10 Things to eat, see, and do in Auburn and DeKalb County

Growing up in Auburn and getting to know my community has been the journey of a lifetime. My grandmother owned the Kiddie Shop in downtown Auburn. I spent a lot of time at the shop and learned the basics of business and how to love this community.  Natalie DeWitt

I joined the Auburn Taylor Rental team 15 years ago, married my high school sweetheart five years ago, and began volunteering across the county. Connecting people who can help us all grow is a passion of mine. Now, raising my own children, some days they come to work with me and get to have the same experience my grandmother gave to me.  

Specialty local grocery items, craft wineries and breweries, spirited small-town events, and colorful murals are just a few of my favorite aspects of this community.

I’m thrilled to take you on a tour of my favorite things to eat, see, and do in DeKalb County. 

  1. Start your day with a wholesome breakfast at Kathy’s Kountry Kitchen in Waterloo. 

Go with an appetite, and enjoy Kathy’s Kitchen in Waterloo at the truck stop on U.S. 6. The menu is long, the pancakes are fluffy and stacked high, and coffee is flowing. You might see Kathy’s serving her regulars with a smile, cooking in the kitchen, or giving out hugs. Her home cookin’ will soothe your soul, and you will never leave hungry.  

Kathy’s Kountry Kitchen at 2819 U.S. 6, Waterloo.
  1. Roll into Shorty’s Steakhouse in Garrett for certified Angus, brussel sprouts, and peanut butter pie.

Just west of the railroad underpass in Garrett you will find Shorty’s Steakhouse is one of the best-kept secrets in DeKalb County. Most recently, Shorty’s opened an outdoor patio that is perfect for a summer evening date night. Shorty’s is known for their certified Angus steaks with all the fixin’s to load it up. With so many side options to choose from, a must is the fried brussel sprouts with sweet and sour bourbon sauce. When you think you're finished with your meal, you might need to be rolled out of the restaurant. But remember, you must say “yes” when the server suggests a slice of peanut butter pie.  

Shorty’s Steakhouse 127 North Randolph Street, Garrett.
  1. Create the perfect charcuterie board at Albright’s Grocery Store in Corunna. 

Family-owned and operated, Albright’s Grocery Store has been a staple for DeKalb County patrons since 1954. Known for their quality meat, wide variety of wine and cheeses, fresh-baked goods, homemade deli delights, and did I mention the cheese selection? 

I can go in for eggs and leave with 10 different kinds of cheese for the next 5 charcuterie plates that I didn’t plan on making. After spending 15 minutes in the cheese aisle, grab some of their famous Albright’s vegetable dip. If you go on a Saturday or Sunday, be prepared to wait in the meat aisle and get to know your neighbor. I’ve seen the line curve out the front door in hopes of getting the best meat for the fourth of July weekend, but it’s always worth the wait. 

Once you have fully stocked your freezer, head into the deli, and grab all of the fresh-baked breads, cookies, and pies. And if you go shopping hungry, grab some of Derek’s smoked chicken to eat on the way home.

Albright’s Grocery Store 110 North Bridge Street, Corunna.

  1. Make a day of it at eight (yes, eight) DeKalb County museums.

When coming to DeKalb County, visitors tend to think of cars, but we have so much more to offer for tourism. Visit DeKalb County has made it easy for you to grab a museum passport, and tour eight museums across the county: Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, Garrett Historical Train Museum, National Auto & Truck Museum, DeKalb County Horsemen’s Association and Draft Animal Museum, Willennar Genealogy Center, Early Ford V-8 Foundation Museum, Garrett Museum of Art, and the brand new International Monster Truck Museum & Hall of Fame. Make it a day or two, and tour them all!  

Early Ford V-8 Foundation Museum 2181 Rotunda Dr., Auburn.
  1. Explore the ever-growing Auburn Art Scene. 

