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Indiana is much more than just rows of corn! Here are some of the best places to visit in Indiana, whether you’re just traveling through or making a vacation out of this family-friendly Midwestern destination.
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Indianapolis is the most well-known city in Indiana and a logical starting point for many visitors to the state. Top things to see and do here include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the famous Indy 500 and Brickyard races, the Lucas Oil Stadium where the Indianapolis Colts NFL team plays, and Conseco Fieldhouse where the Indianapolis Pacers NBA team plays. So during the right seasons, Indianapolis is a must-visit destination for sports fans. If you’re traveling with kids, you simply must spend a day at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. By far, this is one of the best children’s museums in the U.S., and fun for adults too. There’s an IMAX theater and tons of exhibits to make learning fun and exciting for everyone.
Thistlewaite Falls, pictured here, is a wonderful reason to visit the Richmond area of Indiana. This small city once battled for the status of the county seat, but secured that role when it got its own railroad station and drew in more residents. Richmond is an all-American city that is a great place to shop for antiques. Don’t miss the Old Book Shop, High Hats Antique Mall, and Larry’s Antiques. It also has a place in history for recorded jazz music. The Starr Piano company was based here, as well as the Gennett Recording Studio.
This Brown County farmhouse is located just outside of Nashville and gives a glimpse into life in Indiana during a simpler time of the past. Another great reason to visit Nashville, Indiana is Brown County State Park, which is nearby and offers lots of outdoor recreation opportunities. This is the largest state park in Indiana and a great place for hiking. A popular weekend destination in Indiana, outdoor activities that are popular here include horseback riding, mountain biking, and zip-lining. Come in the fall to see the colorful leaves, and spend time checking out the area’s covered bridges. Nashville is an artist colony as well and a great place to browse for locally made art, crafts, and souvenirs.
Head to Clifty Falls State Park near Madison to hike through an abandoned railroad tunnel (pictured here) that was never completed. Keep in mind that the tunnel is typically closed between November and April to protect the hibernating bat population that lives inside. The best time to hike around Clifty Falls is right after a good rainfall because the falls are glistening with droplets when the sun comes back out. Then check out downtown Madison, which has many antique stores, ice cream shops, theaters, and specialty food restaurants. You can tour the Lanier State Historic Site in Historic Madison, which is the former mansion of a frontier banker. Other visitors simply enjoy going on a scenic drive along the Ohio River. The hydroplane boat race takes place in July, and the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art is in late September.
Small Midwestern towns are often known for having the largest of something completely random that you’d never think about. Well, Kokomo, Indiana is “famous” for having the largest sycamore stump in the world. This is also a nice place to shop and go out to eat while traveling through Indiana. Something unique to do in Kokomo is tour Kokomo Opalescent Glass, which is America’s oldest glass company that dates back to its 1888 factory. You can watch glass blowing demonstrations and glass bead making before browsing the gift shop to pick up a beautiful souvenir to take back home. Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery is a great place to sample local beers and chow down on burgers and barbecue.
Feast of the Hunter’s Moon in West Lafayette Indiana, pictured here, recreates the annual fall gathering of the French and Native Americans. Fifers and drummers march in a parade and teach locals and visitors about the area’s interesting history. Both Lafayette and West Lafayette are fun places to check out for nightlife and live music venues. In Lafayette, other top things to do include Clegg Memorial Gardens, the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, Columbian Park Zoo, and the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana art. Don’t miss the Wildcat Creek Winery, which offers outstanding wines and service in a small winery setting with outside tables for enjoying wine and cheese. You can find dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and fruit wines here.
A popular weekend getaway from Indianapolis, Valparaiso is the home of Valparaiso University, which has a beautiful campus. Pictured here is the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources on the Valparaiso University campus. But even if you’re not in school, a trip to Valparaiso is warranted for the outdoor activities. This is a great place to live and visit to maintain an active lifestyle and enjoy the outdoors. Located in Northwest Indiana, top things to do in Valparaiso include attending the Popcorn Festival, going sledding at Rogers Lakewood Park Hills, and hiking through the Taltree Arboretum. Other top attractions are the Chapel of the Resurrection, the 49ers Drive-In Theater, Zao Island, the Memorial Opera House, and the Brauer Museum of Art.
The most popular reason to visit Chesterton, Indiana is to see Indiana Dunes State Park. This park makes you feel like you’re not even in Indiana anymore, and it’s a close drive from Chicago too. Located in Porter, Lake, and LaPorte Counties these sand dunes are very well preserved. You can even rent out sandboards from a local gear shop and try sandboarding down the dunes for a wild adventure! Other activities here include hiking across the dunes (it’s harder than you’d think!), swimming in the freshwater lake, and going for a boat ride.
One of the best ways to experience Salem, Indiana is to stay at a quaint, local bed & breakfast, like the one pictured here. The prices for nightly and weekend stays are quite reasonable, and you’ll get a true taste of Indiana living. Salem is a historic Indiana town that has a Pioneer Village, memorial museums, a historical library, and a quaint town square. This is a place to disconnect from technology and wander around to see what you can learn. Salem also has some nice trails, parks, and a speedway to see, as well as lovely lakes.
Indiana may be in the middle of America, but it still has a great beach that you can lounge on in the summertime. Michigan City, Indiana is located along Lake Michigan and has a lovely beach to soak up the sun. This is also a fun place to walk around to browse shops and go out to eat. Washington Park is a wonderful park to visit, and the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets are an ideal place for shop-a-holics. Definitely make a point to visit the Shady Creek Winery, where you can taste five wines for $5, and many of them are made from local fruits and grapes.
One of the most popular reasons to visit Indiana is to take scenic drives to see the state’s historic covered bridges. Head to Mill Race Park in Columbus, Indiana to see the Brownsville Covered Bridge, which is pictured here. Columbus is also an artsy town that is best known for The Commons and Zaharako’s Ice Cream Parlor. This is a perfect place to get a sweet treat on a hot summer’s day.
Going further to show that Indiana is more than just cornfields, Bedford has some impressive rock formations and natural areas at Hemlock Cliffs. Hoosier National Forest is located near Bedford and is worth checking out to get your nature fix. This area is in the southern tip of the state of Indiana and a favorite spot among horseback riders, hikers, and hunters. Contact a local horseback riding facility to take advantage of some of the best riding trails in the state. Within the town of Bedford, you’ll find plenty of culture in the museums and theater venues. Culinary fans will enjoy the local fruit markets and wineries, and there’s also a famous doll factory.