Travel: Shipshewana's Amish Country
Sixteen historical murals took shape in just four days in Shipshewana in June, thanks to a brigade of about 185 volunteers who came from out of town at the behest of a group called Walldogs (shipshewanawalldogs.com). The Midwestern collective of sign-painters chooses one small town each year to festoon with vintage-style, hand-sketched billboards. In Shipshewana, each depicts real people and businesses from the town’s past. Soon, scanning a QR code at each location will bring up the mural’s backstory.
Hunting for all of the murals serves as a structured way to meander the tiny tourist center; it’s Brown County with buggies, except Shipshewana lacks the large centralized core that makes Nashville easy to roam. Instead, look for the Reifsnider Harness Shop mural, and you’ll find yourself around the corner from the town’s best store, The Center for Traditional Arts (160 N. Morton St., 574-596-1022). Searching for the vintage-car painting puts you at the doorstep of the must-see Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum (760 S. Van Buren St., 260-768-3021, hostetlershudsons.com). Mural, quilt-shopping, mural, Amish pretzel, mural, horse-and-buggy ride: It’s the new way to do Shipshewana.
The one must-stop the murals won’t guide you to is Rise ’n Roll bakery’s flagship store (1065 N. 1150 W, Middlebury, 574-825-4032, risenroll.com). Customers stock up on F-R-O-G jam (figs, raspberries, orange peel, and ginger) and cinnamon-caramel doughnuts. The apple fritter is better, though. Keep in mind that the shops in Amish Country close on Sundays, so use the last day of a weekend trip for a tee time at Mystic Hills Golf Club (16788 20 B Rd., Culver, 574-842-2687, mystichills.com), the northernmost point of Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail. Just make sure to buy an extra fritter for the road.
Drive Time: 3.5 hours
Stay: Fetching log cabins at Shipshewana North Park Campground (from $99/night; 5970 N. State Road 5, 260-768-7770, shipshewanacampgroundnorth.com) boast A/C, TVs, quilts, and porch swings.
Do: The tornado-simulation theater at the Menno-Hof cultural center (510 S. Van Buren St., 260-768-4117, mennohof.org).
Side Trip: The Valparaiso Popcorn Festival, with popcorn-garnished floats, each September (valparaisoevents.com).