Art is no stranger to Auburn, but it has gained momentum in the last 10 years. Most recently, Auburn Main Street has implemented several new murals downtown. “Love has no barriers” on Fifth Street, between Jackson and Main Streets, popped up in October 2020. This powerful piece shows the holding of hands with a beautiful blend of colors and patterns done by Amy Buchs and Dave Schlemmer. While you're exploring, look up, and see the local artist banners at the Sixth and Main Street Corridor. Swing over to the Auburn Atrium MarketPlace, and head upstairs to see local artists. Since you’re downtown, walk to Eckhart Public Library, and see the historic fountain. Standing for 109 years, this fountain is a true treasure to Auburn. Don’t forget to say hello to “The Librarian” stainless steel sculpture right by the front door of the library. 

Lifelong DeKalb County resident Natalie DeWitt in downtown Auburn.
  1. Relish a pickle-lovers dream at Sechler’s Pickle Factory in St. Joe. 

Happy 100th birthday to Sechler’s Pickle Factory! With more than 54 different pickles, relishes, and salsas, there is something for everyone’s palette. Some must-trys are: candied mixed pickles, the classic genuine dill, hot cauliflower, and those sweet sliced green tomatoes. So plan a day trip, take a tour of the factory, and stock up on all these amazing goodies for your next bloody mary bar, relish tray, or hostess gift. Oh, and don’t forget to sing Happy Birthday! 

Sechler’s Pickle’s 5686 Indiana 1, St. Joe.

  1. Drink in the local wineries and breweries across DeKalb County.

Take a Sunday tour of some fantastic wineries and breweries across DeKalb County. Start at Byler Lane Winery, and relax outside with a glass of Kerry’s Red. While you’re at it, read his story on the bottle, and be sure to tell Rachel and Eldon I say “hello!” Next, head north to Mad Anthony’s Taproom, and try their new Cara Cara Orange Tart and some of their famous spinach and artichoke dip. 

Take a walk north (check out the murals along your way) to Auburn Brewing Company. Grab a flight, and be sure Clutch is on your list to try. Fun fact: The bartender lives in a tiny house above the garage door. When you finish your flight, head north to Hartland Winery, and do a tasting. Be sure to ask about getting tickets to dinner with the winemaker. You won’t regret it!  Then, head Southwest toward Country Heritage Winery. You must try their bacon pickle pizza along with your tasting. You might even catch the famous Hubie Ashcraft Band while you're there.  

Byler Lane Winery 5858 County Road 35, Auburn.
  1. Make some memories at the Auburn Garrett Drive-In Theatre.

Since opening in 1951, the Auburn Garrett Drive-In Theatre has been hosting hundreds of thousands of memorable first dates. They show a double-feature and occasionally a triple-feature from April through October. My favorite memories from childhood are packing up our family van with snacks, a football, friends, and making the perfect summer night at the drive-in. Make it a family night or a date night this weekend, and enjoy the experience of stepping back in time. 

Auburn Garrett Drive-In Theatre 1014 Indiana 8, Garrett.
  1. Celebrate shopping local at Auburn Main Street’s First Fridays.

Join Auburn Main Street on the First Fridays of each month for a late-night event offering shopping, family-friendly activities, live entertainment, wagon rides, homegrown culinary delights, locally crafted beverages, art, and so much more! First Fridays are a great chance to see many of Auburn’s local offerings all in one place. This year during the pandemic, local businesses need our support more than ever. You can keep supporting local by ordering online, utilizing curbside pickup service, buying gift cards, shopping by phone, leaving a positive review, following businesses on social media, or using delivery options. Be sure to take selfies at any of the downtown murals, and tag #WeLoveAuburn while you’re out and about!

First Fridays in downtown Auburn.
  1. Stock up on Spencerville Eastern Star donuts at the DeKalb County Free Fall Fair! 

The DeKalb County Free Fall Fair began more than 90 years ago. The six-day celebration on the last week of September surrounds the courthouse square with a giant merchant’s tent connecting visitors to the 4-H fairgrounds. Hit up Junk Food Alley where locals rave over Tom's Tasty Taters, and get in line extra early for the once-a-year Spencerville Eastern Star donuts.  You can smell them a mile away! Some locals buy the two dozen limit and freeze them for enjoyment all year round. Enjoy live music, parades, more than 200 vendors, carnival games, rides, petting zoo, 4-H competitions, and so much more.  

The famous Spencerville Eastern Star famous fair donuts.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.