Fun Things to Do in Elkhart, Indiana – RV Capital of the World

If you own an RV, chances are you know where Elkhart, Indiana is. Elkhart is everything RV. Rightfully so, the small river city touts itself as being RV Capital of the World! But there’s lots more to see and plenty of fun things to do in Elkhart than just recreational vehicles and campers!

Things to Do in Elkhart Indiana - Always On Liberty

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15 Fun Things to Do in Elkhart, Indiana

RV Capital of the World

Most RVers can appreciate the importance of Elkhart, Indiana. More than 80 percent of global RV and component production is based throughout this region. That means whenever you see an RV rolling down the road, chances are that it may have been built in Elkhart or surrounding area.

Simply said, Elkhart is a city where even rust never sleeps.

Truckload after truckload of fifth wheel caps, travel trailer frames, lumber, steel and aluminum, all zip from one manufacturer to another.

It’s common to see big box trucks with RV component advertising wraps carting products to different manufacturing plants any given day of the week. 

This is precisely why Elkhart, Indiana prides itself as the RV Capital of the World. But, while RVs seemingly are the main attraction, there’s much more to to see and do in this small northern Indiana city.

But, before we see all the fun things to do in Elkhart, let’s read about how this incredible city earned its’ place in history and importance to the RV industry.

About Elkhart, Indiana

Located only 15 miles east of South Bend, Indiana, 110 miles east of Chicago, Illinois, and 150 miles north of Indianapolis, Indiana, Elkhart prides itself as being the RV Capital of the World.

In 1935, thanks to Wilbur Schult, the production of the very first camper trailer began; just one trailer per day. Those campers sold for just under $200. 

By 1948, the media referenced Elkhart, Indiana as the Trailer Capitol of the World. At that point, 100 companies were building recreational trailers in Elkhart County.

Today, approximately half of the RV’s you encounter the road was built in Elkhart County.

RV History Plaque on Gateway Mile in Elkhart Indiana - Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

But, Elkhart, Indiana is also known as the “Band Instrument Capital of the World” for decades.

The Bonneyville Mill is Indiana’s oldest continuously operating grist mill. 

Also, Speedy Alka-Seltzer, the character symbolizing the product Alka-Seltzer, is a notable native. Alka-Seltzer was produced in Elkhart by Miles Laboratories, now Bayer Corp, which holds the trademark on Speedy.

As more manufacturers sprung up, they attracted more suppliers, which in turned lucrative by enticing more manufacturers to set up shop.

Because of Elkhart’s geographical location, this small city became an important transportation hub for not only RV and RV component manufacturers but also other corporations and brands. 

Railroads, Rivers and Roadways all come together in Elkhart, Indiana, making it a prime location for industry of all types. Thus, making Elkhart, Indiana more than just a map dot.

Today, this small up and coming hip Indiana city offers so much more than industry! From quilt gardens, huge painted murals, elks and hearts, nature and walks to remember, Elkhart has it all!

So, let’s explore and read about fun things to do in Elkhart, Indiana!

15 Fun Things to Do in Elkhart, Indiana

RV-MH Hall of Fame and  Museum

21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart, IN 46516

RV MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart Indiana - Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

The RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum is where over 80 years of the RV industry shows what it’s all about under one roof. You’ll get to experience how outdoor recreation and camping began in trailers and how, through the many decades, it’s become one of the biggest industries in the world.

The three halls of the RV-MH Museum; the RV Founders Hall, Exhibitors Hall, and the Go RVing Hall.

Step inside the RV Founders Hall where you trek through from the RV industry’s birth to the advancements of today. 

You can find a great collection of RV originals and early models of trailers and 1920’s and 1930’s memorabilia. Here, you will be able to view the following exhibits:

      • Mae West’s 1931 Chevrolet Housecar
      • Walk along the road back into the history of the RV industry
      • 1969 Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome
      • Fleetwood’s First Motorhome – 1969 Fleetwood Pace Arrow
      • 1985 prototype of 1986-87 Fleetwood Bounder
      • 1932 Gilkie Tent Trailer
      • 1954 Ranger By Hille Engineering Pop Up Trailer
      • 1931 Tennessee Traveler Motorhome
      • 1974 GMC Motorhome

Check out the Go RVing Hall that features a contemporary, state-of-the-art display celebrating the campaign’s vital role in the RV industry and invites visitors to discover RVing as it is today.

