15 Best Things to Do in Elkhart, IN

Elkhart, IN
Cheri Alguire / shutterstock.com

Elkhart is a town 15 miles east of South Bend, Indiana, United States of America.

Known as the Recreational Vehicle Capital of the world, Elkhart’s multi-billion dollar RV industry dates back to Wilbur Schult in 1935.

Producing one camper trailer per day, Schult started manufacturing the first camper trailer in Elkhart, which he sold for just $198.

Today, there are around 1,000 RV manufacturers in Elkhart County.

For every two RVs you encounter on the road, you can be sure one came from Elkhart.

However, Elkhart County offers so much more than its prosperous RV industry!

Nature trails, spectacular horticultural attractions, museums, restaurants, and other exciting destinations fill the city with a vibrant urban energy that will make you yearn for more adventures.

Here are the best things to do in Elkhart, Indiana:

Explore the RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum

Exterior of the RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

Enter the three halls of the RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum and bask in the history of the RV industry as you explore the RV Founders Hall, Exhibitors Hall, and Go RVing Hall.

See how the RV reinvented outdoor recreation and camping at the RV Founders Hall.

Airstream trailer in RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

Learn how it became one of the biggest industries worldwide today.

You’ll also find a vast collection of original RVs like Mae West’s iconic 1931 Chevrolet Housecar, including other early camper trailer models from the 1920s and 1930s.

Check out the Go RVing Hall and discover the state-of-the-art display and interactive digital kiosks featuring the rich history of Elkhart’s RV manufacturers, campgrounds, and dealerships.

Pace arrow trailer in RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

Of course, you shouldn’t miss the Exhibitors Hall, which contains exciting displays of the products and parts manufacturers of the RV industry.

Bring your family to the RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum!

Earl travel trailer in RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

Enter Wonderland at Linton’s Enchanted Gardens

Known as the “Disney of Garden Centers,” Linton’s Enchanted Gardens is one of Indiana’s most prominent outdoor displays, which features over nine acres of botanical gardens.

Spend a fun afternoon with the kids and take a ground tour aboard the Enchanted Gardens Train.

The entire family can also try various recreational activities such as gemstone mining, paddle boating, and quad-cycling.

The kids will also love visiting the enchanting animals at the petting zoo.

Meanwhile, the adults can visit the Village of Shoppes for some souvenirs from the trip.

Spend time browsing unique gift items, seasonal décor, handcrafted jewelry, and accessories.

Afterward, everyone can enjoy a sumptuous meal at the Garden Café.

The café serves hearty breakfast and lunch meals, including handcrafted beverages and local Indiana wines.

Spend the day at Linton’s Enchanted Gardens!

Travel Back in Time at Ruthmere

History buffs should not miss the chance to revisit America’s Gilded Age and take a tour around Ruthmere.

Elizabeth and Albert Beardsley built Ruthmere in 1908, considered the centerpiece of Elkhart society back in the day.

Explore Ruthmere’s grounds and look at an authentic piece of old American society.

It features two historic properties lovingly preserved to offer visitors a look at their majestic architecture and art.

Take a guided tour and view the world-class fine arts collection and historic furnishings, including Tiffany lamps, Rodin sculptures, and vintage automobiles.

Channel Your Inner Superhero at the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum

Whether you’re a Marvel or DC Comics fan, any comic book enthusiast will surely enjoy the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum.

Take your time exploring one of the largest collections of superhero memorabilia, art, and comics in the United States.

The Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum features Adam West’s personal Batman costume from the hit 1960s television series.

The Hollywood Heroes section also features Captain America’s original shield used in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Then, you can take a closer look at the collection of rare comic books, artworks, and toys that chronicles over 75 years of superhero history.

See Birds in Flight at the Boot Lake Nature Preserve

Wind down and escape the bustling city life at the Boot Lake Nature Preserve.

Don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars as you explore Boot Lake’s expansive trails.

Sprawling across 300 acres of wetland, forest, and prairie habitat, over 200 species of rare and unusual birds reside here.

Boot Lake Nature Preserve also houses several endangered species, such as Blanding’s Turtles and Sandhill Cranes.

You can cap off the day with a small picnic at the pavilion overlooking the prairie and the wetlands.

Relive the Glamor of Old Hollywood at the Lerner Theatre

Exterior of the Lerner Theatre
Publichall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get a whiff of Old Hollywood glam and visit the Lerner Theatre.

Plan your trip and save yourself a seat at your favorite shows!

From musicals and films to theatre productions, the Lerner Theatre features showstopping performances amidst a beautiful and ornate interior.

The renovated Lerner Theatre has retained all its original construction, including its art deco designs from the 1920s.

As a treat for the eyes of historic architecture lovers, the theater features a gigantic chandelier, rotunda ceiling, and marble floors with gilded gold.

Take a Stroll around Wellfield Botanic Gardens

Spend a relaxing afternoon strolling around the pagodas of Wellfield Botanical Gardens.

