In our world of being constantly connected via electronics, it’s hard to believe that there are people living not too far away who live in a world without electricity. The Amish live a primitive lifestyle by choice. They prefer a life of simple pleasures grounded in faith.
A trip that can easily be done in a day, Shipshewana and Nappanee exist not too far to the east where visitors can get a glimpse into the peaceful and low-key life that today’s Amish continue to live.
The activities and attractions are plentiful and it might be hard to narrow down what to do in a day, but one thing you’ll likely want to do is spend some time shopping. Throughout Shipshewana you’ll find stores where Amish made products, furniture and food items can be purchased.
A large flea market in the area just opened and there will be themed markets that will appeal to kids. A great shopping stop with kids is the Davis Mercantile, where a hand-carved carousel can be found on the third floor for children to ride.
Festival season is also getting underway in Amish country, where the MayFest takes place this weekend. “We have multiple festivals that are family friendly,” said Beth Thornburg, executive director of LaGrange Country Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“MayFest is kind of the kickoff into our summer season with a large parade and lots of games for kids to participate in.”
With horse buggy being the primary mode of transportation for Amish residents of the area, taking a ride of your own is something you’ll likely want to take part in. Rides can be short or long and you can even arrange for tours that will take you off the beaten path among the Amish farms.
Two to three-hour sightseeing tours also are available that you can end with an authentic Amish lunch or dinner. Visit BuggyLine.com for more on such tours.
Guided tours a great way to get some history and insight along with your visit. “We offer backroads tours that end with dinner in an Amish home and you can go by buggy or by van. You can tour a working dairy farm,” Thornburg said. “Blue Gate Carriage offers a barn tour, where you can see the horses and see how to harness a horse and things like that.” Visit riegsecker.com for barn tour information.
Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana is a fun family stop for kids who love cars. The showroom is full of vintage vehicles — Hudson, Essex, Dover, Terraplane and more — dating back a century or more.
For a nice overview of Amish history, Amish Acres in Nappanee is situated on an 80-acre Old Order Amish farm and is the only Amish farm on the National Register of Historic Places. Eighteen historic original and moved structures, some dating back to the mid-late 19th century make up Amish Acres, where you can dine, shop, tour historic buildings, take a buggy ride or take in a live show. Visit AmishAcres.com for more information and coupons.
The Menno-Hoff Amish and Mennonite Cultural Center is also a good spot to stop for some background on the area and where there’s a children’s play area to keep little ones occupied.
There are many lodging options in the area that have some nice amenities for families. The Farmstead Inn has an indoor pool, kiddie pool, half-court basketball court and ping pong along a free, hot continental breakfast. The Blue Gate Garden Inn has a new pool, arcade, ice creamery, outdoor basketball court and fire pit. A full, hot breakfast buffet is also included with your stay. Both places offer large suites for families with refrigerators in all rooms.