Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Elkhart, IN

  • Published 2022/12/12

Elkhart is a city located within Elkhart County in northern Indiana.

It is best known for its booming recreational vehicles and musical instruments industry.

Elkhart’s economy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries mainly relied on musical instrument factories and mill shops.

In 1949, the city was officially dubbed the “RV Capital of the World.”

It is also named the “Band Instrument Capital of the World.”

Aside from being a good place to live and settle down, it is also filled with amazing attractions.

You won’t have to spend much money to have fun in this city.

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

Learn to Appreciate the Environment at Elkhart Environmental Center

Elkhart Environmental Center is located on East Lusher Avenue.

Since 1992, this public center has been committed to offering free environmental education programs for its visitors.

Elkhart Environmental Center features several outdoor settings, such as hiking trails, wetlands, boat launches, prairies, and forests.

It also hosts events and volunteer activities related to environmental protection.

Elkhart Environmental Center also offers a variety of events that you and your family will love.

You can participate in its Earth day program, bird-watching activities, and workshops.

Be One with Nature at Boot Lake Nature Preserve

Boot Lake Nature Preserve is a 300-acre natural area on Co Rd. 3.

It is composed of a wetland, prairie, and forest.

This nature preserve protects the state’s endangered and rare wetland plants and animals.

Boot Lake Nature Preserve’s natural landscape will make you feel closer to nature.

The National Audubon also recognizes it as an Important Bird Area.

It is home to more than 200 bird species and sensitive grassland-nesting birds, which can be found in the 80-acre restored prairie of the preserve.

Aside from nature tripping and wildlife viewing, you can also have a picnic in its small pavilion.

From there, you’ll be amazed at the amazing views of the Boot Lake Nature Preserve.

You can also explore its four-mile trail and do some nature photography.

Let Your Kids Play at Walker Park

Walker Park is situated on East Bristol Street.

It features paved walkways that are also perfect for running and cycling.

You can bring your little ones here and let them enjoy the playground.

It has swings, slides, and monkey bars that your kids will love.

This park has only a few shaded areas, so the best time to visit it is during the early mornings and late afternoons.

Walker Park is also surrounded by towering trees that can serve as perfect shade under the blazing sun.

Relax at Cobus Creek County Park

Cobus Creek County Park is an 84-acre site on Co Rd. 8.

It is situated in the northwest part of Elkhart County.

It used to be farmland but is now home to several natural habitats such as wetlands, woods, prairies, and a creek.

Biking, bird watching, and fishing are some of the best things you can do in this park.

Make sure to explore its hard-packed trails, which will lead you to the area’s most scenic spots and around a five-acre pond.

Cobus Creek County Park also features state-endangered bird species like Sedge Wren and Lark Sparrow.

Also, try fishing at Cobus Creek, one of the few cold-water trout streams in the state.

Admire the Beauty of Heaton Lake

Heaton Lake is situated on Lake Shore Drive.

You can spend the afternoon admiring this lake’s beauty.

It is also a nice spot for fishing.

Heaton Lake also offers a picturesque view of lilies and trees, and this amazing scenery is even better during sunset.

Located on the other side of Heaton Lake is Ideal beach, which is also a top destination for locals and tourists, especially during summer.

See the Elkhart Tooth Brick

Elkhart Tooth Brick is a bizarre attraction located on North Ward Street.

As the name suggests, Elkhart Tooth Brick is a concrete block embedded with thousands of human teeth.

Dr. Joseph Stamp created it between the 1940s and 1950s as a memorial for his German shepherd, Prince.

Stamp worked as a dentist for 60 years and passed away at 88 in 1978.

All the teeth he had pulled out from his patients during his practice were stored in chemicals and in his office basement.

Elkhart Tooth Brick has become a unique and intriguing attraction because where else can you find something similar in the world?

Explore Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail is a 90-mile route that will lead you to the most famous attractions in Elkhart.

You’ll be surprised by beautiful sceneries as you stroll this route that starts from the Visitor Center in downtown Elkhart.

Heritage Trail gives you easy access to nearby communities like Goshen, Nappanee, Bristol, Middlebury, Wakarusa, and Shipshewana.

Through this trail, you can also visit the Amish heritages and some historical sites.

You can explore Heritage Trail and download its free driving tour.

It is perfect if you want to make the most of your trip and are not yet familiar with the best spots in the city.

Play Beach Volleyball at Ideal Beach Family Water Park

Ideal Beach Family Water Park is located on Ideal Beach Road.

This is a must-see family destination that guarantees enjoyment for every family member.

Ideal Beach Family Water Park has sand volleyball courts suited for an afternoon match with loved ones.

Your children will also have a good time in its playground and water park with two corkscrew waterslides.

Ideal Beach Family Water Park also has picnic areas and a concession stand.