Wellfield Botanic Gardens features a delightful variety of flora and fauna with themed garden areas for children, including a majestic Japanese Island Garden.

Known as a Living Museum, Wellfield Botanic Gardens is also a working source of drinking water and hydropower in Elkhart.

As a non-profit organization, its operations receive funding from well-established memberships, grants, and private donations.

Wellfield Botanical Gardens also hosts a variety of recreational and educational programs, including family-friendly events such as the Winter Wonderland Holiday lights and summer concert series.

Explore Nature at Elkhart Environmental Center

As part of the 120 acres River Greenway system, Elkhart Environmental Center is the natural habitat of wildlife in Indiana.

Established as an educational center in 1991, the center offers various educational events, programs, and volunteer opportunities.

The Elkhart Environmental Center aims to naturally blend urban and natural environments to demonstrate how these two can co-exist successfully.

With several prairie grass areas, wildflower patches, and wooded buffers by the river, visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities.

Families can visit the reflection grove and explore the hiking trails as they traverse through forest areas, prairies, and wetlands.

Take the Heritage Trail Audio Driving Tour

Spend a relaxing time on the scenic route with the Heritage Trail Audio Driving Tour.

Enjoy a picturesque all-day adventure along the Heritage Trail.

Explore the scenic backroads and discover why the editors of LIFE magazine considered it one of “America’s Most Scenic Drives.”

Learn about Elkhart’s history and surrounding communities through the Heritage Trail Audio Driving Tour.

Let the whole family enjoy the beautiful rural landscapes of the quaint communities of Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee, Bristol, Wakarusa, and Shipshewana.

Discover Norman Rockwell’s Lithograph Collection at the Midwest Museum of American Art

Exterior of Midwest Museum of American Art
Paul Sableman from St. Louis, MO, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Art lovers should set aside time to visit the Midwest Museum of American Art.

With over 6,000 pieces of art in its collection, the Midwest Museum of American Art proudly exhibits well-curated artworks from the 19th through the 21st century.

Visitors can browse the acclaimed works of historical artists from Indiana and check out various art styles such as pop art, abstract art, American impressionism, and more.

The museum showcases a wide selection of hand-signed lithographs from American illustrator Norman Rockwell.

Likewise, the Midwest Museum of American Art houses the world’s most extensive Overbeck art pottery collection.

Try Bowling at Signature Lanes

It’s time to get a clean strike at Signature Lanes!

Signature Lanes offers the perfect place to unwind with family and friends after a long day of sightseeing around the city.

With laser light cosmic bowling options, this bowling alley provides a unique bowling experience for the whole family.

They also have an arcade room with various games and pool tables that young kids and the young-at-heart will love.

After all the fun, you can end the day with a nice dinner at Sig’s Family Restaurant.

Grab a Pint at Westwind Brewery

Visiting Westwind Brewery is a must for the foodie searching for a wide range of unique drinks.

Visitors can have a good time with a pint of locally brewed craft drink while enjoying the brewery’s ambiance.

Following its motto of “always share your brew,” Westwind Brewery has won several awards in amateur brewing and winemaking competitions.

Over the years, they have established the brewery as the go-to destination for draft beer enthusiasts.

They have several original brews that visitors can sample, including their award-winning Mandarin Orange DIPA named Faithfully, the rich and full-bodied Genesis, and Impossible Days, the signature drink for the dry-hop beer fans.

Grab a Bite at the Five-Star Dive Bar

The Five Star Dive Bar is a terrific spot for good food and great live music.

The Five Star Dive Bar is inside the historic 1895 State Theater Building, known in Elkhart for its burgers and live music.

Recommended as the top burger joint in the county since 2012, Five Star Dive Bar serves a juicy ribeye blend burger cooked to order on a flat top grill.

Besides their burgers, the Five Star Dive Bar serves sumptuous pub-style dishes such as Bavarian pretzel sticks, house-smoked whole chicken wings, and ½-pound boneless pork chops.

Visitors can also enjoy their food with live music or listen to comedy and musical shows on the lower levels of the Five Star Dive Bar.

Recapture the Glory of America’s Railroads at the National New York Central Railroad Museum

Entrance to the National New York Central Railroad Museum
David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in downtown Elkhart, National New York Central Railroad Museum is a preservation site of both local and national railroads from the New York Central System.

The New York Central was once the second-largest railroad in the United States.

Its 11,000 miles of track spans 11 US states and two Canadian provinces.

Steam locomotive at National New York Central Railroad Museum
David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, you can see its majestic structures in Elkhart, showcasing the glory of America’s railroads.

Visitors can revisit history at the National New York Central Railroad Museum.

Learn more about how locomotive transportation became the symbol of progress during the Industrial Revolution.

Final Thoughts

With its rich history and old-world charm, the promise of adventure and history awaits you in Elkhart, Indiana.

The city will never run out of exciting sites as you visit historical landmarks and take some time to revel in nature’s wonders.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Elkhart!

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