The Itinerary at a Glance
Duration: 5 Days
Available: Year round
This Itinerary is Ideal For: All
Start the day in Whiting with a tour of the new Mascot Hall of Fame, where you can see famous figures like Mr. Met and Brutus Buckeye and enjoy interactive exhibits such as the “Phuzzical Education Department.” Also in the South Shore region is Albanese Confectionery, where groups can embark on the only public gummi factory tour in the nation and learn the secrets of how candy is created.
Recently named the nation’s 61st National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and has much to offer, including nature hikes through wetlands, prairies and beaches. Stop at the visitor center to orient yourself to the region, or embark on a scenic cruise along the coastline.
Conclude your day with a visit to the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John. Visitors will walk a half-mile trail past 40 life-sized bronze statues that recreate the Passion of the Christ and other biblical scenes. Scenes include the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, and the entire property is landscaped to resemble the Holy Land.
Begin on South Bend’s University of Notre Dame campus, one of the most architecturally distinct universities in the nation. Tour the Neo Gothic Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which was built in the 1870s and features stunning stained glass windows and Italian frescoes.
If you’re touring in the summer months, enjoy a minor league baseball game at Four Winds Field or explore downtown South Bend, a vibrant area for dining and shopping. Tour the Studebaker National Museum, which chronicles the history of the legendary automobile and displays the largest presidential carriage collection in the world. Continue to Elkhart and the Recreational Vehicle Hall of Fame, which honors the region’s manufacturing legacy and features a walking tour of vintage models.
Continue your journey through Amish Country with a tour of the region’s Quilt Gardens. Totaling 17 in all, these colorful quilt-patterned gardens use over one million blooms. At Das Dutchman Essenhaus, groups can enjoy a hearty family-style meal, catch a live theater production at Heritage Hall or purchase handcrafted Amish handicrafts at the Village Shops.
Continue to the Shipshewana Flea Market, which welcomes over 1,000 vendors and is the largest outdoor market in the Midwest. The nearby Menno-Hof Amish-Mennonite Information Center houses elaborate exhibits that document the Amish’s journey to America and the history of Amish faith and settlements. Your evening entertainment will take place at Blue Gate Restaurant & Theatre, a white farmhouse setting that includes restaurants, shops and a theater. Savor a meal of slow-roasted beef and pie before watching a musical performance with Amish or Mennonite themes.
Your day in Fort Wayne will begin at the Foellinger-Freiman Botanical Conservatory, a downtown oasis with four outdoor gardens in addition to the Tropical Garden (which features orchids and palms) and the Sonoran Desert Garden. Within easy walking distance are the Allen County Public Library and the Genealogy Center—the second-largest genealogy center in the country. There, your group can trace family history with over 350,000 books.
Spend your afternoon at Sweetwater, a massive campus that includes recording studios, performance venues and a music store. Tours will pass through the innovative space and explain Sweetwater’s history as a instrument distributor.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a tour of DeBrand Fine Chocolates, which includes a kitchen tour and samples of their artesian-crafted chocolates. Conclude your day with a performance at the Embassy Theatre, which boasts grand Art Deco design elements.
Spend your morning shopping in Wayne County’s Antique Alley, an eclectic collection of emporiums and antique stores filled with rare wares. The county also encourages groups to integrate a stop on the Chocolate Trail (which passes through historic candy factories) or the Heartland Wine & Ale Trail (which can include winery or brewery tours). Embark on an artsy afternoon in the region, with stops that can include the Ball State University Art Museum in Muncie and Dunkirk Glass Museum in Dunkirk.
Visitors can also embark on the Grant County Garfield Trail, which challenges you to spot all 14 depictions of the cartoon cat across the region. Stops include the Fairmount Historical Museum and local libraries.
Stop in the town of Alexandria to add a coat to the World’s Largest Ball of Paint. This roadside attraction began in 1977 when Mike Carmichael’s son began layering paint around a baseball. Group members can use a roller to add a coat and take a photo next to the ball, which now consists of over 26,000 layers and weighs over 5,000 pounds.
Let off steam with an evening at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino outside of Anderson. One of the Midwest’s premier harness racing facilities, Hoosier Park hosts the prestigious annual Dan Patch Stakes and offers numerous dining options like the Prime Harvest Buffet and Dan Patch Brewhouse.