Take a little day trip to Stover’s farm

by Jane


Just  off of exit 15 on Highway 31 in Michigan is a perfect spot to explore, shop, and enjoy an afternoon in Michigan wine country. Approximately 20 minutes from South Bend, Stover’s farm boasts a fruit market and antiques shop, all housed in a beautiful red barn. You can pick fruit yourself, or buy it ready to go in the barn. Either way, this location as just the right amount of enchantment to transport you to a vacation mindset while you wander.


Stover’s is open 9-5 on Monday through Saturdays in the summer only. It’s on my way to work, so every year, I can’t wait to see that the barn doors are open and the twinkly lights are calling my name when I drive past as the sun sets. Bad days can slip completely away, as I pick up some Amish homemade butter, and a pint of cherries—visions of a fruit and custard dessert gracing my table by 9 that night. (And if baking a pie or a tart isn’t your thing, look in the refrigerator case with the butter, you’ll find ready-to-bake fruit pies, just calling your name! You don’t even have to tell anyone that you didn’t make it yourself!)

Other food items include: homemade jams, jellies, and relishes (some really unique pickles that look amazing, but I’ve not been brave enough to try yet!).  Local honey—there is raw honey, honey with the honeycomb, and many other varieties to choose from. Dried fruits, nuts, and some locally made candies. Many delicious things!


The antiques are interspersed with locally-made craft items with a beachy theme: tall ships carved from wood, paintings of seagulls and lighthouses, and lots of beautiful driftwood mingle with lanterns and dried indian corn. There are also artisan items from around the world, like handmade jewelry and soaps. I found some cute elephant-themed journals for my sister.


Summer apples, peaches, cherries, and blackberries are now in season. Make sure to plan a trip to Stover’s this summer, and make a return trip in the fall when the pumpkins, grapes, and fall apples are ready. There will be cider. You’ll feel like a little kid again, while picking apples and smelling the ripe grapes on the vine. Then, because you’re an adult…you can feel free to end your day trip with drive around the corner to all the wineries!




Breweries, Bikes, and Beer: Exploring Goshen and Elkhart by Bike


Toast to kick-off our ride

As you know, Meg and I both love biking and beer. Last Saturday, we decided that it was time to combine two of our loves and bike the MapleHeart Trail, while stopping at some of the region’s newest breweries.

The MapleHeart Trail is a five mile paved trail that runs from the outskirts of Elkhart to the outskirts of Goshen along County Road 45. In Goshen, the name changes to the Maple City Greenway, which runs another 3.2 miles into the heart of the city and then connects up to the Pumpkinvine Trail, which runs all the way to Shipshewana (read Meg’s review of the Pumpkinvine here).

We left South Bend around 11 am, which put us in the Goshen Brewing Company parking lot, our starting point, around 11:45 a.m. When we pulled up, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Goshen Farmer’s Market, located next door to the brewery, was holding a Maker’s Market filled with tons of home goods and arts and crafts. We decided to take a stroll through the market, admiring the fresh produce and items for sale. I had no idea that, like South Bend, Goshen also has an indoor Farmer’s Market, and there were plenty of fun things to look at. I was intrigued by the smoothie and homemade cheese stand.


Lunch at Goshen Brewing

After our quick detour, we started our official brewery bike tour with lunch at Goshen Brewing Company. I had the pulled pork sandwich with fennel slaw, my husband had the Hot Mess (pork shoulder, BBQ sauce, cheddar and pickled jalepenos) and Meg enjoyed snacking on the brussels sprouts, which were incredibly yummy. We washed down our food with some beer samples. I tried the Vesna, a pale lager, which I thought was delicious.

After lunch we hopped on our bikes and got on the wrong bike trail. The bike path right next to Goshen Brewing Company is NOT the MapleHeart Trail, so don’t get on it, and definitely don’t cross the river. When we realized we were clearly on the wrong path, we took an odd road route past the Old Bag Factory until we could hook up with the bike path. In order to avoid this mishap, stick to the mapped route below.


