From the peaceful country vistas of Amish Country artisans, farms and backroads to the urban centers crackling with energy, the Heritage Trail is full of the colorful history of the rise of Elkhart County’s leading families and working people.
The Elkhart County Visitor Center in Elkhart, which joins a classically modern sensibility with the eclectic vibrant colors of skillfully handmade quilts, connects you with the guides that will bring the Heritage Trail to life.
Hear from Master Gardeners and quilters and fabric artists as you visit the 18 Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail. You’ll marvel at the craftsmanship and dedication of the more than 200 volunteers from across our six cities and towns to plan, strategize, plant, weed, feed and water each of the Quilt Gardens. The 2020 Quilt Gardens will feature 18 sites, including two new sites, for everyone’s enjoyment.
With three Quilt Gardens in and around Middlebury, two more in Nappanee and one each in Bristol and Wakarusa, it’s easy to spend a day visiting those Quilt Gardens sites and meeting the talented and friendly artisans around them. The urban centers of Elkhart (seven Quilt Gardens) and Goshen (four Quilt Gardens) allow you to see many different patterns in a short amount of time, leaving plenty of space to visit the galleries, workshops and guilds of these gifted artists.
Linton’s Enchanted Gardens
Creativity and risk-taking, the essence of entrepreneurship, has coursed through Elkhart County’s veins as the cities and towns grew, leaving behind homes and gardens of remarkable grandeur for groups to marvel at. Get a glimpse of the Beaux-Arts opulence at the Ruthmere Mansion, a testament to the city of Elkhart’s history and personal statement by the family that helped make Alka-Seltzer famous. You’ll see how the elite of the 1800s and early 1900s lived, complete with Rodin sculptures, Tiffany lamps and beautifully landscaped gardens.
The Krider family of Middlebury built its empire on its plant nursery business. Today you can see the fruits of their creation at the Krider World’s Fair Garden, including several amazing pieces preserved from their exhibition at the historic Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34.
After this amazing experience, it’s a short drive to Das Dutchman Essenhaus for an unmatched experience in northern Indiana’s Amish Country. Indiana’s largest restaurant delivers home-cooked goodness to satisfy any and all appetites. Served buffet-style, family-style or off the menu, your meal of fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes and dozens of tasty sides isn’t over till you enjoy one of Essenhaus’ 30-plus varieties of pie. Then while away the hours at the Village Shops for hand-crafted goodness from the quilt shop, artisan furniture and more for your home.
A family-style meal at Das Dutchman Essenhaus
History lives on in the rolling farmland of Amish Country all around Das Dutchman Essenhaus. This is land where families live much as they once did hundreds of years ago. Sample a taste of life on the farm with group-friendly activities such as quilting bees, baking demonstrations, and family-style dinners with platters of all your favorites. Strike up a conversation with any of the artisans you meet along the way. They love to share their craft and their stories.
a cinnamon roll baking demonstration
Nestled along the banks of the Little Elkhart River is Bonneyville Mill, the oldest continuously operating grist mill in Indiana. Your tour includes a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the massive stones grinding flour, accompanied by stories of the mill’s colorful past. Top off your visit with fresh ground flour and a stroll through the dahlia garden outside.