9 Incredible Day Trips Within 45 Minutes of Goshen
One of the things that makes Goshen great is our nearness to other vibrant communities. From educational to recreational opportunities – to say nothing of shopping and dining – our neighbors have it all!
Want to see? Join us for nine “day trips” within an hour’s drive of the Maple City.
Hang by the lake
Choosing what to do first can be difficult at Winona Lake, just over 40 minutes from Goshen.
Treat yourself to shopping at the Beaded Peacock, BELOVE, The Mucky Duck, or The Olive Branch. Paint pottery with the whole family at Pottery Bayou, or hit the lake with fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing.
Maybe what you really like to do is stay dry but still be in the great outdoors. If so, you’re in luck: Winona Lake is a certified “Bicycle Friendly Community” with greenway paths for beginners or mountain bikes trails for more experienced bikers. When the day is done, experience surf ‘n’ turf and new American style dining at Boathouse Restaurant or venture to Cerulean for pan-Asian fusion and a creative take on meat and seafood classics.
Winona Lake sits on the National Register of Historic Places for the same reasons you should day-trip there today — outdoor recreation, shopping, and dining.
Photos courtesy of The Village at Winona Lake
Catch a show in Amish country
Amish hospitality and national recording artists find common ground at
Shipshewana’s Blue Gate.
Photo courtesy of the Blue Gate
Shipshewana is a hub of Amish culture where visitors have the chance to experience it for themselves.
Enjoy traditional Amish dishes at Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery before seeing one of the many theater productions or live performances at Blue Gate Performing Arts Center. Nominated by the Academy of Country Music in 2021 as a Theater of the Year alongside such storied venues as Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, this space has attracted musicians from Michael Bolton to Marie Osmond and Postmodern Jukebox.
Don’t forget to make time for bargain hunting on nearly 40 acres at the Shipshewana Flea Market, open May through September. Buggy and carriage rides are also available through a variety of providers, including Buggy Lane Tours and, yes, area hospitality destination, Blue Gate.
Bristol’s outdoor adventure
Bonneyville Mill Park offers a rustic look at Bristol’s yesteryear. One of the highlights of the 223-acre park is the working grist mill, open from April through October. Have a picnic in one of the park shelters or go for a stroll on the park’s seven miles of hiking trails. And don’t forget to bring your two-wheeled transportation to explore the park’s five-mile mountain bike trail.
The St. Joe River winds through Bristol, and you can explore this waterway by watercraft. Stop by Bristol Canoe & Kayak, 402 Mottville Road, to rent what you need. As a bonus, the friendly folks there will drop you off and pick you up! Bristol’s outdoor experience is a near-perfect way to make memories with your family.
If by chance you’re traveling without the kids, why not enjoy a taste of locally-produced wine at Fruit Hills Winery & Orchard? It’s located just south of Bristol on the Judson Fruit Farm, which has been in the owner’s family since 1852.
Middlebury by bike
Bikers zoom down the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, which connects Goshen to Middlebury.
Photo credit: Scott Weisser
The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail is a scenic regional treasure, a former railroad right-of-way revitalized as a linear park. The bike/pedestrian trail connects Goshen to Middlebury, and all the things our neighbor to the north has to offer. Ride the ’Vine to Middlebury’s Krider “World’s Fair” Garden, originally designed for display at the 1933-34 World’s Fair.
Middlebury is also home to its own network of bike trails, one of which extends to Das Dutchman Essenhaus, a folksy attraction ideal for shopping or hearty dining. Leave room for the Essenhaus’ famous pies!
When you’re done biking, hop in your four-wheeled ride and take a trip to the Dutch Country Market, a gift shop and specialty grocery store along C.R. 16. The market has a working apiary and is a great place to buy honey. You can also watch noodles being made! You’ll soon learn that some of the neatest places are off the main drag. Middlebury’s backroads Amish experience includes Rise’n Roll Bakery and Deli, a place with seriously scrumptious baked items. You won’t forget the doughnuts. Ever.
