A City with a Heart – Elkhart, IN

Elkhart, INA popular myth of how the city of Elkhart got its name is that native American indians noticed that the shape of Island Park, within the city at the confluence of the Elkhart and St. Joseph Rivers, resembled the heart of an elk.  However, the city was actually named after the Shawnee indian chief Elkhart, who was a cousin of the famous Shawnee chief Tecumseh.  Today, the town is dotted with painted Elk on parade, celebrating its namesake.

Elk Art on Parade
Historic downtown Elkhart

RV /MH Hall of FameElkhart is known for two things – “RV Capital of the World” and “Band Instrument Capital of the World.”  Since we are of the RV persuasion, we chose to check out the 80,000-square-foot RV museum that pays homage to the industry.  During our visit, we viewed a collection of 52 vintage RVs dating all the way back to 1913 and chronicling Americans’ century-old penchant for hitting the road with the comforts of home in tow.

RV/MH Hall of Fame
The story of America’s journey through the evolution of the RV

This 1916 “telescoping apartment” is the precursor of the current slide out.  Both side cabinets slide in and the rear section then “telescoped” into the main compartment and was secured for travel.  The industry has gone a long way since then, as slide outs are now fast and easy to operate with just a push of a button.

1916 Telescoping Apartment
1916 telescoping apartment

We always appreciate and follow any walking tour that a city offers.  Elkhart is no different, as they have developed the Elkhart Gateway Mile, a walking tour around town connecting all three unique districts; Arts and Entertainment, Garden and the Riverwalk.

Elkhart River Walk
Beginning of the Riverwalk
Ten Commandments
Is anyone paying attention to these commandments?
Painted Elk HArt
Rhythm of Summer

We enjoyed our walk around town, particularly fascinated by the windows and architecture of restored buildings, colorful murals and summer blooms coloring the area.  The locals consider the Riverwalk a gem, as it winds around downtown, with some intermingled features to explore.  It includes bridges connecting to Island Park, whose shape has been compared to an elk’s heart.



Historic Downtown Elkhart
Main street – Elkhart

And some other colorful murals around town:

Band Mural


These adorable critters were hanging out by the river to cheer us along:

After working up an appetite wandering around town, our tummies were growling and we remembered LuAnn’s of Paint your Landscape recommendation for a great place to eat and quench our thirst.  So, off we went to lechyd Da Brewing Company, a local restaurant, to savor their yummy pizza drizzled with balsamic vinegar and covered with arugula.  Yum!

lechyda Da Brewing Company
First pizza I’ve tasted with balsamic vinegar, yum!

After gobbling up the tasty pizza, we took a walk around our park at Elkhart Campground (see Steve’s review here).  We had a chance meeting with Carla (who recognized Steve from our blogs) and Jerry of Cozybegone, and after chatting for a while we invited them over for a happy hour the following day. Over good eats and drinks we got to know each other well and we were able to learn more about the area, as they had already been at this campground for two months.  That’s what I love about blogging – we get to meet such cool people!

Happy hour with Carla and Jerry of Cozybegone

On another day we ventured further out of Elkhart and drove to Indiana Dunes State Park within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Indiana Dunes consists of 2,182 acres of primitive, beautiful, historic and unique Hoosier landscape. Large sand dunes, located beyond the entire shoreline, have taken thousands of years to form, and tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan.

It was about an hour away, and we used our time there to meet the “3-Dune Challenge”.  This hiking challenge is named for the trio of dunes – called the Tremonts – which highlight the length of the trail.  Mt. Tom, Mt. Holden and Mt. Jackson are each nearly two hundred feet above lake level, and believe me our calf muscles were burning after hiking over all of them in deep sand!

The trail was described as the most difficult in the park, rugged and challenging with 40-degree slopes.  The description did not lie, as it was the toughest and longest 1.5 mile hike we have done!