You’ll get to step inside select new RVs to compare those you’ve seen in the RV Founders Hall. And enjoy a video as well as interactive digital kiosks that you can research everything from RV manufacturers, campgrounds and RV dealerships.

And lastly, don’t miss the museum’s Exhibitor Hall that displays everything from component manufacturers, service providers, RV insurance, travel services and even RV camping opportunities history and how far the RV industry has come.

Gateway Mile

410 S. Main Street, Elkhart, IN 46516

Elkhart Gateway Mile - Things to Do in Elkhart Indiana

Elkhart’s Gateway Mile is where you can start your cultural tour of the city. Located in downtown Elkhart, you’ll walk the mile exploring lots of local pub and grub venues, museums, local shops and stores, and more!

You can enjoy a breakfast bagel and coffee in the morning, late lunch at a bistro, or a dimly lit, white tablecloth dinner with an ice cream sweet treat for anytime! And for those who dig deep into the nightlife, there’s a microbrew and winery that’s perfect for an evening closer.

Discover and enjoy the outdoor art in urban settings, indoor places with storied pasts, beautiful quilt gardens and eclectic events. All of which connect Elkhart’s scenic RiverWalk with three unique districts. 

Lerner Theatre

410 South Main St., Elkhart, IN 46514

Lerner Theater in Elkhart Indiana - Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

Lights! Camera! Action!

The Lerner Theater in Elkhart, Indiana is all about the performing arts in this amazingly recently renovated 1920’s 1700 seat movie theater and ballroom.

Show goers can enjoy everything from musicals, films, theatrical arts and other performances that will earn your applause.

Originally opening in 1924, it’s stood the test of time of enjoyment through the silver screen, magicians, acrobats, comedians to singers and dancers.

Even if you’re not scheduled to see a show or performance, you may, with permission, score a view of the beautiful classical and ornate interior.

The architects left no stone unturned when renovating the interior!

The Lerner Theater in Elkhart is a resemblance of a 19th century European opera house takes center state with its’ gigantic chandelier, rotunda ceiling and balcony. Marble floors of every color, rich red seating and gilded gold welcome visitors into a world of make believe filled with performances including acting performances, music and dance.

Midwest Museum of American Art

429 South Main St, Elkhart, IN 46516

Midwest Museum of American Art - Things to Do in Elkhart Indiana
Photo source: Art in America Guide

If you’d love a quiet afternoon away from the kids, then trek off to the Midwest Museum of American Art. But then again, you may want to take your teens if that’s their thing.

The museum is a beautifully renovated bank building located in downtown Elkhart, Indiana.

There’s  two big must sees at the museum, the largest Norman Rockwell lithograph collection and the largest Overbeck Art Pottery collection in the state; also paintings, sculpture and ceramics.

Amongst the two big features noted above, you’ll also get to enjoy their 19th-21st century American Art. There’s a wonderful collection of Norman Rockwell lithographs, signed by himself.

National New York Central Railroad Museum

721 S Main, Elkhart, IN 46515

National New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart Indiana
Photo Courtesy of Railroad Michigan

Located  in downtown Elkhart, the National New York Central Railroad Museum welcomes visitors to learn about the coming of locomotive transportation and how they were symbols of progress.

Once, the second-largest railroad in the United States, the New York Central routed 11,000 miles of track in eleven states and two Canadian provinces.

Just as when the railroad first arrived in Elkhart in 1851, Elkhart still functions as a vital link in the chain connecting the Atlantic Seaboard with the Midwest and beyond.

Hall of Heroes Comic and Superhero Museum

1915 Cassopolis Street, Elkhart, IN 46514

Hall of Heroes Super Hero Museum - Things to Do in Elkhart Indiana

If you’re a comic book and super hero fanatic, Elkhart’s very own world-renowned Superhero Museum and Hall of Heroes is the place for you!