Talk to the animals
South Bend’s Potawatomi Zoo has a 120-year history as Indiana’s first zoo, and today is home to more than 400 animals. Among its most popular exhibits are the Amur tigers and leopards, the African lions, and the snow leopards. Other featured animals include red pandas, kangaroos, monkeys, and the North American river otters.
Through the zoo’s partnership with KultureCity, the staff is trained and ready to accommodate individuals with sensory processing needs to make the zoo a more inclusive space.
The Potawatomi Zoo is open April 1 through October 31, closed during the winter months. Check their days and hours online before you visit.
Learn about Elkhart at Ruthmere Museum. The Ruthmere campus includes a historic home, art collection, and performing arts venue.
In the mood for scenery and a stroll? Check out a variety of suggested biking and walking tours around the county here. And Wellfield Botanic Gardens along North Main Street includes 36 acres and more than 20 individual gardens. This restorative, beautiful landmark features the Waterfall Garden and the Adventure Path.
After all that walking, you will be hungry. But you will also be in luck because Elkhart is home to exquisite dining experiences. Have a brew and a bite at downtown’s Iechyd Da Brewing Company or 523 Tap & Grill. If you’re in the mood for an Italian-style feast, enjoy the entrees at Michael’s Italian Restaurant, family-owned and operated since 1917, and Antonio’s Italian Ristorante.
Go treasure hunting
Amish craftsmanship coupled with community heritage makes Nappanee a unique destination. Start by visiting Coppes Commons, a former kitchen cabinet manufacturer repurposed into shops offering locally made, handcrafted items, along with fresh baked goods.
It’s a history lesson and a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. It’s easy to shop locally in Nappanee. There are more than 200 shops in the Nappanee countryside, with crafters offering woodworking, leather goods, woven rugs and so much more! A map of the countryside shops is available online here.
Looking for something old that’ll be new to you? Nappanee is home to several antique shops, including Dutch Lady Antiques. If the antique fever is still burning back home in Goshen, visit Goshen Antique Mall along Main Street. The shop features items from nearly 40 dealers and is listed on IndianaAntiqueTrail.com.
Never spend a day indoors
From boating to birdwatching, find something to do outside every season at Potato Creek.
Photos courtesy of Potato Creek State Park
With a variety of activities for every season, Potato Creek State Park is a year-round, day trip destination!
Unplug and spend the day in the great outdoors at one of the most visited parks in Indiana. The park’s focal point, Lake Worster, is 327 acres in size and offers swimming, kayaking, boating, and fishing. With its beach and boating options, it’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day. Bicycle, canoe, paddleboat, rowboat, and kayak rentals are available to guests.
Potato Creek is also home to a variety of waterfowl, making it a perfect birding location. During the colder months, visitors can enjoy ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snow tubing.
Explore the past
The past is lovingly curated at our region’s many outstanding museums. Have fun seeing how many you can visit in a day! Tours are available at Elkhart’s historic Ruthmere Museum and its sister site two blocks away, the recently restored Havilah Beardsley House.
From Ruthmere, it’s not far to the Midwest Museum of American Art, a showcase of 19th- and 20th-century American artwork, and the New York Central Railroad Museum. Founded in 1987, the railroad museum preserves the legacy of the New York Central railroad network.
Head north to Bristol to visit the Elkhart County Historical Museum, which includes 10 permanent galleries and two temporary exhibit spaces. From dinosaurs to old-time schoolhouses to the modern day, the exhibits tell our rich and varied story.
Venture back south to learn the story of The Maple City at the Goshen Historical Museum downtown. The museum is run by the Goshen Historical Society, formed during the city’s 1981 sesquicentennial celebration.
Editors • Scott Weisser, Liz Shenk, Kirianna West, Wendy Wilson
Originally published January 2018; last updated March 2022.