Fall in Amish Country Delivers Colorful Surprises
In Amish Country of Northern Indiana, fall or autumn is a season that delivers all the expected pleasures plus a punch of colorful surprises.
Start your fall excursion in Nappanee. “Embrace the Pace” is the motto of this little city with its cozy downtown of 19th century storefronts. A stop at the Nappanee Center reveals the town’s colorful past and profiles its native sons and daughters from celebrated cartoonists to generations of cabinet makers.
Nappanee’s cabinet making story is told in nearby Coppes Commons. The building once housed Coppes Cabinets, makers of the famous Napanee Dutch Kitchenette or “Hoosier” cabinet. Today this renovated factory is now a marketplace for things hand-crafted and freshly made. Take in the fascinating history of Coppes while sampling the wares of marketplace vendors such as creative ice-cream concoctions (flash frozen using liquid nitrogen) at Rocket Science Ice Cream or made-from-scratch whoopee pies from the Nappanee Bakery & Treat Shoppe.
Travel a short distance west on Nappanee’s Market Street to Amish Acres, an 80-acre farm and heritage resort listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Roam the pastoral grounds and experience the simple lifestyle of the Amish people through guided tours exploring the farmstead, wagon rides and a documentary film. In autumn, Amish Acres’ grounds are decorated for the season with corn shocks, pumpkins and scarecrows. Their century-old Kuhn’s cider mill rumbles into action, and the sweet aroma of apple butter bubbling over an open fire fills the air.
View Sample Amish County Tours
Travel scenic country roads teeming with horse drawn buggies and passing pristine Amish farmhouses along the way. Drive down the lane to a working Amish dairy farm and see Amish farm life firsthand. It’s an experience to cherish, and it’s just part of an unforgettable 3-day package filled with savory meals, an Amish “Haystack” lunch and much more. When your busy day is done, The Inn at Amish Acres puts out the welcome mat.
Tasty meals and shopping bags filled to the brim make happy groups in Amish Country! Pretzel making gives this tour a fun twist. And it’s a chance of a lifetime to join a real Amish Quilting Bee. There’s ample time to explore and shop for treasures, too. At the end of the day, The Farmstead Inn, downtown Shipshewana, is the perfect place to relax and chat about fun times and what comes next.
We’ve packed 110,000 blooms into 19 gigantic quilt gardens … created 20 super-sized hand-painted quilt murals in seven welcoming communities in the heart of Amish Country. Designated a Top 100 event by ABA for a fifth year in a row, this one-of-its kind experience annually May 30 – October 1. Plus exceptional hands-on activities, events, dining and shopping, the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail is packed with fun and sure to entice new clients.
Enjoy hayrides, pick apples from the tree and sip freshly pressed cider. Travel country roads bursting with color passing century old farms with majestic barns. Visit Indiana’s oldest operating gristmill the most photographed spot in the county. Design a birdhouse at an Amish furniture shop. Enjoy hearty platters of family-style favorites. Take in a musical production in an authentic round barn. Your groups will ‘fall’ for fall in Amish Country.
Fall is also the ideal time of year to savor Amish Acres’ hearty Threshers Meal served in their historic Restaurant Barn overlooking the farm. Top off the meal with a piece of apple cake – a much anticipated seasonal specialty. Then follow dinner with a lively Broadway musical in their impressive Round Barn Theatre — Indiana’s only resident repertory theatre.
If combining shopping with a quest for trying local foods sounds like fun, the “Backroads Fall Treats & Frolic” step-on guided tour fits the bill. This culinary journey through color-splashed countryside includes visiting pumpkin patches, Amish operated shops, dipping caramel apples and savoring local treats while busily gathering fall goodies.
Bargain hungry shoppers head northeast of Nappanee to Shipshewana for the Shipshewana Flea Market. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, May through October, avid deal seekers cruise row after row of vendors offering a variety of goods ranging from purses and wallets to tools and housewares. Fall is the perfect time to browse the Flea Market; the crowds have diminished and there are bargains aplenty. An added bonus, motorcoach drop off is at the front gate and parking is ample. For antique lovers or just the curious, the antique auction held each Wednesday on the Flea Market grounds offers plenty of action and lively bidding.
Just a few miles west of Shipshewana, Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury is the place to go when it’s time to relax and chat over a good meal. This friendly, family-owned restaurant is renowned for its family-style dining featuring platters piled high with chicken and roast beef, bowls of noodles, mashed potatoes and vegetables, fresh-from-the-oven rolls, and flaky-crusted pie in more than 30 varieties. It’s all welcome fare on a brisk fall day.
After dinner, the Essenhaus Village Shops invite browsing a gamut of goods from quilts to fashionable clothing and home décor. And each Thursday night, May through September, their Classic Car Cruise-In with live entertainment and door prizes, offers nostalgic fun. Spend the night at the welcoming Essenhaus Inn & Conference Center with its tasteful country décor, generously sized rooms, indoor pool and lovely views.
