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Top 13 Things to Do (& EAT!) in Elkhart, IN

| Updated Jun 16, 2023

From unique eateries to the nation’s best flea market, there are so many great things to do in the RV Capital of the World – Elkhart, IN!

We visit Elkhart, IN a lot. That's where most of the RVs sold in North America are built. Most of the major RV suppliers are also located there.

And we're not alone. Thousands of everyday RVers also visit there, to tour the RV factories, attend many of the RV-related shows and exhibitions that happen there, and to get repair and warranty work done on their rigs.

So when you find yourself there and are looking for things to do in Elkhart, check out our list of places to visit and places to eat.

From gorgeous gardens to diners featured on a famous TV show, Elkhart has something for everyone. 

For starters, check out the video below on Michiana, the area that includes Elkhart. We show you where to camp and visit a couple of our favorite places. Then keep scrolling down in this article to see our list;

Here's the Top 13 things to see, do, and EAT in Elkhart!

Things to Do in Elkhart

1. DeFries Gardens: New Paris


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Discover and explore 13-acres of native plant and ornamental flora collections!

Nestled within the River Preserve County Park, this gorgeous garden reminds us of our connection to the environment. That is why I included it on my list of top things to do in Elkhart! 

This site was once a private homestead, complete with an 1880s Victorian-era home surrounded by woodland plants and perennial gardens. 

The garden goes by the four-season Calendar Garden, featuring several gardens throughout the year. The one-acre showpiece is a large circular garden and features a flowering calendar.

2. Shipshewana Flea Market


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Check out Shipshewana Flea Market, one of the truly unique things to do in Elkhart. 

Named one of the best flea markets in the country, Shipshewana Flea Market features over 700 vendors!

They bring their best art, home decor, fresh produce, antiques, landscaping, furniture, purses, jewelry, crafts and so much more! 

Or, come see the thrilling live antique auction with 6-10 auctioneers selling simultaneously. This is featured every Wednesday, year-round. 

There are also weekly livestock and horse auctions to help add to the excitement. Go check them out!

3. Davis Mercantile: Shipshewana

Davis Mercantile houses four floors, with 21 stores, to meet all your shopping, eating and relaxation needs!

Originally built as a hotel in 1891 by Hezekiah Davis, the complex accommodated those traveling through town. Its location near the train station served them well!

Check out their wide range of shops, from fabric stores to eateries. If puzzles or furniture is more up your alley, you can find it there! They even have a carousel to entertain the kids. 

4. Organized Obie: Elkhart 

Elkhart is the home base of one of RV Lifestyle's valued partners, Organized Obie. They're the ones who turned us on to visiting Elkhart and provided many of these great suggestions. 

So, while in Elkhart, check out the Organized Obie website… it's a one-of-a-kind shop selling everything you need to organize any space. You can find unique items to help you organize your RV, boat, home, garage, warehouse, and cargo trailer!

(With limited space in my RV, I can always use an organizational helping hand!)

We are such fans we created a whole video all about them — check it out! If you use the promo code RVLIFESTYLE they'll give you 5% off the cost of your order.

5. RV Hall of Fame Museum: Elkhart 

Did you know that there is an RV hall of fame? There is! It was built to preserve and honor the history of RVs. And it is number five on my list of things to do in Elkhart. 

The museum features exhibits to showcase the pioneers of the RV world. The individuals that made significant contributions to both the RV and manufactured housing industries. 

You can also find displays in the RV Founders Hall that showcase photos, trailers and other memorabilia reaching back to the 1920s. The museum is organized chronologically, presenting advancements in technology in the industry from before WWII to present day. 

Enjoy a video we did while visiting Elkhart. President Darryl Searer gives us a tour of all these wonderfully restored, historical, and luxury RV models. Would you believe, RVs are over 100 years old?

RV Lifestyle Gear

rv lifestyle clothing

What better way to visit the RV Hall of Fame than showing off RV lifestyle gear? Check out our Boondocker, Rule 330, Small House Big Yard, and other great clothing collections.