Ox Bow Park Path

I wouldn’t necessarily call the MapleHeart Trail a scenic bike route. It parallels a road, runs next to the train tracks, and passes mostly houses, sub-divisions, and some old factories. However, there are some sections that are prettier than others, such as the section that passes Ox Bow Park. We decided to get off the bike path for a quick 10 minute ride around the park, and it was beautiful. Trees and flowers were blooming and it was great to see all that the park had to offer. There was a lookout tower, stables, soccer fields, an archery range, and hiking trails. We all commented that we’d love to spend more time there.

Eventually, the MapleHeart trail ends and you have to bike for about two miles on fairly busy roads to get to downtown Elkhart. It appeared there was an alternate bike trail along the Elkhart River, if we turned right off Sterling Avenue on to Lusher Avenue, so we tried it. Unfortunately, the route wasn’t paved so we took a very bumpy, muddy ride for about 10 minutes until our butts couldn’t take it anymore. It was a beautiful path that would be great for walking along, but it was not ideal for biking. The trail does finally become paved once you get to Studebaker Park, but I would recommend sticking to route below – it’s much faster.


Iechyd Da

Our next stop was Iechyd Da, a popular brewery and restaurant in downtown Elkhart.  We shared the Bread of St. David (garlic cheese bread) to refuel and each got a taster-size glass of beer. The Local Blonde was light and refreshing.

We hopped back on our bikes and biked the eight or so blocks south to New Paradigm Brewing Company. The name is a bit misleading. It’s not actually a brewery, but rather a bar that has tons of craft beers in bottles and on tap. Supposedly the burgers are excellent, and based on the descriptions on the menu, I would definitely return to try them out. I had a pint of Sun King’s Sunlight beer. Sun King is based in Indianapolis. We also split the pretzels with beer cheese and mozzarella sticks appetizers. We clearly felt we had to load up on carbs for our bike ride back to Goshen.

It took us about two hours to get to downtown Elkhart due to our many detours and the rough terrain along the Elkhart River (14 miles total), while the ride back primarily using the MapleHeart and Maple City Trails only took us about an hour (11 miles).


Thomas Steiglitz Brewing

When we arrived back in Goshen we celebrated the end of our journey with a beer at the newest brewery in the area – Thomas Stieglitz Brewing. Thomas Stieglitz is located in an old laundromat, and the building is really cool. The interior is tiny – there are just a few seats at a bar, but it has a large outdoor patio filled with adirondak chairs and tables. I enjoyed my favorite beer of the day – the saison. It was light and fruity and super refreshing on a warm spring afternoon. One of the friendly owners told us the brewery had just opened a few weeks prior. I’m sure they’ll have a large following soon.

Overall, the journey was extremely fun. We had a great time exploring parts of Elkhart and Goshen that we had never seen before. Our brewery bike tour was an amazing way to spend an afternoon.


The bike route:




Kalamazoo Part 2: Bell’s Eccentric Cafe


Reuben & Mushroom Brie Burger

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to the Air Zoo, an awesome interactive aviation museum and amusement park just outside of Kalamazoo. After spending the afternoon wandering through the hangars filled with colorful planes and riding on the carousel and balloon rides, it was time to check off an item that had been sitting on my bucket list since I moved to South Bend – visiting Bell’s Eccentric Cafe.

There are few beers that I enjoy drinking more on a warm summer day than an Oberon, Bell’s  seasonal summer wheat ale. I’ve been enjoying Oberon for years, and had always wanted to go to Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo to check out their selection. While Bell’s most popular beers are now widely distributed throughout the Midwest, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe offers a variety of small batch beers that are only sold at the brewery.


Buffalo Chicken Dip

We decided to start our visit by each ordering a flight of five small tasting glasses of beer. This provided us with the opportunity to try multiple beers that are regularly on the menu as well as some that are only available at the Cafe. One of my favorite specialty beers was the Mole Stout, which was on rotation that day.

