Readers are invited to uncover Indiana’s best attractions, plus hidden gems, in a new guide, “100 Things to Do In Indiana Before You Die,” by Hoosier author Jamie Ward.

The book guides readers to the best spots in the state, with itineraries, tips and ideas for the whole family.

While the title references “100 Things to Do in Indiana,” there are more than 300 ideas and mentions in the book.

More than 60 Indiana counties are represented, including those in northeast Indiana.

The book suggests activities by season, as well as suggested itineraries: date night; younger children; teens; girls’ getaways; unique and unusual; outdoor exploring; free things to do; rest and relax; take a challenge; and iconic Indiana.

In a section devoted to food and drink, Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery in Shipshewana is touted as being a “Sugar Cream Pie Paradise,” and a popular restaurant and bakery where sugar cream pies are baked daily.

A one-page entry is devoted to Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, praising its home-cooked dishes, pies, doughnuts and other baked goods.

“If it’s available, request to sit in an Amish buggy booth. It’s an authentic buggy that seats up to four and offers diners a unique experience and bragging rights,” Ward writes.

The entry notes an entire village of activities, including carriage rides, mini-golf, shops, bike rental, quilts and more, is located adjacent to the restaurant.

DeBrand Fine Chocolates of Fort Wayne is included as part of the Indiana Candy Trail.

The book also gives a nod to local coffee shops, including The Grind Coffee House in Garrett.

“Pick and Grin inside the country’s largest music store,” the book states in an entry devoted to Sweetwater in Fort Wayne.

Ward notes Sweetwater is much more than the United States’ largest retail music store; it’s an entire campus of amenities, including demo studios, a performance stage, recording studios and other family-friendly activities.

Pokagon State Park and its toboggan run are among the recommended visits in the sports and recreation section.

“A 90-foot vertical drop and 20-30-second rides offer an adrenaline rush and have adults and kids alike eagerly wanting to ride again,” Ward states.

As a tip, she tells readers that cross-country ski rentals also are available at Pokagon.

The Potawatomi Inn Beach at Pokagon also is listed as one of the state’s best swimming spots.

Also featured in the sports and recreation section is Parkview Field in Fort Wayne. The entry states that tickets to a TinCaps baseball game are relatively affordable and that post-game fireworks wrap up every home game.

“It’s a great outing for families and one of the cleanest ballparks I’ve been to,” Ward writes.

Cook’s Bison Ranch in Wolcottville and Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve in Fremont are featured as Indiana bison-viewing locations. Cook’s is an 83-acre bison farm with tours, wagon rides and a gift shop. Wild Winds is home to 250 wild bison and offers tours, lodging and a gift shop, the book notes.

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo enjoys a prominent listing. Ward notes the zoo not only has been voted one of Indiana’s best zoos, but also has been ranked as one of the top zoos in the nation.

“My favorite things to do here are feeding the giraffes, watching the sea lions and visiting the orangutans,” Ward says.

Ward encourages readers to take a ride on a historic carousel, and includes the 1906 Dentzel Carousel at Davis Mercantile in Shipshewana as one of several that on display around the state. Readers also are encouraged to “dillydally” around Davis Mercantile, “a must for anyone visiting Shipshewana.”

Described as the most unique shop in town, the business has four floors and over 20 shops in one building, according to Ward.

She notes the carousel is located on the top floor and each of the carousel’s animals was hand carved to represent animals you’d see around Shipshewana.

The book also pays tribute to Indiana author Gene Stratton-Porter, noting that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has said that Stratton-Porter’s work, “A Girl of the Limberlost,” was one of her favorite books as a child, and in 2020, tweeted that she wanted to visit Limberlost.

In 1913, Stratton-Porter moved to the Cabin at Wildflower Woods, now an Indiana State Historic site in Rome City, where the public can visit.

Indiana’s automobile museums are among the attractions included in the book’s section on culture and history. Auburn is home to three of the museums listed — the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, the Early Ford V-8 Foundation Museum, and the National Auto and Truck Museum.

“Growing up, I believed you had to travel outside the state to go on vacation or have an adventure. Like a lot of kids, I thought fun was only found in the states with oceans, Disney World, or move stars,” Ward writes.

“Little did I realize that Indiana was filled with its own wonders, amusements, stars. Hidden gems, and exciting activities.”

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