When it comes to authentically Amish, Shipshewana has a little bit of everything. I take that back - it has a lot of everything! The city is filled with Amish shops, restaurants, and even shows. So, with everything there is to do, how do you narrow it down? Here are my 5 top picks for must-do things in Shipshewana, Indiana, to help you plan your next visit.
Catch a Live ShowBack to Top of List
If you didn’t think there were Amish-themed shows, think again. Blue Gate Theater prides itself on not only having big-name performances; it also offers live musicals with an Amish flair. During my recent visit, I had the pleasure of checking out “The Game” (baseball is a big pastime in the Amish community, especially for children), and it was not only beautifully written and performed, it was heartfelt and poignant.
Shop in Amish & Mennonite StoresBack to Top of List
If you’re looking for quality pieces to take home, you need to look no further than Amish and Mennonite stores. In Shipshewana you’ll find everything from clothing to trinkets to large furniture pieces. And while you may not have the space in your vehicle to take home a dining room table, there are no worries: ask about shipping it home.
If you want a little bit of everything all in one place, check out Davis Mercantile. Family run for several generations, you’ll not only be able to pop into several stores at once, but it offers two dining options as well as a vintage carousel on the third floor, complete with Amish buggy horses.
Eat a Massive Home-Cooked MealBack to Top of List
There’s no way to visit an Amish & Mennonite community without tasting home-cooked food, and Shipshewana is no exception. Blue Gate Restaurant is not only a popular spot to visit, but it offers both a sit-down-style menu and a massive buffet option on its lower floor. Personally, I enjoy the buffet as I can test drive a little bit of everything (even several flavors of homemade pies!), but if you’re worried about your waistline, the upstairs restaurant offers single meals that are just as delicious.
On the other side of the coin, if you really want a true Amish meal experience, enjoying a thrasher meal may be right up your street - it certainly was for me. Just outside of Shipshewana in Topeka is The Carriage House, family-owned and run by Elaine & Seth Jones, a mother and son who live on the same property. If you’re not on a bus tour, call and ask when one will be dining, and it will be no problem to add you to the family-style dining mix.
Side note: if you do want to take a bus tour of Shipshewana, check out Karlene Richter, Owner of Shipshe Tour Lady Tours. She can customize your tour to your liking and is highly knowledgeable on both the Amish and Shipshewana.
Learn about the Mennonite & Amish CommunityBack to Top of List
If you’re as curious as I am to know about the members and residents of Shipshewana, head to the Menno-Hof Amish Mennonite Interpretive Center. With several interactive rooms and a museum to finish off the tour, it’s an eye-opening experience in the best possible way. Both small children and adults will enjoy the experience as each room offers a narrative take on Amish and Mennonite beginnings, their struggles, and their perseverance and community rallies.
Experience a Unique Amish AuctionBack to Top of List
I, personally, have only seen a live auction once, and it was one caller at a time. At the Shipshewana Flea Market & Antique Auction, however, it’s seven at a time! Learning each auctioneer’s cadence is like dialing in a radio station but once you get the hang of it, it’s a hoot. Each Wednesday auction is different from the last, so you never know what you’ll find. During my visit, I loved moseying through the tables of old-fashioned Christmas ornaments, furniture, porcelain wares, and even farm baskets and apple boxes.