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This is lake country, so on-the-water recreation options are abundant. Before diving in, step into American Table, voted the area’s “best breakfast” restaurant in 2018. Try their strawberry stuffed pecan almond pancakes. Burnoff calories on Winona Lake or Pike Lake with a kayak float or a stand-up paddleboard. The Lake House in Winona Lake rents kayaks and SUPs. Refuel at the Chicago Dog House, founded by a retired Windy City police officer with a fondness for the namesake hot dog.
Next stop? North Webster and an afternoon of muskie fishing with Webster Lake Guide Service guide Chae Dolson, who’s chased these monster fish for 25 years. Pilcher Shoes is another must stop in North Webster, especially for hard-to-fit shoe sizes. Visit other quaint shops before a patio dinner at Lakeview Restaurant & Pizza King. Then jump aboard the Dixie Sternwheeler, for an evening cruise. Top off the day with a dish of hand-dipped ice cream at Sheila’s Sweet Treats & Diner.
Free lunches may be gone, but plenty of free opportunities await the adventurous. After a Midwest-style breakfast at B-Mac’s on Buffalo, head to Gardens at Central Park with its half- acre garden, and beach where you can swim, picnic, or launch watercraft at the Center Lake access site. A few good Frisbee flings away is Lucerne Park’s disc golf course along Pike Lake. Zale Drugs Luncheonette offers daily lunch specials and thirst quenchers like old-fashioned soda and phosphates. There’s no limit at Winona Lake’s Limitless Park, a universally-accessible playground with beach, basketball court, tennis, and K21 Splashpad.
Rocket Fizz is a mid-afternoon magnet with bottled sodas, some with unique flavors like bacon and sweet corn. A taste of authentic Mexican cuisine sets Taqueira El Comal apart as a dinner destination. Premium hand-dipped ice cream is the standard at Kelainey’s Sweet Dreams in the Village at Winona Lake. Round out the day watching the Lake City Skiers free performance of their award-winning routines at Hidden Lake.
TAKE A HIKE OR BIKE
Wake up with the chickens over breakfast at Creighton’s Crazy Egg Café, an offshoot of Creighton Brothers egg business that began in 1925. Next, explore the area’s many scenic hiking or biking trails.
Chinworth Bridge Trail, a two-mile pavedroute, starts at an iron-truss bridge across the Tippecanoe River which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Winona Lake Mountain Bike Trails offers a 10-mile network of single-track zigs and zags, and the nearby Heritage Trail is an easy 1.8-mile trek that skirts Winona Lake. Get even closer to nature at Pisgah Marsh, with its boardwalk that accesses the area’s diverse habitat (grassland, marsh, lake and forest) which is a great birdwatching site.
Take a breather at the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum (Native American artifacts, mastodon tooth, and more) and then skip across the street to the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail or a swim at Syracuse Lake Park beach. Dine at Chubbie’s Pub & Grub or Peterson’s Fish, top it off with a hand-dipped gourmet treat at Joe’s Ice Cream Supreme, and finish with a relaxing cruise on Lake Wawasee aboard Oakwood Resort’s SS Lillypad.