In the north-east of Indiana, in the middle of the Mid-West, there is a village of about 700 inhabitants that deserves to be visited and Route 20 leads right there, to Shipshewana, where a part of the third largest lives Amish community of the United States, made up of nearly 20.000 members and enclosed between the counties of La Grange and Elkhart. The ancestors of these families belonged to the traditionalist Christian church with origins in Switzerland and settled here in the 19th century, in the land that belonged to an Indian tribe whose head was called Shipshewana, looking for a place where they could live in mutual aid, following a simple lifestyle in harmony with creation.
Even today, the work activities are managed with techniques that belong to times gone by and while we are about to reach the country, the Amish farmers, respecting their bond with nature, are at work in the fields with old tools: hoes, spades and ox-drawn plows. In the distance, dark dots can be seen that soon take the shape of "buggy”, The typical ones black gig pulled by horses that travel their preferential lane: we feel compelled to slow down when our car passes by them. In fact, if there is anyone who is disturbing nature at that moment, it is us.
- Shipshewana, a pretty village in the Amish Country of Indiana
- Before and after the show, between gastronomic delights and unusual customs
- Shipshewana: a classic Amish village but a little less… rigorous
- How to get to Shipshewana
- Where to sleep in Shipshewana and surroundings
Shipshewana, a pretty village in the Amish Country of Indiana
Ma Shipshewana is not just a pretty village in the Amish Country in Indiana, it is a reality that, although developing in less than a square mile, attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year who, in addition to appreciating the serenity of the place and the numerous events, enjoy one 360-degree shopping in workshops and craft shops, passing from the production of furniture to antiques, from the creation of wonderful "quilt”To floral compositions, without failing to take a break in one of the inviting cafes and pastry shops.
There is also a small three-story wooden shopping mall, the Davis Mercantile, where a sort of museum on the ground floor illustrates the construction phases of the building. The second floor is dedicated to shopping while the third floor is dominated by a large one carousel of horses fully functional. We discovered Shipshewana when looking for a country music event to attend during our stay in Illinois (Chicago area) and neighboring states.
Shipshewana is the home of the Blue Gate Theater, very active in organizing various kinds of events also appreciated by the Amish population, who actively attend it as a place for healthy entertainment activities. We have chosen to attend a concert by the historic country icon Loretta Lynn who, despite his advanced age, continues to successfully perform with his band and release a tangible energy.
Before and after the show, between gastronomic delights and unusual customs
Our “Blue Gate” package, which must be booked from home on the www.riegsecker.com website, in addition to the show, included dinner at the Blue Gate restaurant with the “all you can eat” formula before the concert. The dining room staff serving at the tables, both Amish and non-Amish, is available to offer advice on the products tasted during the buffet and can be purchased at the adjacent Blue Gate Bakery, a “must visit” in the country, a place that, like almost all shops in the United States, is much more than what its name indicates, in this case a bakery-pastry shop.
In fact, inside the shop, which is located in a characteristic Victorian building, you can buy inviting sweets, sauces, preserves, jams, cheeses, various objects and souvenirs; there is something for everyone, in our case the "apple bread"And the"applebutter”(Apple bread and apple butter), a tasty type of slightly sweet bread and a delicious type of spreadable compote that can be compared to a jam.
Il theater it is about a kilometer away from the restaurant. Before the start of the show three Amish families with children they sat right next to us, they entertained us with a pleasant conversation, they were intrigued by our presence, indeed they practically subjected us to a real interview: "Where do you come from?", "What brings you here?" , "Are you okay?" They were jovial and communicative but unfortunately we were unable to get their consent to photograph them.
At the end of the concert a comfortable accommodation awaited us at the Van Buren hotel, with a familiar atmosphere and excellent quality standards at an affordable price. When we wake up on Sunday morning, looking out the window of our room, we notice that the surrounding streets are crossed by numerous "buggies" and by young people on bicycles who are heading to church. Contrary to American custom, on Sundays the country finds another dimension; after the religious services the Amish population gathers in large family groups that also favor meetings between young people and it is common to count dozens of buggies in the gardens of many houses. Shops not run by the Amish population are also closed.
Shipshewana: a classic Amish village but a little less… rigorous
Shipshewana it is certainly an atypical country, where rigorous agricultural and artisan traditions mix with modern commercial activities and for this reason the local Amish community is not as rigorous in observing the rules as in other more conservative areas even a few miles away. Although the Amish community had cell phone use banned, in Shipshewana some young people use it quietly in the presence of their parents, not as a trivial pastime, but as a tool for learning and for exchanging relevant content. New technologies are rejected when they are considered superfluous or when excessive use is made of them, however some changes are introduced as they bring benefits that do not offend the simple principles of life and the safeguarding of creation.
Currently the Amish population, via the internet, has a newspaper, The Budget, a tool that allows the whole community to stay in touch, disseminate and exchange valuable information; in addition, the editorial staff has an e-mail address and some photos on Facebook. However, the ban on using the car remains but, if you think about it, the gig is relaxing and much more romantic.
Along the streets of the town meet women with calf-length dresses, aprons and the typical bonnet (white if married, black if single). The men wear basically dark clothing, trousers with wide straps and a hat. They have a beard if they are married, but not the mustache that could be associated with the image of violent warriors. The buggies are the official means of transport of the Amish but also a working tool for the transport of tourists around the town and in the immediate vicinity.
In this small but charming Amish community of Indiana living on agriculture, tourism and crafts, it is evident that Amish families are well integrated among the common population. In this coexistence everyone follows their rules; Shipshewana it is a serene oasis that we recommend everyone to visit, perhaps in conjunction with an event at Blue Gate Theater or the famous Wednesday auction as well as the large flea market open from May to early October.
How to get to Shipshewana
Shipshewana it is located in northeastern Indiana, roughly halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago, and can be interpreted as a detour from the eastern Lake Michigan sightseeing tour. Coming from Chicago take I-90 E to the detour towards Constantine-Middlebury (exit 107). Then follow to Middlebury (southbound), turning left at the fork after approximately 2km. The road is now the IN-120, and must be covered for 8 km, then turn right: you will begin to see the first buggies on the preferential lanes and in no time you will be Shipshewana. Here are the coordinates to enter in the navigator: 41.673632, -85.576678.
If instead you come from Indianapolis, you will need to take I-65 S to Fort Wayne and then US-33 towards Goshen Road. After the village of Ligonier, another 25 km await you on the IN-5 N.
Where to sleep in Shipshewana and surroundings
If you want to sleeping in Shipshewana in order to immerse yourself in its atmosphere (perhaps having breakfast with local sweets), take a look at the facilities available in the city. There are few, but if you look hard you may find some rooms available.
All accommodations available in the city
Within a radius of about fifty km, there are other places where to find accommodation: the closest are Elkhart, Goshen e Middlebury. At the link below you will find all the hotels available.
All accommodations available in the area
If, on the other hand, you are just passing through the Amish Country of Indiana and your next stop is Chicago or Indianapolis, follow these two links:
Advice on where to sleep in Chicago
All accommodations available in IndianapolisWant to know more about the Amish?
ForTravelAdviceLovers readers with good memories will remember that we also talked about the Amish in our article on the New York-Philadelphia itinerary in one day, referring to the Lancaster County. The Amish community in Pennsylvania is in fact a little more famous than this one. As we have said, the Amish do not disdain to welcome tourists, for which reason you might also consider taking advantage of a organized tour in Lancaster County to discover their culture.
Learn more about the tour