Of course, any trip to Amish Country calls for a stroll down a city Main Street. Historic downtown Goshen, positioned at the center of Amish Country, is laced with eclectic shops, specialty boutiques, galleries and eateries. Drop into the early 1900s era Olympia Candy Kitchen for hand-dipped chocolates. Olympia’s chocolates have been served at presidential inaugurals. Or enjoy a perfect fall lunch — a mile-high sandwich on artisan bread accompanied by a steaming bowl of home-made soup — at family-run Mattern’s Butcher Shop & Corner Deli.
Get a true taste of fall at Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard located a few miles south of downtown Goshen. It’s the largest apple orchard in the state of Indiana. Board a haywagon and ride into the orchard with an expert guide who tells all about different types of apples and what it takes to plant and grow the trees. Sunrise Orchard also produces some of Indiana’s best apple cider, and it’s interesting to watch the process. Sampling is encouraged!
There’s plenty of fall color to enjoy around Goshen too. After all, it is the “Maple City.”
Looking for exciting happenings in other seasons? Check out these Amish Country’s annual events:
- Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail
- 26th Annual Elkhart Jazz Festival
- Shipshewana Quilt Festival
- 51st Annual Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival
- Essenhaus Quilt and Fiber Show
May 30 thru October 1
Elkhart, Bristol, Middlebury, Shipshewana, Goshen, Nappanee & Wakarusa, IN
Voted tops by ABA for a fifth consecutive year, this event delivers eye-popping views of 19 quilt patterned gardens loaded with nearly 1,000,000 blooms and 20 artist-painted outdoor quilt murals. Quilt gardens and murals blanket seven communities along Amish Country’s Heritage Trail, and all are viewable free of charge. There’s nothing else like it.
June 20-23, 2013
Downtown Elkhart, IN
Jazz lovers converge in downtown Elkhart’s A&E District to celebrate 26 years of musical entertainment and enjoy the sounds of top-name jazz artists. Concurrent performances take place in variety of downtown venues including the magnificently restored Lerner Theatre, and folks relax at fun indoor and outdoor dining spots. Ticket prices vary. Free outdoor Main Street stage.
June 26-29, 2013
200 juried quilts from around the nation are showcased along with vendor displays; workshops to learn the latest quilting techniques; a Shop Hop to the area’s best quilt and fabric stores; and noted featured speaker Libby Lehman shares her quilting knowledge.
August 1-4, 2013
Amish Acres, Nappanee, IN
300 juried artists and crafters from across the country display and sell their wares around the pond on Amish Acres’ historic farmstead listed on the National Register. Wagon and swan boat rides, 4 stages of continuous entertainment, and festival foods like the famous breaded Hoosier tenderloins round out the fun at this five time ABA Top 100 rated event.
August 23-24, 2013
Essenhaus Conference Center, Middlebury
Nearly 100 beautifully hand-crafted quilts and fiber art works are on display. Free educational seminars, quilting demonstrations, plus vendors offering fabrics, notions, patterns, books and more make this a must for quilt loving groups.
North and east of Goshen, downtown Elkhart sits at the confluence of the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. Ruthmere, a 1910 beaux-arts mansion now house museum, overlooks the spot where the two rivers meet. A guided tour of this opulent home gives a personal glimpse into the lives of a wealthy Midwestern family in that era. Just up the street, the home of Elkhart’s founding father Havilah Beardsley is also open for tours. They are just two of downtown Elkhart’s cultural gems that also include: Wellfield Botanic Gardens, the RiverWalk, the Midwest Museum of American Art, the New York Central Railroad Museum, and The Lerner, a magnificently restored 1920s era vaudeville palace now a performance and multi-function venue. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the new RiverWalk Culture Trail to discover these jewels of Elkhart’s past and present.
Early October, mums mark the fall season in Amish Country when the cities of Elkhart and Nappanee host North America’s only Fall Flower Carpets. In Elkhart, a full city block in the heart of downtown along the RiverWalk is packed with 7,000 jewel-toned mums. Loomed in blooms, this Flower Carpet pattern is inspired by the city’s art and history.
The second super-sized Fall Flower Carpet in Nappanee graces a street next to the Nappanee Center. This fabulous display, also bursting with the colors of 7,000 mums, pays tribute to Nappanee’s woodworking heritage. It’s patterned after a “Hoosier” cabinet on display in the Nappanee Center and celebrates “Hoosier Cabinet Days” held the second Saturday in October.
Viewing platforms make the Flower Carpets easy to see and photograph. Best yet, these two not-to-be-missed dazzlers are viewable free of charge from October 1 through 12. They make a spectacular addition to a tour sure to deliver colorful surprises and the best of fall in Amish Country.
For more information, contact Amish Country of Northern Indiana