20 Things to Do in Elkhart County INdiana

Things to do in Elkhart County, Indiana, beyond the RV industry. Explore gardens, museums, and local cuisine in this hidden Midwest gem.

📝 Discover Elkhart County Indiana – Beyond the RV Capital

When you think of Elkhart County, Indiana, RVs might be the first thing that comes to mind.

However, this vibrant region has so much more to offer.

I was invited on a private group 3-day tour by Visit Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau and feel honored because I had no idea there were so many interesting things to see and do.

So much in fact that I can’t even fit it all in this blog post.

The list below does not even scratch the surface.

So be sure to sign up for our newsletter so that you get notified when we post about more things to do in Elkhart County, Indiana.

Our RV is what brought us to Elkhart last year. Having only stayed a few days, we decided to return again this year and visit some of the many things we missed last time.

A collage of four images: vintage motorcycles, a hotel room with a jacuzzi, assorted handmade soaps, and a person slicing a margherita pizza.

Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, Elkhart County is a treasure of unique experiences and attractions waiting to be discovered.

Visitors can explore a variety of cultural and recreational activities.

Take a stroll through the serene Wellfield Botanical Gardens, a perfect escape for nature lovers.

For history buffs, the Ruthmere Museum and the National New York Central Railroad Museum provide fascinating insights into the area’s rich past.

Art enthusiasts will enjoy the eclectic assortment of galleries and craft shops, showcasing local artisans’ talents.

Whether you’re planning a family outing or a weekend getaway, Elkhart County delivers a delightful mix of charm and excitement beyond its renowned RV industry.

Get ready to uncover the hidden gems of this Indiana destination!

💡 Discover Historical and Cultural Attractions

Elkhart County, Indiana, is a place where history and culture blend seamlessly with modern-day activities.

Beyond its reputation for RVs, this county offers rich historical and cultural attractions that promise to educate and inspire visitors of all ages.

🚐 RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum

The RV Hall of Fame Museum isn’t just for RV enthusiasts, it’s a fascinating stop for anyone interested in American history and ingenuity.

The museum, located in Elkhart, spans a massive 100,000 square feet and features an array of historical recreational vehicles.

Inside view of a bus converted into a living space, featuring a single bed with pillows and a blanket, positioned near the driver's seat.

From the vintage Airstream to the more modern Winnebago, the exhibits show the evolution of mobile travel in America.

You’ll see classic RV models, some dating back to the early 20th century, each telling a unique story of travel and innovation. 

Whether you are living the RV lifestyle or on a road trip through Northern Indiana, the RV Museum is a must-stop on your list.

  • Exhibits to Check Out:
    • The oldest surviving RV, is a 1913 Earl Travel Trailer.
    • A 1931 Model AA Ford Housecar.
    • 1974 Itasca Motorhome.

🏛️ Ruthmere Mansion

Visiting the Ruthmere Mansion is like stepping back in time to the early 20th century.

This meticulously preserved Beaux-Arts mansion is a stunning example of architectural beauty.

A sunlit conservatory with a curved glass ceiling, filled with various potted plants and two yellow chairs centered on a small table. The brick walls and outdoor view enhance the serene atmosphere.

Built between 1908 and 1910, Ruthmere was once the home of Albert R. and Elizabeth Baldwin Beardsley.

Ruthmere Campus is where you discover the history and beautiful gardens of this well-preserved late 19th-century estate.

Today, it serves as a museum, showcasing fine arts, period furnishings, and decorative arts.

  • Highlights of Ruthmere Mansion:
    • Beautiful stained glass windows.
    • An impressive art collection, including Rodin sculptures.
    • Guided tours that explain the historical significance of each room.

🎭 Midwest Museum of American Art

The Museum of American Art in Elkhart County is a hidden gem in the local art scene.

The museum features a diverse collection of American art, from traditional paintings to contemporary pieces.

A sculpture of a man with an exaggerated expression, holding a can labeled "BUG OFF" in one hand and a white animal in the other, displayed in a gallery setting.

It plays a significant role in promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of the region.

  • Key Exhibitions to Explore:
    • Rotating exhibits featuring local and national artists.
    • Permanent collections of 19th and 20th-century American art.
    • Special events and workshops for all ages.

Whether you are a history buff, an art lover, or simply curious, Elkhart County’s historical and cultural attractions provide a unique and enriching experience.

🌸 Immerse in Natural Beauty and Gardens

Elkhart County, Indiana is also an oasis of natural beauty and stunning gardens.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or just looking to relax, you’ll find a wealth of serene spots to explore.

Let’s discover some of the must-visit gardens and nature trails in Elkhart County.

💐 Wellfield Botanic Gardens

Wellfield Botanic Gardens offers a spectacular escape into nature right in the heart of Elkhart.

Spanning 36 acres, this garden is not only beautiful but also serves as a working source of hydropower and drinking water.

