Amish Backroads and Trading Places
Drive down the backroads of LaGrange County and see the landscape full of white-washed houses and barns. In the fields are acres of corn and hay and the pastures have horses and well-fed cows grazing contentedly. Along the side of the road, on the shoulder of the asphalt the horses have created a white path from their hoofs using that part of the road to pull the buggies. Shipshe, as the locals know it, Shipshewana to us looking for it on the map is home to the Midwest's largest outdoor flea market. Explore over 1000 vendors covering 60 acres on Tuesdays and Wednesdays May through October. On Wednsday an auction takes place in the auction barn and features 11 auction rings simultaneously selling antiques and collectibles.
There are cottage shops located along the backroads; look for signs in the yards that indicate you are welcome to stop and purchase goods directly from the artists who make them. Or, you can browse through E&S Sales to see their aisles and aisles of bulk foods.
Shop for food or furniture - all A + Quality
Continue down State Road 5 and you will see The Antique Gallery. With over 100 vendors this is not your "flea market" mall. This well-lit, clean facility has over 100 vendors and is over 31,000 square feet in size. The coffee is always on in this quality antique store. Right across the street is the Auction and Flea Market. We were there in November so there were no auctions taking place. This place is huge!
Across from Yoder's Meat and Cheese is the Farmstead Inn & Conference Center. this commplex contains 154 guest rooms and suites.
Driving into town there are many wonderful furniture stores that sell oak and cherry and walnut furniture. Take your pick of a multiude of stores that sell things for your home and garden. When you are ready for a meal, there are lots and lots of restaurants to choose from for good home-cooking.
“Take a Buggy Ride and Dine in an Amish Home”
We highly recommend a Miller Buggy ride and dinner in an Amish home. We learned so much about the Amish, the culture and their beliefs on our Miller ride and dinner. The buggy ride was very good and we enjoyed chatting with the driver, who readily answered all our questions. The home we dined in was Loretta's who did a beautiful job of easily feeding 10 guests. The home was spotless and the meal was served in family style. The food is delicious of chicken, roast beef, homemade noodles with chicken, fresh corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a wonderful fresh garden salad. Homemade bread and spreads were delicious. The peanut butter spread is scrumptious! (The next day we bought several jars to share with family.) The two desserts of custard pie or black raspberry pie were so tasty. Loretta and her husband answered any questons we had and made us all feel so much in their home. Be sure to sign up or stop by to take the Miller Buggy Line Tour! Visitors will definitely enjoy this experience. One couple on our tour was visiting for the third time. In fact they picked this tour since it went to Loretta's. Good time, good food and friendship.
A "must do" for any visit to Amish Country. Visiting in the home with the delicious Amish dinner was fantastic. We had a Thresher dinner at the restaurant at Amish Acres in Nappanee - but our favorite meal in Amish Country was with the Millers Buggy Line tour. People come back again and again.
Note: Since the Amish do not like being photographed we were respectful of their wishes and hospitality with only take a couple of shots of the buggy and garden.
- Religious Travel
- Food and Dining
Davis Mercantile! Lots of Shops and More!
This amazing building houses twenty-three inviting shops in the recently rebuilt Davis Mercantile. A building of massive timbers, the Mercantile is home to accents, apparel and Amish-inspired specialty food, such as Jo Jo’s giant hot pretzels, and a variety of confectionary and baked goods. On the third floor is a charming 105 year old Dentzel Carousel with hand-crafted farm animals. A great place to shop and relax. Visiting on a Tuesday we check out the Shipshewana Flea Market touted as the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market. It’s huge! Hundreds of vendors sell everything from fresh fruit to handcrafted furniture. Each floor has different specialty shops with some excellent quality merchandise. A great place to shop to find a special gift. It has a huge tree trunk in the center and a 100 year old Carousel on the top floor. A must visit on any trip to Shipshewana. We were extremely impressed with the quality and variety of merchandise in the shops. Be sure to wonder through on a visit to Shipshewana.
- Food and Dining
“Shopping A Plenty at this Large Flea Market”
The Shipshewana Flea Market is HUGE! The Midwest's Largest Flea Market!
We were glad that we were visiting Shipshewana on a Tuesday so we could spend some time at their expansive Flea Market. There were plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and of course an amazing number of stalls with a variety of merchandise. This place is amazing so be sure to allow plenty of time for strolling and shopping for special deals, too. So many vendors with an eclectic selection of items for sale.
