never be the same after a visit to the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Museum in Warsaw, Indiana. Home to the only complete collection of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments on public display, the museum is veritable winter wonderland all year round.

Take your time and follow the ornaments’ progression from 1973 to present. The museum even displays some Hallmark Ornaments that weren’t officially produced, as well as miniature, Easter, Halloween, and Collectors Club ornaments. Browse their collection of back-issue ornaments for sale, take a piece of history home, and hang it on your tree—here’s to a Christmas you’ll never forget!

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The Ancilla Domini Chapel — Peace and Tranquility Among the Cornfields of Northern Indiana

Ancilla

You’re sure to find serenity at this lovely chapel among the lakes and cornfields of Northern Indiana. Originally purchased in 1918 by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, and referred to by locals as the “Chapel in the Cornfield”, the land is a sacred place of retreat, rest, and relaxation.

Brimming with Neo-Gothic columns, baroque-style stained glass windows, and wood-carved statues, the décor itself will leave you speechless. The rich altars, made of butternut and golden oak, were built in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and hauled to Donaldson in freight wagons. Stand under the soaring ceiling, emblazoned with images of angels, and view the massive pipe organ, originally built in Pennsylvania.

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The Plymouth Blueberry Festival — Family Fun in Picturesque Plymouth

Blueberry

Spend Labor Day weekend indulging in all things blueberry at the Plymouth Blueberry Festival. Here you’ll find over 100 booths serving up blueberry pie, blueberry ice cream, blueberry shakes, blueberry sundaes—if it involves blueberries, you can find it here. Add to that more than 300 craft vendors, a wildly popular Blueberry Stop 5K/15K run, and an antique car show, and you’ve the recipe for an unforgettable good time!

Be sure to bring your lawn chair and cozy up along Plymouth’s tree-lined streets to see local entertainers “jamming” on stage and Miss Blueberry and her court in the annual parade. Make sure you stick around, because the fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down; a spectacular fireworks display will cap off the perfect long weekend.

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