If you’re going to explore the whole vicinity, you can stop by Heaton Lake, which is situated close to Ideal beach.

Marvel at the Architecture of the Ruthmere Campus

Ruthmere Campus is located on East Beardsley Avenue.

This three-story Beaux-Arts mansion was the former residence of Elizabeth and Albert Beardsley.

Built in 1910, it remains one of the most prominent historic residences in the state.

It also overlooks the junction of St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers.

You can take photos and admire its beauty from the outside, but you can also explore its interiors transformed into a museum.

However, a museum tour requires an admission fee.

Due to its unique architecture and aura, Ruthmere Campus is also a favorite venue for weddings, birthdays, and other special events.

Experience the Lively Atmosphere at the Gateway Mile

The Gateway Mile is a lively destination in Downtown Elkhart on South Main Street.

This area is perfect for an afternoon stroll with friends and family.

It exudes a vibrant yet cozy atmosphere and also features several amenities.

You can spend your time at The Gateway Mile windowshopping in its boutique shops or checking out the amazing architecture of surrounding structures.

Aside from strolling, this area is also perfect for street photography.

The Gateway Mile also hosts exciting and fun festivals which you can attend.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy Relaxing Views at the Mishawaka Riverwalk

Bridge at Mishawaka Riverwalk

Taylor_A_Stewart /

Mishawaka Riverwalk is situated on North Spring Street, Mishawaka, just 20 minutes from Elkhart.

Its official name is “River St. Joseph of the Miamis Trail.”

This bicycle/pedestrian trail which measures 2.5 miles circles both banks of the St. Joseph River.

Mishawaka Riverwalk’s trail is also connected to other must-visit destinations like Central Park, Robert C. Beutter Riverfront Park, and Kamm Island.

A pond at Mishawaka Riverwalk

Taylor_A_Stewart /

You can easily access Battell Park from Beutter Park through a footbridge.

Its beautiful landscape and the mesmerizing views of the river are perfect for an afternoon stroll alone or with loved ones.

There are also several restaurants within the area where you can eat and relax after a long and satisfying jog.

Enjoy a Nature Walk at Fidler Pond Park

Fidler Pond Park is located on Lincolnway East, Goshen, a 28-minute drive from Elkhart.

Fidler Pond Park measures 100 acres and is a popular spot for nature tripping.

You can explore the walking trail around the 80-acre Fidler Pond.

Fidler Pond Park is also popular for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

You can also sit on the available swinging benches for a relaxing time with nature.

Fidler Pond Park also serves as home to the Chiddister Pavilion, which is a famous event place for special occasions.

Go on a Picnic Date at Central Park

Central Park is a 12.8-acre park on East Mishawaka Avenue, Mishawaka.

This is an easy 21-minute drive from Elkhart.

Central Park features picnic tables and grills perfect for bonding with friends and family while surrounded by nature.

It also has playground equipment for your little ones.

Five pavilions and lighted tennis and basketball court are also available.

This park also has access to the Mishawaka Riverwalk and fishing facilities.

Central Park also hosts live music, game activities, and fireworks displays on special occasions.

Visit the Historic Battell Park

Bandstand at Battell Park

Brent of All People, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Battell Park is located on West Mishawaka Ave., Mishawaka.

You can reach this park within a 25-minute drive from Elkhart.

It is the oldest and one of the premiere parks in Mishawaka.

It was established in 1881 and has since provided recreational and cultural resources to residents and visitors.

Battell Park was also designated as a signal-site historic district in the city in 1994.

Civil war monument at Battell Park

Brent of All People, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can visit the Civil War Memorial constructed inside the park in 1884.

This park is also home to a bandshell that hosts entertainment and recreational events like concerts and picnic activities.

You can also look at the historic rock wall and rock garden built within Battell Park in 1930.

Roam around Shiojiri Niwa

Shiojiri Niwa is a traditional Japanese garden on North Niles Avenue, Mishawaka, 21 minutes away from Elkhart.

This 1.3-acre garden symbolizes the good relationship between Mishawaka, Indiana, and Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Roam around this garden, and you’ll see over 20 varieties of large plants, over 200 large boulders, beautiful statues, and a teahouse pavilion.

Its serene and picture-perfect appearance makes it a popular venue for weddings.

Shiojiri Niwa also has four small bridges, one inspired by the bridge heading toward Matsumoto Castle near Shiojiri City.

You’ll feel relaxed when visiting this garden with colorful and lush trees.

Its additional elements, like bridges, rock formations, and flowers, make this place picture-worthy.

Final Thoughts

Elkhart is a perfect destination if you’re a nature lover seeking adventures.

This place has a variety of attractions worth visiting—from parks, trails, and gardens, to vibrant and lively districts.

Make sure to include this city on your next trip and try out all these free things to do in Elkhart, Indiana!

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