Experiencing Amish Country: A Traveler"s Guide To Shipshewana, Indiana

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For lovers of all things Amish, the name "Shipshewana" may ring familiar as the tiny Northern Indiana town with some of the finest Amish furniture in the Midwest.
Indeed, "Shipshe" (as it's affectionately called by locals), boasts a steady stream of visitors year-round, all to experience a variety of shopping, good eating and entertainment.
With this in mind, here's a simple travelers guide to experiencing the best Shipshe has to offer.
  • Flea Market - Take a quick look at the flea market map and you'll see why this 100 acre monster is billed as the "The Midwest's Largest Flea Market.
    " Bring your walking shoes, a water bottle and a keen eye.
    With literally hundreds of vendors, your best bet is to methodically tackle each avenue to be sure you don't miss anything.
    I recommend passing through the fresh veggie and flower stands at the Southwest corner before working slowly from the South end back up to the North.
    Be sure to bring some lunch money for a mid-way break at the sheltered food court in the center of the market.
    The flea market is open 8 a.
    m.
    -5 p.
    m.
    every Tuesday and Wednesday from May 3 until October 26.
  • Good Eats - Country-fresh food...
    yum! The Blue Gate Theater, smack-dab in the center of Shipshe, draws big crowds for its authentic Amish-style buffet (located within a beautiful dining space) and large bakery.
    Check out the homemade meatloaf and gravy (an all-time classic!).
    Walk a block West of the Blue Gate to the "boardwalk", a collection of tiny craft, food and furniture shops, and you'll find Kukui's Hawaiian Shave Ice (look for a free coupon inside "Yoder's Dutch Country Store") and Tacos On The Boardwalk.
    Still hungry? Then take a short walk South to check out Wana Cup (akind of Amish Dairy Queen) for quick, good eats.
    Finally, stop by Yoder's Meat and Cheese Shop, sample the goods (I recommend the Chipotle Cheese-spicy and delicious!) and buy something for the road!
  • Entertainment - The Blue Gate Theater boasts an intimate theater that draws top musical acts from around the country (2011 featured Sandi Patty, Pat Boone and the Oak Ridge Boys to name a few) and even an original musical ("The Confession").
    I recommend the "Grand Piano Christmas Extravaganza" for an evening of beautiful music.
  • Amish Furniture - If the flea market and Blue Gate Theater are the pillars that prop up Shipshe's tourism industry, then the numerous Amish furniture stores provide the solid foundation.
    To the core, Shipshe is and will be Amish country, and checking out the locally-crafted Amish furniture is the best way to see first-hand what this town is all about.
    B&L Woodcrafts, located due West of downtown Shipshe, features crafts and gifts (hand-woven baskets, clothes drying racks), lawn and patio furniture (try their sturdy Adirondack chairs) and even children's play sets.
    On your way South out of downtown, look for Brandenberry Amish Furniture on the East side of Van Buren Rd.
    and browse a variety of customizable home furniture.
Plan your ideal day trip to Shipshe and you may find that one day is not enough.
From the food and furniture to the theater and market, this unique little town always has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Happy travels!
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