One of my favorite towns to hang out in near me is Shipshewana. This is what we refer to as an Amish town as there are many Amish people living and working there. You can regularly see their buggies driving down the road here and the town is very laid back with a slower pace of life. My favorite places to visit here are:
- E & S Sales - I commonly call it my "Amish Sam's Club" because you can buy bulk food there like flour, oatmeal, sugar. It is where I get all of my baking supplies in bulk. They also have great deals on closeout foods that are typically "seconds" and need to be sold right away but still are good...think granola bars, cereal, etc. I go here to stock up on pantry items.
- Davis Mercantile - This building is filled with a lot of fun stores to shop through and even some to eat at. Stop for a handmade pretzel from JoJo's...YUM!!! I love The ScrapYard for unique scrapbooking supplies, Aunt Millie's Candy for their selection of candy, and I might have a habit of wandering through Lolly's Fabrics to touch all the beautiful fabrics. I also love wandering through the other stores in this building just to see what they have. One of my favorite parts of this place is the carousel. I love riding it with my kids even though they are older now. Be sure to check out all the stores around the Davis Mercantile too as they offer many unique finds.
- Blue Gate Restaurant - Make sure you have plenty of room in your belly to eat here. You can order off the menu or if you are really hungry, eat family style. You will not walk away hungry from this place. Be sure to either save room for their pie or walk into their bakery and buy a pie to take home. YUM!!!
- Shipshewana Trading Place Auction and Flea Market - This flea market runs May - September and you can find just about everything there. Be prepared to spend the whole day as there are so many aisles to go through. They have auctions year round here and you would have to check out their website to find out what they are auctioning off.
There are also other various shops in town that are definitely fun to wander through including some antique shops. I have never been to Menno-Hof, but it is on my list of places to visit as I have heard many wonderful things about this information center that teaches all about the Amish and Mennonites.
Middlebury is another small town rich in tradition and history, It is just a little town and probably mostly known for being home to several big RV manufacturing companies, but we know it and love it for being a small town, close to home. Here are my favorite stops:
- Rise'n Roll Bakery and Deli - If you stop here early in the morning be prepared to wait, but don't visit our area without stopping here. I promise it is worth the wait. Amish baked goods, breads, and food...if that wasn't enough, Rise'n Roll is home of the Cinnamon Caramel donut. This donut melts in your mouth and is worth every single calorie. If you can stop at just one, you are a much better person than me. Those of us that live near enough to get these donuts regularly call them "Amish Crack" donuts because you can't eat just one. I have had breakfast and lunch here too and have never been disappointed. We love their Smoked Sausage Roll (bread) as well. Slice it and fry it in butter for a great breakfast treat!
- Das Dutchman Essenhaus - This is a restaurant, bakery, inn, and shops. Stop by the restaurant for a delicious (Amish) meal and a slice of homemade pie (I suggest the Peanut Butter Pie). They still make their noodles for chicken and noodles or beef and noodles. This is another place you can eat off the menu or choose family style dining. Either way you won't walk away hungry. You can walk off your meal by walking around the grounds and checking out the inn or the shops for unique gifts.
- Pumpkin Vine Nature Trail - This trail that is perfect for walking, running, or biking actually goes all the way from Goshen, IN to Shipshewana, IN with plans to connect it in other places that eventually you can ride the trail even further. Our favorite place to catch the trail is located behind the Dairy Queen in Middlebury and it is perfect for walking or riding. The walk is beautiful as you look out over farms and walk through the woods.
There are also various shops in Middlebury that you can walk through and find plenty of unique gifts.
Bristol is a little town that if you blink you will miss it. The actual town is not very big, but there are a few places worth checking out.
- Bonneyville Mill County Park - This gorgeous park has over 200 acres of land to explore. It has hills, valleys, a waterfall, and a working mill. They only run the mill here during the summer, but you can see it year round. There is also a wood tower you can climb the stairs to to the top and see out over the country side. This is one of our favorite parks to visit because it is breathtaking year round.
- Bristol Opera House - This opera house is the home of the Elkart Civic Theatre and they run plays here year round. It is a small theater that puts on big productions and I have very fond memories of attending plays with my mom here.
- Elkhart County Historical Museum - This is a hidden treasure of Bristol. This little museum has big things to offer when you stop in. They always have interesting exhibits and they love to share their knowledge with you and help you in your research projects.
Once I started typing out my list I realized there is more to do around where we live than I thought so I will be making a couple of more posts with more things to do. So stay tuned for part 2 of Being a Tourist in Michiana....