Enjoy meandering about this incredible museum that winds you through 75 years of Super Hero history. Get up close up views of over 60,000 comic books, comic artwork, and tons of super hero toys, action figures and movie props. 

Check out the original Batman costume worn by Adam West, a replica of the Bat Cave, the actual ’65 Shelby Cobra from Iron Man, the Ghost Rider motorcycle and even the Captain America Shield!

For less than $10 per person (kids are less!), he Superhero Museum is a great to spend a cold or rainy afternoon with your favorite comics.

Heritage Trail Auto Tour

3421 Cassopolis St., Elkhart, IN 46514

Amish Buggy on Heritage Trail Auto Tour in Elkhart Indiana

Even if you’re not big on museums and nature, you still can take a cool tour without even leaving your car! The 90 mile Heritage Trail Audio Driving Tour is one of most scenic drives through some of America’s heartland.

You’ll learn about the history of Elkhart and surrounding communities while enjoying the beautiful rural landscapes looping through Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee, Bristol, Wakarusa, and Shipshewana.

The Heritage Trail can be as short or long as you’d like. But it’s easy to make it into an all-day adventure through Indiana’s Amish countryside where over 20,000 Amish residents call home.

You’ll get the full monty of how Elkhart became a well-establish city of industry, culture and heritage. From RV manufacturing, Alka Seltzer, quilt gardens, and even delicious home baked goodies, you’ll be amazed by everything you see, smell and learn.

You can pick up your free self-guiding Heritage Trail audio CD from the Elkhart County Visitors Center in Elkhart or other stops along the trail. Then, set out on what Life magazine called One of America’s Most Scenic Drives.

Just make sure you have a full tank of fuel and some cash, because you’re going to want to shop for Amish handcrafts or stop for some pop and pie!

Wellfield Botanic Gardens

1011 North Main Street, Elkhart, IN 46514

Open all year, Wellfield Botanic Gardens 36 acre natural growing community affords incredible educational opportunities, workshops and seasonal programming.

The botanical gardens reside on the historical piece of property originally known as the North Main Street Well Field. Since the mid-1800’s, this historical property has been a source of hydraulic energy and drinking water for the City of Elkhart.

Throughout the year, you can happen upon cool festivals and special events. In the Springtime in May, they plant their Peace Quilt Garden. Depending on when you visit determines the progress of this beautiful array of flora.

During the summer months, you and your family can enjoy their summer concert series. The Fall brings color to the leaves while the winter sparks the holiday season with their  wonderland holiday lighting. 

✰ RELATED 15 Best Botanical Gardens in the United States

Linton’s Enchanted Gardens

315 County Road 17, Elkhart, IN 46516

Speaking of gardens, if you and your family loves fairy tales and enchantment, look no further than looking for those fairies at Linton’s Enchanted Gardens.

It’s own botanical 9 acre outdoor displays will lead you to whimsical garden designs sparking tons of mythical imagination. You’ll see lots of exotic and rare plants of the Heartland.

And just when you think you’ve seen every quilt garden, there’s yet another; a Vera Bradley-inspired quilt garden that will dazzle the eyes of any flower lover. 

Of course, the kids will love to visit the animals at the free petting zoo. They can also take a tour of the beautiful grounds on the Enchanted Gardens Train.

But that’s not all! Your family can experience gemstone mining, walking on water in an orb, a swan paddle boat, a quad-cycle and hand pedal train cars.

Seriously, the show isn’t over until you’ve shopped in Linton’s 50,000 square foot Village of Shoppes indoor shopping. You can find everything from hand-crafted jewelry, women’s fashions & accessories to seasonal decor and gift items.

Also, the Garden Café at Linton’s serves all meals including handcrafted hot and cold drink including local Indiana wines. You can take some fresh baked cookies home with you.

Elkhart Riverwalk Trail

3421 Cassopolis St., Elkhart, IN 46514

Elkhart Riverwalk - Things to Do in Elkhart Indiana - Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

The Elkhart Riverwalk Trail gets you to some of the most popular food and entertainment of downtown. Discover concerts, art, architecture and parks along the Elkhart River. The Riverwalk will be expanded to complete a full 1.5 mile loop around The River District.

