Barb Campbell * Direct 574-266-1095 * 800-508-6582 * RE/MAX Excellence * Elkhart, IN

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Life in Elkhart

Elkhart is a thriving community of 48,000 people located in Northern Indiana, not far from the Michigan border. As a relatively small town, it has much of the charm that small Midwestern communities are famous for, but also boasts a cosmopolitan population. Nestled in some of the Midwest's most appealing countryside, and graced by the beautiful St. Joseph river, Elkhart is a vigorous manufacturing, banking and social center. Our diverse population combines with our pioneer heritage to make our history, our daily life, and our future interesting and invigorating.

The rivers that wander through Elkhart

Threading through the city are the St. Joesph and Elkhart Rivers. Lined with stately homes, or picturesque tree-filled parks, the rivers provide a constantly changing perspective throughout the city. Whether you're boating, skiiing, fishing, skating, or just enjoying the view, the rivers of Elkhart add immeasurably to the city's charm.

For a comprehensive look at the Elkhart community and surrounding area, explore the information I have assembled here, then continue with some of the links to other web sites with information on the Elkhart area.

Chicago; Indianapolis just a short drive away

Elkhart residents don't have to contend with the daily hassles of life in the "big city," but they don't have to settle for the limitations of smaller towns and villages. We're just 2 hours from downtown Chicago; 3 hours from Indianapolis, and less than 30 minutes from South Bend, Indiana; home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Nearby Amish traditions offer contrast

Though big city lights are easily reached, a short drive can also take Elkhart residents into the heart of one of the largest Amish communities in the United States, complete with quaint clothes, century-old traditions, and horse-drawn buggies. For many people, Elkhart provides the best of both worlds, from countryside to big city. If you'd like to conduct your own exploration of the Elkhart County area, a delightful self-guided audio tour is available from the Elkhart County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, just off the Indiana Toll Road at exit 92. I've included a link to their website at the bottom of this page.

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Elkhart Economy

Though it began as a pioneer outpost for loggers, trappers and traders, Elkhart soon capitalized on the readily available water power to become a busy manufacturing center in the mid 1850's. From that early beginning, manufacturing has continued to power the local economy. Recent years have seen steady manufacturing growth and diversification.

Through the recent past, up to the present day, Elkhart has been blessed with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. And though I've mentioned it elsewhere, Elkhart is among the most economical communities in the nation for buying a home!

Home of Speedy Alka-Seltzer

Elkhart is home to some of the most famous manufactured products in the world. It is here that Alka-Selzer, Bactine and One-A-Day vitamins were invented.

America's band instrument capital

Elkhart is also the most important American city for the production of band instruments. A entrepreneur named C. G. Conn began manufacturing trumpets, cornets, and other horns here during the last century, and the resulting pool of talented craftspeople attracted other major instrument manufacturers, including Selmer, Bach, Gemeinhardt. Selmer and Conn now have joined orces, and operate as Conn-Selmer.

RV's, mobile homes and luxury vans

Many people around the country also recognize Elkhart as the headquarters of the recreational vehicle industry (see Coachmen, Four Winds, Starcraft, Dynamax). RV trailers, motorhomes and campers; first built as an offshoot of the manufactured housing industry after the second world war, now represent the largest single economic segment of the local economy. Besides the numerous manufacturing facilities, Elkhart is also home to many of the suppliers, assemblers, and related businesses that support the RV industry. The manufactured housing industry itself is still a key part of the economy, too.

Though thousands of people work directly for the industries mentioned above, the Elkhart area has all the diversity you'd expect to find in a city her size; from butcher shops to book stores; computer programmers to interior decorators. Most of the people of Elkhart will agree - It's a great place to live and raise a family!

Care to learn more about the Elkhart economy? Or would you like to find an Elkhart area business, service or product? Click here for the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

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Elkhart Weather

Elkhart has a moderate Midwestern climate, with four distinct seasons, and only occasional extremes of temperature or precipitation.

  • Winter: Although snow can be expected, accumulations are limited, and much of the season is spent without snow on the ground. For ideal skiing and snowmobiling, travel a couple of hours north into Michigan.
    Average Temperature: 30 degrees

  • Spring: Glorious. It's a marvel of nature to watch every living thing wake up from winter, as trees fill with leaves, flowers burst into bloom, and seasonal birds return.
    Average Temperature: 54 degrees

  • Summer: Busy, fun-filled. Hot, sunny days, punctuated by occasional thunderstorms and clouds. Great for boating on our river or lakes.
    Average Temperature: 75 degrees

  • Fall: Beautiful fall foliage, and great seasonal holidays. (call or email me for my favorite "Fall Foliage Tour.") Indian summer is a tradition, as are Notre Dame tailgate parties. Come and have fun! 
    Average Temperature: 54 degrees

Check the weather for the week ahead

Like to know what the weather's going to be like when you come to visit?
Hop over to The Weather Channel!