A small garden pond with rocks and lush greenery, featuring a small waterfall and a variety of plants. In the background, there is a gazebo with chairs.
  • Types of Gardens:
    • Children’s Garden: This whimsical area is perfect for kids to explore and learn about plants.
    • Japanese Garden: Complete with a koi pond and a serene waterfall, it’s a peaceful retreat.
    • Sensory Garden: Designed to engage all five senses with fragrant plants and textured pathways.
    • Waterfall Garden: Featuring a lovely waterfall and serene pond, it’s a picturesque spot for relaxation.
  • Walking Paths:
    • Accessible Trails: The gardens have wide, flat paths suitable for all visitors, including those in wheelchairs.
    • Nature Trails: For those looking for a more rugged experience, there are trails that take you through wooded areas and around the ponds.

🐲 Linton’s Enchanted Gardens

Stepping into Linton’s Enchanted Gardens is like entering a fairy tale.

This garden center offers more than just plants; it provides a magical experience with its themed gardens and activities.

A small garden hut with a triangular-shaped roof made entirely of greenery, featuring a stone bench inside and surrounded by lush plants; an overcast sky in the background.
  • Themed Gardens:
    • Fairy Garden: Dotted with whimsical fairy houses and tiny plants, it’s perfect for sparking the imagination.
    • Japanese Tea House Garden: Offers a tranquil environment complete with traditional Japanese elements.
    • Butterfly House: An enclosed garden where visitors can walk among beautiful butterflies.

🌿 Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

For those who love outdoor adventures, the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail is a must-see.

This multi-use trail is perfect for hiking and biking, offering stunning views and plenty of fresh air.

  • Trail Details:
    • Length: The trail stretches over 25 miles, connecting several communities in Elkhart County.
    • Scenery: Expect to see beautiful farmlands, dense forests, and tranquil rivers along the way.
    • Activities:
      • Hiking: Well-marked paths make it perfect for hikers of all skill levels.
      • Biking: The paved sections are ideal for cyclists, while the gravel paths offer a bit more adventure.
      • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for local wildlife like deer, rabbits, and various bird species.

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Elkhart County, where every trail and garden provides a unique and enriching experience.

👩‍🍳 Experience Local Flavor and Dining

Elkhart is also a haven for food lovers. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast or a gourmet dinner, there’s a restaurant for every palate.

Let’s explore some local dining hotspots that showcase the county’s culinary scene.

🍔 The Corner Bar Restaurant

The Corner Bar Restaurant is located inside the Elkhart Hotel and is a beloved local spot where residents and visitors alike can enjoy a hearty meal.

Their menu is filled with classic American dishes, making it a great place to experience local flavor.

A plate of grilled chicken breast with asparagus spears served on a bed of mashed potatoes and drizzled with sauce.
  • Popular Menu Items:
    • Burgers: Juicy, flavorful, and cooked to perfection.
    • Steaks: Tender and seasoned just right.
    • Salads: Fresh and varied, perfect for a lighter option.

The dining experience here is warm and inviting, with friendly staff who make you feel right at home.

The casual atmosphere is perfect for a laid-back lunch or a relaxing dinner with family and friends.

🍹 The Rooftop Bar

If you’re looking for a more vibrant setting, The Rooftop Bar offers an excellent ambiance with a view.

Located atop the Elkhart Hotel, it’s the perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring Elkhart County.

A hand holds a glass of a red and yellow layered drink with ice and a slice of lime on the rim, against a backdrop of a cityscape under the setting sun.
  • Ambiance:
    • Panoramic Views: Enjoy stunning views of the city while sipping your drink.
    • Live Music: Often features local bands, adding to the lively atmosphere.
    • Cozy Seating: Both indoor and outdoor options make it versatile for all weather.
  • Popular Drink Options:
    • Craft Cocktails: Creative and refreshing, perfect for any occasion.
    • Local Beers: A great way to experience local brewing talent.
    • Wines: A curated selection to suit any preference.

🥞 Breakfast Buffet at Das Essenhaus

Start your day with a delicious breakfast at Das Essenhaus, a landmark in Elkhart County.

Known for its traditional Amish cooking, this place offers a buffet that will leave you satisfied and ready for the day.

A buffet setup with stainless steel trays containing scrambled eggs, diced potatoes, and various other hot breakfast items. Tongs and serving spoons are placed in each tray.
  • Buffet Offerings:
    • Homemade Sausages: Rich and flavorful, a must-try.
    • Pancakes and Waffles: Made fresh with your choice of toppings.
    • Eggs and Bacon: Classic breakfast staples prepared to perfection.
    • Fresh-baked Bread and Pastries: A delightful way to end your meal.

The dining environment is unique, with decor that reflects the area’s Amish heritage.

The warm, inviting atmosphere makes it a wonderful place to enjoy a hearty breakfast.

