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Pet-friendly Travel in Northern Indiana

When Victor Young retired, he didn’t think he’d spend his days doting over a dog. But then his daughter called and said she had to give up her dog because of her son’s allergies. Young offered to drive Cody the dog to the Humane Society, but didn’t even get out of the driveway before he knew he was in trouble.

Elkhart Bonneyville Mill“My wife and I said we were done with pets but this little guy tugged at my heartstrings,” says Young of his three-year-old beagle. “He just seemed like the perfect little guy to add to the family.”

Since bringing him home that day in 2011, Young says Cody comes along for the ride nearly everywhere he and his wife go – the store, the post office, the bank – so it’s only logical that they would bring him on vacation.

“We don’t like to fly and driving anywhere with him more than two or three hours is out of the question, so we do a lot of Midwest road trips with our dog,” Young says. “He’s a beagle. They’re not exactly calm, so you have to travel quickly from Point A to Point B.”

For now, the small towns of Northern Indiana have become the Youngs’ preferred “Point B,” offering a non-suburban, non-city experience to the Arlington Heights residents.

“I worked for UPS for 30 years so I’m done rushing places,” says Young. “I like to take my time, soak it all in, so Indiana has become a great vacation spot for us, especially Amish Country.”

Young says he and his wife don’t have to seek out places that are dog friendly, since it’s usually obvious where dogs are and aren’t welcome, but it is nice to know when the pet welcome mat has been rolled out.

“You just feel more comfortable not having to ask,” he says.

Here’s a look at some pet-friendly things to do in Northern Indiana:


Bonneyville Mill, Middlebury, Indiana

Where: 53373 County Road 131, Bristol, Indiana

Get ready for a little flour power, Northern Indiana style, when you visit the historic Bonneyville Mill, which opened in the mid-1800s. Known for its massive grist stones, the mill grinds corn, wheat, rye and buckwheat the old- fashioned way, providing visitors with a unique look into an era where food wasn’t processed by stainless-steel machinery. Once you’ve toured the mill, grab the kids, the dog and the camera for this excursion to 223 acres of scenic woodlands, rolling hills, natural marshes, colorful wildflowers, flowing water, abundant fish and vast meadows.

The Village at Winona, Winona Lake, Indiana

Where: 901 E Canal St, Winona Lake, Indiana

Looking for a little vintage Americana with a bend toward the creative? Then you’ll want to add a visit to the Village at Winona to your to-do list. Originally home to the Potawatomi Indians, the area surrounding Winona – formerly Eagle – Lake has gone through numerous iterations since the late 1800s, culminating in a 1994 restoration that oversaw the renovation of more than 30 properties. The new arts community is home to original shops, restaurants, galleries and studios. It’s a great place to begin your weekend in Northern Indiana, a back-to-basics locale with an emphasis on the arts that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.

Shipshewana Flea Market/Auction, Shipshewana, Indiana

Where: 345 S. Van Buren St., Shipshewana, Indiana

Look for treasure in Northern Indiana at the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market, which takes place every Tuesday and Wednesday through October from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. With more than 900 vendors on 100 acres, you can browse through rows and rows of crafts, fresh produce, original works of art and more.
Each Wednesday at 9 a.m., an antique auction is held on the site, offering collectors and armchair interior decorators the chance to score that unique item that could be the final piece in creating that perfect room back home.

Bluhm County “Bark Park,” Westville, Indiana

Where: 3855 South 1100 West, Westville, Indiana

Sometimes, something as simple as a quick visit to a dog park is enough to keep Fido content for a few hours, providing you with more time to explore the treasures of Northern Indiana. Take a break at the Bluhm “Bark Park,” a three-acre fenced-in area where your dog is free to roam. Dog-friendly features include a tree jump, a tire jump, a doggie crawl and more. One-day passes are available for $4.

Scottish Bed & Breakfast

Where: 2180 Miami Trail, Bremen, Indiana

Looking for a break from the hustle and bustle? How about a night or two at a quaint bed and breakfast in the middle of the country? Enjoy a homemade breakfast, comfortable rooms and an indoor heated pool. Small dogs are welcome, according to owner Brenda Miller, offering pets and owners a chance to take a break from their hectic lives. “We’re right here in Amish County so they can see the slow pace of Amish lifestyle,” says Miller. “People like to come here and relax. It’s a great change of pace and a great way to appreciate the simple things, even something as simple as being able to look up at night and see a sky filled with stars.”

Indiana Dunes

Where: Indiana Dunes National Park Visitor Center, 1215 N. State Road 49, Porter, Indiana

Sure, the beach is the first thing you think of when you hear about the Indiana Dunes, but don’t limit those thoughts to a few hours spent running through the sand and splashing in the water. The Dunes offer so much more – 15,000 acres in all of beautiful landscape that draws in hikers, bicyclists, nature observers and more. Want your dog to forgive you for those 50-square feet of grass he gets to “explore” the rest of the year? Take him to the Dunes, where he’ll explore challenging dunes, quiet forests, unique wetlands, flowing rivers, bright prairies and tranquil forests. “It’s a little bit of heaven right here in the Midwest,” says Chicago resident Barbara Thompson, who tries to bring her children to the Dunes a few times each summer. “You completely forget how close you are to Chicago. It’s like you’re in another world.”

River Walk, South Bend, Indiana

Where: Along the St. Joseph River in South Bend

Days of shopping and nights of dining can help you unwind from the 9-to-5 nature of your normal life. Complete the relaxation circle with a quiet jaunt with nothing but the sounds of nature as accompaniment. Whether you’re looking for a place to bike, run, jog or walk, you’ll find plenty of open space on the paved walkway along the banks of the St. Joseph River. Miles of hard surface provide the perfect path for pet owners and there are plenty of great places to stop and snack along the trail as well.