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Official Elkhart

Population: (2000 Census) 48,204
Official Slogan: "City With A Heart!"
City Government: Mayor/City Council
Mayor: Dick Moore

For more official statistics on Elkhart, and more information about the government, click here.)

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Shopping in and around Elkhart

Shopping in the area is GREAT!

The Elkhart Chamber of Commerce has a comprehensive list of businesses in and around Elkhart.

Downtown Elkhart and Goshen:

Boutiques and shops scattered among the banks and offices. Stores also line the major roads in and out of both cities: Cassopolis Street, north of Elkhart, and US 33, northwest of Goshen.

Nearest Malls:

Concord Mall, off US 33 between Hively and Mishawaka Road; Elder-Beerman, Penney's, Hobby Lobby, ABC Warehouse, wide variety of specialty shops and many restaurants are located in the vicinity

Pierre Moran Mall, at Hively and Benham, has Sears, Kroger's, and a wide variety of specialty stores.

Northpoint Plaza, at Northview Drive and Cassopolis, just off Toll Road Exit 92, has Super K-Mart, Radio Shack, Martin's (groceries), Midwest Pets, Health Club, Appleby's, Hallmark.

Midway Plaza, between Elkhart and Goshen on US 33, has WalMart, Super Target, Sam's Club, Meier's (groceries) specialty merchants.

Major Regional Mall

University Park Mall is about 17 minutes away, off Indiana Toll Road, exit 83 (9 miles west of Elkhart), includes Sears, L. S. Ayres, Penney's, Marshall Fields, large food court, multiscreen theatre, over 100 specialty retailers. Nearby Grape Road is lined with restaurants, stores and shopping centers, including Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx, Office Depot, Value City and many, many more!

Outlet Malls

Michigan City Outlet Mall, north off Exit 49, Indiana Toll Road. Almost 200 factory outlet shops

Fashion Outlet Mall, Angola Indiana, at junction of Indiana Toll Road and I-69, 55 miles east of Elkhart. Approximately 80 shops in two complexes.

Power Shopping

Of course, for real "Power Shopping," nothing beats the malls and downtown stores of Chicago, and they're only a couple of hours away. For a similar big-city experience, with a little less stressful traffic, try Indianapolis, too: great malls and a thriving downtown. Spend a weekend in either city - you'll love the shopping and the excitement, but you'll also come to appreciate the pace of life back in Elkhart, too. Call me for some great shopping and restaurant tips.

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Restaurants and Other Good Times

Elkhart residents LOVE to eat out, and Elkhart restaurants give them plenty of variety in price, food, service and style. In a town of Elkhart's size, you'll almost always run into someone you know when you go out to eat - so dining out is a great social icebreaker.

Opinions about food vary widely, so my recommendations are personal preferences, and are by no means complete. Have some fun trying out the many restaurants in the area and soon you'll have your own list of favorites.

Neighborhood Grills

(Some would call these "bars." Kids aren't excluded, but they'd be happier elsewhere.)

Miles Lab , at SR 120 and CR 13 is a favorite hangout. Gourmet twists on classic hamburgers, great drinks, and a a lively atmosphere make this a good spot almost any time you're hungry, but don't want to spend a fortune. NOTE: Longtime locals STILL call this spot "Joe 'n Eddies."

Dino's, near the corner of Bristol Street and Osolo Road, offers GREAT food at GREAT prices in a simple setting that makes it easy to leave your oven off and head out for a quick bite any night of the week. Best bets include the Friday All-You-Can-Eat Fish Special, and any of Chef Larry's great home-made soups.

The Firehouse, off Bristol Street and Homeland Road was founded by an ex-fireman, and the decor reflects that fact. Often crowded with regulars, the food ranges from burritos to filet mignon. Two unbeatable choices here: The bacon cheeseburger and the pork tenderloin sandwich. With mojos, of course! Yumm! The Firehouse has a great patio for outdoor dining when the weather is right.

The Vine, on Main Street, is becoming a local institution, with creative pizza choices, great pasta, fresh seafood and tasty, fun appetizers. You can dine in the bar or take a booth in the dining room - either way, you'll enjoy a casual but sophisticated atmosphere and friendly, attentive service.

Michael's, on 5th Street and Marion - Warm neighborhood feel, a place for casual parties, good, reasonably priced Italian food, from fancy to sandwiches and pizza.  Call ahead on Fridays and Saturdays - tell Jimmy that Barb Campbell sent you! Good ribs, Italian subs, and veal parmigiana.