Located on the Elkhart River and starting either off of Main Street near the bridge or on Waterfall Dr. near High St, this Riverwalk is a scenic walk next to the water. It’s a beautiful and refreshing walkway to take the stress of the day along the river.

This Riverwalk allows you to get up close and personal view of the river without actually falling in. In the middle of the walk is Island Park where you can circle the island and really get a great view of both the St Joe and Elkhart Rivers.

The RiverWalk is open for speed-walking or strolls any day you want from dawn until dusk. Whether you’re needing a stroll by yourself or to get the family out for a walk, the RiverWalk is a great place for just that.

Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Always On Liberty - Pumpkinvine Nature Trail - Boogie Bikes

One of our favorite things to do in Elkhart is to ride on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trai! In fact, not only is it a great way to get away from the manufacturing hustle bustle, it’s a nice way to get some fresh air and enjoy the Amish country at a slower pace for FREE!

Open year round, its’ 16 miles of trail features both asphalt and packed limestone surfaces that are suitable for bicycle riding, walking and strolling, running, and roller blading through urban areas, small towns, and agricultural communities.

Stretching from Goshen to Shipshewana, Pumpkinvine Nature Trail has connected the outdoor community for over 2 decades. Three trails totaling 25 miles connect Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana; the Maple Heart Trail, Wilden Avenue Trail and Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.

Be aware though, there are the two sections of trail that put you on county roads; combined distance 2.25 miles.

The trail surface is asphalt except for 1.75 miles of packed limestone surface from SR 5 to CR 28 northeast of Goshen. Along the trails, four public parks, Oak Ridge Park, Ox Bow Park, Abshire Park and Krider Garden, provide access and parking to unload your bikes and restrooms.

For more information, check out the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail’s 3 trailhead access parking lot access points.

✰ RELATED Bicycle Safety: How to Ride Safely on Roads and Bike Trails

Elkhart’s County Parks

Woman Riding Bike on Bicycle Trail - Elkhart County Parks - Things to Do in Elkhart Indiana
Photo Courtesy of Elkhart County Parks

Located in north central Indiana, the Elkhart County Parks offers wonderful peaceful opportunities to discover the natural beauty and rich history of Elkhart County.

Three of those County Parks are located in the City of Elkhart itself. Each park is unique and maintained with your family’s recreational and nature interests in mind. Whether you want to fish, hike, bike, kayak, nature photography or just want a place to relax, Elkhart County Parks makes it easy.

Miles of trails for hiking and skiing can be found throughout the parks along with rentable shelters, recreational facilities and historical sites to enjoy. 

Treasure Island – 56266 Armour Avenue, Elkhart, IN  46514

Treasure Island offers a place for visitors to relax and enjoy nature on it’s cozy 4 acre plot. It’s open from April to December. It’s located on the banks of the lower St. Joseph River, so bring your kayak or fishing pole!

Boot Lake Nature Preserve – 51430 C.R. 3, Elkhart, IN  46514

Boot Lake Natural Preserve
Photo Courtesy of Elkhart County Parks

Bring your camera and spend a day escaping the city life at Boot Lake Natural Preserve located just north of the City of Elkhart. This beautiful 300 acre Preserve has been restored to its’ original natural environment of wetland, forest and prairie habitat. 

It’s the perfect place to just enjoy a stroll through the wildflowers, wildlife and woodland nature, look no more! Boot Lake’s expansive trails winding through prairie and forest will make hikers feel like they are explorers traversing wild terrain.

If you’re a birder, this is just your place to bring your binoculars and camera. Over 200 species of birds have been found at the preserve, including rare and unusual birds.

Boot Lake is home to a number of state-threatened and endangered species, such as Blanding’s Turtles and Sandhill Cranes, and the stunning wetland plant, the Purple Bladderwort. Finish your day with a picnic at the small picnic pavilion.

Cobus Creek – 30680 C.R. 8, Elkhart, IN  46514

Cobus
Photo Courtesy of Elkhart County Parks

You and your family can spend an afternoon taking in the beauty of Cobus Creek County Park located a couple miles northwest of the City of Elkhart.

