Botanical Gardens & Amish Experiences in Northern Indiana

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The Itinerary at a Glance

Northern Indiana is home to famous South Bend, which houses the legendary University of Notre Dame. This region is also where the Studebaker National Museum resides. This museum houses a priceless collection of vehicles, artwork and artifacts spanning nearly 200 years. Take a trip to Amish Country with a tour of the region’s Quilt Gardens. With 19 in all, these colorful gardens use more than 1 million blooms. In Fort Wayne, the Foellinger-Freeman Botanical Conservatory is populated with more than 500 plant species from across three continents.

Category: Activities

Length: 2 Days

Date Restrictions: None

Suitable for: Over 21

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Itinerary Details

Day 1

Begin your Indiana adventure at the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, where famous figures like Brutus Buckeye and Mr. Met are honored in a state-of-the-art, 25,000- square-foot facility founded by the original Phillie Phanatic. Groups can explore exhibits such as “Department of the Furry Arts,” “Science of Silliness Lab” and “Phuzzical Education Department.” Visitors can also engage with their imaginations to design and physically build a mascot and audition as it through exciting stunts like firing t-shirt and confetti cannons.

Another popular South Shore attraction is the Friendship Botanical Gardens in Michigan City. This greenspace is a collection of over a dozen “ethnic gardens” that represent their home nation with native plants and art installations. Developed in parallel with the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair to symbolize international unity, the property contains Dutch tulips and rare Persian roses overseen by England’s royal gardener.

This evening, Explore downtown South Bend, a vibrant place for dining and shopping. In season, catch a game at the South Bend Cubs stadium, located right downtown with a hint of Chicago’s Wrigley Field, or visit the new Four Winds Casino South Bend. You can also visit the visit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Built in the late 1800s, the church features one of the largest collections of 19th century French stained glass in the world.

Day 2

Your day begins at the Studebaker National Museum, which houses a priceless collection of vehicles, artwork and artifacts spanning nearly 200 years. The museum displays the first and last cars the Studebaker corporation ever made and boasts the largest presidential carriage collection in the world. You can also tour 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 19 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 hand-crafted 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.

Spend your day in the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s second-largest city. Spend your morning at Sweetewater, a campus that includes an instrument store, recording studios, shipping plant and performances spaces. Tours will pass through the professional service center, which rehabs and improves existing instruments, auditoriums with state-of-the-art acoustic engineering and a performance pavilion.

You will also want to explore the Foellinger-Freeman Botanical Conservatory, an immense glass structure influenced by turn-of-the-century greenhouses. The conservatory is populated with over 500 plant species from across three continents and divided into three themed indoor areas with a separate layout and climate in addition to outdoor and seasonal displays. An arid environment containing Saguaro cacti, prickly pear trees and jojoba shrubs, the Desert Garden is filled with hundreds of species that are otherwise impossible to grow in the Midwest, while the Tropical Garden teems with diverse fruit orchards, cacao plants and 13 palm varieties. Conclude your day with a tour of DeBrand Fine Chocolates, where you can sample artisan-crafted creations and indulge with a sundae at the wood-paneled cafe next door.

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