BY GLENDA WINDERS
If your family — like many others — has Disney World dreams on a city-park budget, Shipshewana might be the place for your next vacation. It’s just far enough away to have all the fun of a road trip before the choruses of “are we there yet” begin, and once you arrive you’ll discover more to do than you have time for.
“Shipshewana and LaGrange County are known for our Amish culture, delicious home-style cooking and quality artisan goods,” said Maria Guevara, marketing manager for the LaGrange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, “but we are also a great destination for families looking for an adventure on a budget. We have family-friendly things to do, places to stay, stuff to do and ways to play around every corner.”
People of all ages love animals, so a good place to start is the Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park. The prices are affordable, and you’ll ride in a safari-style wagon to encounter wild animals such as antelopes, water buffaloes and zebras. When that’s finished, you’ll still have time for the petting zoo and a chance to feed the monkeys.
Be sure to pack your bicycles so that you can take advantage of the Pumpkinvine Trail. This 17-mile-long asphalt pathway connects Shipshewana with Elkhart, Goshen and Middlebury. While you’re biking or walking you can enjoy nature, check out Amish farms and get a bite for lunch.
In fact, Shipshewana boasts several places to eat that provide fun along with their tasty meals. Grab a sandwich or build-a-burger at Millie’s Market Café on the third floor of the Davis Mercantile and ride the 1906 Dentzel Carousel; then be sure to have a home-cooked Amish lunch or dinner while you’re here, perhaps at the 5 & 20 Country Restaurant and Coffee Shop.
For evening entertainment the Blue Gate Theater and the Blue Gate Performing Arts Center always have lively shows and musical performances on tap. Then finish off your day at The Vanilla Bean for high-quality ice cream in freshly made waffle cones.
Check into one of several hotels with a pool, and — bingo! — you’re on vacation!
For more information: visitshipshewana.org