I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO STAY in a lakeside resort or cabin. And you’d think, as a life-long Minnesotan, that would be part of my vacation history. Yet, the opportunity to stay lakeside never presented itself. Until May 2016.
And it happened not in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but rather in the extreme northeastern corner of Indiana. Because my husband made a wrong turn, we ended up at the Potawatomi Inn Resort & Conference Center while en route from Minnesota to Massachusetts for our son’s college graduation.
Prior to departure, we’d plotted the location of our first day stopping point—some 600 miles away in Angola, Indiana. I’d researched lodging options, including a weekday pre-season special of $59 a night at the Potawatomi Inn. I mentioned the deal to Randy, who muttered something like “What are you going to get for $60?” So I scrapped the idea and resigned myself to staying at a non-descript chain hotel along Interstate 80/90.
Then came that wrong turn and we ended up directly in front of the entrance to Pokagon State Park, wherein the Inn is located. “It won’t hurt to look since we’re right here,” I suggested. “We can always leave if we don’t like it.” Randy agreed and steered the van along the tree-lined road into the park. After explaining our mission to the park ranger, we continued toward the Inn, our expectations low.
We couldn’t have been more surprised. Rounding a turn, before us sprawled a complex of buildings perched atop a hill and edged by manicured plantings of trees, flowers and shrubs. It was beautiful to behold.
And below, across a wide expanse of lawn, lay Lake James. The setting appeared like paradise to two weary travelers.
Still, I wasn’t convinced. How could a place this lovely, at least from the exterior, cost only $59/night? Time to check out the interior. The front desk clerk, whose name eludes me, but whose husband is a native of Delano, Minnesota, greeted us with Hoosier hospitality and suggested that, since we were from Minnesota, we should have a lake view room. Perfect. It was a nice gesture. But the room was much too cramped, the promised lake view from a small, high window. We returned to the front desk, landing in a much more spacious room with windows overlooking woods. Perfect.
After being on the road for 10 hours, the Potawatomi Inn was precisely where we needed to stay. Away from the Interstate in a peaceful natural setting.
We walked to the lake and then followed a trail to the park’s historic toboggan run.
We explored the buildings, dined in an historic dining hall. And then, when evening faded to dark, we joined a young couple around a campfire. From Elkhart, an hour to the west, they, too, were Hoosier friendly. As we talked, we learned what brought them to the Potawatomi Inn. Cancer. Tyler was taking a break from chemotherapy, his treatment set to resume four days later. He and Kelsey—ironically once an oncology nurse now working in labor and delivery—inspired us with their upbeat attitudes, their thankfulness for the good prognosis, a 95 percent cure rate for Tyler’s cancer.
Now, as I reflect on the wrong turn that led us to the Potawatomi Inn, I am especially grateful. We spent our first night on the road in a tranquil setting. We met some truly wonderful Hoosiers. And I fulfilled my wish to stay at a lakeside resort.
But what really clinched my appreciation for this resort was my husband’s response to a question asked by a friend about a favorite part of our Minnesota to Massachusetts trip. “The Potawatomi Inn,” Randy answered. I agree.
FYI: The low rate we got in May 2016 was a pre-season weekday special. Don’t expect a deal this good during the busy summer months. And since this rate is from two years ago, expect that rates have likely increased. I’d highly recommend staying here. It was a great option to a chain hotel and in the most peaceful of settings.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
What a nice wrong turn that turned out to be. A lot of the state parks have cabins and lodges that are fairly inexpensive as well so that is another option you can check out when you are feeling adventurous sometime. Or you can come visit us where you can have both the woods and the lake to enjoy complete with our undivided attention to your needs. 🙂
Now that sounds like an enticing offer. Thank you, my friend.
So glad you enjoyed your stopover! I used to go to the park every summer as a kid. What a fun time reading your article and bringing back memories!!
Of course, I should have thought that you might know this park. Did you ever go there in the winter and use the toboggan run?
Yes! When I was much younger than I am now. The park is beautiful in the winter too. So much fun!
What a thrill that run must have been, based on what I saw.
That, my friend was no wrong turn…. it was exactly what you needed, what a treasure you and Randy found. The Inn looks splendid, a quiet setting, nestled in the woods and on a lake. Sounds perfect to me. By the way, I really want those pinecone plates, I will be on a search to find them.
You’re right. We ended up exactly where we needed to be after that long day of travel.
I love those plates, too. They would be perfect for your cabin.
I did a quick “Google search” this morning but did not see this pattern. I will continue to look, I really like it!
Keep me posted.
The first night of our road trip out east we stopped in Elkhart, IN and stayed overnight with my friend who lives there. I’ll have to mention this place to her. Sounded like a great place for you and Randy to have ended up that night.
It was the perfect place for us to stay after a long day of travel.
Wrong turns often turn out to be the hidden jewels of life. Besides, they make for great storytelling! Nice review and lovely photographs that capture the essence of this spot!
Thank you, Lori. I agree about wrong turns often leading to interesting discoveries.