Posted on February 1, 2019 by Dina Miller
Watery adventures and one-of-a kind shopping happily co-mingle in Kosciusko County, home of several shoreside communities and Indiana’s largest natural lake. You can immerse yourself in swimming and fishing all day long, search for antiques and modern-day finds, and top it off with an evening of live theater. LaGrange County just to the northeast, adds another dimension to your getaway with homegrown surprises and a touch of the Amish. We’ve created an itinerary that fills your weekend with outdoor activity, browsing and buying, and plenty of spots for quiet relaxation.
In a drive of less than 20 miles, shoppers experience three communities with succinctly different flavors, each one of them treasure troves for everything that might be on your list and so much more! Then relax for a great dinner and head out for a theater performance.
Discover Classy Glass and Hallmark Wonders: The vibrant county seat community of Warsaw harbors a couple of unique finds you won’t want to miss. The Warsaw Cut Glass Company, founded in 1911, features goblets, pitchers, platters and bowls, all in gleaming hand-cut crystal. On most weekends, you can watch the glasscutters work their magic.
Visit the Village of Winona: Just a couple miles away, this thriving arts community along the Winona Lake shore is a dream for shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind finds. Galleries, studios, shops and trendy restaurants fill charmingly restored workmen’s homes. The village also hosts several music festival during the year.
Go antiquing in Pierceton: The small town on Pierceton, just a few miles southeast of Winona Lake, is a haven for antique and art lovers alike. You’ll find vintage furniture, clothing, glass, jewelry and other heirlooms, along with modern-day landscapes, pottery, sculpture and photography. Don’t miss a stop at the Blue Pearl Gallery, which specializes in Hoosier artists, as well as vintage finds.
Catch a show: The award-winning Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts in Warsaw features Broadway-quality theatrical productions in an intimate threater-in-the-round setting, plus concerts and performances by well-known entertainers.
The Blue Heron Guest House, Winona Lake: This breathtaking inn along the shores of Winona Lake resembles an Italian villa and features luxurious rooms and gourmet breakfasts. Several romantic packages are available.
Brooke Pointe Inn, Syracuse: Close to Lake Wawasee and Syracuse Lake, this 30-room inn features an indoor pool, suites with whirlpools, and 12 miles of trails on the grounds.
The Cerulean Restaurant, Winona Lake: Gleaming wood floors and artwork add flair to this upscale yet relaxed restaurant which features creative meat and seafood entrees, sushi and specialty drinks.
BoatHouse Restaurant, Winona Lake: A lovely view of Winona Lake accompanies surf ’n’ turf, pastas and other New American dishes served at this contemporary lakeside eatery & bar.
The Old Train Depot, Pierceton: Fill up on pizza, pasta, salads, soups or sandwiches along with a micro-brew at this restored 1867 depot by the railroad tracks.
Lakes define the Kosciusko communities of Syracuse and North Webster, where people who love swimming, fishing and boating have been coming for generations for a weekend in and on the water or a longer vacation stay. Just to the northeast, you’ll get a chance to meet the Amish farmers who bring their goods each week to a couple of longtime markets in the small towns of Howe and LaGrange.
Hit the Lakes: You can easily spend a whole weekend (or a week!) swimming, fishing, boating or just lounging on the beach at one of Kosciusko County’s many lakes. Lake Wawasee (Indiana’s largest natural lake), Syracuse Lake, Webster Lake, and Tippecanoe Lake draw swimmers to their sandy beaches, anglers who fish for muskie and other catches out on the water, plus waterskiers and sailboaters. Several marinas offer rentals, and family-friendly resorts give plenty of options for short and long stays.
Shop the Farmers Markets: LaGrange County is known as the No. 1 organic growing area in Indiana, so Saturday morning farmers markets in the communities of LaGrange and Howe, just six miles apart, offer a great chance to meet friendly Amish farmers. Stock up on their fresh produce, delicious baked goods, finely finished woodcrafts, quilts and more.
Shop Syracuse: Whether you’re in the market for art or eats, the Syracuse Artisan and Farmer’s Market has you covered each Saturday. Flowers, plants and seasonal vegetables are all available, along with handcrafted wares produced by local artisans, with everything from quilts and purses to hand-blown glass and paintings. And while you’re in town, stop by The Water Lily Art Gallery, selling the works of local artists, including many lake-inspired paintings of the area.
Meet the Bison: The couple who own Cook’s Bison Ranch near Wolcottville have a passion for raising these noble animals and love to share the legendary history with you. Meet the bison up close on guided wagon rides. The ranch store sells healthy bison meat and other bison-related products.
The Channel Marker, Syracuse: Visitors arrive by boat as well as car to dine at this relaxed restaurant known for great food, with everything from lobster cakes to burgers. It’s located on a beautiful channel that connects Lake Wawasee and Lake Syracuse.
Emma Cafe: A hidden gem in Amish Country with an old-fashioned soda fountain in the Emma General Store, this popular local eatery serves delicious home-cooked fare, pizza and daily specials. A similar treat is Crossroads Cafe, a few miles away in the small town of Topeka. The cafe is located in the back of the Topeka Pharmacy.
Oakwood Resort, Syracuse: This upscale resort on Lake Wawasee offers hotel rooms, cabins, vacation homes, a restaurant, and numerous amenities, including a salon and spa.
The third day of this itinerary might be called “Water and Walking” because it gives you plenty of both.
Kayak or Canoe: The gentle Pigeon River near Mongo is a favorite of canoers and kayakers who love to stop along the way for lunch, swimming, fishing for trout and wildlife watching. You might even see otters playing in the stream. The Trading Post at Mongo will set you up with all the gear for a couple or hours, a day or multi-day trips. The Trading Post also has a campground.
Ride the Dixie: Take a 75-minute cruise on Webster Lake aboard Indiana’s oldest sternwheeler for a little history, lots of music and loads of fun. Built in 1929, the Dixie passes several spots of historical interest, including the site of the Yellow Banks Hotel, where the Capone gang reputedly stayed.
Visit the Gardens: Roam a peaceful setting at the Warsaw Biblical Gardens, which contain over 100 plants that are named in the Bible.
Mi Lindo Acapulco, Warsaw: Fresh and authentic Mexican food in a popular restaurant that serves breakfast all day.
Pizza King, North Webster: Enjoy your pizza by the shores of Lake Webster in this local favorite with seating both inside and on the outdoor deck overlooking the water.
There’s a lot more to see and do in these two counties than you can fit in to one weekend, but this should give you a great starting point for creating your own Shops and Shores adventure in Indiana’s Cool North.