In northern Indiana, Elkhart County stitches together two welcoming worlds. Yes, it’s the comfort of the unhurried Amish life, where a million blooms spring to life in the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail. But there’s also an energized urban fabric woven from craft breweries, Four Diamond cuisine, eclectic live music, and trendy shops. An urban-rural patchwork that makes Indiana’s Cool North so special.
The Heritage Trail takes you through the vibrant communities of Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee, Bristol, Wakarusa and Shipshewana. Named as one of America’s “most scenic drives”, this picturesque loop explores welcoming communities, area attractions, and Amish life. So get ready for a road trip. You’re in for one unforgettable adventure.
Riverwalks and downtown fun
Experience Elkhart’s Gateway Mile. Enjoy a bottle of wine at a downtown bistro or a cold brew on the patio by the riverside. Explore the tranquil surroundings at Wellfield Botanic Gardens. Discover classic American architecture and history at Ruthmere, timeless works for art at the Midwest Museum of American Art and great theatre and concerts at the historic Lerner Theatre. The NIBCO Water and Ice Park offers family fun year-round; a winding ice-skating rink in the winter and a splash pad come summer. There’s more to explore along the Gateway Mile’s RiverWalk Culture Trail, the Heritage Trail or the Quilt Gardens.
The Maple City
Get yourself to Goshen! Cool cafés, eclectic shops, and exciting entertainment offer unique experiences you won’t find in just any small town. Satisfy your sweet tooth with one of 50 flavors of pie at South Side Soda Shop or find just what you didn’t know you were looking for in one of the many shops at The Old Bag Factory.
This city has an undeniable energy that speaks to anyone who visits—call it Americana with a twist. On the first Friday of every month, the streets of downtown Goshen are filled with music, special events, and shops that stay open late. For lovers of the great outdoors, the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail offers miles of trails to explore. The Millrace Canal offers a fascinating glimpse of Goshen from your bike.
Grown from tradition
Middlebury’s rolling hills reminded its first settlers so much of their home state of Vermont they decided to put down their roots. The town’s biggest attraction (literally) is Das Dutchman Essenhaus—Indiana’s largest restaurant. It serves authentic Amish cuisine to over 750,000 people a year!
Family and healthy living are at the heart of the Middlebury lifestyle. Spend some quality time in the great outdoors on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, learn a little local history on a stroll through Krider “World’s Fair” Garden, or take in one of Northern Indiana’s iconic Quilt Gardens.
The gateway to Amish Country
It’s all about the Amish way of life in Nappanee. Visit the homestead of the first Amish settlers in Indiana at The Barns at Nappanee (Home of Amish Acres). Take a traditional horse and buggy ride, tuck in to a hearty, Farm Feast, and take in a show at The Round Barn Theatre.
It’s hard not to walk away with out something in hand at Coppes Commons. This former cabinet factory is home to small businesses and eateries offering up authentic local goods and fresh food. From handcrafted leatherworks to ice cream concoctions made with liquid nitrogen, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon in Nappanee.
History, heritage, and harmony
Don’t be fooled by Bristol’s sleepy small town façade—it’s got plenty of activities and entertainment to make for an awesome day trip in Indiana’s Cool North. Check out the original “daily grind” at Bonneyville Mill.
Experience Northern Indiana’s serene natural beauty with a canoe or kayak excursion on the St. Joseph River. For those that just can’t leave the Windy City’s famous hot dogs behind, stop in at Chicago’s Downtown Eatery. Check out the new Quilt Mural in downtown Bristol.
Small Town. Big Heart.
Looking for an escape from the big city? You’ll find it in Wakarusa—where it’s hard to have a traffic jam with only one stoplight in town! Century-old buildings, shady tree-lined streets and nostalgic shops make for one throwback to classic Americana you don’t need to be on social media to enjoy. The town square is especially festive in the fall and at Christmas when the annual Pumpkin and Christmas trees are displayed.
Discover the “wall of a thousand drawers” at Wakarusa Hardware, or search for your favorite childhood sweets and sodas at the Wakarusa Dime Store and sample their famous jumbo jelly beans. Cook’s Pizza is a favorite around town for pizza or ice cream. For those that need to satisfy their sweet tooth, plan your visit around the Maple Syrup Festival held in late April.
Where Amish culture comes to life
It’s no secret that Shipshewana is one of the coolest places in Northern Indiana. This town of less than 700 people welcomes one and half million visitors per year! Search for treasures and put your bargaining skills to the test at one of the Midwest’s largest flea markets. Take a step back in time and experience Shipshewana’s scenic countryside on a horse and buggy ride. Bring a taste of the Amish life home with expertly crafted handmade goods, freshly baked treats, and much more.
Head to the Shipshewana Quilt Festival in June to see impressive examples of handiwork from around the United States. At Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park, you’ll see some exotic animals and have a chance to feed the monkeys at the petting zoo. Take in a Broadway-style show at the Blue Gate Theatre or get your pizza fix at Iannarelli Italian Restaurant in Howe.
Northern Indiana is home to many beautiful gardens, that showcase not only flowers, wetlands, and native plants, but play areas, trains and other features just for kids. Here are 7 gardens!Learn More