In Shipshewana, Indiana, you’ll be hard-pressed to drive a mile without seeing an Amish buggy traveling on the side of the road. While this may be what Amish Country looks like to many, it’s so much more than buggies and Anabaptist women's kapps. Shipshewana is a haven for exploration, dining, and diverse cultural experiences. Here are eight things you didn’t know you could do in Shipshewana Indiana.
1. Learn About Amish and Mennonite Customs at the Menno-Hof Amish-Mennonite Interpretive Museum
When you visit the Menno-Hof Amish-Mennonite Interpretive Center, don’t expect it to be a snooze fest. It’s quite the opposite. Built with several rooms, you’ll navigate them a few minutes at a time. During the visit, you’ll discover the history of the Amish and Mennonite Cultures, their struggles and perseverance, and the modern-day ways of each community. When you go, give yourself at least 60 to 90 minutes to delve into the experience.
2. Eat at an Amish Home
Locating an Amish restaurant to enjoy a big meal is easy enough in Shipshewana, but did you know you can visit an Amish home and partake in one? At The Carriage House in Topeka, having a thrasher meal is commonplace. Named for Amish farmers threshing grain and the meal they’d have afterward, you can expect all of the hearty courses—including chicken, beef, homemade noodles, potatoes, vegetables, and several styles of pies. The meal is hearty, so make sure you eat light and save room to try a little of everything.
3. Take an Amish Buggy Ride
I never knew I could ride in an actual Amish buggy until I visited Shipshewana, Indiana. The cost is per person and depends on the buggy and owner you choose, but it’s worth getting the feel of what it’s like to ride along with gasoline-powered vehicles. The experience is eye-opening and will make you think twice about zooming past a family riding in a horse-drawn carriage again.
4. See an Amish Musical
While not portrayed by actual members of the Amish community, you can catch a live musical featuring its culture. Each show is located at the Blue Gate Theater and offers a top-notch cast that can sing and act beautifully. Of course, if musicals aren’t up your street, the theater also hosts famous singers and performing acts as well.
5. Learn To Love Amish Peanut Butter
Unless you have an allergy, peanut butter is a staple in many homes. The perfect accompaniment to fresh bread, it’s ideal until you’ve had Amish peanut butter. Made with a mix of marshmallow fluff, corn syrup, and traditional peanut butter, once you’ve tried it, you’ll be hard-pressed to forget about it. I crave it a few times a year.
6. Discover the Secret To Making Amish Baskets
In my area, woven baskets are commonplace. Head to Teaberry Wood Products in Shipshewana, and you’ll have an eye-opening experience making one. Owner LaVerne Miller and his wife use a thin-bladed saw to cut out pieces of wood in a puzzle style, assemble them, and use wood sticks to hold them in place. After a dip in linseed oil, it’s on the shelf for selling. Additionally, the company sells wooden nativities, puzzles, and other beautiful pieces perfect for placing on your mantle or shelf.
7. See How Recycled Material Rugs Are Made
Mervin & Phyllis Yoder, owners of Yoder’s Rug Weavers, have been saving blue jeans from the trash for nearly 35 years. Either found or donated, each pair is cut into strips and then weaved into a rug on one of two looms. Additionally, they make custom rigs using meaningful material sent in by a customer.
8. Attend an Amish Auction in Shipshewana Indiana
Seeing an auction on television instead of in person is an entirely different experience. Add seven auctioneers cantering at once, hundreds of people bidding, and a massive space filled with antiques, and you’ve got the Shipshewana Flea Market & Auction. Each Wednesday, every auction differs due to the pieces sold, the time of year, and even the holiday season. To bid, you’ll need to visit the main office to purchase a bidder’s number for $5, and it’s good for the entire year.
If you’ve never seen or heard of an auction, you’ll probably think the auctioneers speak a different language. They speak English in a sing-song, repetitive way that takes a few minutes to get used to. I like to think of it as dialing in a radio station: once you’ve got it locked down, it’s no problem to hear. If it’s your visit, take your time, walk through the auction area, and stand and listen to the auctioneers before bidding to ensure you know what you’re bidding on and how much it’s going for.