My wife and I recently spent a Sunday in the car driving across northern Indiana to get a puppy. It was a fun journey that took us to places in Indiana we had never been and we discovered some new places worth a second visit.
Valparaiso is my adopted hometown. It’s a great place to visit if you have a day out to spend. There’s plenty to do. We have a historical downtown with lots of bustling niche shops, delicious restaurants and exciting museums. Valparaiso is also home to a world class University – Valparaiso University that dates back to 1858. It’s a quiet town with plenty to do. It’s definitely worth a visit during the annual Popcorn festival, held every year the Saturday after Labor Day. Valparaiso is also home to one of the top Drive-ins in the country – the 49er Drive-in off of Route 49. On our puppy journey we traveled through town and made our way to Route 30.
This was our first stop. Neither of us had been to Plymouth since we were young kids, so we didn’t remember the place. We were very impressed. The downtown was old with lots of character and there were some very impressive old houses lining the main street. Plymouth is home to the famous Blueberry festival held every year on Labor Day weekend The downtown has an old movie theater, neat shops and lots of character. We’ll definitely return when we can spend the day there.
Warsaw was our next stop after Plymouth. Warsaw is another one of those great historic downtowns. There are lots of neat shops, an old movie theater and more. One really cool thing about Warsaw is that it’s on a huge lake. Warsaw is the county seat of Kosiusko County, so it’s a center of commerce and cultural activity. There are scenic bike trails between the four lakes within the city limits. Interesting bit of trivia: the world’s largest printing presses are located in Warsaw, Indiana.
A lot of the major towns along Route 30 are county seats which means that they have a county courthouse. The courthouses are usually awe inspiring structures, often at the center of town. Columbia City does not disappoint with it’s county Courthouse. It also has another picture postcard downtown worth a stop.
We did not have time to stop in Fort Wayne, but I think we’ll definitely make a special trip to it. Fort Wayne is a huge city with lots to see and do. From the St. Joseph river to the vibrant downtown, I can’t believe we never thought about paying a visit before. This will definitely go on our one tank trip list.
Another thing that struck us about our journey was how old some of the towns along Route 30 are. For example Decatur was founded in 1836! I think that qualifies it as old. It’s got another historical downtown with many exciting shops and businesses. It too is a county seat and has a beautiful old courthouse. The most interesting thing about Decatur is the Amish community that lives between Decatur and Berne.
Berne is one of the strangest places I’ve been to. Strange in a good way. It’s like you get off the highway and find yourself in Switzerland, which I think is the overall idea. In between Decatur and Berne is a thriving Amish community, whom originated in Switzerland. This band of Amish is a little different than the other Amish in Indiana. For example, they’re considered more conservative and strict. They refuse to use covered carriages, which seems like an odd sacrifice to make. The town of Berne is named after the capital of Switzerland it reflects this Swiss influence in it’s architecture and culture. There is even a historical Swiss village museum.
Portland is a small town that doesn’t really have much exciting going on. And that’s it’s unique charm. It gets a mention because it’s where we picked up our puppy. We adopted him from the Jay County Humane Society. The puppy we got was a Yellow lab that we named Gromit. Thanks go out to the Jay County Humane Society for holding him for us and opening on a day they are normally closed so that we could have new member for our family.
The trip was eye opening for us as we got to see parts of Indiana that we had never been too. The most striking thing to us was how many vibrant old downtowns there were along the way. We usually think of downtown areas as dead with the advent of out of town strip malls. Yet, lots of the downtowns we saw were still alive and well, which is an encouraging sign, even in this economy.