Did you ever notice that most holiday made-for-TV movies are set in small-town America?
There’s a reason small-town living is exalted on film: It conveys charm, peace and a sense of community tradition that makes us feel good. And, each town has a unique identity that will never be confused with the ubiquitous strip malls of suburban living.
Marshall County, Ind., is a real-life stretch of scenic small towns strung together by winding roads just 90 miles west of Fort Wayne. As autumn winds down and holidays gear up, there are many reasons to make a weekend or daytrip to this idyllic region.
“The holidays are a special time of year, where friends and family gather to spend quality time together,” says Cori Humes, executive director of Visit Marshall County in Plymouth, Ind. “Marshall County is a special destination in the winter season. We’re known for our quaint hospitality and local boutiques unique to our Main Street communities.”
A cozy weekend respite in a small town may be just the thing to bring the meaning of the season back into focus.
All Marshall County communities host annual tree lighting events to celebrate the start of the season. Cookies, hot cocoa, prizes and music are part of the fun and the City of Plymouth hosts a Christmas light show synchronized to holiday music through the month of December.
Here are some other special events taking place in Marshall County through the end of the year.
“On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, small businesses across the country celebrate Small Business Saturday, Marshall County included,” says Humes. “Special shopping offers abound and it’s the perfect way to support locally owned businesses while getting your holiday shopping done.”
Wander the quaint Main Street shops at your leisure and find gifts that are unique rather than cookie-cutter.
“Downtown Plymouth starts the holiday season with its annual Scavenger Hunt Nov. 26 and 27,” says Humes. “Join the fun and enter for your chance to win up to $250 in Discover Plymouth Downtown Dollars.”
Taking place both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Scavenger Hunt offers family fun and an enjoyable way to check gifts off of your list.
“The Town of Culver annually hosts its Holiday Hop on the first Saturday of December, this year on Dec. 4,” says Humes. Shop and dine at Culver businesses for an opportunity to win holiday shopping prizes.
The town of Bremen will host its 41st Bremen Holy Walk this year on Dec. 3 and 4.
“This is an outdoor event in which travelers go ‘to Bethlehem’ and witness a live reenactment of events surrounding the birth of Jesus. It attracts 3,000 to 4,000 guests over two days,” she says.
The variety of specialty shopping in Marshall County is impressive, from antique shops to art galleries.
“And the range of dining options in Marshall County might surprise you,” says Humes. “Sure, there’s the roadside diner with great pancakes and conversation, but there are also five-star gourmet menus.”
Overnight accommodations range from bed & breakfasts to hotels and resorts, including Swan Lake Resort, home to both the United States Golf Academy and two Indiana National Golf Club courses. There are also log cabins and cottages.
While you’re driving through Marshall County, be sure to watch for colorful murals painted on barns, downtown businesses and in public spaces along the county’s Barn Quilt Trail. Find a self-guided trail map at visitmarshallcounty.org.
Indiana’s first Dark-Sky Preserve is located at Potawatomi Wildlife Park in Marshall County, a haven for naturalists and stargazers alike.
For those who enjoy history, many discoveries await in this county that was organized in 1836 and named for Chief Justice John Marshall.
“There are some fantastic museums, for one thing, like the Marshall County Historical Society Museum or the Culver Academies Museum,” says Humes
Who says daytrips and weekend stays are only for summertime?
Learn more about Marshall County and its special fall and winter events at visitmarshallcounty.org. ❚