Do you have a weekend getaway planned and need to know all the fun things to do in Shipshewana? Shipshewana has long been known in Indiana as home to one of the largest Amish populations in the state, for good home-cooking and plenty of crafts. I know when I visited in the past, we mostly shopped and ate fried chicken and pie, but as I’ve recently discovered, Shipshe has so much more to offer!
Thanks to a fun weekend I spent in the town exploring all the exciting Christmas events in Shipshewana, my excitement about the area has been revitalized and now I can not only highly recommend it as a spring or summer shopping trip, but also a wonderful weekend getaway any time of the year.
A special thanks to the Shipshewana Visitors Center for hosting my recent weekend trip to Shipshewana. As always, all of the opinions are 100% mine.
Day 1: Arrival & Evening Entertainment
Afternoon: explore the town
Shipshewana is a short distance from several large Midwest cities which makes it ideal for a weekend getaway. Chicago is less than two hours away, Indianapolis is less than three, and Ft. Wayne is just over an hour away. Even many spots in Michigan and Ohio are easily accessible.
Take off in the morning so that you’ll arrive in Shipshewana early afternoon to give yourself enough time to settle into your hotel and get ready for a fun weekend. I’d suggest starting your visit with a buggy ride. I’ve always been a fan of getting the lay of the land, and although Shipshewana is small, it’s still fun to get an overview from a local who knows the area well.
Evening: dinner & a show!
Enjoy a hearty dinner at the Blue Gate Restaurant on your first evening in Shipshewana. The Blue Gate is a Shipshewana institution so it’s a fantastic way to kick off your weekend. Plus, if you love good food, you don’t want to miss it. Their friend chicken is some of the best I’ve EVER had – so good!
If you want to try several dishes, go for the buffet, but if you aren’t in the mood for that, you can also order off the menu in the restaurant and still enjoy some serious homestyle cooking. A bit of advice, this place is busy, so be prepared to wait for a table (maybe put your name in and do a little shopping while you wait). Regardless of which menu you choose, be sure to save room for pie.
After dinner, head upstairs to the Blue Gate Theatre and enjoy some live entertainment. Most Fridays and Saturdays there are concerts at the theater and several times a year they put on an Amish Romance Musical. They are unique, full of great talent, and tons of fun! Regardless of what type of show you get to see, be sure to buy tickets ahead of time as the theater only holds 300 and is often sold out. Shows start at around 7:00 so make sure to eat dinner early.
Day 2: A Day of Exploring & Shopping
Morning: prepare for a full day of fun & exploration
Ready for a fun day? There is so much to do in Shipshewana that it would be easy to spend much more than a weekend here, but follow along and you’ll for sure enjoy the time you do have!
Even though you probably ate way too much last night (it’s pretty hard not to with the good food at the Blue Gate Restaurant), you’ll want to grab something delicious and filling for breakfast. You could always go back to the Blue Gate Restaurant for their hearty breakfast, and it would be wonderful I’m sure, but if you want to try something different, consider Das Kaffee Haus for some strong coffee and a tasty breakfast sandwich.
After you have fueled up for the day, head next door to E&S Bulk Foods. I know a grocery store seems like a weird thing to do, but when in Shipshewana it’s a must because it’s so unique. Locals refer to it as the Amish Walmart. I find it’s a great place to stock up on bulk spices, candy, fresh produce, and more. Since I typically travel with a cooler, I can easily stock up. Plus, there is an amazing collection of pedal cars throughout the store – just look up!
Afternoon: learn a little, play a little
Head over to Menno-Hof to learn a bit about the history of the Amish and Mennonites that call LaGrange County home. As one of the top three Amish populations in the United States, you’ll be encountering plenty of Amish & Mennonites in the area, so I’m sure you’ll have questions and Menno-Hof is the place to get them answered.
The exhibits are incredibly well done, interesting, and interactive. The tour starts out guided as you are led through a series of rooms that walk through the history of the Amish and Mennonites coming to the United States. After the guided portion you are on your own to explore the extra exhibits. There is a lot to learn and you’ll leave the experience with a new appreciation for many of the people who call Shipshewana home. The entire experience takes at least an hour.
After your history lesson, head downtown to do a little retail therapy. Downtown Shipshewana is full of quaint boutiques and terrific stores for shopping. You’ll find homemade pottery, vintage & salvaged goods, arts, and crafts, clothing, home decor, toys, and so much more.
On my last visit, I found a cute scarf perfect for winter soccer games and quite a few Christmas gifts, so it was a great start to my holiday shopping list! I plan on heading back up to explore the shops I missed – there are more than enough to keep you shopping for hours.
While you are shopping, be sure to stop in the Davis Mercantile and ride the carousel on the top floor. It’s a 1906 Dentzel Carousel (although the hand-carved and painted animals were created by a local craftsman) and of course, fun to ride. It doesn’t have the “grab the golden ring” game we enjoy when we ride the Carousel in Logansport, Indiana, but it’s still a good time!
