Elkhart County welcomes groups big or small with authentic experiences; unique venues; lodging options, from trusted brands to charming locally owned inns; and quaint communities packed with group-exclusive activities in the heart of Northern Indiana Amish Country. The county is home to the third-largest Amish population in the country, and there are many welcoming Amish home-based businesses dotting the countryside of Middlebury and Nappanee that offer everything from handmade quilts and baskets to noodles and baked goods. Check out these itinerary ideas for your Amish-themed tour!
Das Dutchman Essenhaus
The Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury is home to Indiana’s largest restaurant and is a peaceful escape in the country. This family-owned business offers a unique combination of dining, lodging, and shopping. The attractive Amish-style restaurant is the largest in Indiana and serves delicious Amish recipes passed down through generations. The manicured grounds invite a leisurely stroll or a carriage ride and shopping at the village shops. Experience true relaxation at the on-site quaint country inn with spacious guest rooms that offer all the luxuries you expect while traveling.
Brown Bag Backroads Tour
Travel scenic backroads while passing horse-drawn buggies, tidy farm homes, and white-washed barns. Learn about the fascinating lifestyle of the Amish as your knowledgeable step-on guide tells your group all about the area and the history, traditions, and customs of the Amish. You’ll stop at a variety of welcoming country stores and quaint shops as you load up your “brown bag” with goodies. Get to know local Amish entrepreneurs and see firsthand how they operate their unique enterprises. Hear the backstory of friendly and hardworking people who use their special talents to create products and build businesses that serve the local community and beyond.
Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail
Designated a “Top 100 Event” and “Best of the Best” by the American Bus Association, this annual, one-of-a-kind experience in Elkhart County runs from May 30 to Sept. 15. Gaze at over 1 million blooms in 15 giant gardens planted in the shape of quilt patterns along with supersized, hand-painted murals in six welcoming communities along the 90-mile heritage trail. It’s a quilters and gardeners dream tour! With the added bonus of exciting options, events, hands-on activities, dining, and shopping, the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail sets the stage for an exceptional group tour wrapped in quilt and gardening themes.
Shipshewana Flea Market & Auction
The Shipshewana Flea Market is a do-not-miss Hoosier tradition with nearly 700 spaces in an open-air market on 40 acres. The vendors are open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday, May through September, rain or shine. The market offers a variety of products with something for everyone, and includes food courts, a sit-down restaurant, and rest areas. Plus, don’t miss the weekly Antique Auctions that take place at 9 a.m. each Wednesday, year-round.
In-home Amish Meal at The Carriage House
Handmade, quilted tapestries adorn the authentic wooden walls inside The Carriage House in Topeka. Large tables fill up fast with its homemade Amish family-style feast, complete with delicious pie for dessert. Pro tip: Give your group a special treat and add on Elaine’s cinnamon roll baking demonstration. Elaine is known throughout her community as the “Cinnamon Roll Lady,” and she whips up giant batches for local fundraisers.
To learn more, visit visitelkhartcounty.com/groups.
Amish Country of Northern Indiana
Credit: Elkhart County CVB