6. Pumpkinvine Nature Trail: Goshen Hiking and Nature Trail


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Located on the former Pumpkinvine railroad corridor, this 16-mile trail is a linear park and greenway. This is one of the best things to do in Elkhart for fitness lovers! 

The trail features both asphalt and packed limestone surfaces. That makes it suitable for narrow-tired bicycles. Walkers, runners, and rollerbladers also enjoy the trail as they move through small towns, urban areas, and agricultural communities.

Places to Eat in Elkhart

7. Simonton Lake Drive In: Elkhart Old Fashioned Root Beer Drive-In 

Check out one of the coolest venues in town! This 1950s throwback features delicious homemade root beer, friendly carhops, and yummy diner food. 

Check them out on one of their specialty nights. They have a Bike Cruise-In, Import Car Night. Classic Car Cruise-In, and 4×4 Cruise-In. Go see what the fun and food is all about! 

8. Nelson’s Golden Glow 

For more than 50 years, Nelson’s has been known for its unique and delicious barbecue! They cater large corporate events, social gatherings, weddings, and fundraisers. 

9. The Chief Ice Cream: Goshen 


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What is Better than hand-dipped ice cream? Premium, homemade, hand-dipped ice cream!

The Chief began as a little ice cream shop in 1962. Over time, it has grown into a community favorite where friends and family gather to enjoy a sweet treat. 

This sweet shop is locally and nationally recognized, being ranked by Thrillist as one of the Top 31 ice cream shops in the nation! That is why I was sure to include it on my list of things to do in Elkhart.

10. Rise and Roll Donuts: Elkhart 


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Known to the locals as “Amish crack,” this bakery offers more than just donuts. Baked goods, candies, and Amish products are all offered at this beloved bakery.

Eating a sweet treat from this local favorite is definitely one of the best things to do in Elkhart!

They are especially known for their preservative-free wholesome treats. But it's their famous Cinnamon Caramel Donut that has earned their local “Amish crack” title. Some even call it “addicting!”

11. Das Dutchman Essenhaus and Bakery: Middlebury 


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Built by Bob and Sue Miller, the Essenhaus is more than a dining establishment. It is a story of “growth, commitment, and genuine hospitality!”

Their restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then stop by the bakery for a sweet treat. (They even offer a gluten-free menu!) And if you see a Raspberry Cream pie… get it. You'll thank me later!

The property also houses an inn, theater, shops, and other activities. 

12. Olympia Candy Kitchen: Goshen 


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Take a stroll to the “sweetest little place in town!” Olympia Candy Kitchen offers an authentic diner experience, as well as sweet treats to please any confection connoisseur.

From handmade caramel apples to delectable charlie chaplins, every candy lover will be able to find something to love. Then enjoy a BLT for lunch, served by their friendly waitstaff. 

13. South Side Soda Shop: Goshen 


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As seen on Food Network Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, this family-run restaurant is a retro diner with a modern twist!

Originally built in the early 1900s, and now owned and operated by the Boyd family, this restaurant makes comfort food with a modern twist. 

Check out their chili “sundae” or spinach salad with an upscale twist. They also offer catering and dessert buffets.

Check them out, but be sure to come hungry! 

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Top 13 Things to Do (& EAT!) in Elkhart, IN 1

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-05-11

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

5 Responses to “Top 13 Things to Do (& EAT!) in Elkhart, IN”

May 17, 2021at8:49 am, Sandra Keen said:

I would like a packing list, please.

May 11, 2021at10:54 am, Christine Mingst said:

I signed up in the past, but lost my packing list. Can you send it again? Thanks

May 11, 2021at8:15 am, Thomas said:

Amish and Mennonite museum and visitor center is a must in Shipshewana.

May 11, 2021at7:42 am, Ruth Potter said:

When you travel near Paducah Ky. stop at the Quilt Museum. And check out their flood wall paintings.

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