Other Highlights

Per Bacco, off Nappanee Street on Elkhart's west side, is a wonderful Italian restaurant where Bruno's wife, Marissa, creates mouth watering original Italian dishes. It's a small, charming place with candles and white tablecloths. The pasta is homemade, the lasagna fabulous, and the pizza wonderful. Bruno's will also deliver their wonderful pizza direct to you.

Hacienda, in Easy Shopping Place, is a small regional chain of Mexican restaurants. Expect a wait here almost any night of the week - people of all ages love the place - the food is tasty and inexpensive (if not particularly authentic). The lounge is VERY popular with 20-somethings, attracted, no doubt by the free chips and salsa, the great frozen margaritas, and of course, the other 20-somethings.

Columbo's, on South Main, is just about everyone's favorite Italian restaurant, and is considered by many to have Elkhart's best pizza. Family owned and operated, the food is fresh and home-style. There's a take-out pizza counter, too - but bring help for the load. Columbo's pizzas barely fit in 16" pizza boxes, and put national chain pizza to shame!

Lucchese's, on County Road 17, near CR 14. A family institution in Elkhart, this new location retains the family recipes and friendly atmosphere that made the parents of the current owners Elkhart's favorite Italian relatives. All the traditional favorites are served, and great daily specials.

Camino Real, an authentic Mexican restaurant on County Road 6, across from Walmart, has terrific Mexican food. Quick service, great food, and a friendly waitstaff make this a "must try" restaurant. (Try the cheese dip...the chimichangas...and the super desserts.)

The Great Wall, on SR 19, near Rte. 112. Every city has its supply of Chinese restaurants; this is one of Elkhart's best. The servings are generous, widely varied, and delicious. Good, quick, inexpensive lunches, too. Ask manager Michelle for her recommendations.

Chain Restaurants

Few surprises, a true virtue, when you're hungry, trying to please youngsters, or don't want to experiment.

Bob Evans, Perkins, Steak 'n Shake, Appleby's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Red Lobster, Bennigan's, The Olive Garden, Texas Road House, Cracker Barrel (wondering if I've missed any!) are all within a half mile of the main Elkhart Toll Road exit (#92). Of course, you'll find all the standard issue fast-food restaurants here too: McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Long John Silver's, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Arby's, Schlotzke's, Hardees, Pizza Hut, Domino's; we've got'em all. More interesting is a small local chain called Mancino's, in the Summit Plaza at CR 13 and Old US 20, and in the new Martin's Plaza on West Bristol Street.

Nearby Notables

The busy shopping area near University Park Mall has yet another collection of popular, fun restaurants; mostly chain operations. One that we feel is worth the drive is called "Papa Vino's," serving a jazzed up version of Italian cuisine. Don't wait in line - call ahead to get on the waiting list, or sneak into the lounge, where they're happy to serve you dinner.  

Just around the corner from Papa Vino's is Hoolihan's - It's a chain, but the owner went to Notre Dame, and build a gorgeous restaurant, with food to match, in honor of all his old "Alma Mater" did for him. 

Northwest of South Bend, in the countryside, sits The Carriage House, one of the most extraordinary restaurants in the entire area. Romantic atmosphere, excellent food, impeccable service, notable wines, and irresistable desserts, make The Carriage House the area's best "special night out." 

The Elk's Club, at Christiana Creek Country Club, is a perfect spot to meet for lunch. Though private at dinnertime, the Elk's is open to the public for lunch. The dining room is elegant, while the food is reasonable and service friendly.

The Thai Place is tucked into a row of offices right on Main Street in downtown South Bend. Opened two years ago by a native Thai, the food is exotic and extraordinary. I wonder where he gets the wonderfully fresh ingredients that go into his food. Every dish is an experience.

I've only touched the surface of the subject of restaurants in and around Elkhart, but my suggestions will serve you well while you explore and find your own favorites. Email me with your comments about notable restaurants you discover!

Other Good Times

Elcona Country Club is one of the finest private country clubs in the midwest, with 18 meticulously maintained holes of golf stretched along a gently rolling landscape with plenty of mature trees, water and sand. The club also has a beautiful clubhouse with men's and ladies locker rooms, dining rooms, stag bar, banquet rooms and pro shop. Outside you'll find tennis courts and an olympic swimming pool. The club offers organized sports for children and members, and the social calendar is active and varied. Call me for membership information.

Christiana Creek Country Club, headquarters for the Elks Lodge, on Main and Bristol Street, has 18 holes of golf nestled into a beautiful residential area not far from the center of town. A dining room pro shop, pool (with an active swim team) and other amenities complete the package. Call me or the club for membership details.