In addition to ordering beer, we also got a couple of appetizers – the Fried Brussels Sprouts with parmesan and lemon and the Buffalo Chicken Dip served with pita. Both were sizable portions and had excellent flavor. For dinner, our group ordered the Mushroom and Brie Burger, Jam Burger, Reuben, and Fried Whitefish Sandwich. Everything was good, but the Jam Burger covered in bacon onion jam and tomato jam was definitely the best. The flavor was excellent.

I would highly recommend a stop at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe if you’re visiting Kalamazoo. It’s a fun place to go for a pint and enjoy a yummy lunch or dinner.



Antiques and Fun in Lakeside and Sawyer Michigan


by Jane

One of the very best things about living in South Bend is the ability to run away to Lake Michigan on the weekend. With relatively simple planning and a quick drive, you’re suddenly dancing in a windstorm on the beach with your sister, or trying to get your husband to buy you a NO POOPING sign for your front yard at an awesome antique shop. It doesn’t get better than that! (By the way, the NO POOPING sign isn’t for sale. That was the saddest part of my whole day.)

I recently spent a weekend at the Lakeside Inn with my husband Sam, my sister Julia, and her husband, Antonio. The Inn is nestled in the woods, right on the shore of Lake Michigan. If you leave your windows open at night, you can hear the waves crashing onto the beach. I’m going to leave the real details about it to McK, because she has a special connection to the Lakeside Inn…so look for that post in the future!

Now for all the fun we had at this place!


Lakeside Antiques is just down Red Arrow Highway from the Inn. It’s a fantastic place to spend a morning. There is a main building (shown above), and a large secondary barn building, so you can explore here for hours.


They have amazing quality antiques from all over the world. This is the kind of place where you can find everything from elaborately crafted stag-horn chandeliers to fine art and fabrics.



Julia and I tried to get our husbands to chip in and buy us this floor length white fur coat, so that we could play Narnia when we got back to the Inn. They said no, because they’re terrible husbands, and don’t understand the value of priceless antiques.


They do, however, think that it’s important to scare small children with giant evil-eye paperweights. I tell you, the priorities of these two men are totally screwy!


We stopped at Fitzgerald’s (also known as Fitz’s Bar & Grill) in Sawyer, Michigan for lunch. This restaurant and lounge has a beautiful old bar in their quirky cute dining room, and a darling patio area. They have amazing food, and their appetizers are big enough to share.


Julia got an amazing beer, and I tried a really interesting pear cider. Sam and Antonio ordered the ever-reliably delicious Zombie Dust by 3 Floyds Brewing Company.
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Crab cakes and calamari!
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The crab cakes were giant, and amazing. The fries were so good, we promised to share them with Antonio, but then we forgot. Sorry, Antonio!
Lakeside Antiques
14876 Red Arrow Hwy
Lakeside, MI 49116
Fitzgerald’s OR Fitz’s Bar & Grill
5875 Sawyer Rd
Sawyer, MI 49126

A Day in Chicago

By McK

The Bean

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

One of the largest and most diverse cities in the United States is only an hour and 40 minutes from South Bend via car and two and a half hours away via the South Shore Line Train. You can’t say there’s nothing to do in the area, when one of the greatest cities in the world is less than two hours from home. So, get in the car or train, and go to Chicago! Chicago is close enough that you can take a day trip, yet far enough you can turn it into a weekend getaway. I’m sure we’ll write many posts about Chicago during the life of this blog, but we’ll start with a simple day trip to downtown.

Getting There

The easiest way to get to Chicago from South Bend is the South Shore Line train, which costs $26 round trip from the South Bend Airport to Millennium Park Station; You’ll exit the station at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, right in the heart of downtown. While the train takes about 45 minutes longer than driving, you won’t have to worry about navigating Chicago traffic or finding parking. If you are comfortable driving (it’s really not that bad!), jump on on I-90 W to I-55 N/Lake Shore Drive (north). There’s a great parking lot under Millennium Park – the Millennium Park Garage, which costs $29 for 12 hours. If you’re traveling with multiple people, it’s cheaper to drive. You also won’t have to plan your day based on the train schedule.


