About this trip idea

Allow 2-3 days.

Great gardens. One-of-a-kind museums. Seven waterfront parks. Year-round events. All are just minutes from downtown Elkhart’s scenic RiverWalk, which offers splashing fun in summer, twilight skating in winter and beautiful views all year round.

Quilts in bloom

It takes more than a million blooms to “sew” the eye-popping, supersized Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail . Each year brings new patterns and places to this free, one-of-a-kind experience. Experience all 19 gardens, plus 18 quilt-themed murals, May 30–Oct. 1. The 7,000-square-foot Fall Flower Carpet will salute the arts in a jewel-toned crescendo of color in downtown Elkhart Sept. 19–29.

Elkhart Museums outside the box

Where else can you find Norman Rockwell prints just steps from quirky contemporary sculpture? The Midwest Museum of American Art is brimming with both. The building itself is a work of art, housed in a beautifully renovated neo-classical style building. The nearby New York Central Railroad Museum traces the area's historic railroad ties and is a must-see for train buffs.

On stage showstoppers

The newly restored Lerner Theatre has become the cornerstone of Elkhart’s Arts & Entertainment District. Music, theater and backstage tours are all on the showbill at this grand venue restored to its original 1920s elegance but modernized for optimal sight and sound. Enjoy beautiful works by local artists in the lobby gallery before your show. Begin your evening of entertainment at one of the many great restaurants just a short walk from the theater. McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk serves up pre-performance Irish and American fare al fresco.

Nature’s canvas

Winding stone paths lead to lush gardens, cooling water features, whimsical sculptures and the all-new “Star of Hope” Quilt Garden at Wellfield Botanic Gardens . Thirty-six acres of foliage provide the perfect backdrop for seasonal events like the culinary and creative showcase, “Taste of the Gardens” in August.

A past in its prime

Step back to 1910 when the first guests entered the front door at Ruthmere Mansion . This waterfront beauty with Beaux Arts architecture offers a glimpse of America’s wealthy elite in the early 20th century, and the new back-of-the-house tour reveals the lives of those who served them. Experience a concert or public art education program within the walls of the fascinating mansion. Just down the street on the Ruthmere campus, the 1848 Havilah Beardsley House tells the story of Havilah Beardsley, the “Father of Elkhart.”

Like this trip idea? Then you might also like Creative Spaces in South Central Places.