Evening: dinner & some fun family time
While you are downtown, grab a late lunch/early dinner at Shawna Rae’s Bakery & Cafe. Shawna Rae’s food is outstanding! I was lucky enough to enjoy a catered meal from her catering company (yep, she caters too), as well as a delicious meal from her food truck (out and about during most festivals) but even her bakery has delicious and unique sandwiches. Enjoy one of her over-the-top cupcakes or homemade cheesecakes and then be sure to grab some to take home and enjoy later.
If you are up for another concert, look to see if there is anything at the Blue Gate PAC (Performing Art Center). It’s a much larger concert venue than the theater downtown (holds 1500 people) so bigger names tend to be there. If you go to a show, try to arrive early and spend some time checking it out as there are hundreds of pieces of memorabilia of all the artists who have performed. Signed albums, guitars, cowboy hats, and more. It’s really fun to grab a drink and wander around checking them all out.
If there isn’t a concert (or you are just too worn out from the fun day), head back to your hotel and spend the evening playing games with your family. If you stay at the Farmstead Inn or the Blue Gate Garden Inn, there are plenty of comfy corners (some with fireplaces!) to get together and have fun playing card or dice games.
Kids will enjoy the swimming pool (and adults the hot tub) so that’s always another enjoyable evening option. If you are at the Farmstead Inn you can even hit up their indoor basketball court or challenge the group to ping pong in the ping pong room, while the Blue Gate Garden Inn has an outdoor basketball court and game room.
Day 3: A Quiet Sunday in Shipshewana
If your third day in Shipshewana is a Sunday, like most weekends would be, don’t despair with everything being closed (and literally almost everything is closed in Shipshewana on Sunday), because you can still have a great day.
Sunday morning will give you a chance to sleep in a bit – and with as busy of lives as we all lead these days, that can be a treat in itself. So sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, and then if the weather is nice spend some time walking on the Pumpkinvine Trail or maybe strolling downtown Shipshewana searching for murals. You can get some fantastic pictures because downtown will be deserted!
Another fun option would be to go on a drive through the countryside and look for barns that are part of the Barn Quilt Trail. The barn quilts on this trail are painted in wood and each one has a unique design. You can pick up a map at the Shipshewana & LaGrange County Visitors Center (just get it before Sunday) or online.
While you are exploring the winding roads of LaGrange County keep your eyes peeled for Amish homes, horses and buggies, and the Amish schools. You’ll see plenty of farms with animals and if you know what you are looking for, you’ll notice most homes have a phone booth out front – the Amish like to keep the modern influences outside their homes, so their phone is located outside near the road. Interesting, right?
If you still have time to spare, head over to nearby Elkhart to check out some of the many museums or other attractions. You could also grab lunch there as almost all the places to eat in Shipshewana will be closed.
Where to Stay in Shipshewana Indiana
My two top picks for hotels in Shipshewana would be the Farmstead Inn & Conference Center or the Blue Gate Garden Inn. I’ve stayed at the Farmstead Inn and can attest to how spacious and comfortable the rooms are. It’s a cozy place to stay and if the weather is nice an easy walk to several shops and restaurants.
👉 Book your stay at the Farmstead Inn & Conference Center
The Blue Gate Garden Inn is terrific if you are attending a show at the PAC as it’s right next door! I haven’t stayed there myself but have heard only good things about it and based upon my experiences with all the other things Blue Gate I’m positive it’s fabulous.
Map of Shipshewana Weekend Activities
FAQs: Things to Do in Shipshewana: Weekend Itinerary
What to do in Shipshewana?
Flea markets, shopping, learning about the Amish, there are plenty of things to do in Shipshewana.
Is Shipshewana a small town?
Although Shipshewana has tons of visitors each year, there are only 850ish permanent residents.
Is Shipshewana open on Sunday?
Almost everything is closed on Sunday in Shipshewana.
Are there Amish in Shipshewana?
Yes, between LaGrange County and Elkhart County, there is a very large Amish population.
Conclusion: A Weekend in Shipshewana
As our Shipshewana weekend draws to a close, it’s clear that this charming town is more than just a destination; it’s an experience that stays with you. From the leisurely buggy rides that take you back in time to the vibrant theater shows that bring local culture to life, every moment here is a blend of simplicity and surprise.
The unique blend of Amish tradition, delicious home-cooked meals, and the warm hospitality of the locals makes Shipshewana an unforgettable getaway. Whether you’re browsing through quaint shops, learning about the rich heritage at Menno-Hof, or just enjoying a quiet moment on a scenic trail, the town offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So, if you’re planning your next family adventure, consider Shipshewana. Whether for a weekend or an extended stay, it promises a delightful mix of relaxation, education, and entertainment. It’s not just a trip; it’s an experience that enriches the soul and brings families closer together.