- Historical Travel
“A Must Do! Learn and Understand the Amish!”
Menno-Hof Mennonite - Amish Visitor Center
This is a fantastic center that educates visitors on the Amish (and Mennonites) so that we could understand their philosophy, religion and way of life. The Center is fantastic in sharing the story of the Amish from their beginnings. Several rooms have videos as you go through the center. Plus there are numerous stations and exhibits that further explain and assist in better understanding the Amish and Mennonites. We recommend planning at least 2 hours for a visit as we arrived late in the day and didn't have time to leisurely explore many of the great exhibits. They also have a Quilt Garden - which is beautiful! When in the area, this should be one of your first stops as it will answer many questions visitors may have.
A definite "Must Do" on any visit to Amish Country. We highly recommend starting a visit to Shipshewana or Amish Country at this Visitor Center. Absolutely fantastic!
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The flea market is open every Tuesday & Wednesday from 8am-5pm, May-October and certain other days around Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.
There are over 1,000 vendors selling mostly new items-crafts, furniture, food items, produce, toys, stuff you would find at dollar stores, etc. There are also lots of people selling used books and a few selling "antiques".
We usually don't buy much at the flea market except from the vendors selling baked goods, fresh fruit and flowers for planting and hanging baskets at very reasonable prices, 50% less than I pay back in Chicagoland.
The auction is held every Wednesday except Christmas and New Year's, the auction starts at 9 am until the auctioning is finished.
If you want to inspect the merchandise before the auction starts, you can view it on Tuesday and Wednesday before the bidding starts. Check the website below for exact times, right now it says you can start looking Wednesday at 5:30 am and Tuesday 7am-5 pm May-Oct, 10am-5pm Nov-April. If you've never bid at auction before, you might want to watch a few to get the hang of it and make sure you know exactly what you are bidding on (eg a set of 6 chairs may be sold one at a time).
Payment is with cash unless other arrangements are made prior to bidding. My sister in law, who had an antique store, told me that the prices are always higher in the summer because the East Coasters come in during the summer and raise the bidding prices.
There always seems to be a lot of interesting stuff, a lot of it antiques and collectibles, lots of really nice furniture. But there are also frequently reproductions, not sure if the auctioneers are up front about that or not.
If you've wondered about the Amish people and their Mennonite kindred, Menno-Hof is the place to stop. You'll learn about their faith journey from the old world to Indiana. You'll discovered the meaning behind America's 'religious freedoms'. The museum ends with an introduction to modern day Amish and Mennonite faith practices and their sense of community which determines their involvement. Yes, both groups are involved in the world, just in ways that don't shout their faith to others.
- Religious Travel
Jo and I only found one of these near Essenhaus but if you have a more leisurely visit, there are 16 flower beds planted in quilt designs and 16 murals that can be found throughout Amish Country along the Heritage Trail that takes you through Elkhart, Middlebury, Nappanee, Shipshewana and Bristol. The gardens should be available to view through October 1, 2009.
You can find a map here and more information on the website below.
Jo and I stopped by Mennohof for a few minutes to have a look around, unfortunately we didn't have time to do the tour which is the only way to visit Mennohof. I believe the clerk said it would take about 1 1/2 hours, admission for adults was $6. If you don't have time for a tour, there are some books and other literature inside the building for purchase.
The clerk did answer a question that Jo had about how the Amish in this part of the US were related to the Dutch, turns out that they are actually of German descent as are the Pennsylvania Dutch and many other Amish communities in the US, the term "Dutch" comes from the word "Deutsch", the German language word for German.
THE MENNO-HOF MUSEUM tells the story of the Amish and Mennonite people. It is a unique museum and well worth a visit.
My brother-in-law, an artist, helped design the displays inside. He was the only non-Amish and non-Mennonite person employed in a design capacity for this project.
(trivia fact: Shipshewana is the only Indiana site listed in "1000 places to see before you die")
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Shop in Shipshewana
Shipshewana is definitely a good place to spend a day or two. The scenery is beautiful and comfortable. We will be back!
Shop Til you drop
Shipshewana's Flea market is the 10th biggest flea market in the united states. With over 100+ shops open all year 'round. Many open till 6.
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