Less than 45 minutes from Fort Wayne, a resident can find a private campground where she doesnt need a license to fish, a collection of outhouses and a wildlife museum all from a single hunters collection.
Theres also the sandwich that is regularly voted the best breaded pork tenderloin in Indiana and a drive-in movie theater where a small popcorn is $1.50 and $7 will get you two movies.
Its all in Huntington, just a quick jaunt west along U.S. 24.
Whether you have a half a day or an entire weekend, Huntington has plenty to offer to keep you, your friends, your kids and your grandma entertained.
Sophia Young, 13, has lost her flip-flop. She is marching around barefoot because the lake has claimed yet another sandal victim. The office at the lake, which doubles as a convenience store for campers, is locked, but Sophias father, Kent Young, has alerted the owners.
The Youngs, of Roanoke, have visited Camp Timber Lake (1740 E. 675 N.) for several years, and if you didnt know better, youd think they were the owners: The bungalows along the water are new, they say. The camp offers swimming, fishing, paddle boats and row boats. There are three lakes, including one for swimming and one for fishing, and because the camp is privately owned, fishers dont need a license, they say.
Its a perfect getaway. We live eight miles away, and we get there, and (its like) weve gone away (on vacation), Young says. This is one of those places that you want everybody to know about it.
And, at the same time, you dont, he says, as its a special treat to enjoy the freedom of visiting a camp that isnt swarmed with people.
The actual owners are Jonathan and Olivia Kline, who have built the camp from virtually nothing. They put in the lakes, and just this year, they put up the cabins facing the swimming lake.
The Youngs are renting a cabin for the day, and they eagerly show a visitor. The bungalow has one full-size bed and a set of bunk beds, a microwave and a mini-fridge. The cabins are tiny and air conditioned, meant to be big enough simply for sleeping.
Theyre also available for overnight guests, as is a site for tent and RV camping.
For outhouse fans
The Huntington County Historical Museum, 315 Court St., is the home of the Huntington County Historical Society. Director Sarah Schmidt provides a tour of the museum and points out that of the 20 or so visitors the museum gets per week, the most commonly requested exhibit is the railroad display.
Anyone you ask knew somebody who worked for the railroad in Huntington, Schmidt says.
However, no trip to the museum is complete without a stop outside to see the outhouses.
Yes, the outhouses.
Huntington County native Hy Goldenberg, who died in 2000, started to collect the outhouses when he purchased one for builders who were working for him. It cost him $2, Schmidt says, reading from a large white binder of clippings about Goldenberg and his unusual collection. The clippings start about 1994 and come from a wide range of publications: newspapers from San Diego, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Playboy magazine.
The museum has five outhouses from Goldenbergs collection, including a newly remodeled round outhouse, a concrete outhouse and a turquoise one with a crooked little chimney.
Nicks Kitchen, 506 N. Jefferson St., regularly gets shout-outs for having what many consider to be the best – and, according to Nicks, the original – breaded pork tenderloin sandwich in Indiana.
In January, the Indiana Office of Tourism named it one of the 46 best sandwiches in the state. In May, the tourism office included it on a food trail, meant to attract visitors to Indiana. In 2003, it was name-dropped in Gourmet magazine.
If breaded pork tenderloins arent your thing (is there such a thing as a Hoosier who doesnt like them?), other Huntington eateries worth hitting up, according to Schmidt, are the Rusty Dog Irish Pub (32 N. Jefferson St.) – which has great bar food and a family atmosphere – and Pizza Junction (201 Court St.), in a former railroad depot.
Walk on wild side
Where can you see a polar bear, a dik-dik and what calls itself the worlds largest seashell collection in the world? Sheets Wildlife Museum, 200 Safari Trail.
Opened in July 2005, the museum is Sumner Sheets personal collection of animals he has hunted around the world, coming from six continents.
The space is not enormous, but the sheer number of animals in the museum is impressive. Manager Shirley Schug says the large moose with the enormous antlers is her favorite in the collection, but most people point to the polar bear that greets each visitor at the entrance; hes on his hind legs, arms outstretched as if to just give you a big bear hug. The bear is 3 inches shorter than the tallest hunted polar bear on record, Schug says.
Also impressive? The web-footed swamp deer. OK, yes, it does appear to be just a deer, but this trophy is one of only four such deer to be taken in the United States, Schug says. The first U.S. hunter to catch one? Teddy Roosevelt.
The museum is also home to Sheets mothers collection of sea shells, including three large pieces of seashell art she created in a sort of a mosaic style.
Step back in time
Going to the movies is expensive. Ask even an avid movie-goer, and once tickets, soda, extra-large popcorn and Sour Patch Kids are added up, you might as well just wait for the DVD.
Pulling up to the Huntington Drive-in, 1291 Condit St., is taking a step back in time both in venue and in price. Its one of the few drive-ins still in operation in the area.
You get to enjoy two movies for $7 a person, and you get to enjoy a small popcorn for $1.50, or drinks starting at $1.25. Burgers are $2, hot dogs are $1.50, and jalapeño and cream cheese stuffed pretzels are $3.50.