A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Shipshewana, Indiana

Midwest Travel

When I first went to Shipshewana, my daughter asked, “Don’t you wanna go to Shipshewana?” Since I’m always up for a road trip, I answered, “Yes, absolutely, I wanna go to Shipshewana!” She’d heard about this charming town in northern Indiana, just over the state line from Michigan, and she wanted to explore Amish culture and a simpler way of life. We found so many things to do there.

While the Shipshewana Flea Market is a must-do activity, the market is only open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May through September. However, the flea market is only one aspect of Shipshewana, Indiana. I want to let you know this charming small town doesn’t close at the end of September. You’ll find so much to do throughout the year; it won’t matter when you go. The quilt gardens bloom in summer and the barn quilts are on display year-round.

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In the fall, decorations celebrate the harvest. You’ll find festive autumn decorations throughout the whole town. The corn maze is one of the fun things to do at that time of year. After Halloween, the town begins decorating for Christmas, with Shipshewana’s lights and Christmas music. By Thanksgiving, the town is ready to begin the holidays. So, while autumn decorations are over the top, you must see Shipshewana at Christmas.

Thank you to Visit Shipshewana for hosting my stay.

Top Things to Do in Shipshewana

Shipshewana, Indiana, is home to the third-largest Amish community in the United States. You’ll find warm hospitality and many unique experiences in what feels like the heart of Indiana. Here are some of the best things to do in Shipshewana.

Menno-Hof

The Menno-Hof makes a great first stop in exploring Shipshewana. This museum provides accurate information about the heritage and culture of the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. This non-profit information center features interactive displays and hands-on activities.

What surprised me about Menno-Hof was while the Amish lifestyle avoids many modern conveniences, this museum is high-tech. Throughout the exhibits, you’ll watch a video or audio presentation explaining their challenges, history, and journey to the United States. Take time to experience the high-tech Tornado Room. You’ll be amazed.

Plan to spend at least an hour and 15 minutes and take a tour to experience it completely. Once you finish with the tour, take some time to explore their gift shop offering many handmade gifts. You’ll want to take home some of these unique finds to remind you of your time in Amish country.

I found this brochure helpful in answering my questions about the Amish lifestyle.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Menno-Hof is open year-round, Monday through Saturday. They close on Sundays and are open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the rest of the week. The facility is air-conditioned and handicap accessible.

Wolfe Grain Mural in Shipshewana, Indiana
Wolfe Grain Mural in Shipshewana, Indiana

Murals

You’ll find at least 20 murals throughout Shipshewana. In 2014, Wall Dogs, a group of mural artists and sign painters from around the world, descended on Shipshewana to create 16 of these murals. They’re even hidden amongst the Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market stalls. As storytellers, the murals provide Shipshewana’s history and background in a fun and exciting way.

Stop by Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes to see local artist Rocky Weaver’s painting that depicts a local farmer harvesting wheat. You’ll have a great view of this from the grand staircase. Download this mural map to guide your exploration of all the murals around Shipshewana.

Buggy Lane Tours

What struck me when I first arrived in Shipshewana was that even from my car, I could hear the clip-clop as the sound of horse hooves hit the pavement. Buggy Lane Tours are an authentic experience and will bring you up to speed on the area’s rich history. Their tours are the perfect place to experience the Amish way of life and visit an Amish home. The tours offer wagon and buggy rides. I would try to do the tour after the Menno-Hof, as a guided tour also provides background that will be helpful to understand as you explore the area.

Through Buggy Lane Tours, you’ll be able to enjoy an authentic Amish meal in the home of an Amish family. You’ll have the opportunity to discover the Amish way of life and dine in an Amish home.

Blue Gate Performing Arts Center
Blue Gate Performing Arts Center

Blue Gate Performing Arts Center

Located next to the Blue Gate Garden Inn, with a seating capacity of 1,500, the Blue Gate Theatre is a popular year-round destination. The center features a wide variety of musical performances by renowned artists. This world-class entertainment venue features live music and plays.

When we were there, we saw the Mersey Beatles, a singing group that performs all Beatles tunes. While they have various plays and musicians, check out their performance schedule if you have a favorite group from the last century. You may find a group that recreates their sound.

At the Blue Gate Restaurant, you’ll find the Blue Gate Music Hall, another performance space.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Check your tickets to be sure you know where your show is performing.

Bonneyville Mill
Bonneyville Mill

Bonneyville Mill County Park

While not in Shipshewana proper, Bonneyville Mill County Park is an Elkhart County Park that you won’t want to miss. You can explore nature and learn about culture. The mill is Indiana’s oldest continuously operating grist mill. Bonneyville Mill, established in the mid-1830s, still produces stone ground flour today through waterpower. Ask the attendant to demonstrate grinding corn into cornmeal, and you’ll feel the massive stone wheels grinding beneath your feet as the water rushes into power the mill.

Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park

Situated between Shipshewana and Middlebury, Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park features various farm and exotic animals from around the world. The kiddos will enjoy the petting zoo. You can only feed the animals on the tours on their guided wagon rides.

Piper’s Pro Planning: The venue opens from May 1 through mid-October.

Where to Shop in Shipshewana, Indiana

You’ll find many unique stores on Harrison Street in downtown Shipshewana. Here are some other shopping options.

Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market

Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market is an exciting experience. The Flea Market is the Midwest’s largest flea market, with over 700 booths. While the search is fun, it’s also a great way to find handmade crafts and unique items for holiday gifts.

