The county seat of Elkhart County is a lovable city with a neatly preserved downtown area and sprawling green space along the Elkhart River.
As with much of the county, the main industry in Goshen is vehicle and RV manufacturing, and companies like Keystone, Forest River and Dutchmen have facilities here.
There’s also a sizable Amish community around Goshen, with horses and buggies a common sight on rural roads outside the city.
Set aside as much time as possible to get to know downtown Goshen, with its preserved 19th-century storefronts, ethical independent shops and cozy, family-run restaurants.
1. Downtown Goshen
Bursting with shops, restaurants and culture, Downtown Goshen has also held onto much of its history.
This area is on the National Register of Historic Places, and over the last 20 years has enacted a facade grant program, resulting in hundreds of restoration projects.
More than an outdoor museum, downtown Goshen is full of life, with as many as 30 festival days each year, and an action-packed First Friday event, running since 2007.
The variety of independent businesses is staggering, and runs the gamut from a sustainable family brewpub to a fairtrade international arts and crafts dealer, antique mall and specialty stores for popcorn and pretzels.
Whether you want dine-in, delivery or carry out, the food and drink choice includes Neoplitan pizza, artisan cocktails, craft beer, a classic diner, Indian cuisine, hand-dipped chocolates and house-roasted coffee.
2. Fidler Pond Park
Five minutes from downtown Goshen, just across the tracks from the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds is a 100-acre park dominated by a scenic pond.
Mid-April through mid-October, Fidler Pond Park is a hub for outdoor recreation and a picture perfect place to watch the sunrise and sunset.
You can visit the red barn here to rent a canoe, kayak or pedal boat for an hourly rate. Also available are fishing poles, for catch-and-release fishing on the bank.
Fiddler Pond’s grassy banks are encircled by a crushed limestone trail, delivering you to picnic areas and shelters and past lots of water birds.
3. Elkhart County 4-H Fair
The Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in the southeast of Goshen are the venue for one of the largest county fairs in the country.
Taking place in the last week of July, this event has been going since 1851 and brings free grandstand concerts, carnival rides and games, a wealth of shopping vendors, educational exhibits and hundreds of food and beverage options.
Part of the reason for the fair’s success is the large number of young people in Elkhart county involved in 4-H, contributing some 8,000 projects for the fair each year.
Some of the grandstand events on the schedule include a rodeo, tractor pulling, harness racing, a demolition derby and the Queen Contest.
4. Amish Country
Elkhart County has one of the largest Amish communities in the United States. So when you visit the area, you have to explore the backcountry roads where traditional Amish businesses can be found.
These tend to be marked by simple shingle signs, and are obviously not advertised on the internet, although maps are available online.
Typical products include hand-woven rugs, high-quality wooden furniture, leather goods and farm-to-table foods.
For a truly memorable experience you can visit an Amish restaurant for a family-style meal and the chance to chat with members of the community to learn about their unique way of life.
A must is the Shipshewana Flea Market, the largest market of its kind in the Midwest, while if you come on the first weekend in August, check out the Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival in Nappanee.
5. South Side Soda Shop
Not to be missed in Goshen is a diner dubbed by the Food Network as the “Best in Indiana”. The South Side Soda Shop featured on the first season of Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, and has appeared in numerous publications, including Gourmet Magazine.
The main building, a former grocery store, dates back to the early 1900s. A Bastian Blessing soda fountain was installed in the 1940s, and this is still in working order.
The current owners, the Boyd family, took over in 1986 and later added an extension in the form of a 50s-style diner car.
Be sure to order an old-fashioned soda from the fountain, while a few other picks from the menu are the award-winning chili, the sensational pies (especially lemon meringue) and the Philly cheese steak.
6. Pumpkinvine Nature Trail
Setting off from Goshen you can travel all the way to Shipshewana without using a car, with the help of a trail network 25 miles long.
This can be done on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, which is on the corridor of a railroad that operated for almost a century before closing down in 1980.
The rail trail runs for sixteen miles, over a mix of asphalt and packed limestone, winding through farmland, quaint agricultural communities and little towns.
You can use the trail to visit the famous flea market in Shipshewana, and if you need a set of wheels there are bike rentals available in Goshen (Lincoln Avenue Cycling & Fitness), Middlebury (Pumpkinvine Cyclery) and Shipshewana (Shipshewana Bike Rental).
7. Goshen Historical Museum
A worthwhile stop downtown is the excellent museum run by the Goshen Historical Society. The setting is a piece of history of its own, at the old Adams Store in the Harper Block, dating to 1888.
You’ll come away a lot more informed about Goshen’s origins and progress, thanks to clearly presented exhibits.
