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ShipshewanaShipshewana, Indiana is A Town with Character , according to the town’s website.  It is a small, population just over 500, Mennonite and Amish community.  It boasts small town charm, hospitality, and values.  While the population is small, the agriculture in the area is booming.  The retail business in Shipshewana rivals towns with ten times that population.  The values of the town causes most businesses to close in the evenings and on Sundays.

Shipshewana is the home of the largest flea market in America.  It is only open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.  The flea market is spread over acres of open land on the edge of town.  Thousands of visitors invade this small town every week searching for the ultimate bargain.  I cannot think of thing that I could ever want that could not be found at the flea market.  There were clothes of every size for everybody.  Baby items, household decor, kitchen utensils, toiletries, hair accessories, yard care, lawn decorations are just a few of the endless list of items that can be found at the flea market.

I have only visited Shipshewana once with a friend.  Driving into Shipshewana is like driving into a time warp – caught between historic small town values with  only a couple of modern conveniences.  The quaint and charming town looks like the cover of a Debbie Macomber novel.  We started at the flea market amazed at the hugeness of the place.  This place is enormous.  We arrived as soon as the flea market opened and by noon we may have covered half of the flea market.  Not knowing anything about Shipshewana except the flea market, we headed into town to find a place to eat.  Then we discovered the the well kept secret (at least, to me) of the cozy little shops that lined the roadways of this tiny town.  We found a small little diner featuring home cooked meals.  It was wonderful for not a lot of money.  We had planned to return to the flea market after lunch but instead spent the afternoon discovering the unique offerings of the village shops.  We did not make it back to the flea market that afternoon.  We were enthralled with the town.  On our drive home that evening, we made tentative plans to return to continue discovering the quaintness and charm of an Amish-Mennonite community in Indiana.  Unfortunately, those plans have not yet come to fruition.

shipshe-waterMany activities are enjoyed in and around Shipshewana when the shopping is done.  Several places offer buggy tours to explore and learn about the Amish-Mennonite communities.  Make time to enjoy some water activities such as canoeing and kayaking.  Visit a local farm and feed domestic and exotic animals.  For a very small town, you will not run out of things to do.

Shipshewana is also home to a variety of inexpensive hotels, B&B’s, and campgrounds. Links to the various lodging opportunities can be found on the Shipshewana.com website.  For a small town of just over 500, the opportunities for fun, shopping, and relaxing are endless.  If the opportunity to visit Shipshewana presents itself, I would definitely love to spend the night to spend two days discovering, learning and enjoying this quaint little town.