Indiana, oh Indiana. You might initially think it’s all about basketball, cornfields, and the Indy 500.
And while yes, these things are as inherent to Indiana as sarcasm is to British humor, there’s so much more to the Hoosier State than you might realize.
Let’s embark on this peculiar journey through Indiana, the state that has both the smallest town (Story, with a staggering population of 3) and one of the largest children’s museums in the world.
Sit tight, grab a popcorn, and be prepared to have some preconceived notions about this midwestern gem shattered.
In this article...
1. Tour The Iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The first thing that’s probably coming to your mind when you think about Indiana is the Indy 500, held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
For motorheads, this place is more sacred than Rome’s Vatican is for Catholics.
Travelers Tip: Get the Full Throttle package for a full-immersion speedway experience – from the track itself to the Hall of Fame museum.
2. Witness the Stunning Architecture of Columbus
Columbus, Indiana, is like the unexpected art house cinema in the middle of your Netflix queue.
Full of architectural masterpieces, it’s as if the cityscape itself is an exhibition.
Travelers Tip: Start at the Visitors Center, pick up a map and hire a guide to really understand the magnitude of what you’re seeing.
3. Experience the Dunes at Indiana Dunes National Park
A park full of dunes in Indiana, who’d have thought?
Well, believe it, as the Indiana Dunes National Park is a sight to behold, a dramatic collision of sand and water that looks like it belongs more on a distant ocean shoreline than in the midwest.
Travelers Tip: Bring your hiking shoes and climb the three tallest dunes at the park, aptly named the “Three Dune Challenge”.
4. Stroll Around The Historic New Harmony
If you’re all about that minimalist, Instagram-worthy aesthetic, the historic town of New Harmony will be your jam.
With its neatly arranged streets, beautiful gardens, and intriguing art installations, New Harmony is a pocket-sized utopia.
Travelers Tip: Check out the Roofless Church, an architectural marvel that will make you rethink the definition of a sacred space.
5. Explore The Vibrant City of Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne is a melting pot of cultural diversity.
With a buzzing downtown area, thriving arts scene, and numerous historical attractions, Fort Wayne is one of the state’s most vibrant cities.
Travelers Tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the local food scene. The city has a range of innovative restaurants that’ll challenge your taste buds in the best way possible.
6. Visit the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend
South Bend isn’t just about Notre Dame. The Studebaker National Museum is a must-visit for car lovers. Gaze at beautifully restored vintage vehicles and learn about the area’s rich automotive history.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the “Presidential Carriage Collection”, featuring the carriage used by Abraham Lincoln.
7. Experience Shipshewana, the Heart of Indiana’s Amish Country
Shipshewana is like stepping into a different time.
Its Amish and Mennonite residents still hold to their traditional ways of living.
With no electricity in their homes, it’s a testament to a simpler way of life.
Traveler’s Tip: Take a horse-drawn buggy tour for an authentic Amish experience.
8. Visit the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville
In the heart of Evansville, the Mesker Park Zoo offers a close look at animals from around the world.
Explore Amazonia, where you’ll feel like you’re wandering through a South American rainforest.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the chance to feed giraffes at the ‘Amazonia’ exhibit!
9. Hike through Turkey Run State Park
Enjoy the rugged beauty of Turkey Run State Park.
Trails run through deep ravines and sandstone gorges, offering a peaceful hike through Indiana’s wilderness.
Traveler’s Tip: After hiking, enjoy a canoe trip on Sugar Creek that runs through the park.
10. Take a Trip to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
As the world’s largest children’s museum, this place is a paradise for young explorers.
With interactive exhibits spanning natural history, science, and culture, it’s a day well spent.
Traveler’s Tip: Visit the Dinosphere where you can touch real dinosaur fossils!
11. Visit the Incredible Grissom Air Museum
Get a glimpse into aviation history at the Grissom Air Museum.
With a collection of vintage military aircraft, it’s a treat for aviation enthusiasts.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t forget to check out the iconic B-58 Hustler supersonic jet bomber.
12. Spend a Day at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis
Showcasing American Indian and Western art, the Eiteljorg Museum is one of a kind.
The museum is home to one of the best collections of contemporary Native American art in the world.
Traveler’s Tip: Be sure to attend one of the museum’s cultural festivals, featuring storytelling, dance, music, and traditional art demonstrations.
So there you have it – 17 incredibly diverse and captivating things to do in Indiana, each one offering a unique insight into the Hoosier State’s rich tapestry of culture, history, nature, and innovation. Whether you’re a fan of fast cars, an avid nature explorer, a history buff, or a budding archaeologist, Indiana has something to tickle your fancy. All that’s left to do now is to start planning your trip and prepare to fall in love with this oft-overlooked midwestern gem. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!