With a population of fewer than 600 people, Shipshewana is home to one of the nation’s largest flea markets, a huge indoor water park and some 150 retail shops and other attractions that draw more than a half million visitors each year.
Quaint downtown buildings, horse-drawn buggies and whitewashed houses are the norm in this bustling rural village, which is located in the heart of the third-largest Amish and Mennonite communities in the country.
Amish handcrafted items, made-from-scratch meals, scenic buggy rides and a lifelike tornado exhibit are just a few of the many attractions that set Shipshewana apart.
Ring It Up
Shoppers, slip on your comfortable shoes. Here, you’ll find a variety of establishments selling locally handcrafted furniture and home décor, antiques, fine art, heirloom-quality gifts, specialty foods, outdoor gear and much more.
Shipshewana Trading Place of America includes the Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market (the flea market runs from May through October, but the auction takes place on Wednesdays year-round), Farmstead Inn & Conference Center, and the Antique Gallery, which is home to more than 100 antique dealers. The auction offers a one-of-a-kind shopping adventure, with 10 auctioneers taking the mike every Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Nearby, the Davis Mercantile is home to more than 20 stores, from clothing and home furnishings to entertainment and food. Don’t miss the Mercantile’s fully restored 1906 carousel featuring hand-carved farm animals.
Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes offer 25,000 square feet of retail shopping under one roof, including Amish-handcrafted furniture, rustic log furniture and home accents, decorated china, collectibles, books, clothes and tasty treats, such as hand-rolled pretzels, chocolates, ice cream and kettle corn.
Be sure to stroll through the Courtyard of Arts, a working artisan village in the heart of downtown Shipshewana. This eclectic spot is home to Jerry’s Eggs – eggshells intricately hand-carved by Jerry Bontrager – along with a blacksmith, visiting artists, musicians and a café.
From an Amish steakhouse to family-style dining at Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery, or made-from-scratch pies at Daily Bread in Davis Mercantile, Shipshewana offers an array of down-home dining options. An assortment of coffee shops, pizzerias, quaint cafés and enticing bakeries also can be found along the shop-lined streets downtown.
More To Explore
No visit to Shipshewana would be complete without a trip to Menno-Hof, a nonprofit information center just south of downtown Shipshewana that explores the history and heritage of northern Indiana’s Amish and Mennonites. Exhibits include replicas of a 19th-century print shop and meeting house, a glimpse into a northern Indiana Amish home and a simulated tornado.
Each December, you can also enjoy the Shipshewana Ice Festival, during which ice artists will be shaving, drilling and sawing blocks of ice to form intricate shapes such as gingerbread houses, snowmen and full nativity scenes.
• The town of Shipshewana was named for Potawatomi Indian Chief Shipshewana, who settled the area with his tribe. He died in 1841.
For a different sort of family adventure, check out Splash Universe Indoor Water Park & Resort Hotel. This year-round water park is home to a 500-gallon splash bucket, lazy river, twisting water slides, family spa, adventure area and much more – and the temperature inside is always a comfortable 84 degrees. Mousetrap Puppet Theater recently moved to Splash Universe, and it offers free marionette shows to the public – even if you’re not a guest of the water park. Families can also enjoy Branson, Mo.-style entertainment at Blue Gate Theater, and Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum’s classic car collection is another popular spot. A scenic tour on a horse-drawn buggy brings the Shipshewana experience full circle.
If You Go
Shipshewana offers some of the best shopping in Indiana’s Amish country, but remember that most businesses there are closed in the evenings and on Sundays. For a detailed list of shops, restaurants, lodging and attractions, visit www.shipshewana.com.
Another excellent resource for planning your trip to Shipshewana is the LaGrange County Convention & Visitors Bureau website, www.backroads.org. Here you’ll find a list of upcoming events along with maps, directions, brochures and more.