This sleepy pond became a destination in 1887 when farmers built a resort hotel, roller coaster, and racetrack nearby. Those attractions are long gone, but tourists still flock to its shores. For weekenders interested in heading straight to the water, The Lake House (720 E. Canal St., 574-265-6945) rents pontoons, paddleboards, and kayaks. Limitless Park offers public beach access and a playground, including an impressive splash pad.
Those who intend to stay dry can rent a bike from Trailhouse Village Bicycles (1001 E. Canal St., 574-267-2223) and hit the hilly 9 miles of Winona Lake Trails, dotted with sculptures. Afterward, why not reward yourself with a treat from Kelainey’s Ice Cream and Sandwich Shop (904 Park Ave., 574-269-5724) before heading into the Village of Winona to shop? LetterWood Paper Co. (802 Park Ave., 260-615-5893) carries hand-painted cards and gifts, while Spice Merchants (903 E. Canal St., 574-292-0598) sells hundreds of seasonings, herbs, and tea. Pottery Bayou (806 Park Ave., 574-267-2655) and The Beaded Peacock (805 E. Canal St., 574-371-2777) offer crafting classes for those who like to make souvenirs themselves.
Winona Lake surprises many first-time visitors with the quality of its fine dining. The original Cerulean (1101 E. Canal St., 574-269-1226) serves Asian-themed bento boxes for lunch and modern spins on Midwestern classics for dinner. The BoatHouse Restaurant (700 Park Ave., 574-268-2179) also prepares elegant entrées such as pretzel-crusted walleye, with year-round lakeside dining available. The nearby town of Warsaw offers even more options. But the most desirable table may be the one on your back deck with a cocktail at sunset.