Walk from Millennium Park over to the Chicago Architecture Foundation (224 S. Michigan Ave) and sign up for one of their many tours (your can also check the schedule and book online). I’m a big fan of the two hour HIstoric Treasures of Culture and Commerce walking tour ($20 per person), which provides information about some of the most beautiful exteriors and interiors in the Loop as well as the architects who designed them. This tour departs from the CAF Office. If you’d prefer a tour by boat, check out their famous Chicago River cruise (departs from the dock at the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue bridge – $39.74 per person).


Giordano's Pizza

Giordano’s Pizza

Once your tour is over, walk to Giordano’s Pizza (130 E Randolph Street) and order a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. My personal favorites are the spinach or sausage and onion. Mmmm!


Take a stroll through Millennium Park on your way to the Art Institute. Be sure to stop at the Cloud Gate (aka “the Bean”), consider having a cocktail at the Park Cafe (or go ice skating in the winter), and jump in the splash pad.

American Gothic

American Gothic at the Art Institute

Exploring the world’s masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago (111 South Michigan Avenue) is a fabulous way to spend the afternoon. Some of the most famous paintings on permanent display are Picasso’s Old Guitarist, Hopper’s Nighthawks, Wood’s American Gothic, Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, and Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. For those of you who aren’t art enthusiasts, you may recognize these works, as well as the museum, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Other Things to Do

If you’re not into architecture or art, consider shopping along north Michigan Avenue, walking over to the Field Museum of Natural History, exploring Grant Park, seeing a theatre production (reduced price tickets are often available the day of a show at Hot Tix) or going to Navy Pier.

Tubing the Tippecanoe

Photo Courtesy of RiversideCanoes.com

Photo Courtesy of RiversideCanoes.com

When I was a kid, I had dreams of floating down the Mighty Mississippi Huck Finn style on a makeshift raft. As I grew up, I realized this probably wouldn’t be possible due to the fact that I don’t know how to build a seaworthy raft and I’d likely be attacked by Asian Carp. However, in the small town of Winamac, Indiana, about 75 minutes southwest of South Bend, I was able to fulfill my dream of spending a day floating down a river, but in an inner tube with an ice cold beer and a conveniently located cup holder.

The Tippecanoe River is a 182-mile river that flows gently through northern Indiana. In Winamac, Riverside Rentals rents canoes, rafts, and most importantly, inner tubes to leisurely float down the beautiful Tippecanoe. Tube rentals cost $17.50 per adult, $12.50 per child; The cooler float, which was able to hold my full-sized Coleman cooler, was $15. On a hot summer day, few things beat spending 3-4 hours relaxing in a river with friends with a cooler full of beer, soda, and snacks.

Meghan, Jane and I decided to take a trip to Winamac in mid-August for a float trip. The tube trips through Riverside Rentals are 5 miles. While the website says the trip typically takes four to five hours, we found that our trip lasted closer to three and a half – the length depends on the water level and flow of the river. When you arrive at Riverside Rentals, you’ll check in and get on a small bus, which will take you and your tubes to the drop-off point five miles away. You’ll end the float trip at Riverside Rentals’ property, which is pretty obvious based on the signs and screaming teenagers who are paid to flag you down.

The Tippecanoe River was clean, relatively shallow, and flowed slowly. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who would like to spend the day relaxing surrounded by beautiful scenery. The trip would also be great for families – life jackets are provided. I recommend booking in advance – Riverside Rentals regularly has large groups and dates/times fill up, especially in August. You can book online on Riverside Rentals’ website.

Getting There:

Riverside Rentals is located about 75 minutes southwest of South Bend, IN. Take US-31 South to Rochester. In Rochester, get on IN-14 West. On the way down, you’ll pass Hilltop Restaurant in Lakeville, which is a great stopping place for breakfast – although factor in plenty of time, as service can be a bit slow. The Hilltop Restaurant is one of my favorite breakfast places in the area; The food is definitely worth the wait.


Riverside Rentals
589 E Old S.R. 14,
Winamac, IN 46996