Traveler: Northern Indiana’s Culver

Indiana’s most darling lake town inspires a bestselling author.
Lake Maxinkuckee

There’s more to Culver than its famous military academies, which count such notable alums as Hal Holbrook, George Michael Steinbrenner III, and House writer Kath Lingenfelter. Indiana’s most charming hamlet (not named Nashville) gives well-heeled vacationers and summer weekenders a taste of the Hamptons.

Culver lies a couple of hours north of Indianapolis and about 20 minutes west of U.S. 31, beyond a cloak of quiet farmland. Flat cornfields stop at the lush carpets of the Pete Dye–designed Mystic Hills Golf Club (16788 20 B Rd., 574-842-2687), and the scenery along country lanes changes to glimpses of Lake Maxinkuckee between mammoth Cape Cod homes. The academies’ brick ramparts signal your arrival to town, which is nestled along the waterfront. Parents who send their kids to Culver summer camps walk dogs, jog, and browse polished boutiques. Go to Civvies (114 S. Main St., 574-635-0011) for cute shorts and dresses, Diva (109 S. Main St., 574-842-8870) for adorable jewelry and gifts, and Elizabeth’s Garden (104 N. Plymouth St., 574-842-4766) for Anthropologie-like accessories and homethings.

Bestselling British author Susan Lewis discovered the “jewel of a town” when she visited last year at the behest of a friend with academy connections. Taken with Culver’s combination of wealth and low profile, she set her latest novel there. No Place to Hide sends its protagonist on the run to Culver after abruptly ditching her family and changing her name. Lewis will return for a book-release party August 1 at Cafe Max (113 S. Main St., 574-842-2511), a sidewalk bistro where Culver class portraits line the walls.­

Cafe Max
Cafe Max


Drive Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Stay: Lakefront homes rent for $100 to $125 per bedroom per night. Swim and kayak off the dock of the 3BR/2BA Ball Family Guest Cottage.

See: The Garrison Parade every Saturday showcases the academies’ Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes, fixtures at presidential inaugurations.

Eat: The Original Root Beer Stand drive-in has a beautiful lake view.