INDIANAPOLIS — After counting nearly 30,000 votes, Visit Indiana announced earlier this month the winners of The 20IN20 Best of Indiana people’s choice campaign.
Winners in the contest’s three categories are:
• Donut Shops: Rise’n Roll Bakery & Deli
• Lakes: Lake Wawasee
• Unique Sleeps: French Lick Resort
“It may be hard to narrow your choice in these categories, but what’s great about the Best of Indiana is you get to learn about other voters’ favorite locations and ones you might want to visit as well,” Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said.
Taking the top spot in the donut shop category, with a record number of votes (3,935), is the Amish-run bakery Rise’n Roll Bakery & Deli. Rise’n Roll’s history began in 2001 in Shipshewana. A young Amish couple started baking recipes handed down in the woman’s family for generations. They sold baked goods from their front porch. They now have several locations, including Warsaw, Elkhart and two in Fort Wayne, and are known for their cinnamon caramel donut.
H&R Bakery came in second for the best donuts. Earlier this year, the bakery remodeled and added a coffee shop. It sits on the square in Salem. The owners say that donuts continue to be its signature product.
Rounding out the top three is Fingerhut Bakery in North Judson. Brothers Doug and Greg Fingerhut are seventh-generation bakers with their family tradition dating back to the 1700s in Bohemia. The brothers still whip up sweet treats in the form of donuts, cookies and specialty cakes. They are known for their version of the Pączki, a filled donut that originated in Poland.
Voters named Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County as the best lake in Indiana. It is the largest natural lake within Indiana’s borders. You can experience Lake Wawasee on the SS Lillypad, a 110-passenger dinner boat, or rent a boat for the day.
Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline is No. 2 on the best lake list. The beaches, trails and sand dunes of this area are part of the Indiana Dunes National Park and Indiana Dunes State Park.
You’ll find marinas to launch your boat in Michigan City and Hammond. Don’t have a boat? There are charter boats available to take your group on fishing and boating excursions.
Indiana’s second-largest natural lake gets the third spot on the lake list. Located in the charming small town of Culver, Lake Maxinkuckee, known as “Lake Max,” delights visitors with every kind of water activity.
Clinching the top spot in the unique sleeps category is French Lick Resort. The two historic hotels, French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs, have been beautifully and carefully restored to their original grandeur. Once referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” West Baden Springs Hotel is known for its breathtaking six-story, free-span dome. French Lick Resort is full of fun with a casino, world-class golf courses, spas, and indoor/outdoor pools.
How about sleeping inside an old jail cell? No. 2 on the list is the Old Jail Inn in Rockville. The inn currently offers five cell-block rooms in the building that housed the Parke County Sheriff’s office and jail from 1879 to 1998. Choose from the Dillinger, Al Capone, Thelma & Louise, Elvis, and Jesse James cells. If a jail cell isn’t your thing, try one of the inn’s suites with more privacy and comforts of home, but they’ve still got barred doors.
No. 3 on the unique sleeps list offers a rustic camping experience in tipis. Sleeping Bear Retreat in Orange County is located among 50 wooded acres in Orange County. Tipis come with four cots. There is access to picnic tables, a shelter house, charcoal grill and firewood.
“It’s wonderful to see that voters are taking notice of places that are unique to Indiana,” said Misty Weisensteiner, director of Visit Indiana. “If you haven’t visited any of these local spots that made the list, I encourage everyone to explore a new one.”
Last year, Visit Indiana asked Hoosiers to select Indiana’s Best breweries, hiking trails and Main Streets.
• Best Brewery: Bad Dad Brewing Co.
• Best Hiking Trail: The Ladders Trail (Trail 3) at Turkey Run State Park
• Best Main Street: Franklin in Johnson County
More past contest winners may be found at visitindiana.com.