They have antique and livestock auctions, with other year-round events. On auction day, you’ll find a lot of excitement as several auctions occur simultaneously in the same place.

While they have several food courts, like the Fry Pie Booth, take time to get away and have lunch at the Shipshewana Auction Restaurant, a sit-down venue at the entrance to the grounds.

Davis Mercantile
The Exterior of the Davis Mercantile

Davis Mercantile

Davis Mercantile has 20 shopping experiences under one roof. I like to start on the third floor and work my way down. That floor is a great place to have fun times with the kiddos. You’ll find the 100-year-old Dentzel Carousel, the food court, a toy store, a candy shop and an entire store dedicated to puzzles. They have everything from home décor to upscale boutiques selling Vera Bradley and Alex & Ani.

Dentzel Carousel at the Davis Mercantile
Dentzel Carousel at the Davis Mercantile

When it’s time to eat, try Jojo’s Pretzels, Shipshewana’s original pretzel shop, or Millie’s Market Café.

Rocky Weaver’s painting that depicts a local farmer harvesting wheat located at the Red Barn Shoppes in Shipshewana, IN
Rocky Weaver’s Painting Depicting a Local Farmer Harvesting Wheat at the Red Barn Shoppes

Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes

Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes is a great place to find good deals in shops like the Red Barn Bargains. Check out a range of clothing shops, from The Fancy Farm Girl to Parker’s Outlet Center for Carhartt Clothing. They also have the Victorian Candy Company offering their made-on-site brittle brackle. They also have old-fashioned candies.

This Big Red Barn offers bench-lined hallways and an elevator, making exploring easy for everyone.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Plan to visit local grocery stores on the last day of your visit. If you are driving to Shipshewana, plan to take a cooler, as you will want to take home some of the local meat and cheese.

Where to Eat

Blue Gate Restaurant in Shipshewana, Indiana
Blue Gate Restaurant

Six places to eat in Shipshewana reflect the area’s tasty comfort food.

  • Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery offers delicious home-style cooking, with local favorites like fried chicken and meatloaf.
  • Country Corral serves breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, the cinnamon rolls are the must-try item on the menu.
  • Located in the Davis Mercantile, Millie’s Market Café is the perfect place to have lunch while shopping.
  • Shawna Rae’s Bakery & Café offers beautiful cupcakes and mini cheesecakes for any meal or snacks for the road trip home. While they have an area to eat in the bakery and café, they also have grab-and-go meals.
  • While Shipshewana Auction Restaurant is a great place to take a break from the auction and flea market action, you can have a great meal there, no matter what activities you’re doing around Shipshewana.
  • Part coffee shop, part café, Wana-Cup offers counter-style ordering, but the servers bring the food to your table and follow up to be sure you still have everything you need.

To learn more about these restaurants, check out the 11 Best Foodie Experiences in Shipshewana, Indiana. It includes restaurants where you can shop for ingredients to replicate your meals in Shipshewana at home.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Remember that many restaurants and shops close on Sunday when planning your visit.

Lobby of the Blue Gate Garden Inn
Lobby of the Blue Gate Garden Inn

Where to Stay

Stay at one of these locally owned, family-friendly hotels to enjoy the local atmosphere.

Blue Gate Garden Inn

The Blue Gate Garden Inn is a family-friendly hotel steps from the Blue Gate Performing Arts Center. The hotel offers a complimentary hot breakfast that includes made-to-order omelets and waffles. While it has a homey charm, it provides modern conveniences like free wireless internet and flat-screen TVs. Other amenities include an indoor swimming pool, outdoor patio, fire pit, and fitness center.

Farmstead Inn

Another family-friendly local hotel is the Farmstead Inn, the perfect place to stay if you’re in town for the Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market. Their amenities include a complimentary hot continental breakfast, free wireless internet, and flat-screen TVs. Activities include an indoor pool and hot tub, a ping pong room, and an indoor one-quarter-sized basketball court. To get outdoors, you’ll find a tranquil pond and walking paths. They also offer bicycle rentals if you want to explore some trails.

Piper’s Pro Planning: As you start your visit, stop by the Shipshewana LaGrange County Visitors Center to see items your itinerary might be missing.

If You Go

Getting There

Shipshewana, Indiana, is in the Eastern time zone and is in LaGrange County. The closest major airport is South Bend International Airport (SBN), 48 miles from Shipshewana. You’ll find flights on Allegiant, American, Delta, and United.

How far is Shipshewana from?

CityDistance
Chicago134 miles
Detroit193 miles
Grand Rapids97 miles
Indianapolis174 miles
Lansing111 miles
Driving Distance from Shipshewana to Other Cities

Getting Around

The best way to get around Shipshewana is by car unless you prefer horse and buggy. If you fly in, you’ll want to rent a car.

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Shipshewana Pinterest Graphic

BOOK YOUR TRIP

Let’s get something on the calendar! Here are some of Piper’s Pro Planning links to help you book your trip.

Plan your flight and book your airline ticket with these links:

Plan your overnight accommodations anywhere from national chains to private homes with:

Plan to save on all of your activities, from tours to attractions. These links will help:

Visit my resources page for more planning help.

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2 Comments

  1. Carole

    This is the first time I’ve heard of Shipshewana and I’m intrigued! My only encounter with the Amish thus far has been through watching the film ‘Witness’ starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. It would be awesome to visit the community in real life and get to know more about them. I enjoyed learning about the celebrations and traditions of the town.

    Reply
    • Piper

      And I haven’t seen the movie. I need to add that to my list of movies to see.

      Reply

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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in luxury and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.

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