This 84 acre natural creekside county park used to be farmland but has been restored to its’ natural woodlands, wetlands and prairie. The diversity of habitats attracts a wide variety birds, and has hosted several state-endangered species.

Visitors can fish in the cold water trout creek, enjoy a quiet outdoor picnic and let the kids run around until their hearts content. There’s also hard-packed trails around the prairie offer a smooth and scenic bicycle ride or hike.

For more information on Elkhart County’s parks, visit Elkhart County Parks

Where to eat in Elkhart?

523 Tap & Grill
Photo by Always On Liberty

While you’re out there exploring Elkhart, your bellies are bound to grumble in hunger. So, you’ll definitely want to check out one or more of the awesome places to eat in Elkhart.

Personally, we love to experience the local cuisine over grubby chain franchises. You’ll definitely want to dine at some of our favorite places to eat in Elkhart and surrounding areas:

      • Chubby Trout – Great appetizers and dishes; awesome ambiance. Has a small sushi bar too!
      • The Vine on Main – Fine to casual dining, wine, spirits and brews. Great indoor and outdoor bistro dining.
      • The Iechyd Da Brewing Company – Fantastic pizza and craft brews with outdoor games like outdoor corn hole.
      • 523 Tap and Grill – Delicious steaks and offers gluten free and vegetarian dishes. More refined white tablecloth dining.
      • Flippin’ Cow – Awesome burgers, their own Fat Hop craft brew with a lakefront view!

You can find other great eats, not just in Elkhart but around Elkhart County at the Elkhart County Dining Guide.

  • Where to camp in Elkhart, Indiana

Because of Elkhart’s industrious location, there’s no shortage of hotels, AirB&B’s, campgrounds and cabins. Elkhart has everything under the sun when it comes to resting before a new day of exploring and adventure.

If you’re bringing your RV for just an overnight or two, check out Harvest Hosts, HipCamp or Boondocker’s Welcome, Passport America for quiet, more personable locations. Otherwise, there’s a good supply of campgrounds peppered throughout the Elkhart area.

Campgrounds in Elkhart and Surrounding Areas

✰ RELATED ✰  Elkhart Campground Review – Elkhart, IN

Lodging in Elkhart, Indiana

When is the best time to visit Elkhart?

Downtown Elkhart - Gateway Mile
Photo by Always On Liberty

The best time of the year to visit Elkhart is from mid June to mid September when the temperatures are warmer. Typically, short sleeves in the daytime and a sweater or light jacket may be needed during your evening adventures.

From May 25 to September 19, with an average daily high temperature above 72°F. The hottest day of the year is July 19, with an average high of 82°F and low of 64°F.  Be aware, it does get a bit hot and muggy in the summer months. Typically, throughout the year, it’s partly cloudy most days. 

But, if you do visit during the winter months, the winters can be brittle cold and windy. From December 1st to March 5th, with an average daily high temperature below 42°F.

The coldest day of the year is January 29, with an average low of 19°F and high of 32°F. And of course, if snow is your game, well, just wait five minutes and you may have enough for a tiny snowman.

Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 19°F to 82°F. The good thing is the temperatures rarely fall below 2°F or above 90°F.

So, plan accordingly when you visit Elkhart for clothing and how to enjoy RVing in the winter!

✰ RELATED   8 Most Popular Weather Apps for RV Travelers

RVing to Elkhart Indiana?

If you’re bringing your RV for service or just to visit Elkhart,  you’ll need to plan ahead and strategize your trip planning so your experience will be less stressful.

Anytime we plan our RV destinations, we start our research using RV LIFE Trip Wizard. RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences. You can try it FREE for 7-Days!

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Wrapping up

Dan by Elk Statue in Elkhart Indiana - Fun Things to Do in Elkhart - Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty

As you see, Elkhart Indiana is more than seeing tons of RVs of every shape and size! The RV Capital of the World offers so many wonderful things to do in Elkhart, you’re going to want to visit it several times.

Or, plan a week or two or make Elkhart, Indiana as your next vacation destination.

And speaking of RVs, you’ll surely not want to miss taking several RV Factory tours! while you’re visiting Elkhart!

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