Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip, clop
It’s a soothing sound, the rhythmic beat of horse hooves on country roads. Driving the Heritage Trail that zigzags Indiana’s Amish communities, you’ll pass numerous horse-drawn buggies—a visible reminder that life is different here.
Due to the Amish lifestyle, it seems you’ve stepped back in time a century or more. No utility wires connect farmhouses to poles, rows of black pants and pastel-colored dresses flap from the clotheslines in the gentle breeze, and women in bonnets and long skirts hoe their gardens.
Each of the communities in Amish Country—Nappanee, Goshen, Middlebury, and Shipshewana—has its own distinct personality and unmistakable charm.
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Nappanee is home to numerous woodworking shops, restaurants, antique stores and Amish Acres, a restored 80-acre Old Order Amish farmstead. This historic complex consists of 18 restored buildings including the quaint farmhouse, a pair of log cabins, a large barn-turned-restaurant where meals are served family style, and a 402-seat Round Barn Theatre.
Leaving Nappanee, drive northeast to Goshen. Admire the classic courthouse in the heart of town. Peek into the bunker-like police booth that dates back to the days of John Dillinger. Don’t miss the Olympic Candy Kitchen for a soda at the old-fashioned fountain or some handmade chocolates. Built in 1896 the Old Bag Factory is home to producing artists, antiques, specialty shops and cafes.
Follow Country Road 22 northeast to Middlebury and leisurely explore Das Dutchman Essenhaus, a large complex that includes a bakery, a handful of village shops, a relocated covered bridge, and Indiana’s largest family restaurant.
From Middlebury, head east on Country Road 16 toward Shipshewana. You’ll share the road with dozens of black carriages drawn by spirited horses, many of which stop—as we did—at Rise ’n’ Roll Bakery and Guggisberg Deutsch Kase Haus Cheese Factory. Rise ’n’ Roll offers up display cases full of loaves of wheat bread, pies, cookies, and donuts. Watch cheese being made at Deutsch Kase Haus, then sample and purchased it at the retail shop.
Back on the asphalt, continue southwest to Shipshewana. The small town hosts some million visitors a year for its auctions, theater, history, 100-plus shops offering fine Amish woodwork and food, and twice-a-week Shipshewana Flea Market, the largest of its kind in the Midwest.
To learn about Amish history, tour Menno-Hof, also in Shipshewana. Through multi-image presentations, historical environments, and other displays, you’ll travel back 500 years to the origins of the Amish-Mennonite story.
Continue four miles south along Indiana Highway 5 to Yoder’s Popcorn, for popcorn the way you remember it. Try their renowned Tiny Tender Popcorn. Then it’s back along the Amish Heritage Trail to Nappanee.