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Schools, Churches and Community Activities

Elkhart area schools are worth bragging about! Strict discipline, time-honored values, and top academic opportunities make them one of Elkhart's most important assets.
Get an in-depth report on Elkhart area schools HERE

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Hotels, Motels and Inns; Airlines and More

Traveling to Elkhart

Call me or email me if you're coming into the Elkhart area on a house-shopping trip. I have a full-service travel agency at my disposal as a courtesy to my clients, and can help with every step of your trip, from plane tickets, to hotels, to car rentals.

All incoming air flights arrive at the South Bend Regional Airport, approximately 22 miles from Elkhart, off the Toll Road, exit 72. United, Delta, American Eagle, Continental, Northwest all have daily service in and out of town, connecting to hubs in Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or Detroit. The airport also offers commuter train service to downtown Chicago (South Shore Line) and serves as the main bus depot, too. There are several major car rental agencies in the airport, including National, Avis, Hertz, and Budget. The South Bend airport has a website with scheduled listings for all its flights and bus service.
Just click right here!

Driving in and around Elkhart

Elkhart is just south of the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 80-90) at exit #92. Exit 92 puts you on Cassopolis Street, one of the main north entrance roads. Cassopolis is also designated State Road 19, and 19 can be used to travel through Elkhart on the west side, then continue south to U. S. 6. (about 22 miles)

Travelers can access the east side of Elkhart area from Toll Road Exit 96, which puts traffic onto County Road 17, the main north-south road on the east side of town. County Road 17 bypasses the city and most residential areas, and goes several miles south toward Elkhart's neighbor, the city of Goshen, IN.

Old U.S. 20 still cuts directly through the city, going east and west, and continues across the entire state. It is one route to use to get to Mishawaka and South Bend, although the Toll Road is faster. The new U. S. 20 Bypass passes Elkhart on the south side, eliminating the city traffic on the trip to Mishawaka and South Bend.

The Elkhart County roads

In the county, the road system is pretty well organized. East/west county roads are numbered in even numbers, from C.R. (County Road) 2 at the north end of Elkhart County, to C.R. 52 at the southern end. North-south county roads are odd numbered, starting C.R.1, at the west end, to C.R. 37 at the east end. There are variation to the rigid grid, but you're never more than a mile or two from its strict rule. A point some visitors miss - it's easy to confuse the county roads "CR" with the state roads "SR" - there's a CR 20 as well as a SR 20; a CR 15 and SR 15 - so be careful!

Staying in the area

Elkhart boasts a wide range of mid-price motel accommodations at Toll Road Exit 92. You'll find Comfort Suites, Hampton Inn, Fairmont Inn, Ramada and others. Elkhart hotels often fill up during Notre Dame football weekends, so plan to pay top prices IF you can find a place to stay.

Downtown South Bend has first rate accommodations at the Downtown Holiday Inn and Downtown Marriott. Another excellent suggestion is the Varsity Suites Hotel, on Main street in nearby Mishawaka. Closer to Elkhart, at exit 92, you'll find a highly rated Ramada. The Toll road exits are lined with less expensive budget chain motels, too. One with my recommendation is the Signature Inn, at exit 92.

Once you get your bearings in Elkhart, you may want to venture into the countryside for accommodations that are a bit more quaint and eclectic. The entire county is dotted with Bed & Breakfast Inns and guest houses.

For a special experience, check into the loose network of Amish families that offers room in their spartan homes, where you won't find TV, phones, or air conditioning, but will be treated to an unforgettable farm breakfast. Contact the Elkhart Convention and Visitor's Bureau for all the help you'll need.

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Special Events and Attractions

Here's a short list of some of the special events and attractions you have to look forward to in the Elkhart area. Contact the Chamber of Commerce, or the Convention and Visitor's Bureau for their latest lists and schedules.

Elkhart New Year's Eve Family Fest

Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival 574-862 2714
Michiana Bike Night 574-295-8823

The Great Race

Rhapsody in Green 574-295-7275
Festival of the Wild Rose Moon 574-825-5666
Elkhart Jazz Festival 800-597-7627

Elkhart County 4-H Fair 574-533-FAIR
Fourth of July Fireworks - Rice Field
Freedom Fest Air Show 533-8245
Fourth of July St. Joseph River Flotilla

Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival 800-800-4942
Elkhart Air Show
Millersburg Farmers Days 574-642-3976

Day on the Farm Tour 574-533-0554
Bonneyville Celebration
Nappanee Apple Festival
Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale 260-463-4901
Rivers Edge Fine Crafts & Arts Show

Amish Acres Fall Harvest Days 800-800-4942
Head of the Elk Regatta

Renaissance Faire

Victorian Christmas
Christmas House Walk
Christmas at Ruthmere

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