These deal with Goshen’s origins, its 19th-century industry, Elkhart County Courthouse, the county fair and some interesting figures connected to the city.
In one authentic exhibit you can check out a genuine dry goods store from the 19th century, complete with the original cabinetry and safe.
8. The Old Bag Factory
Next to the Elkhart River an enormous factory building from 1896 has become an exciting shopping complex.
Hooked up to Goshen’s electric railway, this monument was initially the Cosmo Buttermilk Soap Company, before being converted into the specialty products division for the Chase Bag Company.
After the factory closed in the 1980s, artists and artisans moved in and set up studios and showrooms here.
Now, in a one-of-a-kind setting you can browse stores for pottery, furniture, jewelry and musical instruments, as well as a couple of bakeries and an escape room attraction.
9. Abshire Park
The second-largest park in Goshen was donated to the city in 1986 and is bordered by the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail to the west. Abshire Park is mainly for passive recreation, standing out for its natural abundance.
At the north end is a managed natural area comprising wetlands, woodlands and prairie restoration, while the southwest side of the park is on the banks of Rock Run Creek.
One excellent new addition is a four-mile sensory trail unveiled in 2021. Designed to engage people’s senses of hearing, touch, sight and even taste, the trail is four miles long with more than 900 features to encounter.
10. Ox Bow Park
This cherished park on the banks of the Elkhart River is within ten minutes of downtown Goshen.
Ox Bow Park is both a beautiful slice of countryside and a year-round hive of activity, packed with all kinds of amenities.
A landmark here is the observation tower perched above the valley and standing 34 feet tall. This opened in 2014 and replaced an earlier structure from the 1970s that burned down.
To hint at some of the many things to do at the park, there’s an 18-hole disc golf course, an archery range, fishing on the Elkhart River, woodland and wetland trails, numerous shelters and a variety of athletic fields.
In winter Ox Bow Park has two of the best sledding hills in the area, as well as groomed trails for cross-country skiing.
Officially one of the top 50 restaurants in Indiana, Venturi makes certified wood-fired Neapolitan pizza.
This means they follow a strict recipe with no more than four ingredients in the dough, and a topping of crushed San Marzano tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil.
This is the style that was first imported to New York by Italian immigrants in the early 20th century.
The classics are Margherita and Marinara, and Venturi offers a range of other options including Pepperoni, Roasted Pepper, Amatriciana, Spicy Sopressa, Bianca and Truffle.
Venturi was recently named among the 15 top pizzerias in the nation (Most Life-Changing Pizza), as voted by Esquire readers.
12. Millrace Canal Trail
An interesting feature of the Goshen townscape is the Millrace Canal, built for an old hydroelectric plant, and weaving through the west side of the city.
This lay derelict for several decades until the mid-1990s when a crushed limestone path was laid out by the water. You can pick this up at Washington Street downtown, and the trail continues for two peaceful miles south to Goshen Pond.
Frequented by cyclists, joggers and people out for a quiet walk, the Millrace Canal Trail feels remote, with a series of parks creating a green buffer down the west side and quiet residential neighborhoods on the east bank, opposite the trail.
At the north end you’ll find the Goshen Farmers’ Market and the acclaimed Goshen Brewing Company.
13. First Fridays
Something that has helped kindle a sense of togetherness in Goshen is a block party that has taken place every first Friday evening since 2007 whatever the weather.
This is a chance to experience Goshen’s arts scene, take in some live music, discover new shops downtown and get to know the many places to eat and drink, all against a historic backdrop.
All of the participating stores extend their hours to 9pm and there’s a different theme and a raft of new specials each month.
14. Goshen Farmers’ Market
The historic Mill Race Center, right on the trail of the same name, is a fitting venue for a year-round farmers’ market. This is in business on Saturdays from 8am to 1pm all year, as well as on Tuesdays, 3pm to 7pm May through October.
The market is a great community event, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together, and nothing you buy here has traveled more than 150 miles.
The widespread use of greenhouses in the area extends the fruit and vegetable season around Goshen, so you can pick up some fantastic produce at unusual times of the year.
This is all accompanied by high-quality local meats, cheeses, baked goods and a whole trove of artisan and Amish items.
15. Mega Blast Laser Tag Arcade (Black Ops)
When we wrote this article, this attraction in Goshen was expanding and had just changed its name.
A classic laser tag arena at a shopping center in the north of Goshen, Mega Blast has also just added Airsoft facilities and has taken over the unit next door.
There’s now an Airsoft field and an Airsoft target practice area, as well as an arcade. This is a great pick for a birthday party, especially if you’re searching for something for rowdy teens.
Mega Blast offers three levels of party packages, ranging from 1 to 3 hours, and catering for up to 30 players.