🍕 Neapolitan Pizza at Venturi

For pizza lovers, Venturi in Goshen offers a taste of Italy right in Elkhart County.

Specializing in Certified Neapolitan pizza, this restaurant is dedicated to authentic flavors and traditional cooking methods.

A Neapolitan-style pizza with a crispy crust, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves, served on a white plate.
  • Pizza-Making Process:
    • Wood-fired Ovens: Gives the pizza its characteristic crispy crust and smoky flavor.
    • Fresh Ingredients: Locally sourced and of the highest quality.
    • Dough Preparation: Handmade and fermented for the perfect texture and taste.
  • Menu Options:
    • Margherita Pizza: Simple yet delicious, topped with fresh basil and mozzarella.
    • Prosciutto e Rucola: A flavorful combination of prosciutto, arugula, and Parmesan.
    • White Pizza: A creamy alternative for those who prefer something different.

Venturi’s cozy and rustic setting makes it an ideal spot for a casual meal with friends or family.

The commitment to authenticity ensures that every bite is a delight.

🏘️ Visit Nearby Towns and Their Attractions

The nearby towns offer a variety of attractions that showcase the charm and uniqueness of Indiana.

Explore the local culture, flavors, and picturesque spots these towns have to offer.

🌻 Nappanee, Indiana: Quilt Garden and Rocket Science Ice Cream

Nappanee is a delightful town that brings a burst of color and creativity to your visit.

Here’s what you shouldn’t miss:

  • Quilt Gardens: Located in the heart of town, the Quilt Garden is a beautiful, living art piece. It features stunning garden patterns inspired by quilt designs, showcasing a vibrant display of flowers. Perfect for a leisurely stroll or a photo opportunity.
  • Rocket Science Ice Cream: Experience ice cream like never before at Rocket Science Ice Cream. This isn’t your average scoop shop. They use liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze your chosen mix-ins right before your eyes, creating the creamiest and freshest ice cream imaginable. Whether you’re a fan of classic flavors or adventurous combinations, Rocket Science Ice Cream makes for a fun, interactive treat.
Person working with a fog machine designed to look like a rocket labeled "Science", creating a cloud of mist in a room.

🍭 Wakarusa, Indiana: Wakarusa Dime Store and Local Murals

Just a short drive away, Wakarusa offers a charming small-town experience with some unique stops:

  • Wakarusa Dime Store: Step into nostalgia at the Wakarusa Dime Store, famous for its giant jelly beans and old-fashioned candies. This store has been delighting visitors with its array of sweets and quirky gifts since 1907. It’s a great spot to pick up a tasty souvenir or simply satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Local Murals: As you walk through Wakarusa, you’ll be greeted by beautifully painted murals that adorn the town’s buildings. These murals reflect the town’s history, community spirit, and artistic flair. Each mural tells a story, making your walk around town both visually pleasing and informative.

Exploring these charming towns not only provides a break from the usual tourist trail but also gives you a taste of the local culture and creativity that thrives in Elkhart County.

😴 Stay in Comfort: Accommodation Options

Elkhart County, Indiana offers a variety of comfortable and charming accommodation options for visitors.

From RV Parks and convenient hotels in the heart of the city to charming inns that offer a unique local experience, you’ll find the perfect spot to relax after a day of exploring.

⛺️ Elkhart Campground

If you’re looking for a perfect getaway with your family, Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana, has it all.

Spread across 25 acres, this modern, family-friendly campground offers activities like tennis, basketball, and mini golf to keep everyone entertained.

Operating seasonally from April 1st to November 1st, we’ve got 50, 30, and 20-amp hookups for your RVs and campers, plus free Wi-Fi to keep you connected.

Aerial view of a campground with several RVs and trucks parked in designated spaces, surrounded by green fields and trees in the background.

With 250 pull-throughs, level sites, and over 130 full hook-up spots, parking your rig is a breeze.

For a more rustic experience, our cabins range from basic to fully furnished with air conditioning.

Nestled close to major manufacturers, dealers, and service centers, they are also just a short drive from Shipshewana Flea Market and Amish Acres.

Relax with amenities like laundry and in-home hot showers, and enjoy discounts for military personnel, Good Sam Members, FMCA, AAA, and Escapees.

So why wait? Pack up and explore Elkhart’s surrounding hotspots!

🏨 Elkhart Hotel

Elkhart Hotel is ideally situated in downtown Elkhart, making it a great base for exploring the city’s attractions.

As one of the premier lodging options in the area, it provides a blend of modern amenities and historical charm.

