Nestled in the northeastern corner of Indiana, near the vibrant hub of America’s RV industry, Elkhart, lies a quaint, culturally rich gem known as Shipshewana. This charming town serves as the gateway to northern Indiana’s Amish country and is home to the Midwest’s largest outdoor flea market, the Shipshewana Trading Place, a hub for antiques and a proud testament to the Amish heritage.
Surrounded by the Michigan border, Shipshewana is home to the third-largest Amish community in the United States, attracting over two million visitors each year to experience a unique blend of culture and tradition. The town boasts more than 70 shops selling everything from Amish-made furniture and quilts to delicious homemade goods such as breads, cheeses and jellies. With more than 24 restaurants serving local Amish fare and craft beer, and entertainment options such as buggy rides and local theatre, Shipshewana offers a wide variety of experiences.
Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market
For antique and flea market enthusiasts, the Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market is a must. It boasts the largest flea market in the Midwest and an auction house with nearly a century of history. The site also includes an Amish-inspired inn and RV park with a state-of-the-art RV repair facility.
Founded in 1922 as a family-owned livestock auction, the Trading Place grew with the addition of the flea market in 1947. After two expansions in the late 20th century, the market flourished in the 1960s with over 400 vendors. Today it is home to the 40-acre flea market, which features 700 outdoor stalls selling everything from antiques and collectibles to local produce and is considered one of the best flea markets in Indiana.
In 1997, the Farmstead Inn and Conference Center was added, itself being expanded multiple times. The RV Park was built in 2008, and in 2016, the state-of-the-art Shipshewana RV Service Center was added.
The Shipshewana Auction & Flea Marke is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May through September along with special weekends during the summer. In autumn, the flea market takes on an indoor form from October to December, with the added convenience of an online and mobile app to navigate the vendors. Food and facilities are readily available and parking costs just $3.
Also worth mentioning are the Shipshewana Auctions, which draw crowds for its year-round Wednesday auctions of antiques and miscellaneous items. The spectacle of six to ten auctioneers calling for bids simultaneously is a unique experience.
In addition to shopping, Shipshewana hosts a number of special seasonal events. Summer brings themed swap meets and antique fairs, while the colder months are brightened by the Shipshewana Across the Road indoor market and the Ship-Chic Craft & Vintage Shows. During the festive season, the Lights of Joy drive-through light experience and Nativity Animal Encounters are not to be missed.
When it’s mealtime, hit the “Sale Barn Restaurant” for local Amish fare. Or, grab some diner food or a dessert at one of the several food courts conveniently located throughout the flea market.
If you’re planning to come by RV, it is also possible to lodge at either the onsite RV park or the Amish-inspired Farmstead Inn and Conference Center, which is situated across the street from the Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market.
The RV park has 165 spaces. According to Lora Gates, Shipshewana’s marketing director, “the park doubled the number of spaces since last season because they fill up very quickly.” It’s big-rig accessible with 117 pull-through and 48 back-in sites with full hookups, 20/30/50 amp service, and free Wi-Fi. There is a camp store, and leashed pets are allowed at no charge.
There is also a locally-owned, 20,000-square-foot RV repair facility with 12 service bays and a rain bay. Both interior and exterior repair work can be done, including winterizing and de-winterizing. The facility is certified to do most warranty work and storage is available. There’s a 1500-square-foot RV supply store for needed parts and accessories. Ms. Gates said, “RV travelers will often stay at the facility, get their RV serviced, and make a vacation of it.”
Want to get out of the RV for a while? Just across the street from the flea market is the Farmstead Inn with 153 rooms featuring large screen TV, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and iron/ironing board. There’s a cabin-themed room with one King Bed and locally-made Amish furniture. There are also suites with 2 king beds and a sofa bed, jacuzzi and kitchenette, as well as rooms for the disabled.
If lodging at the Trading Place is full, the location near Elkhart means there’s no shortage of other RV camping nearby. Among others, these four parks are within 15 minutes of Shipshewana.
Shipshewana Campground South – is just 1/2 mile south of the flea market and within walking distance of area restaurants and shops. There are 150 sites; most are pull-through. There’s 20/30/50 amp service and free Wi-Fi. The park features two pavilions, a laundromat, onsite gift shop, and an RV wash bay. Open April to October.
Shipshewana North Park Amish Log Cabin Lodging & Campground – is located seven minutes from the flea market. There are 55 sites with a choice of pull-through or back-in, 5 camping cabins, and 13 full-service cabins. Sites range from primitive to full hookup. Wi-Fi is available throughout the park. The park boasts its own frozen custard stand.
Twin Mills Camping Resort – sits approximately 15 minutes northeast of Shipshewana. There are 551 sites, cabins, and onsite RV rentals. The park features a clubhouse, fishing on 116-acre South Twin Lake, mini golf, swimming pool, and movie theater.
Elkhart/Middlebury KOA – this big-rig-friendly park is less than 15 minutes from Shipshewana. There are 119 sites including pull-throughs up to 80 feet long with full hookups, 30/50-amp service, and Wi-Fi. Amenities include a pool, mini-golf, and a shuttle to the flea market.
Parking, Admission, and Other Information
General admission and parking are $3, good for the entire day. Closer “preferred” parking is $8. Handicap parking is available at all entrances and electric scooter rentals are available.
Parking for RVs, motorhomes, and vehicles pulling trailers is $6, good for the day (no hookups). Overnight, self-contained parking at the flea market is available for $18 on Monday and Tuesday nights only.
Note: most area businesses are family-owned. In keeping with local religious traditions, you’ll find that most area businesses are closed Sundays.
Media contact: Lora Gates Marketing Director, Shipshewana Trading Place [email protected]