I used to avoid visiting Amish Indiana in the winter, but not any more. Our recent trips to search for a retirement home there have caused us to visit Shipshewana and Middlebury all winter long this year. We’ve found that the winter season has a charm all its own.
Of course, there are disadvantages. If you come for the flea market (we don’t), then you have to wait until May. If you come for the bike trail (as we sometimes do), then stay home for a few more months. But we have enjoyed our winter visits. The days are shorter, but that just gives us more time to enjoy a leisurely dinner, a piece of pie, and then a long evening at one of our favorite Bed & Breakfasts or country inns.
We have always liked to take long drives through the countryside, and winter is a good time for that. The scenery is different, and we get a glance of Amish life during a different season. The roads are snowy, so everyone drives more slowly, which suits us fine—we like to slow down and look at everything. It’s a good time to visit our Amish friends, because they have more free time in the winter.
It’s easy to buy food to bring home in the winter—we just set it on the back seat and don’t have to worry about having a cooler for everything.
Shopping? Walking up and down the streets in the shopping district of Shipshewana in the winter is too cold for our taste, but there are alternatives. The Davis Mercantile has lots of shops of all kinds, and also places to get a pretzel, a latte, sweets, or even a meal. Yoder’s Department Store and Hardware Store is always good for an hour of shopping or people watching. (There’s also an excellent quilting shop there, and a place to get a snack.) The Red Barn Shoppes building is another good winter shopping destination, and a few quick steps away you can stop at Yoder’s Meat and Cheese Shop. (And all these places have decent restrooms!) In Middlebury, the shops at the Essenhaus are in separate buildings, but at least they’re grouped close together. Or drive down to Warsaw Cut Glass Company; call ahead to be sure you get a tour and demonstration.
Mix these up with an hour or two at a good dinner place, and then it’s time to head back to the Bed and Breakfast or inn and hunker down for an evening of relaxation. Some of the area B&B’s are closed in January, February, and March, but some are open—and Essenhaus Inn in Middlebury is not only open, but it has lower winter rates on weeknights. They have several public areas there with fireplaces.
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