Get ready to explore a living patchwork quilt of diverse downtowns and colorful experiences. This urban-rural fusion is connected by the Heritage Trail as it weaves its way through a thousand and one unique moments. You’ll find hometowns where shop owners can still be found standing behind the counter. Country roads that lead buggies home to steaming bowls of mashed potatoes. Vibrant downtowns filled with fascinating museums, eclectic shops and local eateries. And landscapes that capture the way each season brings new character to old favorites. Discover how our heritage and culture has shaped our way of life - how our Amish communities bring a sense of peace to surrounding regions and how our RV industry has fueled our sense of adventure. We live it, you’ll love it! We’ve highlighted some must-sees to help you plan your weekend adventure along the Heritage Trail.
DAY ONE (Elkhart) The City with a Heart has plenty to offer. Kick back at an outdoor café, tour one (or all five!) museums, check out the NIBCO Water & Ice Park. They’re all close and connected by the Garden, RiverWalk and A&E Districts along Downtown Elkhart’s Gateway Mile. Wake up to a Bacon Lovers Burrito or Baked Oatmeal and some java at The Electric Brew (113 E Lexington) then head south on Main Street to the Midwest Museum of American Art (429 S Main) to view the largest Norman Rockwell lithograph collection along with the largest Overbeck Art Pottery collection in the state. Continue south on Main Street to the National New York Central Railroad Museum (721 S Main). Train buffs of all ages will delight in the most significant collection of New York Central artifacts in the world.
Time to head north on the Gateway Mile where you’ll discover the water-themed Wellfield Botanic Gardens, (1011 S Main) popular for its whimsical sculptures and water features. Wellfield marks the north entrance to the Gateway Mile. This walkable stretch leads to the opulent Ruthmere Mansion (302 E Beardsley), the park-lined RiverWalk connecting the Garden and A&E Districts and the historic Lerner Theatre, a 1920s-era movie house turned performing arts complex in the heart of the downtown’s A&E district (410 S Main).
Need a little retail therapy? Not-too-shabby chic meets retro retail in the Beardsley Avenue Antique District. Here you’ll find Antiques on Beardsley (816 W Beardsley), Tchotchkes, Antiques & More (1000 W Beardsley) and 820 Antiques (820 N Ward). Downtown, restyle any room with blasts from the past at The Black Crow on Main (224 S Main) then head over to b on the River(333 NIBCO Parkway) for home accents with a French country cottage feel.
If weather permits, wrap up the day on the patio at The Vine (214 S. Main) where you can enjoy a glass of wine with warm spinach artichoke dip and your favorite pasta, steak or pizza. Or try a stylish departure from a traditional restaurant at Artisan (505 S. Main), a AAA Four Diamond Award winner that embraces elegant and imaginative Midwestern cuisine.From grilled brie to premium steaks and seafood, this downtown favorite pairs great flavors with a warm, contemporary setting.
DAY TWO (Middlebury / Bristol & Goshen) It’s time to get out and get active! Start your day’s adventure in Middlebury with a mango smoothie at the Legendary Grind (108 S Main). Bigger appetites, and those who may need to carb load, might opt for the biscuits & gravy at the Village Inn (107 S Main). Both will fuel the 12-mile trek that connects Middlebury to Shipshewana on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail (Pumpkinvine.org).
Bike or hike the paved path that skirts Amish farms, dense canopies of trees and wetlands. Should you choose to bike, you can bring your own set of wheels or rent from Pumpkinvine Cyclery. Access the trail at Krider Garden (302 W Bristol). The shaded setting is a great place to park or picnic (and features statuary once displayed at the Chicago 1933 World’s Fair). After an active morning outdoors, you’ve earned a noon-time meal filled with Amish country favorites including chicken, noodles and all the fixins’ at Das Dutchman Essenhaus (240 US 20).
Nobody passes on the pie - there are 30 flavors! From Middlebury, take a drive to Bristol and the Bonneyville Mill Park (53373 County Road 131), home to one of Indiana’s oldest water-powered mills. It’s laced with hiking trails and woodlands and kids love the mountain bike trail. Be sure to catch the “daily grind” demo hosted by miller John Jenney while the massive grist stones vibrate under your feet. Follow the Heritage Trail to Goshen, a city that fuses urban edge with historic charm. You’ll discover unique finds around every corner at the Old Bag Factory artisans’ complex (1100 N Chicago). It’s home to artisan galleries and specialty boutiques. Every gorgeous piece at Goertzen Pottery is wood-fired, richly colored and fully functional. Turkish jewelry designer Gamze Neer crafts beautiful baubles from Victori-an cameos to Art Nouveau bracelets.
Getting hungry? Goshen offers locally owned options with something pleasing for every palate. Discover the “life-changing” authentic Italian wood-fired pizza at Venturi (123 E Lincoln) or an ice cold ale fresh from the taps at Goshen Brewing Co. (315 W Washington). Just looking for a little diner? Try the chili at the South Side Soda Shop (1122 S Main) featured in the Food Channel’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. After dinner, night owls will enjoy a night-on-the-town at Ignition Music (120 E Washington) where live performances spin an urban edge.
DAY THREE (Nappanee & Wakarusa)“Embrace the Pace” of the small town of Nappanee. The tour at Amish Acres(1600 W Market) includes an Amish farm kitchen, a smokehouse and a kitchen garden. This should whet your appetite for the goodies at the on-site Meat & Cheese Shop(housed in an 1860 log cabin) and the Soda Shop & Fudgery serving tasty treats including hand dipped ice cream and over 20 varieties of hand-made fudge. Cap the day with a “Threshers” meal served in the century-old barn Restaurant.
This feast of hickory smoked ham, country broasted chicken and bowls brimming with sage dressing and whipped potatoes is served under massive hand-hewn beams with pastoral views (and the occasional peacock strutting along the window sills). Be sure to catch a live musical performance in the 1911 Round Barn Theatre, home to the longest running musical, Plain and Fancy. From Nappanee, head north on State Road 19 into Wakarusa. Every candy you craved as a kid is bound to be on the shelves at the Wakarusa Dime Store (103 E Waterford). They stock 450 kinds plus their famous jumbo jelly beans. Be sure to stock up on a sweet stash for the drive home!