A multi-story brick building with large windows and street-level businesses is situated on a sunny city corner with clear skies above.
  • Location Benefits:
    • Close proximity to local attractions such as the Wellfield Botanic Gardens and the National New York Central Railroad Museum.
    • Easy access to local dining and shopping spots, ensuring guests can experience the best of Elkhart on foot.
    • Convenient for business travelers, with several conference facilities and meeting rooms available nearby.
  • Amenities:
    • Comfortable Rooms: Modern, well-appointed rooms that ensure a good night’s rest.
    • On-Site Dining: A restaurant offering a variety of dishes that highlight local flavors.
    • Fitness Center: Equipped with modern machines to help you keep up with your fitness routine.
    • Free Wi-Fi: Available throughout the hotel to keep you connected during your stay.

With its central location and range of amenities, Elkhart Hotel provides everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay in Elkhart County.

🛌 Essenhaus Inn & Conference Center

For those seeking a unique charm, the Essenhaus Inn & Conference Center in Middlebury offers a memorable and delightful experience.

Known for its beautiful grounds and warm hospitality, this inn is a favorite among visitors to Elkhart County.

A bedroom with a bed, wooden wardrobe, armchair, lamp, and window with curtains partially drawn. There's a vase with flowers on top of the wardrobe. The room has gray walls and carpet.
  • Unique Charm:
    • The inn’s Amish-inspired decor creates a cozy and welcoming atmosphere that reflects the local culture.
    • Beautiful surroundings with well-maintained gardens and walking paths that provide a peaceful retreat.
    • quaint setting that makes you feel like you’re stepping back in time to a simpler, more serene period.
  • Facilities Available:
    • Spacious Rooms: Each room is uniquely decorated and equipped with modern amenities to ensure a comfortable stay.
    • Conference Center: Ideal for business meetings, weddings, and other events, with state-of-the-art facilities.
    • Indoor Pool and Hot Tub: Perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring.
    • Complimentary Breakfast: A delicious array of breakfast items to start your day right.
    • On-Site Restaurant: Offers hearty Amish and American meals, making it easy to enjoy traditional local cuisine.

Staying at the Essenhaus Inn & Conference Center provides a blend of modern comfort and traditional charm, making your visit to Elkhart County truly special.

Elkhart County, Indiana, ensures a variety of comfortable and convenient accommodation options that cater to both casual visitors and business travelers alike.

Whether you prefer the modern amenities of Elkhart Hotel or the unique charm of Essenhaus Inn & Conference Center, you’ll find a place that feels like a home away from home.

🚗 Explore the Heritage Trail

🌼 Heritage Trail is a breathtaking loop that winds through seven charming Elkhart County communities, including Bristol, Elkhart, and Goshen.

This scenic drive showcases picturesque country settings and friendly locals, earning accolades like the top USA Today Reader’s Choice and LIFE®’s “America’s Most Scenic Drives.”

 🎧 Free Guided Audio Tour: Enhance your Heritage Trail experience with a free guided audio tour!

It dishes out unique insights and fun facts about the vibrant communities.

The best part? You can explore at your own pace.

❓ Elkhart County FAQs

☝️ What are some other must-see attractions in Elkhart County?

Elkhart County is packed with amazing attractions that cater to all interests. Here are a few highlights:

  • Lerner Theatre: A beautifully restored historic venue where you can catch theatre productions and musical performances.
  • Island Park: A scenic spot perfect for water sports and picnics with family and friends.
  • Bristol Opera House: Enjoy live musical and theatrical productions in this charming, historic building.
  • Elkhart County Historical Museum: Explore the rich history of Elkhart County with a vast collection of historical artifacts.
A theater interior with an ornate balcony, red curtains, and patterned walls. Rows of empty seats are visible below the balcony.

💁‍♀️ A Fun Fact about Elkhart County?

Did you know that Elkhart County is known as the RV Capital of the World?

It’s a fascinating place with a vibrant culture, a well-crafted life, and is home to the renowned Elkhart Jazz Festival.

Promotional image featuring an invitation to join a facebook group by lifeintherv.com, displayed on various devices; tablet, laptop, and smartphones showing group content.

👍 Why You Should Visit

Elkhart County, Indiana, is indeed more than just the RV Capital of the world.

From its lush Quilt gardens and nature trails to its rich historical and cultural heritage, the county offers a variety of attractions that cater to every interest.

Explore the charming nearby towns, indulge in local culinary delights, and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene.

You may even see the famous Amish noodles being made at the Dutch Country Market.

Pasta strips lay on trays, drying in a commercial kitchen. A staff member in a white outfit moves boxes in the background.

Elkhart County promises an experience that goes beyond its RV legacy.

Take the time to uncover the multifaceted charm of this Midwest gem.

How to See It All Comfortably

As I go into more detail about each of the attractions, the easiest way to see all of them is to book a tour with Great Life Tours.

Vickie, the owner and our tour guide is so knowledgeable about Amish Country, the Amish, the Mennonites, and all the surrounding areas, that you won’t be disappointed.

She can take you to places that only she can arrange and that will amaze you.

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