3 Dune Challenge
Lake Michigan behind me

On the way home we swung by the pride of Southbend, Indiana – the University of Notre Dame – which was  founded in 1842.  It resides on 1,250 acres and is well known for the quality of its physical plant and the beauty of its campus.  We drove around the campus, from the collegiate Gothic architecture and park-like landscape to the exquisite outdoor sculptures and breathtaking views.  Not a bad place to go to college…

We were also able to arrange a tour of the Entegra motorhome factory while in town, which made Steve very happy.  These coaches are “the next step up” from Betsy, and we were happy to get a private tour of the factory floor.  As usual, pictures were not allowed – but our mouths were hanging open for over an hour as we watched them building these beautiful rigs.  We never get tired of factory tours!

And that’s how we spent our busy week in the city of heart.




  1. Did you have dinner at the restaurant we mentioned? Love the blog. Stay safe traveling.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Was the RV Museum worth a visit? It wasn’t finished the last time we were through Elkhart.

    I know your happy hour guests left happy and with full bellies – Steve’s appetizers are always memorable!

    I always enjoy your blogs – you visit seemingly ordinary places and find the beauty and interest in them and then share with great photos. Thanks!


    • Yes Sue, it was fascinating to see the evolution of the motorhome beginning in 1913!
      Thank you and glad that you are enjoying our escapades in the comfort of your lake front home. When will Beluga start heading south?

  3. You two amaze me with all you manage to explore and take in on each stop. Another great tour. Blogger meet ups are always fun 🙂

  4. What a cool header photo!

    Yep, that area is so lovely and offers so much to see and do. I think the city did an excellent job with the trail. And I am paying very close to those commandments…just wish I could always keep them.

    We, too, enjoy meeting blogging friends or really any new friends along our journey. It is always so special when you meet up with people that you just make an immediate connection with. Glad you four could become face-to-face friends.

    • Marsha, that was a great chance meeting. If not for a CA license plate that their neighbor had we would have not stop. It was during this exchange of “where are you from ” that Carla recognized Steve. I like unplanned meetings its fun and memorable.

  5. Ahhhhhh, that was such a sweet meetup!!! Your posts are so full of punch!!! Enjoy the island…hope you can bike it!!

  6. Wonderful tour, Mona. The 3-Dune Challenge does sound very gruelling, but I’m sure it did you lots of good. 🙂 That first mural is really stunning, and your pizza looks totally yummy.

  7. So glad you enjoyed Elkhart and made it to Iechyd Da. That is our favorite pizza that you two had.

    It was so good to see the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as we didn’t make it there and wish we had. There is no better way to work those calves than to hike in deep sand, is there?

    Great post MonaLiza. I love your header! 🙂

    • LuAnn, we wished we had more time at the Indiana Dunes after the 3Dune Challenge, but the overcast and rain drove us away. And yes, that was quite a workout at the dunes!
      And thanks to the tip we made it to the brewery and had that yummy pizza.

      • We really enjoyed that pizza, so much so that I have made it at home a few times.

        Since we have family in IN, we will have to go to the dunes sometime. We really have no excuse.

  8. Elkhart is an interesting little town isn’t it! We really enjoyed the RV/MH Hall of Fame, too. We’ve come a long way baby!!

    Notre Dame has the most beautiful campus. It was immaculate the day we biked around the campus. I love that mural they call “Touchdown Jesus!”

    How nice to meet new blog friends!

    Congratulations on climbing the three dunes!!! Great job!

  9. Wow great post. I really want to see the RV Museum and the Indiana Dunes. We did the Dune hike at Sleeping Bear dunes and it was just that, a bear so I know how hard that 1.5 miles was. Too cool that Carla recognized you and you got to spend some time together. I love things like that.

  10. What a fun place to explore! And as always, you guys found the best of it to share with us. We would love the RV museum and the walking tour of town. Hiking 1.5 miles through sand dunes is harder than hiking 10 miles on a regular trail!

  11. You sure have a good social life for a couple of gypsies! (Autocorrect wanted me to call you guppies. Glad I picked that up. What would you think of me?!)

  12. I’m curious as to why someone like you would go to an RV museum in RV Capital of the World. Again, I’m gravitated towards the music image. 🙂 Hiking in a steep sandhill ..er.. sux … big time! I hated it!

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