By Carla Marie Rupp and Jason Rupp
A trip through Indiana Amish country is a trip through a simpler and, perhaps, a more comfortable time. Amish people live a good life, give thanks to their Creator God, enjoy animals and nature, work hard and make delicious food for their families. Some will even cook and bake for visitors and show you their wares and crafts as well as horse-shoeing and buggy-making.
If you’ve ever thought about making an old-fashioned visit to see Amish Country and its seemingly simple rural life, come to Northern Indiana. This marvelous patch of the country is home to the third-largest Amish settlement in the U.S. It’s authentic, rural, down-home America populated with wonderful people.
Amish Settlements Galore
Throughout Indiana’s Amish country you’ll find small towns such as Shipshewana, Elkhart, Goshen, Wakarusa, Bristol, Middlebury and Nappanee dotting the countryside, with even smaller villages and farms galore in between the communities. Summer is a great time to be here, to enjoy all the garden-picked produce as well as the delicious homemade meals you’ll discover in little country stops and in the farmer’s markets you’ll encounter.
Driving is also a joy out here, and the scenery suits just fine. The black buggies with the Amish inside are a familiar sight and you’ll often hear the clip-clop of their horse’s hooves on the roads. There are even special car tours that take visitors to see Amish crafts, wood-working, buggy shops, schools and farms.
The Menno-Hof information center in Shipshewana is a good place to learn about the life and the faith of the Indiana Amish and Mennonites, as well as what’s available in the way of Amish and Mennonite sight-seeing in Northern Indiana. At the Elkhart County Visitor Center it isn’t uncommon to find lovely, hand-made quilts for sale.
Indiana Amish Heritage Guide
There’s also a fascinating audio Heritage Trail guide that instructs visitors on a 90-mile-road trip through Amish Country. It’s a real highlight of a visit to Northern Indiana, chock full of good tidbits of information and sights to see (it’s available through Amish Country Northern Indiana).
There are numerous comfortable bed & breakfast accommodations in the area, many full of antiques and all with country charm, as well as inns and reasonably priced motel rooms. You can even pick an Amish farmhouse or a converted barn made into a bed-and-breakfast!
All over the area you’ll also find plenty of tasty Amish food. At popular Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury – Indiana’s largest family-style restaurant and bakery – you can enjoy meals created from generations-old family recipes, including 30+ varieties of pies baked daily.
It’s fun to wander around this part of Amish country, with lots of memories to be built here.
There are also plenty of country auctions and flea markets to explore. One of the largest flea markets in the Midwest is in the hamlet of Shipshewana, where more than 900 vendors spread their merchandise out over 15 acres. You’ll also find Amish attractions, bakeries, fabric and gift shops and cute little boutiques on the town.
It’s fun, and visitors can find all kinds of antiques and collectibles, even tools and furniture and who-knows-what else. The popular, year-round event is held every Wednesday and attracts bidders from as far away as New York and Florida.
Photos courtesy of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau
If you go:
Elkhart County Visitor Center
3421 Cassopolis St
Shipshewana/LaGrange County Convention & Visitors Bureau
350 S. Van Buren St.
Shipshewana, Indiana 46565
The Menno-hof Information Center
510 South Van Buren St.